These smart freezer sensors help Domino’s, 7-Eleven combat food waste

March 24, 2021 by  
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These smart freezer sensors help Domino’s, 7-Eleven combat food waste Jesse Klein Wed, 03/24/2021 – 00:05 As director of operations for 11 Domino’s Pizzas in Colorado, Bill Oliver has a unique anxiety that rattles around his brain — that one morning his staff will open the store and head back to the freezer section to start the day’s orders only to find the dough, vegetables and meats sitting there unfrozen.  Refrigerators, freezers and warehouses are vulnerable to malfunctions or human error issues that could result in spoilage and, ultimately, food waste. This link in the cold chain is part of the $161 million food waste problem in the United States. The Boston Consulting Group calculated that “deploying more-advanced supply chain solutions — including cold chain [technologies] in developing markets — could reduce the problem by $150 billion annually.”  Startup Therma , which recently raised $10.2 million,   hopes to be part of those more advanced supply chain solutions. The company has created a smart temperature and humidity sensor that’s mounted inside freezers to record real-time data and send alerts if temperatures rise above a certain threshold. Therma’s breakthrough is using long-range radio to send the signals through densely insulated material such as those used to construct freezers, refrigerators and warehouses.  “Refrigeration units or a walk-in-freezer or a warehouse often have iron or steel, and have historically blocked signals,” said Manik Suri, founder and CEO of Therma. “These densely insulated environments have been very hard for previous generations of internet of things protocols to penetrate.” Suri started building Therma in 2019. In 2020, he was able to scale the company to 831 sensors deployed over 29 unique customers in 119 locations, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, 7-Eleven, Wyndham Hotels and, of course, Domino’s. Since the sensor works for temperatures between -40  and 257 degrees Fahrenheit, Therma is also starting to enter the health-care sector, another large portion of the cold chain market.  Therma uses a cascading alert system that escalates the alert higher up the management food chain the longer the freezer is operating above the threshold temperature, starting with employees on-site and ending with managers or owners. Using this system, restaurateurs, including Oliver, have been able to identify equipment failures and power outages. The technology also detects when people making deliveries or cleaning staff prop freezer doors open or improperly close them, as well as other small or large inefficiencies that lead to energy costs and food waste.  Therma can help businesses save between 5 and 10 percent in energy costs created by overcooling. According to Suri, quick-service and full-service restaurants reported an average of 0.6 failures per month per location. Therma’s customers have reported an average of 0.4 failure events per month that were caught and rectified by the sensor system before spoilage occurred, preventing 4.1 percent of food waste per location each month, or about $500 worth per location per month. According to Therma’s calculations, that’s almost 4,000 pounds of food waste yearly. Beyond food waste, Therma’s technology can help businesses save between 5 and 10 percent in energy costs created by overcooling, Suri said.  “Today, a lot of warehouse owner-operators overcool,” he said. “They just lower the thermostat by 5 or 10 degrees to accommodate for hot spots and prevent them from building up. That’s a really expensive way to avoid hot spots.”  And not very sustainable. Suri’s business offers a visualizer tool that uses Therma sensors to help warehouse operators find the hot spots and either rectify or avoid those areas, instead of cranking down the temp. Therma’s other tools, Predict and Insight, put historical data into the hands of operators so they can discover trends, identify defective equipment, determine likely human error and adjust for a more efficient future. Creating a greener freezer might feel like a sustainability perk that is divorced from the immediate needs of business owners. Therma’s selling point to Oliver was giving him peace of mind so he can sleep at night while also taking one more thing off his to-do list.  “A lot of it is peace of mind,” Oliver said. “We can see that the refrigeration was at a safe temperature for an entire day, therefore, without having someone to go in there and manually take the temperature of the unit four times a day. It’s a huge labor savings.”  Pull Quote Therma can help businesses save between 5 and 10 percent in energy costs created by overcooling. Topics Food Systems Energy & Climate Cold Chain Energy Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Therma’s sensors help restaurants owners monitor and improve their freezers and fridges to combat food waste. //Courtesy of Therma

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The (not so) green recovery: New report warns world is failing to ‘build back better’

March 12, 2021 by  
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The (not so) green recovery: New report warns world is failing to ‘build back better’ Cecilia Keating Fri, 03/12/2021 – 01:30 The fiscal spending plans of major economies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis have fallen far short of ensuring the recovery from the crisis does not exacerbate ongoing climate and nature crises, with just one in every $40 committed by governments in the wake of the pandemic set to deliver a positive impact for the planet. That is the bleak headline from a major report published this week by the United Nations Environment Program and Oxford’s Economic Recovery Project, which warns policymakers are missing out on the “greatest chance we have had so far” to redirect the upward trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions and put the world on track for meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The analysis, which looked at more than 3,500 fiscal policies across the world’s 50 largest economies, finds that just 2.5 percent of all COVID-induced spending to date had “positive green characteristics.” A huge chunk of COVID-related government spending has necessarily focused on welfare payments and the health response, but the report concludes that even when the focus is narrowed to look only at measures designed to deliver a longer-term economic recovery, only 18 percent of spending has “positive green characteristics.” As such, the report concludes that the world is “not yet building back better,” despite repeated promises from governments to engineer a green recovery and the introduction of some promising green stimulus spending programs from a handful of predominantly wealthy countries such as Finland, Denmark, France, Germany and Norway. Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis and an ecological breakdown — we cannot afford to lose on any front. “Despite positive steps towards a sustainable COVID-19 recovery from a few leading nations, the world has so far fallen short of matching aspirations to build back better,” said Brian O’Callahan, lead researcher at the Oxford University Economic Recovery project. “But opportunities to spend wisely on recovery are not yet over. Governments can use this moment to secure long-term economic, social and environmental prosperity.” For the vast majority of countries, recovery spending has been relatively low and not particularly green, according to the report, with any benefits from the greener elements contained in stimulus packages often undermined by concurrent fossil fuel and consumer-focused spending program. For instance, roughly 16 percent of recovery spending could bring positive air pollution impacts, but 16.4 percent is likely to increase net air pollution. The United Kingdom is among a raft of countries that is “missing opportunities” to deliver a green recovery, given that only a small percentage of its post-COVID spending program has been explicitly green. As such, the report urges policymakers to think long-term when crafting spending programs in the fallout from the pandemic, warning that a “one-dimensional focus on short-term economic recovery” risks stoking inequality and the climate emergency. Of the $14.6 trillion invested by these 50 countries to date, only $1.9 trillion has been invested in long-term recovery measures intended to spur economic activity, it notes. UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson urged policymakers to carefully consider the Global Recovery Observatory report, which collates examples of green recovery spending from around the world and underlines the social benefits that can be unlocked by carefully designed green policies, such as improved health outcomes, energy cost reductions and enhanced food security. “Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis and an ecological breakdown — we cannot afford to lose on any front,” she said. “Governments have a unique chance to put their countries on sustainable trajectories that prioritize economic opportunity, poverty reduction and planetary health at once — the Observatory gives them the tools to navigate to more sustainable and inclusive recoveries.” The paper identifies five core green policy areas that policymakers should focus on — green energy, low-carbon transport, natural capital, green building upgrades and green research and development (R&D) — and highlights successful green spending programs to date. Some $66.1 billion has been spent on green energy so far, it notes, of which $25.3 billion focused on renewables and $18.5 billion on hydrogen, the latter boosted substantially by major investment programs by France and Germany. Meanwhile, $86.1 billion has been spent on low-carbon transport, $28.9 billion on green research and development and $35.2 billion on green building upgrades, although it is unclear whether this calculation factors in the recent spending cut to the U.K.’s flagship green housing stimulus program, the Green Homes Grant, which saw ministers initially assign $2.1 billion to the scheme before moving to introduce a new budget for 2021/22 of just $448 million. Meanwhile, the report reveals that $56.3 billion has been announced for natural capital or nature-based solutions, highlighting how just 3 percent of all spending is deemed by the report to have “significantly positive characteristics” for nature protection, with 17 percent likely to have a significant negative impact on natural capital. The report also notes how where green spending programs have been announced, they have been disproportionately focused on industrialized nations. It therefore argues that it is critical for advanced economies and multilateral agencies to “generously” support emerging markets and developing economies to meet their green recovery aspirations. Less-developed economies are hamstrung by higher borrowing costs and weaker fiscal positions than their richer counterparts, the report notes, leading to a scenario where on a per capita basis the total spending in advanced economies was 17 times greater than emerging and developing markets. The conclusions reached by UNEP and the University of Oxford match those of an ongoing series of economic reports by Vivid Economics and Finance for Biodiversity, which has been tracking the “greenness” of different countries’ recovery packages since the outbreak of the pandemic. The latest edition, published last month , concluded that governments of the 30 countries surveyed had “largely failed” to harness the opportunity to combine economic recovery with sustainable growth, calculating that just $1.8 trillion of the $4.6 trillion of stimulus spent to date in “environmentally impactful” sectors, such as agriculture, industry, waste, energy and transport, could be deemed “green.” As Europe approaches the one-year anniversary of the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, it is clear that policymakers must step up their game and match their much-repeated rhetoric about delivering a green recovery with concrete spending packages that have a net positive impact on nature and climate. They should also look holistically at the program of stimulus packages being unveiled by different branches of government in order to prevent the environmental gains produced by one spending program from being neutralized by the carbon-intensive impacts of another. This holds particularly true in the U.K., as the government faces growing criticism for a lack of joined-up thinking with its climate policies that has allowed for climate and environmental considerations to be sidelined as ministers have rushed to bolster economic activity. You can boost jobs and GDP through new coal mines and domestic flights, but it makes it a lot harder to credibly claim that you are building back better. Pull Quote Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis and an ecological breakdown — we cannot afford to lose on any front. Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Green New Deal BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Some $66.1 billion of COVID recovery funds have been spent on green energy as of early 2021, of which $25.3 billion focused on renewables and $18.5 billion on hydrogen.

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Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

February 22, 2021 by  
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Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations Elsa Wenzel Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:30 A circular economy looks different within each industry, but its broad vision of healing the harm from the industrial economy’s extractive, polluting original sins is appealing more to a variety of businesses. A small number of influential large companies are creating internal funds to support sustainability goals specific to circular economy initiatives, such as designing out waste and recovering materials from products used internally or sold in the market. The eyes of traditional investors are widening to the landscape as well. It’s an early-stage, sometimes loosely defined space, where many solutions remain unproven, but the long-term payoffs in terms of sustainability and cost reductions could be enormous. That’s the hope of several early movers in circular economy investing, who shared their insights at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event in early February.  Nestlé and Microsoft are among the noteworthy corporations putting considerable investments behind circular programs involving products and services, in service of their sustainability targets and with an eye to spark broader change across their industries. “I would almost challenge people to not think of it as, ‘I have to set up a fund separate from,’ but it’s more of, ‘How do I set up our business to operate differently going forward?’” said Anna Marciano, head of U.S. legal sustainability at Nestlé USA. “If we’re going to make sure that we’re using more recycled content, if we’re going to ensure that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to be tracking that. So then our procurement team needs to be monitoring that and they need to be held accountable for all of our ESG commitments.” If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. One goal of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), entering its ninth year, is to bring together institutional investors with strategic corporate investors who seek to build a circular economy for their supply chains while helping their sustainability goals. (CLP’s private-equity Closed Loop Leadership Fund , launched in 2018, counts Nestlé, Microsoft and Nuveen among its investors.) “I have heard more in the last few years, probably than ever before, companies talking about investing off their balance sheets to achieve some of these goals, which I think is new vernacular for a lot of companies,” said Bridget Croke, managing director at CLP. Nestlé’s circular recipe Also about one year ago, Nestlé launched its $2 billion sustainability fund , to support companies developing innovative packaging and recycling technologies through 2025. (The company’s first investment was in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund.) The producer of coffee, candy and cocoa also created a nearly $260 million venture fund in support of planet-friendly packaging technologies. Its broader sustainability targets include getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Nestlé’s circular plans include, by 2025, reducing virgin plastics in packaging by one-third and making all of its packaging reusable and recyclable. But goals aren’t enough without something to back them up, Marciano said. “If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories,” Marciano said. “And so it becomes really critical for this to be a mindset shift to say, yes, this is absolutely what we need to achieve.” Nestlé knew it had to invest in designing packaging for the future to meet its packaging commitments, so it established its Institute for Packaging Science in 2019 in Switzerland. One pocket-size result is new recyclable paper packaging for Smarties candies, popular in the U.K. “That’s really where the strong collaboration, the collective action of financial investments come into play,” Marciano added. ”So we’re really targeting investments to help transform the recycling infrastructure, so we could advance the circular economy at the end of the day.” Microsoft’s circular formula Similarly, as a corporate citizen, Microsoft aimed to look beyond the four walls of its own operations toward suppliers and customers, and other industries it touches, to enable circular markets to grow, said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.  Like Nestlé, Microsoft also looks at translating its goals into circular economy action in terms of designing out waste, reusing and recycling materials and products, and replenishing natural resources that it uses — three pillars reflected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The investment strategy includes identifying and prioritizing the major areas of waste that apply to Microsoft’s own supply chains and operations, including its devices, cloud infrastructure and campus operations, Middaugh said. One new initiative is to build Microsoft Circular Centers  to further the reuse of computer servers and other hardware from the company’s data centers.  “We really recognized that it was not enough to set the operational goal and to do that work internally. We needed to be partnering externally and reaching outside into the market to try to be an advance team for the innovation in the industry,” she said. Microsoft is one year into its $1 billion, four-year Climate Innovation Fund . Carbon, water, waste and ecosystems are the core focus areas for the software juggernaut, which is aiming to carbon negative by 2030, removing all the carbon it has historically emitted by 2050. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? The fund, a joint finance-sustainability initiative, is one of three balance-sheet ESG funds at Microsoft, in addition to others around affordable housing and racial equity.  Middaugh said it’s useful to have a unified playbook toward a single goal, which may lean on products, operational investments, employee engagement and even advocacy, using partnerships in civil society. For Microsoft, the main points are about being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste — and building a ” planetary computer ” that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend resource protection measures, tree by tree. Tangible examples of these include reducing electronic waste and packaging hardware without waste. “Then it’s also about giving the tools for traceability and transparency that we, our customers, need to be able to track circular economy themes,” Middaugh said. Those areas of strategic importance cascade to the investment strategy as well. How to prove circular success? For traditional investors, sustainability with a sound return on investment is key, according to David Haddad, managing director and co-head of impact investing at Nuveen , a subsidiary of TIAA. “We want there to be an economic viability, because our time horizon tends to be relatively shorter than many of these larger companies.”  And traditional institutional investors are challenged by the need to make a certain return within a relatively short time frame, maybe five or 10 years, which may not be enough for a market to mature.  Ways to reduce the risk around investments can include investing in research and innovation; proving that new business models are moving in a certain direction and integrating that into the business; and exploring longer-term contracts, according to Croke. Nestlé’s sustainability fund is already driving results, said Marciano, who is also division general counsel for Nespresso USA and International Premium Waters. “We have access to more recycled plastic already, we’re able to integrate it into our Stouffer’s business, into our Coffee mate business, into our water business,” she said. “So we see it working already. And it’s only been a few months in.” Middaugh noted that Microsoft focuses on metrics around the use of recyclable materials; landfill diversion in terms of solid waste and the construction and demolition waste at its campuses, and an overlapping focus on embodied carbon. “And in terms of how we integrate those with the rest of the decision process. It’s really around assessing the impact, assessing the risk and then looking for that impact and risk-adjusted return,” she said. For Nestlé, measuring circular economy success involves improving recycling rates beyond the company itself by spurring improvements in recycling infrastructure more broadly, encouraging consumers to recycle too. But that’s tricky. The question of measuring social impacts, not just the environmental ones most companies have prioritized, is another matter. Haddad noted that as an impact investor, there’s no cookie-cutter recipe, but Nuveen works closely with each young company to determine relevant metrics, and any failure to be able to report on those alongside financial performance will make it a no-go for funding. Croke agreed that limited tools for tracking certain metrics related to circular goals are difficult for companies or municipalities, but a bonus to working with large tech companies is being able to identify and address data gaps and useful technologies. Partnerships and collaborations are essential How does a sustainability advocate make the business case for investing toward circular, sustainable solutions? What’s the benefit of leveraging the company’s balance sheet or other capital? Early corporate movers may offer useful examples. Croke noted that some companies may find it hard to identify such investment opportunities and run up against limits to the size of deals they can take on. “And so the ability to invest through other funds helps sometimes open up opportunities to invest in things that might be too early-stage or small that need some de-risking,” Croke said. Partnerships with third-party leaders can help when trying to apply lessons to the rest of the business from initiatives around circular servers, recycling and reuse, Middaugh said. She, Marciano and Croke agreed that no organization should try to go it alone when addressing a systemic challenge as large as growing a circular economy. For example, it’s upon Nestlé to share its expertise in sustainable packaging, collaborating with other stakeholders to make sure it’s not introducing harmful materials into products. Such relationships can improve the wheel in multiple areas. And policy advocacy is another spoke of the wheel for Nestlé. Middaugh added that collaborations should involve early-stage innovations and pilots — such as sharing information with other companies exploring advanced materials — as well as later-stage infrastructure buildout. Microsoft is working with suppliers to update its supplier Code of Conduct to reflect its carbon and sustainability goals, also providing the tools to help its partners meet their goals.  The coming transition CLP draws connections across that ecosystem by backing circular efforts by municipalities, recycling facilities and material recovery facilities (MRFs). It has invested, for example, in Amp Robotics , which offers early-stage AI for recycling facilities, and PureCycle Technologies , whose technology turns polypropylene back into virgin-quality material. CLP started an innovation hub to support pre-competitive ideas. Croke agreed that data points around diversion of material and greenhouse gas impacts, to name just a couple, are relatively simple to understand. “What I think is sometimes more interesting, and a little bit harder to measure is the catalytic impact that’s being had, we’re all trying to completely transform a supply chain, the way that the supply chain works from being linear to being circular, and the linear supply chain is quite scaled,” she said. “The economics are very efficient today.” However, there’s going to be a lead-up time to building up the scale for new, circular models. In time, costs will expand for existing linear systems, becoming less attractive to newly affordable circular ones.  “But what we’re finding is that there are definitely specific investment opportunities today that are profitable, that makes sense for the institutional kind of partners make sense for our corporate partners, and hopefully create the levers that unlock, value and scale for the rest of the system,” Croke added. Haddad advocated for companies to recognize private equity firms as a force multiplier. “We can really bring capital to bear and our experience with boards and governance to scale those things,” he said. Marciano insisted that it’s not necessary to invest millions of dollars to get started. Pick up the phone and talk to people, and take other small steps to explore circular possibilities. “If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing?” she said. “Think of it that way, and really try to inspire others within your organization to take a chance … What’s the worst that could happen? You asked for the money and you’re told no or not yet. But at least you’ve already planted the seed, that you believe that the money is needed and could make a difference.” Pull Quote If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? Topics Circular Economy Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off  Illustration of circular economy in industry. Shutterstock MG Vectors Close Authorship

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This year, save the planet by geocaching

February 16, 2021 by  
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If you’re familiar with geocaching, you already know it’s one more way to get outdoors and is especially helpful if you have family members who can’t stand to put down their electronic devices to go on a hike . But this year, geocache aficionados are being challenged to use the activity to improve the outdoors, not just spend time there. If you don’t know anything about geocaching, it’s a treasure-hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices to find caches other players have hidden. Caches could be a small container, like a film canister; as large as a trash can; or something tricky, like a fake rock with a hidden compartment. Inside each cache, there’s a logbook so players can log their finds and often choose some small, fun thing to take away. However, players are expected to leave something of equal or greater value, so the next seeker isn’t disappointed. More than 3 million active geocaches are hidden in 191 countries. You can even find them in Antarctica . Related: Help NASA save endangered coral with a new gaming app To celebrate the 20th anniversary of geocaching, players will be doing something different this year — logging a locationless cache that in some way improves the environment . Geocaching HQ is behind the challenge. The base is “where the tools for your geocaching adventures are created and maintained. From the wickedly smart developers, to our artistic geniuses, to the community and volunteer support teams, Geocaching HQ is where all the magic happens,” according to the Geocaching website. To participate, Geocaching HQ asks people to — individually or with your family or roommates — do something like clean up a walking path, plant trees or help a community group remove invasive species in a park. Geocaching HQ urges players to use green transport like walking, biking, skating or taking public transportation to get to the improvement site. To succeed at the locationless cache mission, players need to log at least one photo of themselves or a personal item with the results of the outdoor improvement and say where the activity took place. More images and stellar storytelling are encouraged. The locationless cache initiative is available for logging now through December 31, 2021. “We hope you seek out many opportunities to improve the outdoors, but you can only log one find on this cache,” the Seattle -based organization said in a statement. Players will earn the Locationless Cache icon plus a special souvenir on their Geocaching profiles. + Geocaching Image via Groundspeak Inc. (dba Geocaching)

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Can we finally standardize ESG standards?

January 19, 2021 by  
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Can we finally standardize ESG standards? Tim Mohin Tue, 01/19/2021 – 01:00 Most GreenBiz readers are well aware of the complex sustainability reporting landscape. It seems like every year new reporting standards or frameworks are added to the overstuffed workload of the corporate sustainability professional. As the former chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), I had a role in the ongoing movement to “standardize the standards” that companies use to report their sustainability results. I also worked on the corporate side (Intel, Apple and AMD) and have a deep appreciation of the work that goes into these reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. To be fair, some of the burden is self-inflicted by companies that insist on publishing 100-plus page sustainability reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. As we enter 2021, there are strong signals of meaningful change in the sustainability reporting world. Three main trends are emerging: Mandatory disclosure: Policymakers are increasingly requiring ESG disclosure around the world . For example, the European Union (EU) will tighten its “Non-Financial Reporting Directive” in 2021 , which requires environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure from companies with more than 500 employees doing business in the EU. And it’s likely that the incoming U.S. administration will introduce new ESG mandates as well. Investor demand: There were record inflows to ESG investment funds in 2020 and the total tops $40 trillion — larger than the entire U.S. economy . Major asset managers such as BlackRock are using their ownership stake to pressure companies to improve their ESG disclosures. Consolidated ESG standards: Recently, four leading ESG standards organizations — GRI, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB); CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project); the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB); and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) — declared their intent to collaborate . While this is a welcome signal, all of this work could be rendered moot by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s proposal to develop ESG standards . One hundred twenty countries use the IFRS Standards as the foundation for company financial disclosure, making it more than likely that these countries will endorse and require companies to use the new ESG standards. The IFRS Foundation received more than 500 comment letters on its sustainability standards proposal with many key stakeholders in support . Given the momentum, the IFRS Foundation seems well-positioned to accomplish the elusive goal of a single global ESG standard I have stated publicly and will reiterate here that I strongly support the IFRS action. A globally accepted ESG standard will improve the quality and comparability of disclosure, unlocking investment and trade that will improve, rather than ignore, the sustainability needs of society. But there are several key challenges to address: 1. Materiality: The mission of the IFRS Foundation is “to develop standards that bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets around the world.” The concerns of financial markets are a subset of the broader concerns of sustainability. The IFRS Foundation must adopt a broader view to create transparency for sustainability issues that may not yet be financially material to companies or investors but are very important from a sustainability lens. Many companies already report on ESG matters beyond the scope of financial materiality and, as we saw in the pandemic, the definition of materiality is fluid and dynamic. It’s crucial that the IFRS articulates a strategy to straddle the boundary of “dual materiality,” enabling transparency on issues important for financial reasons and important to people and the planet. 2. Comparability: Many have criticized the lack of comparability in sustainability disclosures. Sustainability, unlike financial matters, includes a vast array of disparate issues that are not easily compared. An example is reporting on gender diversity vs. greenhouse gas emissions: Both are well within the scope of sustainability reporting, but obviously can be neither compared nor offset. As such factors cannot be reasonably merged into a sustainability score, they must be compared within the boundaries of the topic. The IFRS should emphasize the inherent lack of comparability between disparate ESG issues. To enhance ESG comparability, the IFRS should consider the concepts in the International Business Council/World Economic Forum report: ” Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation .” It outlines a series of universal metrics drawn from existing ESG standards. Setting aside the selection of the metrics, universally required disclosures will provide greater consistency of reporting across sectors and thus increase the quality and comparability of reporting. 3. Capabilities: The IFRS’s competency and credibility in the development of globally accepted financial disclosure standards makes them a natural hub for this work. But, because they have little experience with ESG issues, they will need to hire staff with sustainability credentials. And as they develop the standards, the IFRS must engage recognized experts in each respective topic that represent all relevant sectors, geographies and stakeholders. Blending sustainability expertise with the IFRS core competencies will not be easy, but is essential for the success of this proposal. 4. Technology: The sad fact is that the tools for gathering, auditing and reporting sustainability information are poor. The IFRS should incorporate the latest reporting technology into its sustainability standards. Information technology will not only reduce the burden of reporting, it will make it more actionable. Technology also will improve the quality of reporting, thus making it more reliable for investors and stakeholders and thus more effective in driving sustainability benefits. After 35 years working in this field, it’s rewarding to see the rapid maturation of the sustainability movement. By taking on ESG standards, the IFRS Foundation is forging a path toward a global common language for sustainability. It is also confirming that sustainability has moved into the mainstream of global commerce. In essence, this signals the alignment of capitalism with the needs of people and our planet — and not a moment too soon. Pull Quote Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. Topics Standards & Certification ESG GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Scientists discover 503 new species in 2020

January 4, 2021 by  
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A total of 503 new species were discovered by scientists at London’s Natural History Museum in 2020. According to the scientists, the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the work of identifying new species at the museum. Although the museum remained closed to the public, scientists continued working behind closed doors, making findings and providing valuable information to the scientific community across the world. Tim Littlewood, an executive director of science at the museum , said that identifying new species can only be made possible by referencing already known species. The museum plays an important role in providing species references and continues to increase the number of known species annually by identifying new ones. Related: IUCN’s latest Red List update comes with good and bad news “Once again, an end of year tally of new species has revealed a remarkable diversity of life forms and minerals hitherto undescribed,” Littlewood said. “The Museum’s collection of specimens provide a resource within which to find new species as well as a reference set to recognize specimens and species as new.” In an article published by the Natural History Museum , Littlewood noted that a decline in biodiversity across the world calls for rapid action in identifying species. “In a year when the global mass of biodiversity is being outweighed by human-made mass it feels like a race to document what we are losing,” he said. As time passes, many species available in nature are driven to extinction before they are even discovered. According to a  United Nations Report , the native species of land-based habitats have decreased by at least 20% since 1900. The report also shows that about one-third of all marine mammal species are currently threatened. Among the 503 new species identified this year is the unique and critically endangered Popa langur monkey. “Monkeys are one of the most iconic groups of mammals, and these specimens have been in the collections for over a hundred years,” said Roberto Portela Miguez of the Natural History Museum. “But we didn’t have the tools or the expertise to do this work before.” For humanity to protect more species, it is important that we start by knowing which species exist. The work being done by the Natural History Museum lays the foundation for the protection of endangered species worldwide. + Natural History Museum Via EcoWatch Photography by Thaung Win via Natural History Museum

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Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts

September 4, 2020 by  
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Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts Bryn Baker Fri, 09/04/2020 – 01:00 On Aug. 14 and 15, the California electric grid operator made the incredibly rare decision to proactively shut off parts of the electricity grid, resulting in limited rolling blackouts affecting businesses and homes throughout the state. Forced outages are a tool of last resort, employed in circumstances of incredible stress to the grid and done to protect against more widespread outages. Record heat for several days across parts of the state strained the power grid so much that it started rationing electricity, for the first time in almost 20 years. Notably, temperatures reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley — the hottest recorded temperature on the planet in more than a century.  While the immediate cause is still being investigated, we do know that California’s grid was experiencing multiple, coincident stressors — high demand, generators not performing when called upon and energy imports not showing up. Rather than thinking of these events as a one-off stroke of bad luck, consider that this soon might be the new normal. And not just in California. Climate change is driving more extreme weather events, including heat waves, everywhere, all while the grid faces increasing demand from electrification of cars, buses, businesses and homes. How should businesses and other large customers be thinking about the increasing strains from climate change with an evolving energy resource mix? Some have suggested clean energy is the scapegoat for the recent blackouts. However, not only was clean energy not the source of the problem , it’s the solution. Clean and renewable energy is core to charting a path forward.  Time to ditch fossil fuels-centric planning In the last 30 years, about one-third of coastal Southern California homes added air conditioners. Higher temperatures put more stress on traditional fossil-fired electric generators, reducing plant efficiency and output, and even caused them to temporarily shut down. In fact, the heat wave last month shuttered a 500 megawatt natural gas unit and a 750 MW gas unit was unexpectedly out of service Aug. 14. Outages of dispatchable fossil generation paired with reduced output from renewables, such as the 1,000 MW reduction in available wind power Aug. 15, resulted in an electric grid unable to meet customer demand. The grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs. California is actively shifting from a fossil-generation-dependent grid to a system that seeks to eliminate carbon emissions by 2045 — an essential step to combat climate change. Corporate customers, cities and governments are lining up behind ambitious clean energy and climate goals. Technological innovation and rapidly declining costs in renewables, storage and other clean energy resources are enabling California’s evolution to a 21st-century reliable , clean energy grid. The state is a leader in solar power, meeting much of the demand during the sunny hours of the day. However, the grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs.  Despite the finger-pointing and calls to move back toward natural gas, including from business groups , the recent experience in California shows that the energy transition shouldn’t be abandoned in the name of reliability Rather smart policy, planning and market designs are critical so that utilities and customers can improve reliability through accelerated deployment of these advanced clean resources as fossil generators retire.  Markets and regional cooperation: Bigger is better California’s electric system is operated by an independent nonprofit organization — the California Independent System Operator ( CAISO ) — that uses competition among power producers to identify the lowest-cost generators that can be used to reliably meet demand. While recent events have been compared to events we saw 20 years ago in California, flaws and fraud responsible then in California’s market design have since been corrected. This time around, the experience suggests that fully expanding wholesale electricity markets throughout the West will be a critical tool to reliably and cost-effectively meet demand in the face of climate change and the energy transition. California may be tempted to go faster alone, but it could get there more reliably and affordably with other Western states.  California’s grid imports electricity from out of state generators, and California’s utilities plan in advance for energy imports that are complemented by in-state generators to meet demand on the hottest days. CAISO does not control the number of imports, which were affected by the recent heat wave that extended beyond California. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. Efforts are underway to expand the CAISO market through the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), which allows coordinated real-time operation amongst a number of utilities and already has brought $1 billion in customer benefits, although this is a fraction of the benefits of a full competitive wholesale market. The type of grid event that occurred in August would be best solved by a western regional transmission organization that optimizes electricity generation and demand throughout the West, rationally manages shared operating reserves and plans/promotes interconnected transmission infrastructure. This type of system will be critical to lowering costs to all customers and keeping the lights on, while meeting the clean energy commitments by customers and states. Even CAISO and the California Public Utilities Commission agree that market improvements may well be needed. California’s approach to ensuring enough generation on the system to meet demand on the hottest days is fractured, complex and undergoing revision. As we chart a path forward, we need to embrace creative solutions and use the tools that we know can work. Businesses require reliable, affordable electricity. A growing number of businesses also know that transitioning the grid to clean energy can save money while continuing to provide expected reliability. Embracing innovation and new technology is in California’s DNA; it also could get by with a little help from its friends. By stitching together the West’s electricity system, reliability and a clean energy transition can work in tandem, most affordably for all customers. REBA is organizing related sessions on clean energy markets during VERGE 20. View more information here .  Pull Quote The grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. Topics Energy & Climate Renewable Energy Utilities California Electricity Grid 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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Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts

Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts

September 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts Bryn Baker Fri, 09/04/2020 – 01:00 On Aug. 14 and 15, the California electric grid operator made the incredibly rare decision to proactively shut off parts of the electricity grid, resulting in limited rolling blackouts affecting businesses and homes throughout the state. Forced outages are a tool of last resort, employed in circumstances of incredible stress to the grid and done to protect against more widespread outages. Record heat for several days across parts of the state strained the power grid so much that it started rationing electricity, for the first time in almost 20 years. Notably, temperatures reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley — the hottest recorded temperature on the planet in more than a century.  While the immediate cause is still being investigated, we do know that California’s grid was experiencing multiple, coincident stressors — high demand, generators not performing when called upon and energy imports not showing up. Rather than thinking of these events as a one-off stroke of bad luck, consider that this soon might be the new normal. And not just in California. Climate change is driving more extreme weather events, including heat waves, everywhere, all while the grid faces increasing demand from electrification of cars, buses, businesses and homes. How should businesses and other large customers be thinking about the increasing strains from climate change with an evolving energy resource mix? Some have suggested clean energy is the scapegoat for the recent blackouts. However, not only was clean energy not the source of the problem , it’s the solution. Clean and renewable energy is core to charting a path forward.  Time to ditch fossil fuels-centric planning In the last 30 years, about one-third of coastal Southern California homes added air conditioners. Higher temperatures put more stress on traditional fossil-fired electric generators, reducing plant efficiency and output, and even caused them to temporarily shut down. In fact, the heat wave last month shuttered a 500 megawatt natural gas unit and a 750 MW gas unit was unexpectedly out of service Aug. 14. Outages of dispatchable fossil generation paired with reduced output from renewables, such as the 1,000 MW reduction in available wind power Aug. 15, resulted in an electric grid unable to meet customer demand. The grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs. California is actively shifting from a fossil-generation-dependent grid to a system that seeks to eliminate carbon emissions by 2045 — an essential step to combat climate change. Corporate customers, cities and governments are lining up behind ambitious clean energy and climate goals. Technological innovation and rapidly declining costs in renewables, storage and other clean energy resources are enabling California’s evolution to a 21st-century reliable , clean energy grid. The state is a leader in solar power, meeting much of the demand during the sunny hours of the day. However, the grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs.  Despite the finger-pointing and calls to move back toward natural gas, including from business groups , the recent experience in California shows that the energy transition shouldn’t be abandoned in the name of reliability Rather smart policy, planning and market designs are critical so that utilities and customers can improve reliability through accelerated deployment of these advanced clean resources as fossil generators retire.  Markets and regional cooperation: Bigger is better California’s electric system is operated by an independent nonprofit organization — the California Independent System Operator ( CAISO ) — that uses competition among power producers to identify the lowest-cost generators that can be used to reliably meet demand. While recent events have been compared to events we saw 20 years ago in California, flaws and fraud responsible then in California’s market design have since been corrected. This time around, the experience suggests that fully expanding wholesale electricity markets throughout the West will be a critical tool to reliably and cost-effectively meet demand in the face of climate change and the energy transition. California may be tempted to go faster alone, but it could get there more reliably and affordably with other Western states.  California’s grid imports electricity from out of state generators, and California’s utilities plan in advance for energy imports that are complemented by in-state generators to meet demand on the hottest days. CAISO does not control the number of imports, which were affected by the recent heat wave that extended beyond California. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. Efforts are underway to expand the CAISO market through the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), which allows coordinated real-time operation amongst a number of utilities and already has brought $1 billion in customer benefits, although this is a fraction of the benefits of a full competitive wholesale market. The type of grid event that occurred in August would be best solved by a western regional transmission organization that optimizes electricity generation and demand throughout the West, rationally manages shared operating reserves and plans/promotes interconnected transmission infrastructure. This type of system will be critical to lowering costs to all customers and keeping the lights on, while meeting the clean energy commitments by customers and states. Even CAISO and the California Public Utilities Commission agree that market improvements may well be needed. California’s approach to ensuring enough generation on the system to meet demand on the hottest days is fractured, complex and undergoing revision. As we chart a path forward, we need to embrace creative solutions and use the tools that we know can work. Businesses require reliable, affordable electricity. A growing number of businesses also know that transitioning the grid to clean energy can save money while continuing to provide expected reliability. Embracing innovation and new technology is in California’s DNA; it also could get by with a little help from its friends. By stitching together the West’s electricity system, reliability and a clean energy transition can work in tandem, most affordably for all customers. REBA is organizing related sessions on clean energy markets during VERGE 20. View more information here .  Pull Quote The grid of the future should prioritize flexibility and nimbleness, and greater deployment of resources such as batteries and larger demand response programs. A wider, better coordinated western electricity system could have more nimbly responded to large generators tripping offline and would have cost consumers less by reducing spikes in power costs and the need for backup generators. Topics Energy & Climate Renewable Energy Utilities California Electricity Grid 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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Clean energy and markets are the solution (not scapegoat) for California’s blackouts

The broken system that sends most food waste and organic matter to landfills

September 4, 2020 by  
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The broken system that sends most food waste and organic matter to landfills Jim Giles Fri, 09/04/2020 – 00:15 How about this for a series of maddening statistics? Landfills in the United States generate 15 percent of the country’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with a potential warming impact 34 times that of carbon dioxide. The single largest input into U.S. landfills is food waste, yard trimmings and other organic matter. Sending organic matter to composting facilities rather than landfills dramatically lowers emissions — in fact, expanding composting globally would avoid or capture the equivalent of around 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050 . Only 4 percent of U.S. households are served by a municipal composting service.  Most commercial food waste is also dumped, meaning that just 6 percent of all U.S. food waste is diverted from landfill or combustion.  In summary: This is crazy. We’re dumping the feedstock for a valuable agricultural resource in landfills, where rather than fertilizing crops it generates emissions that accelerate the climate crisis. I wasn’t aware of quite how broken this system is until I moderated a panel on composting infrastructure at Circularity 20 last week. (Video of the panel soon will be online — sign up for Circularity updates to get notified when that happens.) Afterwards, I called up my fellow moderator Nora Goldstein, editor of Biocycle magazine , in search of solutions.  Goldstein explained that most waste management firms are compensated for every truckload of material they send to landfill. This locks them into the existing model. Some firms might want to move into composting, but doing so would cause a double financial hit: Reduced landfill fees plus upfront expenditures for creating new composting infrastructure. That’s not going to look good in the next quarterly earnings. What can the food industry do to help fix this? Structural change will require government action such as California’s SB 1383 , which commits the state to reducing organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. ( Climate Solution of the Year , according to one industry publication.) But that doesn’t mean the industry can’t take smaller steps without outside help. I heard a bunch of exciting ideas in the panel, during my conversation with Goldstein and in emails I received after the event. Here are a few: Food waste producers should discuss what’s possible with local waste operations, said panel member Alexa Kielty of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Long-term collaboration between waste producers, local government and disposal companies enables the waste industry to invest in composting solutions. Do due diligence on contractors who offer organics disposal services, advised panel member Kevin Quandt of the Sweetgreen restaurant chain. To see why, read about Quandt’s tussles with less-than-honest contractors in this excellent Los Angeles Times story . Companies involved in the farming end of the food business should incorporate targets for compost use into their regenerative agriculture commitments, Goldstein suggested. Large composting facilities can take years to set up, but food waste producers can investigate smaller-scale options in the meantime, wrote Ben Parry, CEO of Compost Crew, an organics waste collector operating in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.  Speaking of small-scale solutions that companies could collaborate with, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced funding for 13 pilot projects to “develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction.”  I hope that list provides some ideas for how your organization can get involved in fixing this crazy problem. What did I miss? As always, I value your feedback. Email comments, critiques and complaints to jg@greenbiz.com .  Topics Food Systems Waste Management Waste Compost Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The broken system that sends most food waste and organic matter to landfills

A CFO’s take on climate and risk management

July 13, 2020 by  
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A CFO’s take on climate and risk management Vincent Manier Mon, 07/13/2020 – 01:00 Just a couple of months into 2020, the world was amid significant discussion about the core purpose of businesses, led by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink calling for corporate America to take control of its carbon footprint and major companies, including Microsoft and Delta , making ambitious zero-carbon pledges. When COVID-19 arrived, we saw the impact that global crises have overnight, teaching the corporate sphere valuable lessons about risk mitigation. Economic estimates predict that the pandemic will decrease global GDP by 3 percent in 2020, and at our current pace, climate change is estimated to decrease the global GDP by anywhere from 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent by 2050 . While climate risk remains an often overlooked or undervalued factor in risk management programs, there is an urgent need to integrate resiliency into core business strategy if businesses want to continue to thrive — or even remain operational. There is an urgent need to integrate resiliency into core business strategy if businesses want to continue to thrive — or even remain operational. The current COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of prioritizing resilience by exposing the fragility of global supply chains and dysfunctional systems across businesses and forcing them to change the way they plan and operate to factor in large-scale crises. Hospitals, for example, felt the disastrous impact of vulnerable supply chains, and needed to plan for alternative sources of personal protective equipment to keep their medical workers and staff safe. These learnings must be applied to similar risk brought about by climate change — businesses need to prepare for the impact of devastating weather events on supply chains and infrastructure they rely on to remain safe and operational. As key members of the financial team, risk managers need to grasp the implications of sustainability across the organization, from strategic risks posed by new regulations to operational risks posed by extreme weather and financial risks with regards to taxes and insurance. As we continue to fight climate change, understanding the strategic, operational and financial risks — and the tools available to assess and plan for them — will help finance teams take a more forward-facing approach to risk management and avoid repeating past mistakes. Strategic risk factors Four key risk factors are associated with strategic risk and sustainability: economic changes; corporate responsibility; regulatory risk; and reputational risk. From an economic standpoint, there have been major shifts brought about by decarbonization and diversifying portfolios — consider the rapid decline of the coal industry, for example. In addition, companies are being held more accountable for their impact on the environment, with pressure coming from all sides, including customers, investors, competitors and regulators. Increased regulation and legal requirements around resource management and carbon reduction, as well as required carbon reporting, can result in major fines if not complied with. Finally, reputational risk, while hard to quantify, can be enormous, particularly in today’s political climate and as both internal and external stakeholders become more educated on the action against climate change. Operational risk factors Sustainability also can affect how businesses approach operations, such as supply-chain optimization, procurement strategies, data privacy and security. For instance, the finance team can make more informed decisions around power purchase agreements, onsite and offsite renewable energy, decentralization and microgrids, energy independence and cost savings opportunities when factoring climate risk into the overall procurement strategy. There are also more direct operational risks to consider as a result of climate change in the form of extreme weather events, which continue to increase in both frequency and intensity. Businesses must account for the possibility of outages, damages and closures, all of which can threaten the ability to protect employees, assets and data centers (which can pose new risks in terms of data privacy and leaks) and, ultimately, to keep the business operational. Financial risk factors Climate change poses significant financial risks to an organization as sustainability policies and corporate initiatives can affect taxes, insurance, resource management, energy sourcing, investor support and even intangible assets such as goodwill — for instance, the impalpable value that customers and investors place on a company’s ability to reduce its footprint. From changes in insurance premiums and coverage to identifying financial benefits of electrification, there are almost countless financial risks and opportunities for the financial team to assess. Sustainability planning also opens the door to integrating new technologies to save money, such as alternative energy vehicles, which bring financial benefits all their own. Integrating climate risk strategy Integrating climate risk into new or existing risk management programs can seem daunting, but the financial team can leverage strategic assessments to make the process simpler. For instance, vulnerability assessments allow businesses to understand where climate change is most likely to affect them. Scenario assessments can provide a forward-looking view of the potential impact, so finance teams can plan ahead to mitigate future developments. The world’s current state is illuminating the need for resilience to global events we may not be able to foresee or control. With climate change being the next undeniable threat, it’s on the shoulders of the financial team to ensure that companies are adequately prepared for different climate events to improve their resilience and mitigate the associated risks. The strategic planning used now to prepare for these issues may encourage innovation and new methods of operating that not only benefit the bottom line but also prepare a business for when unexpected events do occur. This also offers opportunity to strategically prepare and recover from events in a way that helps reduce climate change and improve the environment on a global scale. Pull Quote There is an urgent need to integrate resiliency into core business strategy if businesses want to continue to thrive — or even remain operational. Topics Risk & Resilience Climate Change Finance & Investing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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