New global bee map gives scientists a conservation baseline

November 24, 2020 by  
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Bees are crucial pollinators for crops that humans consume, but their populations are on the decline. Now, a new, global bee map is tracking more than 20,000 bee species on Earth to help aid in their conservation. Many scientists worked together on the map, including John Ascher of the National University of Singapore, who compiled a checklist of all known bee species. He and other researchers cross-referenced several datasets about bee life on every continent except Antarctica, which doesn’t support bee life. Related: New solar farm in Indiana boosts local pollinators The study concluded that bees are more prevalent in dry, temperate areas away from the equator. More bees make their home in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere. The U.S., Africa and Middle East are popular with bees. These creatures prefer deserts to forests, since trees don’t offer as many food sources. “People think of bees as just honey bees, bumble bees, and maybe a few others, but there are more species of bees than of birds and mammals combined,” Ascher said. “The United States has by far the most species of bees, but there are also vast areas of the African continent and the Middle East which have high levels of undiscovered diversity, more than in tropical areas.” Honeybees have been well studied, but scientists have little information on more than 96% of bee species. While bee colonies are famous, many people might be surprised that some types of bees are solitary insects. “Many crops, especially in developing countries, rely on native bee species, not honey bees,” said study researcher Alice Hughes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Yunnan. “There isn’t nearly enough data out there about them, and providing a sensible baseline and analyzing it in a sensible way is essential if we’re going to maintain both biodiversity and also the services these species provide in the future.” The study’s authors hope that combining all of this bee data will be an important step toward conservation. + Science Daily Via BBC Image via Rebekka D

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New global bee map gives scientists a conservation baseline

MVRDV unveils sustainable Chengdu Sky Valley masterplan

November 24, 2020 by  
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MVRDV has revealed designs for Chengdu Sky Valley, a competition entry for the Future Science and Technology City, which is a planned district on the outskirts of Chengdu, China. Guided by sustainable and placemaking principles, the masterplan seeks to differentiate itself from the country’s other high-tech cities with an emphasis on retaining the existing agricultural landscape, promoting self-sufficient lifestyles and designing with site-specific analyses in mind. Developed as part of Chengdu’s Eastward Development Strategy, the planned Future Science and Technology City will be developed on a rural swath of land adjacent to the new Tianfu International Airport with access to the city’s Metro Line 18. Rather than raze the rural area, the architects sought to retain and enhance the existing landscape — characterized by agricultural fields, rolling hills and scattered villages — while embedding new areas of development in between preserved farming areas.  Related: MVRDV designs a sustainable “urban living room” for Shenzhen “The dichotomy between the existing rural landscape and the future science and technology campus demands a solution that balances tradition and innovation, past and future, young and old, East and West, technology and agriculture,” MVRDV explained. “The design therefore preserves the agricultural valleys, incorporating this activity as a key component of the Future Science and Technology City. New buildings are clustered on the hills, and shaped in a way that amplifies the valley skyline, augmenting the appearance of the Linpan landscape.” MVRDV’s tech taskforce, MVRDV NEXT, developed a series of digital scripts to analyze the site’s topography. The site analyses informed decisions on several parts of the design: which areas should be designated for agricultural zoning versus new building development; the optimization of pathways and bridges to ensure accessibility across the entire site while never exceeding a slope of 4%; the shape and height of human-made hills; and building height limits. As a result, the design features three main valleys — the Knowledge Valley, the Experience Valley and the Venture Valley — around which seven mixed-use developments will be clustered. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV and Atchain

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A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold

November 24, 2020 by  
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After purchasing a humble country home 25 years ago in the village of Ivry-sur-le-Lac, architect-owner Richard Rubin of Canadian firm Figurr Architects Collective wanted to treat himself and his family to a new second home with an extremely low environmental impact. Key to the creation of this low-impact holiday home was the use of prefabrication. The residence consists of five custom, prefabricated modules, each approximately 50 feet in length. With a reduced environmental footprint achieved through an airtight envelope, use of sustainable and local materials, and large, insulated glazing, the modern, energy-efficient home is currently being submitted by Rubin for LEED Gold certification. To ensure that his family wouldn’t lose more than one season of enjoying the country, the architect began construction on the new house in late summer, before the demolition of the existing home. Prefabrication not only helped to speed up the construction process, but the modular design also allowed for indoor construction without fear of inclement weather conditions. The five custom prefab modules were assembled with insulation, windows and flooring intact before they were transported to the site — a challenging undertaking due to the size of the giant, factory-built modules and winding country roads. Related: Work from home in this minimalist, modular 15-sided cabin Conceived as a nature retreat, the new country home is punctuated with floor-to-ceiling glazing that brings in views of the forest as well as direct sunshine, which helps reduce the heating and lighting costs. A natural materials palette blends the building into the landscape, while the warm timbers used indoors create a welcoming feel. The home brings the family together with an open-plan kitchen and dining room along with a cozy living room and a three-season, screened-in porch that looks out to the lake and woods. The architect has also carved out more intimate spaces for each of the family members, such as the ground-floor atelier for painting and carpentry. + Figurr Architects Collective Photography by David Boyer via Figurr Architects Collective

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A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold

Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy?

November 19, 2020 by  
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Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy? Jim Robbins Thu, 11/19/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published on Yale Environment 360 . Saudi Arabia is constructing a futuristic city in the desert on the Red Sea called Neom. The $500 billion city — complete with flying taxis and robotic domestic help — is being built from scratch and will be home to a million people. And what energy product will be used both to power this city and sell to the world? Not oil. The Saudis are going big on something called green hydrogen — a carbon-free fuel made from water by using renewably produced electricity to split hydrogen molecules from oxygen molecules. This summer, a large U.S. gas company, Air Products & Chemicals, announced that as part of Neom it has been building a green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia for the last four years. The plant is powered by 4 gigawatts from wind and solar projects that sprawl across the desert. It claims to be the world’s largest green hydrogen project — and more Saudi plants are on the drawing board. Green hydrogen? The Saudis aren’t alone in believing it’s the next big thing in the energy future. While the fuel is barely on the radar in the United States, around the world a green hydrogen rush is underway, and many companies, investors, governments and environmentalists believe it is an energy source that could help end the reign of fossil fuels and slow the world’s warming trajectory. “It is very promising,” said Rachel Fakhry, an energy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Experts such as Fakhry say that while wind and solar energy can provide the electricity to power homes and electric cars, green hydrogen could be an ideal power source for energy-intensive industries such as concrete and steel manufacturing, as well as parts of the transportation sector that are more difficult to electrify. “The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking,” Fakhry said in an interview. “Green hydrogen can do that.” Europe, which has an economy saddled with high energy prices and is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, is embracing green hydrogen by providing funding for construction of electrolysis plants and other hydrogen infrastructure. Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. “It is the missing part of the puzzle to a fully decarbonized economy,” the European Commission wrote in a July strategy document. Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. Hydrogen’s potential as a fuel source has been touted for decades, but the technology never has gotten off the ground on a sizeable scale — and with good reason, according to skeptics. They argue that widespread adoption of green hydrogen technologies has faced serious obstacles, most notably that hydrogen fuels need renewable energy to be green, which will require a massive expansion of renewable generation to power the electrolysis plants that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Green hydrogen is also hard to store and transport without a pipeline. And right now in some places, such as the U.S., hydrogen is a lot more expensive than other fuels such as natural gas. While it has advantages, said Michael Liebreich, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in the United Kingdom and a green hydrogen skeptic, “it displays an equally impressive list of disadvantages.” “It does not occur in nature so it requires energy to separate,” Liebreich wrote in a pair of recent essays for BloombergNEF. “Its storage requires compression to 700 times atmospheric pressure, refrigeration to 253 degrees Celsius… It carries one quarter the energy per unit volume of natural gas… It can embrittle metal; it escapes through the tiniest leaks and yes, it really is explosive.” In spite of these problems, Liebreich wrote, green hydrogen still “holds a vice-like grip over the imaginations of techno-optimists.” Ben Gallagher, an energy analyst at Wood McKenzie who studies green hydrogen, said the fuel is so new that its future remains unclear. “No one has any true idea what is going on here,” he said. “It’s speculation at this point. Right now it’s difficult to view this as the new oil. However, it could make up an important part of the overall fuel mix.” Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical in the universe. Two atoms of hydrogen paired with an atom of oxygen creates water. Alone, though, hydrogen is an odorless and tasteless gas, and highly combustible. Hydrogen derived from methane — usually from natural gas, but also coal and biomass — was pioneered in World War II by Germany, which has no petroleum deposits. But CO2 is emitted in manufacturing hydrogen from methane and so it’s not climate friendly; hydrogen manufactured this way is known as gray hydrogen. Green is the new kid on the hydrogen block, and because it’s manufactured with renewable energy, it’s CO2-free. Moreover, using renewable energy to create the fuel can help solve the problem of intermittency that plagues wind and solar power, and so it is essentially efficient storage. When demand for renewables is low, during the spring and fall, excess electricity can be used to power the electrolysis needed to split hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Then the hydrogen can be stored or sent down a pipeline. The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking. Green hydrogen can do that. Such advantages are fueling growing interest in global green hydrogen. Across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, more countries and companies are embracing this high-quality fuel. The U.S. lags behind because other forms of energy, such as natural gas, are much cheaper, but several new projects are underway, including a green hydrogen power plant in Utah that will replace two aging coal-fired plants and produce electricity for southern California. In Japan, a new green hydrogen plant, one of the world’s largest, just opened near Fukishima — an intentionally symbolic location given the plant’s proximity to the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster. It will be used to power fuel cells, both in vehicles and at stationary sites. An energy consortium in Australia just announced plans to build a project called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Pilbara that would use 1,743 large wind turbines and 30 square miles of solar panels to run a 26-gigawatt electrolysis factory that would create green hydrogen to send to Singapore. As Europe intensifies its decarbonization drive, it, too, is betting big on the fuel. The European Union just drafted a strategy for a large-scale green hydrogen expansion, although it hasn’t been officially adopted yet. But in its $550-billion clean energy plan, the EU is including funds for new green hydrogen electrolyzers and transport and storage technology for the fuel. “Large-scale deployment of clean hydrogen at a fast pace is key for the EU to achieve its high climate ambitions,” the European Commission wrote. The Middle East, which has the world’s cheapest wind and solar power, is angling to be a major player in green hydrogen. “Saudi Arabia has ridiculously low-cost renewable power,” said Thomas Koch Blank, leader of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Breakthrough Technology Program. “The sun is shining pretty reliably every day and the wind is blowing pretty reliably every night. It’s hard to beat.” BloombergNEF estimates that to generate enough green hydrogen to meet a quarter of the world’s energy needs would take more electricity than the world generates now from all sources and an investment of $11 trillion in production and storage. That’s why the focus for now is on the 15 percent of the economy with energy needs not easily supplied by wind and solar power, such as heavy manufacturing, long-distance trucking and fuel for cargo ships and aircraft. The Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), a green hydrogen facility that can generate as much as 1,200 normal meter cubed (Nm3) of hydrogen per hour, opened in Japan in March. Source:  TOSHIBA ESS The energy density of green hydrogen is three times that of jet fuel, making it a promising zero-emissions technology for aircraft. But Airbus, the European airplane manufacturer, recently released a statement saying that significant problems need to be overcome, including safely storing hydrogen on aircraft, the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure at airports, and cost. Experts say that new technologies will be needed to solve these problems. Nevertheless, Airbus believes green hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonizing air transport. “Cost-competitive green hydrogen and cross-industry partnerships will be mandatory to bring zero-emission flying to reality,” said Glen Llewellyn, vice president of Zero Emission Aircraft for Airbus. Hydrogen-powered aircraft could be flying by 2035, he said. In the U.S., where energy prices are low, green hydrogen costs about three times as much as natural gas, although that price doesn’t factor in the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. The price of green hydrogen is falling, however. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. A major driver of green hydrogen development in the U.S. is California’s aggressive push toward a carbon-neutral future. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for example, is helping fund the construction of the green hydrogen-fueled power plant in Utah. It’s scheduled to go online in 2025. A company called SGH2 recently announced it would build a large facility to produce green hydrogen in southern California. Instead of using electrolysis, though, it will use waste gasification, which heats many types of waste to high temperatures that reduce them to their molecular compounds. Those molecules then bind with hydrogen, and SGH2 claims it can make green hydrogen more cheaply than using electrolysis. California officials also see green hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels for diesel vehicles. The state passed a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2009 to promote electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. Last month, a group of heavy-duty vehicle and energy industry officials formed the Western States Hydrogen Alliance o press for rapid deployment of hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure to replace diesel trucks, buses, locomotives and aircraft. The price of green hydrogen is falling. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. “Hydrogen fuel cells will power the future of zero-emission mobility in these heavy-duty, hard-to-electrify sectors,” said Roxana Bekemohammadi, executive director of the Western States Hydrogen Alliance. “That fact is indisputable. This new alliance exists to ensure government and industry can work efficiently together to accelerate the coming of this revolution.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $100 million investment to help develop large, affordable electrolyzers and to create new fuel cell technologies for long-haul trucks. In Australia, the University of New South Wales, in partnership with a global engineering firm, GHD, has created a home-based system called LAVO that uses solar energy to generate and store green hydrogen in home systems. The hydrogen is converted back into electricity as needed. All these developments, said Blank of the Rocky Mountain Institute, are “really good news. Green hydrogen has high potential to address many of the things that keep people awake at night because the climate change problem seems unsolvable.” Pull Quote Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking. Green hydrogen can do that. The price of green hydrogen is falling. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. Topics Energy & Climate Renewable Energy Wind Power Solar Hydrogen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hydrogen’s potential as a fuel source has been touted for decades, but the technology has never gotten off the ground on a sizeable scale — and with good reason, according to skeptics. Photo by petrmalinak on Shutterstock.

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Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy?

Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash?

November 17, 2020 by  
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Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash? Joel Makower Tue, 11/17/2020 – 02:11 This year, there has been much ado about zero. It’s becoming hard to read the green media, or even the mainstream media, without seeing new net-zero commitments from companies, governments, institutions and others. Indeed, “net-zero” is the new “zero waste” — remember way back in 2019 when everyone was making that commitment? — which is the new “100 percent renewable,” which is the new “ISO 14001 certified,” and on and on, all the way back to when announcing a LEED-certified building was widely considered to be media-worthy . Now, net-zero is the flavor of the month. Global net-zero commitments doubled in less than a year and commitments by companies more than tripled, rising from 500 at the end of 2019 to more than 1,500 by September. In addition to net-zero companies, there are also net-zero buildings , communities , products , farming , factories , supply-chains , even ships . One large financial institution set forth a commitment to net-zero client emissions . There’s also net-zero water and waste . There are net-zero-committed oil companies , utilities and airlines . Earlier this year, the United Nations formed a Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance of institutional investors. The Trump administration even has funded the development of net-zero coal plants . You can’t make this stuff up. So, you’d think all this talk about “zero” would add up to something, right? It’s hard to know, according to a new report, ” Navigating the nuances of net-zero targets ,” by the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab . You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. As the report notes, net-zero commitments vary widely in terms of their metrics and transparency, among other things. That is, no single standard governs the way net-zero is defined or measured, or even how it should be communicated. For example, companies may refer to becoming “carbon negative” or “climate positive”; or that they seek to achieve “net-zero” or “net-negative” emissions or “deep decarbonization”; or that they plan to become “emissions-free” or achieve “zero emissions”; or that they are committed to a “1.5 degrees C pathway.” It’s not just language. Another issue is the lack of standardization about goals. For example, according to the report, some companies aim to fully decarbonize their own operations along with those of their supply chain, while others have no target for reducing their own emissions. Net-zero goals range from commitments to reduce emissions by a specific percentage by a target year, which are reported through platforms such as CDP, to more general announcements of net-zero ambition. Target practice And then there’s the issue of target dates — and, even more so, interim targets. Setting 2050 as the year for achieving net-zero emissions (or some other goal) is one thing — that date aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement — but that 30-year horizon is a bit far off to enable reasonable accountability, perhaps deliberately so. What progress can we expect to see in, say, 2025 or 2030? Relatively few companies have committed to such accountability: Only 8 percent of companies’ net-zero targets include interim targets to chart a decarbonization pathway, according to the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab report, which notes, “Interim targets offer clarity and guidance on how particular targets should be implemented. They provide the transparency necessary to ensure accountability.” Reliance on offsets is yet another issue. Some experts have deemed it appropriate for companies to invest in emissions offsets once they have made all of the other appropriate emissions reductions — such as through efficiency measures or by buying green energy — but offsetting one’s emissions without really cutting them is another thing altogether. According to the report, only about half of the companies and one-quarter of the subnational governments “are transparent about their intention to use offsets for their net-zero targets. The number of actors that explicitly rule out using offsets is limited.” Moreover, it added: “Without a radical transformation of the offsetting market and the types of activities it supports, offsetting cannot be considered an equivalent alternative to an actor’s own emission reductions in 2020.” Even that’s not the end of the issues that companies need to consider. Getting to “zero,” it turns out, is no small thing. And it will loom larger in the coming months, as calls for increased corporate ambition grow, the United States (presumably) rejoins the Paris Agreement, governments edge closer to putting a price on carbon or creating other market mechanisms — and the ravages of a changing climate continue to be felt around the world. Increasingly, the makers of all those net-zero commitments will need to demonstrate that they truly are making significant progress, and fast. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. Topics Commitments & Goals Climate Change Net-Zero Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

November 17, 2020 by  
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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda Aron Cramer Tue, 11/17/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . Now that the results of the United States presidential election are in, it is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy.  The U.S. government has been either absent or counterproductive on sustainability issues the past four years. This will change in a Biden-Harris administration. How much it changes will depend greatly on the actions and influence of the business community. BSR exists to catalyze business leadership to achieve a just and sustainable world. We believe strongly that sustainability is a primary source of strategic business advantage. We believe that comprehensive business action calls for companies to “act, enable, and influence,” creating change both through actions in the “real economy” and also in advocating for policy solutions. With a new government coming into power, now is the time for business to use its voice and influence to call for decisive action from a more receptive administration in Washington. With this in mind, here is the agenda that BSR urges businesses to call on the Biden administration to adopt, in the spirit of the campaign’s “build back better” mantra. It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. Employment and economic Repairing the safety net:  It is time for business to engage with government in remaking the social safety net for the 21st century. 2020 has exposed the serious holes in the safety net, not least access to health care. It is also time to develop a consensus on portable benefits for people who change jobs or who work outside traditional jobs. Innovations such as the tax-deferred “401(j)” accounts proposed by Al Gore to allow employees to save for lifelong learning also would be a good step. These steps not only would enable economic security and mobility, they also would ensure opportunities for innovation and a dynamic workforce that businesses need. Income inequality: t is long past time for Americans to reverse the deep and widening inequality that plagues our country. While there are multiple reasons for this problem, three topics deserve to be made a priority. First is the need to raise the minimum wage to a level that is a genuine living wage. This would both enable families to support themselves and also reward labor in an economy in which capital has been rewarded more than it should be. Second is executive compensation, which has continued to rise far too fast. It is time for business leaders to take voluntary steps to reduce executive pay and for boards to commit to the same. Third, income inequality strikes communities of color especially hard and all pathways to prosperity need to address the wealth gap directly. Future of work: The changing nature of work is accelerating due to the confluence of COVID-19 and automation. Contingent or non-traditional work is the fastest growing category of work. There is no consensus on the rules governing such work or universal benefits people can access regardless of how their work is classified. Dialogue between business, government and workers’ representatives is needed to establish the rules of the road. Climate and environment Net zero target for the U.S.: Returning to the Paris Agreement will happen Jan. 20 — that is only the start. The U.S. should commit to a net-zero target the way that the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and others — including many U.S. states and cities — have. The need for renewed climate diplomacy, with the U.S. playing a crucial role along with the EU, China and Japan, could not be more important in the run-up to COP 26. Climate justice/just transition: Awareness of the disparate impacts of climate — mainly hitting communities of color and those with less formal education — means that environmental justice should come to the forefront. The shift to net-zero is a generational opportunity for progress, not only removing the most toxic elements of the existing energy system but also generating economic opportunities in the clean energy economy as a means of combatting poverty and discrimination. Business should insist that the transition to net zero include policies that prioritize the phase out of toxic impacts on communities of color, incentives for investments that ensure that the clean energy economy delivers training, and employment for people who need opportunities the most, in both rural and urban communities. Green infrastructure:  Even with divided government, investment in green infrastructure is possible as a means of generating employment at a time when it is badly needed and to reduce the operating costs of U.S. infrastructure. Business should advocate for built environment and transport systems that accelerate and prepare for the net zero economy. The long debated Green Infrastructure Bank should become a reality, not least with the rise of green and “olive” bonds. And this is also the place where serious — and badly needed — resilience objectives can be achieved. Regenerative agriculture: At long last, there is mainstream recognition of the deep intersections of climate, human health and the vibrancy of America’s agricultural economy. What’s more, the political opportunity to bring the country together through heartland interest in thriving agriculture and coastal interest in climate action is one that could help unify a country that is divided against itself on climate action. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Social Racial justice: The Biden campaign made clear that racial justice was one of its four priorities, along with climate action, economic opportunity and public health. In fact, these four topics are interrelated and should be addressed as such. The business community should make sure that the many statements of support for Black Lives Matter in 2020 are strengthened by a long-term commitment to ensure that decisive action is taken to end the centuries-long scourge of systemic racism. As noted above, the wealth gap that exists in communities of color is a legacy of longstanding oppression. Steps taken to address climate, strengthen the social safety net, restore public health and invest in green infrastructure offer great promise in addressing the wealth gap, and business should support this objective vocally. In addition, business also should make clear its support for criminal legal system reform, starting with policing, but also including access to the court system and incarceration rates. Finally, business should call for mandatory disclosure of employee demographic information, which leverages transparency in support of greater equity. Technology and human rights/privacy: It is well understood that policy moves more slowly than technology. At a high level, the U.S. government should establish the principle that new technologies should adhere to international human rights standards in their design, development and use. In addition, the U.S. government can introduce a federal privacy law along similar lines to the GDPR, ensure that any revisions to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996 are consistent with the protection of human rights, and introduce sector-based approaches to regulating disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometric technologies. Companies from all industries should advocate for a technology policy and regulatory context that protects interdependent rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, security, freedom of assembly, non-discrimination, public health and access to remedy. Restoring support for human rights and democracy: The U.S. government has provided implicit and explicit support for some of the governments most responsible for the worst human rights abuses over the past few years. The business community shied away from calling this out the way they challenged the Trump administration’s approach to climate. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. Human migration and refugee policies: The xenophobia unleashed in the first days of the Trump years must be relegated to the past. Business consistently has called for immigration policies that enable the U.S. to welcome the breadth of human capacity that comes from literally every corner of the world. This is needed both for humanitarian reasons, which speak for themselves, but also because of the positive impact open societies have on economic vitality and innovation. What’s more, this will also help to restore America’s soft power around the world, something that benefits U.S. businesses and which has been seriously damaged since 2016. Governance Corporate governance reforms and listing requirements: It is time for boards to reflect more fully the world in which business actually operates. This means diversifying board composition. It also requires that so-called “non-financial” considerations be embedded in corporate governance and listing requirements. A good first step towards integration of ESG into corporate governance would be business advocacy for making the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) mandatory. This then can be extended to other steps including mandatory human rights diligence, executive compensation and workplace diversity. All these steps will strengthen the resilience of business and bring America’s trading rules in sync with advances in Europe and elsewhere. Restoring democracy: 2020 has made clear, yet again, of significant structural flaws in American democracy. Business associations stepped up to call publicly for democratic processes to be honored — and have continued to call for this post-election. This remains important as many have chosen not to honor the clear outcome of the election. Despite this, American democracy appears poised to survive in the wake of this unusual election, but issues remain. Business should use its voice to call for reforms that address voter suppression, campaign finance, gerrymandering and a judicial system infected by hyper-partisanship. This is an issue that many CEOs will seek to avoid for fear of appearing to pick sides, and that is understandable. But the reforms called for here should not be seen that way, as they are necessary for our system to function, for all people to have their voices heard and for faith in the system be restored. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Rules-based trading system with multilateral agreements: The U.S. was the primary architect of the rules-based trading system in the wake of World War II and the primary protector of that system over the past 75 years. While this system certainly needs significant reforms, the past four years have taken a scorched-earth approach that leaves us no hope of managing an interdependent world well and fairly. Business could not have more of a stake in restoring support for the concept of multilateralism and more of a need to make sure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Procurement: Finally, business should call on government to partner more aggressively on procurement policies. The U.S. government has immense purchasing power and it is not being used as fully as it could be to promote the creation and efficiency of markets for sustainable products and services. This is also a uniquely valuable way to address the wealth gap, with government partnering with BIPOC-owned businesses as suppliers. There will be a time to get more specific on policy solutions. For now, however, it is essential to define the areas where progress is necessary. Much of what is advocated here is also found in BSR’s call for business action to promote a 21st century social contract . The temptation to “go back to business as usual” will be strong for many, but that would be a mistake. Building a just and sustainable world never has been about opposing any single political leader. It always has been about building a future in which we can all thrive. It is about what we are for, not what we are against. After four years when the U.S. government failed to embrace — and often thwarted — the achievement of sustainable business, the business voice remains a powerful tool in creating an economy that works for all. Pull Quote It is time to focus on what business can do to promote a policy agenda that will accelerate the transformation needed to shift to a truly just and sustainable economy. It is time for business to make clear that it wants and needs strong support for human rights, with renewed action from the White House and State Department at a minimum. 2020 has made clear, yet again, that there are significant structural flaws in American democracy. Topics Policy & Politics Policy & Politics Paris Agreement Climate Justice Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware during the 2020 election campaign. Photo by  Stratos Brilakis  on Shutterstock.

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A vision for a Biden-Harris sustainable business agenda

4 ways businesses can connect with their communities to create a clean economy

November 6, 2020 by  
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4 ways businesses can connect with their communities to create a clean economy Marian Jones Fri, 11/06/2020 – 01:00 Companies often struggle with building community trust as they navigate between profit-making and authentically engaging on climate change and environmental justice matters. Last week at GreenBiz Group’s virtual conference and expo on stimulating the clean economy, VERGE 20 , community leaders and businesses from across the country came together to network, share insights and explore solutions to these challenges. During the panel “Connecting Communities to the Clean Economy,” experts shared their experiences working with private companies, their fights for green jobs and why businesses need to think of themselves as part of the community. The talk featured two women of color and leaders within the environmental and economic justice movement: Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE (founded as the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park); and Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing); with Heather Clancy, editorial director at GreenBiz, acting as moderator. PUSH Buffalo is a nonprofit grassroots community organization working to build and execute a comprehensive revitalization plan for West Buffalo’s West Side. This stimulus plan includes affordable housing rehabilitation, building weatherization and other green infrastructure projects. UPROSE is Brooklyn’s foremost Latinx community organization. Its work involves community organizing, supporting sustainable development and community-led climate adaptation in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components. Panelists explained how their community organizations and business partners have successfully collaborated in the past. The conversation provided an insight into how companies can understand the communities they serve, the area they’re in and the people they employ. Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components . Here are four key takeaways: 1. To build real, authentic community trust, businesses must be willing to listen to community concerns and respond with effective community-oriented solutions. Ghirmatzion talked about PUSH Buffalo’s work with a local hiring hall that connects New Yorkers to jobs. This initiative provides both hands-on training for people in the Buffalo area who have been underemployed for long periods of time and employment opportunities in renewable energy projects and green construction. According to Rahwa, at least “99.9 percent of them were folks of color.” For example, a few years ago, about 24 of PUSH’s trainees experienced racist harassment and open hostility from their white coworkers and supervisor. When PUSH brought their concerns to the company’s CEO, the organization investigated the matter and fired the supervisor. Workers and community members alike appreciated the company’s quick action and zero tolerance, Ghirmatzion said. Listening to the community and taking their issues seriously is crucial for building trust, she observed. 2. Private entities should think of themselves as community members and view local residents as political and economic partners. For Yeampierre of UPROSE, the most successful partnerships have been ones in which businesses joined local initiatives and shared the same political and environmental goals as the community. According to Yeampierre, UPROSE has had excellent relationships with some companies and terrible relationships with others. The excellent relationships have been with businesses that seek input from UPROSE on climate adaptation and embrace UPROSE’s best practices for environmental justice and community resiliency. Yeampierre cited two successful partnerships. Sims Recycling Solutions worked with UPROSE from the beginning to become a carbon-neutral state-of-the-art facility that would serve community needs but not be an eyesore or polluting facility on the industrial waterfront. Additionally, UPROSE has received support from Patagonia since 2011. In this mutually beneficial relationship, Patagonia also provides financial support for UPROSE’s environmental work. UPROSE has helped Patagonia have an office culture in which its employees join in UPROSE’s grass-roots organizing. As Yeampierre said, “Sometimes businesses don’t see themselves as part of the community, and see our community as a front for wealth for them.” She encouraged private businesses to view the community they operate in not as a resource but as a partner. 3. Businesses and developers need to embrace resilient thinking rather than viewing job creation and profit-making as their key goals. Yeampierre got a chance to provide a brief overview of UPROSE’s work to protect Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront from land speculation. UPROSE was at the center of a triumphant seven-year-long struggle against the rezoning of Industry City in Brooklyn. However, the rezoning would have created thousands of jobs. Developers viewed this project as a win-win, but activists and community leaders opposed it because the jobs would have been mostly low-paying. Plus, the influx of high-end retail and new office jobs would spur gentrification. Yeampierre argued that waterfronts such as Sunset Park are where we need to start building for “climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience.” “It’s what we call a green reindustrialization of our industrial waterfront,” she added. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Making a resilient New York means investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency retrofits, construction, sustainable manufacturing and food security, all of which would create thousands of jobs. We need these things now, because as Yeampierre said, “We know that climate change is here.” The campaign to preserve the waterfront was a significant victory for industrial communities all over the U.S., who are told they ought to accept new jobs that rely on the extraction of fossil fuels and displacement. Sunset Park’s future could become a model for converting an industrial zone into an environmentally friendly infrastructure through green manufacturing. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Instead, it’s vital to support community-led proposals consistent with a resilient green future from the beginning. 4. Companies can use their communications resources to showcase community climate activists’ voices and a voice in the fight for a just transition . Both UPROSE and PUSH Buffalo are a part of NY Renews, a coalition of over 140 community, labor and grassroots organizations working to end climate change in New York while safeguarding workers. Moderator Clancy asked how being members of this coalition amplifies their work. Both panelists agreed that the legislation NY Renews fights for, such as the Climate Mobilization Act, which passed last year, makes it easier for smaller social justice-based organizations to show their communities it’s possible to have a just transition. This legislation would generate thousands of jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy prices. Companies also can benefit from supporting the work of NY Renews because a just transition is an idea that appeals to workers and communities who fear that the process of reducing emissions could lead to a future with fewer jobs and more poverty. For UPROSE, being in NY Renews “helps us build locally, but it also helps us build the scale, and it helps us create the kind of regional impact that climate change demands. We need to be thinking big and locally,” Yeampierre declared. Supporting or doing similar work as NY Renews, creating green and decent jobs, can help private enterprises show that they want to support resiliency and want communities to thrive. In their closing remarks, both panelists reiterated their earlier comments on authenticity and seeking community input as soon as they start planning a project. Authentic was the word the panelists most used to describe the kind of relationship and behavior they would like to see from businesses. “Authentic” is the characteristic you should want the community to think of your company as, and you should meet that expectation, the tow community organizers observed. That is, authentic businesses genuinely communicate; they find out what their community wants and take the impact they have on the community seriously. People who live in the community can offer many solutions and critical perspectives because they’ve been working on these issues for generations, they concluded. Pull Quote Communicating genuinely and authentically listening are two key components. Businesses should avoid trying to fight long, drawn-out battles that ignore the wishes of the community. Topics Cities Social Justice Corporate Strategy VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A scene from a youth climate protest in San Francisco, California. Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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4 ways businesses can connect with their communities to create a clean economy

Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people

November 4, 2020 by  
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Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people Sara Murphy Wed, 11/04/2020 – 01:30 Gina McCarthy thinks we should be more ambitious in our goals for a thriving planet and an equitable society. The former EPA administrator and current president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been a leading advocate for smart, successful strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. During a  VERGE 20  virtual event Friday, McCarthy talked with GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower about how racial justice and climate justice go hand in hand, and what we need to do to assure a bright future for everyone’s children. “We’re facing a lot of challenges at once,” McCarthy noted, “but they’re also an incredible signal about the future we need to deliver and the way to get there.” The first challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, we are facing a racial reckoning that is long overdue. Third, many people are feeling the painful effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Finally, the climate crisis is worse than it’s ever been. For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. What do these four challenges have in common? “They stem from the system we chose when we grabbed and relied on fossil fuels,” McCarthy said. “For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. The planet doesn’t give a damn if we’re around — we do!” McCarthy pointed out that we can protect our planet and natural resources in a way that grows jobs and well-being. “We have solutions,” she said. “Let’s grow the demand for them.” Social imperative McCarthy focused strongly on the need for equitable action in the face of society’s four major challenges, noting that data on COVID-19 show the disease is killing twice as many exposed Black people as their white counterparts. McCarthy observed that the pandemic is one more example of how our system has left some communities behind, drawing a parallel to the disproportionate impact of climate change and pollution on communities of color. “They’re in the crosshairs of the danger,” she said. McCarthy thinks that we as individuals must reckon with the fact that we can take action in our own communities. If we commit to doing so, the solutions will come, she said. McCarthy discussed regulators’ role in delivering solutions, noting the EPA’s obligation to protect people’s health. The agency sets standards that send market signals, she said, which supports growth and expansion. Business community role Big business needs to look at its entire supply chain and be transparent in how it tells us what it’s valuing, McCarthy said, so consumers can make choices accordingly. While we’re making progress on this front, we still have a long way to go, she said. “We’re not talking about sacrifices, but rather benefits,” McCarthy explained. I want twofers and threefers. I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all? For example, people can make money from technological expansion, among other types of innovation. The transformation we need demands significant work in transportation, McCarthy offered. She sees no question that electric vehicles are the wave of the future, and we just need to work to get the technology up to critical mass by expanding the relevant infrastructure via public-private partnerships and other mechanisms. The same applies to hydrogen technologies for heavy vehicles and more. “If we work at the state level, it won’t matter who’s sitting at the federal level,” McCarthy opined. “If we drive the kind of change we want at every level of government, it will open up markets everywhere.” Trade-offs? “I want twofers and threefers,” McCarthy exclaimed, referring to the idea that we can and should have multiple ambitious goals at the same time. “I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all?” She highlighted the imperative to raise up everybody in the process, pointing to the need for better housing, clean air and clean water for communities left behind by systemic racism. McCarthy also emphasized the United States’ outsized obligation to the rest of the world, given that “we’ve been shipping our pollution elsewhere, merrily going on our way as if we didn’t do that. We have a shot at an equitable, healthy, sustainable future. There is no reason we have to compromise on those goals.” Message of hope? Wrapping up her comments, McCarthy enjoined everyone to hug their children and to listen to them about the future they want. She called upon all parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents and caregivers to deliver a future for the children in their lives that would bring them pride. “We humans care about taking care of our families more than anything else,” McCarthy concluded. “Let’s use that to lift all families up.” Pull Quote For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. I want twofers and threefers. I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all? Topics Policy & Politics VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Then EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to the National Press Club on climate change and power plants in September 2013. Shutterstock Albert H. Teich Close Authorship

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Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people

6 differences between forestry and soil carbon offsets

November 4, 2020 by  
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6 differences between forestry and soil carbon offsets Jesse Klein Wed, 11/04/2020 – 01:00 Carbon offsets are a big, confusing topic. Three breakout sessions at VERGE 20 covered this topic, with over 100 participants at each. Still, each one went over the allotted time with many questions left unanswered. While understanding the basics is important, many nuances and small details warrant their own entire discussion.  Carbon credit projects vary widely, from urban forestry projects to air carbon capture to regenerative agriculture. And while many will have the same basic benefits and limitations, there are huge differences in management, co-benefits, costs and analyses.  In two VERGE 20 sessions, experts dived deep into the specifics of soil carbon credits and forestry carbon credits. Here are six differences between these two popular types of carbon offsets.  1. Forestry credits have a longer history Forestry credits have been around for a while and a lot of data is publicly available data from the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program . The robust data set reports on trends in forest areas including size, species, health, growth, mortality, removals and carbon sequestrations. The data is publicly available for scientists to study and can help them come to concrete conclusions about the effectiveness of forests as a carbon sink.  “On the forest side, we have 100 years of public data in the United States on the types of trees and effectively the carbon content in different forest types,” Danny Cullenward, policy director at CarbonPlan, said during VERGE 20. “We don’t really have anything comparable on the soil side.”  Soil credits are much newer. According to Cullenward, soil data is being collected by private and third-party platforms, and to get farmers to work with them, these companies have to promise data privacy and security.  “None of that [data] is feeding back into the public ecosystem to improve transparency,” he said.  2. Soil is more challenging Because soil carbon sequestration, the data associated with the process and the resulting credits are in their infancy, science hasn’t come to a consensus on many important aspects of this type of carbon sequestration. This includes the depth of soil monitoring that is needed. According to Cullenward, most models and samples only analyze the top layer of soil, the first 30 centimeters. But new science suggests there is a risk for reversal.  “Now there’s a strain of science suggesting that when you look deeper down to 1 or 2 meters, you get a very different answer,” he said. “Might see a net reversal, when you look at the full profile. Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil.”  The second reason soil is more complicated is because it requires extensive physical sampling, which is expensive. Forestry, on the other hand, can use satellite imagery to verify the trees exist and are in the locations the model is assuming. No satellite can tell you what is going on in the soil.  Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil. 3. Both have additionality issues, but they differ Additionality is really hard to prove with any carbon offset project. For the uninitiated, additionality is the concept that the carbon removal is happening because of the investment from a carbon credit market and wouldn’t have happened without that investment. Most of the time you are comparing one outcome to one that never actually happened. So additionality is always just an estimation evaluated against a baseline.  Forestry credits have been having an issue with that baseline calculation.  “The protocols are allowing landowners that are already managing their lands in sustainable ways to claim a baseline with aggressive harvesting, and earn offset credits without necessarily changing their land management practice,” Barbara Haya, research fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, said during the VERGE 20 forestry credit session. A land trust that was never going to chop down their trees could be collecting a forestry offset on the baseline that it would sell all its wood to the timber market. The company that invests to keep those trees alive actually hasn’t protected anything.  On the soil side, there are economic advantages to regenerative agriculture practices. Studies indicate that crop rotations, no-till procedures and other sustainable techniques can increase crop yield, decrease costs and sequester more carbon into the land. Farmers have an economic incentive without the carbon market to change land management routines.  Cullenward expressed concern that farmers are just tacking on the climate benefits to a decision they already have made to get a few extra bucks from the carbon market.  4. Soil credits have more upfront costs than forestry However, a rebuttal to the idea that farmers are making the switch to regenerative practices on their own is the large upfront costs it takes to do so. Adoption among farmers of regenerative practices is a big issue. They have to learn new skills and buy new machinery. Even then, according to Alexsandra Guerra, director of corporate development at Nori, a soil carbon marketplace, farmers will see reductions in yield for a few years. “That does not make financial sense. A farmer isn’t going to adopt practices that for even a second, or even one growing season, will decrease yields much less for three to seven years,” she said. “Farmers need to see there’s a financial mechanism, trading price on carbon, where they could enter in some preliminary data and say, ‘Oh, look, this how much money I can earn in a carbon market for the next 10 years.'” They need to be able to   create a financially viable plan for their farm and the carbon market investment helps bridge the gap.  In forestry, while some surveying costs are needed early on in the process, the carbon market is paying them to not do something, such as chop down the trees, which is much cheaper than paying farmers to do something. 5. Forestry’s longer contracts can create permanence horizon concerns  We need carbon to be stored for centuries to make a real impact, but short-term contracts might be the way to go. Nori makes farmers commit to a 10-year contract for soil sequestration. While 10 years is not enough to make an impact on our atmosphere, it allows Nori to check in on the farms and ensure they are continuing regenerative practices more often, every time they re-up on the contract.  Right now, forestry credit contracts tend towards 50 or even 100 years. Cullenward warned that buyers should be skeptical of forestry contracts written for these longer periods. Few partnerships in any field survive 100 years. The longest contract a typical financial institution will give you is a 30-year mortgage. Yet many forestry offset buys are content to sign onto a 100-year offset without really understanding how to monitor something for a century.  “You don’t know how credible those contracts really are,” he said.  6. Soil carbon sequestration can be lost easier and quicker The biggest risk for soil carbon offsets is how quickly they can be reversed. Just as easily as carbon can be put into the ground, it can be taken out. According to soil health experts such as Haya from UC Berkeley, there are a lot of biological ways carbon can be lost from the soil. Many of these are instantaneous when a landowner decides to change the way land is plowed. According to Cullenward, soil carbon is more vulnerable to reversals than forestry because a farmer easily can switch back to traditional farming methods without much notice.  To release all the carbon in a forest, however, takes a lot more time and planning. Getting machinery into the forest to chop the trees, finding a buyer and shipping the logs is a lot more obvious and visible. There is more time for intervention to prevent carbon loss. But there is one way forests can lose all the carbon in a matter of moments: wildfires. And with the fire season becoming more brutal and longer due to climate change and bad forestry management practices, it becomes a renewed and very real problem for forestry credits.  There are a lot of issues with both types of credits. But there are a lot of opportunities as well. Seizing the opportunities while addressing the issues is something we desperately need to figure out, and soon.  “There’s a climate crisis. I think that the space is rushing to find a solution because we need a solution,” Guerra said. “We will never figure it out without actually implementing it.”  Pull Quote Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil. Topics Forestry Carbon Removal Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Forestry Carbon Removal VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Understanding the different limitations of forestry and soil credits illuminates the wide variety of issues in the carbon offset market.//Courtesy of Unsplash

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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

November 4, 2020 by  
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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change? Suzanne Shelton Wed, 11/04/2020 – 00:15 In 2017, 65 percent of Americans believed that climate change was occurring and that it was caused by human activity. According to our latest Eco Pulse polling, that number is down to 55 percent. Now, what I regularly tell people about this seemingly distressing news is that the number of actual climate deniers — Americans who believe climate change isn’t occurring at all — stands at only 17 percent, right where it was in 2016. I regularly say, “We need to stop focusing on whose fault it is. If your kid calls you and says he or she has just been in a car wreck, your first question is, ‘Are you OK?’ not, ‘Whose fault was it?’ So, in our messaging let’s just focus on the fact that there’s a widely acknowledged problem and we should all do something about it.” I do still think that’s the right approach. But as noted in my blog post a couple of weeks ago , I think those of us in the sustainability community have something to learn from the Disinformation Machine. And I’ve found myself pondering the question in the headline of this piece a lot. To me, the QAnon conspiracy theory doesn’t even seem like a viable plot for a Hollywood blockbuster. Imagine the pitch to an A-list star: “So, half the politicians in Washington, and many in the entertainment industry, are leading a Satanic cult, kidnapping children and forcing them into a shadowy underworld of sex trafficking. These terrible villains sometimes kill the children to extract their adrenaline in order to make themselves younger and more powerful. You’re the president of the United States, recruited specifically to run for president so that you can destroy this evil plan. Many people in this terrifying cult will try to stop you — accusing you of courting foreign interference in your election, trying to impeach you, even throwing a pandemic your way. But you will not be stopped!” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Can’t you picture any star going, “Um, neat. And no.” It just sounds too far-fetched, right? How could that possibly be a plausible story? Of course, that’s how some people feel about climate change. As in, “Really? You expect me to believe in some unseen force that’s going to destroy life as we know it, and I’m supposed to give up fossil fuels and meat to save us all? Come on …” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications: 1. Save the children. That’s a QAnon rallying cry that looks to be pretty effective in pulling more mainstream moms into the fold. Most moms, myself included, are instinctively wired to protect children in peril. This is why it’s imperative that we stop talking about climate change as something that’s going to affect “future generations.” Who the heck are those people? And how am I supposed to have personal feelings about a generation? No, frame the message as “your children and grandchildren.” Co-opt the idea of “save the children” to use it to move people to take action against climate change. 2. Evil/the Devil. I recently finished the seventh Harry Potter book with my daughter. If you’ve read it — or even just heard about it — you know the entire series is about Harry ultimately saving the wizarding world from Voldemort, the incarnation of evil. We get how awful Voldemort is, and we desperately want Harry to win. That same idea has been played out over and over in books, movies and even in country-building — Nazi Germany horrifyingly positioned an entire group of people as evil. QAnon is doing the same thing (and many parallels have been drawn to anti-Semitic tropes). The trick, then, is how do we create an evil target to fight against to move people to action on climate change? Perhaps climate change itself is the evil? Perhaps it’s Big Oil? We need a villain to make our narrative more powerful. 3. Somebody people want a reason to hate. One thing I think is particularly nefarious and powerful about the QAnon narrative is that it holds up celebrities that many in America may want a reason to hate as perpetrators of the atrocities. It’s unpopular to hate Oprah Winfrey or the Pope. But say you actually don’t like them, for whatever reason. QAnon gives you a reason to justify your hate. And the whole Hillary Clinton “lock her up” thing that’s really old news? QAnon gives you a reason to bring it back and erase any lingering worries about the fact that Trump didn’t win the popular vote. “Who cares if she won the popular vote … she’s evil!” I don’t know who the equivalent is, but the “fight climate change” narrative needs more than a villain — we need a villain that people love to hate. Pull Quote I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Topics Marketing & Communication Climate Change Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably 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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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

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