First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

September 25, 2020 by  
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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action? Sarah Golden Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:00 It’s Climate Week: the time of year that climate leaders and professionals usually descend upon New York City in a cloud of transportation emissions to talk climate ambitions and targets.  Like everything else this year, Climate Week wasn’t the usual. Sessions and panels were virtual. There were no breakfast buffets. People presumably drank alone instead of mingling at happy hours. From an emissions standpoint, Climate Week 2020 may go in the books as the greenest of all time.  But some things stayed the same: Corporations seized the opportunity to announce climate commitments.  Corporate commitments roundup Climate Week has become a favorite for heads of states and companies alike to make bold climate commitments.  This week, dozens of corporations re-upped goals, reflecting that the private sector is internalizing what’s at stake — physically, reputationally and economically — if climate change is left unchecked. Some of the most notable (some announced in the run-up to Climate Week) include:   Morgan Stanley became the first major U.S. bank to commit to net-zero emissions generated from its financing activities by 2050.  AT&T pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035, a step up from its previous goal to reduce Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent and Scope 2 emissions by 60 percent. This comes following AT&T’s leadership in wind corporate procurements .   Walmart pledged to become carbon-neutral across its global operations by 2040 — without relying on offsets. In a separate announcement, Walmart joined forces with Schneider Electric to “educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy” and accelerate deployment with the aim of removing a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain (aka Scope 3 emissions).  Google committed to becoming powered by clean energy — in real time — by 2030.  General Electric announced it will exit the market for new coal-fired power plants and instead prioritize renewable energy investments — a smart move for the climate and its return on investment .  Amazon got more companies to sign on to its Climate Pledge , including Best Buy, McKinstry, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. Signatories agree to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Intel Corporation , PepsiCo , ASICS (Japan-based apparel company), Sanofi (healthcare company in France), SKF (Swedish manufacturer) and VELUX Group (Danish manufacturer) all signed on to RE100 , a commitment to procure the equivalent of the company’s annual electricity consumptions from renewable sources.  Talk is cheap  I love seeing these commitments rolling in. I love that major companies want to communicate they are on the right side of climate action. I love that consumers care about the climate enough to make it worth consumer brands’ time and effort.  But these commitments are the beginning of something, not the end. And these companies need to be held accountable for reaching their goals in meaningful ways — and to continue to uplevel their commitments to meet the scale of the climate challenge.  Already, climate hawks are pushing corporations for more details.  Following the Morgan Stanley announcement, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy director Patrick McCully, wrote in a statement, “We look forward to Morgan Stanley quickly putting meat on this barebones commitment by using the Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions, and in particular by setting an interim target to halve its emissions by 2030.” Walmart is working hard to let the world know about its new carbon-neutrality commitment (including taking over all ads in my Podcast feed). Yet, as Bloomberg pointed out, this commitment applies to the retail giant’s direct and indicted emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which make up about 5 percent of the company’s total emissions. Whatever happened to last year’s Climate Week’s corporate commitments?  Last year on the eve of Climate Week 2019, employees from big tech companies planned a walkout , demanding their employers take climate seriously across operations. Among the complaints were the companies’ duplicit policies; while companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon were procuring massive amounts of renewables , they also were working with fossil fuel companies to extract oil more efficiently. Employees rightfully pointed out that one does not cancel out the other.  Take Amazon, for example. Last year, the retail giant’s employees formed a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, demanding its corporate overlord do more on climate. The result: Amazon’s Climate Pledge ( announced during Climate Week 2019) and the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, a.k.a. the richest person on earth, pledged $10 billion of personal wealth to fight climate change.  According to E&E News , Bezos said he would begin issuing grants this summer. “[Tuesday] is the first day of fall, and the Bezos Earth Fund” — as he dubbed the venture — “has yet to announce a single grant.” In the cycle of activism and corporate climate commitments — company profits off climate destruction; employee/customers are mad; company makes a pledge; company doesn’t deliver on pledge — the ball is back in the activists’ court. Making commitments is not the same thing as taking action. In fact, Microsoft just announced another deal with Shell that will expand the oil giant’s use of the software company’s artificial intelligence technology to make extraction more efficient.  In the words of climate journalist Emily Atkins , “The West Coast is now in flames, the Gulf Coast is now waterlogged, and Bezos is now the richest man in the world. And in some people’s eyes, he’s a climate hero, because he promised to spend $10 billion solving climate change. And this, my friends, is exactly why rich people and corporations make voluntary climate pledges. It makes them seem benevolent and wonderful. And there’s no consequence if they never follow through.” Where is everyone else?  We have a terrible habit of scrutinizing companies that have made climate commitments more than those that have done squat.  I’ve spoken to many corporate sustainability professionals that say they don’t publicize their climate commitments. Why? Because yahoos such as me write critical columns about how they’re greenwashing or failing to do enough. Or environmental campaigns target them for hypocrisy.  I’m not saying we should stop holding companies accountable for their commitments. But we certainly shouldn’t give companies doing nothing a free pass. Right now, companies are punished more for speaking out than staying quiet.  In the aftermath of this Climate Week, consider asking the last company you patronized, “What is your organization doing to ensure a safe climate future?” It’s time to make staying quiet more dangerous than taking action.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Topics Energy & Climate Corporate Strategy Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Procurement 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

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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

Closed Loop Partners teams with Walmart, CVS, Target to take on the plastic bag

July 24, 2020 by  
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Closed Loop Partners teams with Walmart, CVS, Target to take on the plastic bag Deonna Anderson Fri, 07/24/2020 – 01:15 Single-use plastic shopping bags are a real problem. They take decades to break down but nearly 100 billion of them are used in the United States every year to cart away goods from retailers. Fewer than 10 percent of those are recycled  — often winding up in landfills and waterways because many recyclers don’t accept them . Now, Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy is partnering with Walmart, CVS Health and Target to address that problem. Their $15 million joint Beyond the Bag Initiative  — similar to a previous collaboration focused on redesigning cups — will focus on creating solutions that reinvent shopping bags and that more effectively divert single-use plastic bags from landfills.  “By coming together to tackle the problem, we aim to accelerate the pace of innovation and the commercialization of sustainable solutions,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart, in a statement. “We hope the Beyond the Bag Initiative will surface affordable, practical solutions that meet the needs of customers and reduce plastic waste.” Together these companies and others — Kroger and Walgreens, along with Conservation International and Ocean Conservancy as environmental advisory partners — make up the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag. By coming together to tackle the problem, we aim to accelerate the pace of innovation and the commercialization of sustainable solutions. “A main focus of what we do at the center is bring together corporations, nonprofits, industry groups, and others to create unexpected partnerships of competitors, to bring them together to collaborate on challenges that really no one organization can solve in isolation,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. The consortium’s goals include diverting single-use plastic bags from landfills and scaling solutions that would serve the same function and replace the retail bag, through this three-year partnership. It plans multiple approaches. The first approach, which Daly named as a backbone of the initiative, centers on reimagining the design through an Innovation Challenge with OpenIDEO. That effort, which will begin accepting applications Aug. 3, will seek innovative ways to “reinvent” the retail bag. It’s open to all sorts of solutions from students, scientists and companies of all sizes, because Daly acknowledges that there will be no one silver bullet solution that will solve the plastic retail bag problem.  “Some of those [solutions] might be new material, others might be entirely new approaches to transporting what we purchase from stores to our home,” Daly said. “There might be tech-enabled or AI-enabled solutions that we haven’t learned about yet.”  Once the search ends, the group will select about a dozen winners to join the Beyond the Bag Circular Business Accelerator, which will involve mentoring, capital investment, testing and piloting. Whichever solutions win and become scalable, Daly said, “It’s really important that these options be accessible and inclusive to all the different communities across the United States.” The retail partners, which have locations across the United States, should be able to make that happen. Back in 2018, the center — along with founding partners McDonalds and Starbucks — launched its NextGen Cup Challenge, which had the goal to reduce disposable coffee cup waste. Daly said the center is taking lessons learned from that effort into this new challenge.  One of those learnings was that extensive testing is critical. For the NextGen Challenge, Daly said the group asked questions such as, “Does [the cup] hold liquids up to a certain temperature Fahrenheit? Can you comfortably hold the cup? Does the lid work with the cup? Does the coating stay on the cup? Does the coffee leak through the bottom?” For the bag reinvention, it will ask similar questions centered on identifying potential performance issues, such as: “Does the bag break?” And if it’s a new, bagless way of transporting goods, “Does it effectively prevent any sort of breakage or leaks?”  It’s really important that these options be accessible and inclusive to all the different communities across the United States. In addition to performance, the consortium plans to do environmental testing on the types of materials being used across all applications, ensuring that the materials used for a given solution — even if it’s reusable — can be recovered through recycling infrastructure. That brings us to another approach the consortium is exploring with the Beyond the Bag initiative: investments in recovery infrastructure. Daly said the group wants to ensure that the solutions — no matter which form they take — align with the recovery options at their end of life. In addition to the design and infrastructure approaches, the consortium already has started learning more about consumer behavior when it comes to plastic bags — this is another of its four approaches. It’s been asking customers about their pain points and preferences when getting their goods from a store to their homes. “We know how important it is to bring our customers along on our sustainability journey, keeping in mind that most are looking for convenience with minimal environmental impact,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president for corporate social responsibility and philanthropy and chief sustainability officer at CVS Health, in a statement. As they continue their journey, the consortium partners share a sense of urgency in addressing the issue of plastic bag waste — that’s why these unlikely collaborators are working together and acting as a collective. “We see the importance of sending a unified market signal as being really critical if you’re going to have systems-level change, and address long-standing environmental challenges,” Daly said. “The nature of bringing competitors together can help reframe the issue beyond short-term fixes and alternatives to long-lasting, systemic solutions that really take a holistic approach from production to use to reuse to recovery.” Pull Quote By coming together to tackle the problem, we aim to accelerate the pace of innovation and the commercialization of sustainable solutions. It’s really important that these options be accessible and inclusive to all the different communities across the United States. Topics Circular Economy Plastic Plastic Waste Innovation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Source:  Emilija Miljkovic Shutterstock Emilija Miljkovic Close Authorship

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Closed Loop Partners teams with Walmart, CVS, Target to take on the plastic bag

Episode 213: The pandemic’s impact on the clean economy, geoengineering geek out

March 27, 2020 by  
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Plus, highlights from this week’s webcast on how retailers can embrace the circular economy.

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Episode 213: The pandemic’s impact on the clean economy, geoengineering geek out

IKEA, Nordstrom, Walgreens on the many opportunities for circularity in retail

March 27, 2020 by  
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From recipes for recommerce to changing packaging ingredients, the retail sector is integral to adoption of the circular economy. Don’t expect a cookie-cutter approach.

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How climate progress can move ahead as COVID-19 halts crucial conferences

March 27, 2020 by  
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“We must find other avenues for progress.”

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How climate progress can move ahead as COVID-19 halts crucial conferences

Social media: the new capital markets activism

December 10, 2019 by  
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Increasingly, consumers and social media users are voicing their concerns — and companies are listening.

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Social media: the new capital markets activism

Here’s what could go wrong with the circular economy — and how to keep it on track

October 18, 2019 by  
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We must make sure that increasing the efficiency of our industrial systems doesn’t lead to more consumption.

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The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

January 29, 2019 by  
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Everybody likes the convenience of a free return policy. But what consumers do privately in their home closets — say, ordering two sizes of jeans and returning the one that doesn’t fit — has a growing global impact. A recent U.K. survey concluded that more than 40 percent of clothing bought online is returned. A group called Fashion Revolution wants to do something about this. “Instead of the two-way drive of a delivery van bringing a package to you, it now has to drive back to your house to return it to the retailer,” said Chloé Mikolajczak, country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Belgium. “It literally doubles the amount of kilometers a truck is on the road, because you didn’t like what you ordered. On a global scale, this has a massive impact on the environment and traffic.” Fashion Revolution is a U.K.-based nonprofit whose mission is to radically change the way the fashion industry sources, produces and consumes clothing, as well as to make sure clothes are made in a safe and fair way. Related: 5 ways to become a responsible fashion consumer this year “Highway Fitting,” Fashion Revolution’s new campaign, spreads the message about the environmental impact of misusing the free return policy many clothing brands offer. Jeroen Willekens directed the campaign’s  stylish video , which shows young women posing for photos in their new clothes, tags still attached. At the end of the video, produced by Fledge.tv, they throw the clothes on a truck to be shipped back to the retailer. Fashion Revolution believes that popular Instagram hashtags, such as #ootd (#outfitoftheday), help drive this desire to constantly model something new. Nearly 20 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds acknowledge they’ve worn outfits a single time, so they could post pictures on social media . The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters and water consumers. Treating and dying textiles accounts for 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. But increased consumer awareness can reduce the adverse effects of fashion. Fashion Revolution recommends four ways to minimize your impact: Reduce consumption by choosing carefully and buying less. If your desired outfit is only available online, do extra research and read reviews to get a feel for the brand’s sizing. Group your deliveries if possible, rather than have each item sent separately. Resist returns. If the item doesn’t fit, consider giving it to a friend. + Highway Fitting Images via Fledge and Fashion Revolution

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The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

Gorgeous new Apple store is powered entirely by renewable energy in Paris

January 3, 2019 by  
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The latest Apple store designed by Foster + Partners has opened in a beautifully renovated 19th-century building on Paris’s Champs-Élysées. Powered with 100 percent renewable energy, Apple Champs-Élysées draws energy from the photovoltaic panels integrated into its kaleidoscopic roof light and collects rainwater for reuse in the bathrooms and irrigation systems. Described by Apple as the tech company’s “grandest Forum,” the retail location blends historic architecture with contemporary design in a light-filled setting filled with greenery. Located on the corner of Champs-Élysées and Rue Washington, Apple Champs-Élysées is housed within a Haussmann-era apartment building. In addition to the careful restoration of the 19th-century facade and entryway, Foster + Partners also extended original materials—such as the exterior Burgundy stone and French oak parquet flooring—throughout the building to achieve an appearance the firm describes as a “Parisian apartment.” The entryway, which branches off to display spaces on either side, leads to the recently revived courtyard flanked with large mature trees and bathed in daylight. Above, the kaleidoscopic solar roof light is fitted with mirrored pyramids that reflect dappled sunlight into the interior. The original timber and marble scalier d’honneur (grand staircase) connects the ground floor to the floors above, where rooms are equipped with balconies opening onto the Champs-Élysées.   Related: Dramatic fountain and plaza define Foster + Partners’ newest Apple Store in Milan “This is one of the most unique Apple Flagships in the world, located along the world’s most beautiful avenue,” Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said. “In true Parisian style it is rich in texture and envelopes a range of experiences that stimulate your senses. This is emblematic of the idea of juxtaposition that runs throughout the interior spaces, bringing together the historic and contemporary, interior and exterior, and ground and sky. As a place that inspires creativity, I love the fact that this was previously home to the aviation genius Alberto Santos-Dumont.” + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young

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Tham & Videgrd Arkitekter designs Swedish vertical village built from CLT

January 3, 2019 by  
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Stockholm-based architecture practice Tham & Videgård Arkitekter has unveiled designs for a new housing typology in Gothenburg, Sweden, that will be built from cross-laminated timber. Named the “vertical village,” the project is a “solid timber” iteration of the firm’s previous development by the same name that had been designed for Stockholm in 2009. Like its predecessor, the Gothenburg “vertical village” champions a dense and family-centric development built around a series of connected garden spaces. Proposed as part of a larger site along Landvetter Lake, the Gothenburg “vertical village” was created as an alternative to the row house typology. Each dwelling will be set on a rounded plot surrounded by tall evergreen hedges to create a secluded and private garden for each homeowner. The vertical green massing will also help shape the network of winding pathways that connect the homes to the wider community. All the houses in the development will look identical with a tapered shape that rises to three stories in height. “The houses represent a new vertical typology that minimizes the footprint in order to leave as much land as possible for cultivation,” the architects said of the housing typology. For visual variety, the 140-square-meter row homes will be finished in different colors ranging from red, green, black and gray. The buildings will be constructed with cross-laminated timber and prefabrication construction methods to meet the highest environmental and energy standards. Related: Row house in Vietnam is wrapped in vertical gardens and a lace-like skin The homes will offer a range of one to four bedrooms. The ground floor houses the main social spaces that—thanks to the privacy afforded by the tall hedges—open up to a private garden through full-height glazing. The second floor contains the bedrooms overlooking views of the neighborhood and landscape. The topmost floor consists of a studio with a large skylight . + Tham & Videgård Arkitekter Via ArchDaily

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