How to get involved in virtual and local Earth Day events

April 16, 2021 by  
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The truth is we can all take steps every day to protect, honor and serve the planet. However, Earth Day , recognized this year on April 22, 2021, presents a plethora of focused ways to engage with fellow activists, environmentalists and scientists. The Earth Day Initiative consolidates your options in one online location at EarthDay.org . Here are just a few ways to get involved locally or virtually on Earth Day this year. Earth Day 2021 virtual fair With the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person gatherings are few and far between. After learning from the quickly developed Earth Day virtual event last year that included notable activists like Bill Nye, Elizabeth Warren and Al Gore, organizers have made the 2021 event virtual again but even more interactive and comprehensive. Related: A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day Technology allows attendees to view the event from home with their personalized avatar touring the space, like a video game. Visitors can interact with exhibitors simply by approaching as an avatar. The system opens Zoom windows automatically when you get close so you can engage in a discussion. The goal, this year and every year, is to continue the climate conversation by sharing information about ways to make a positive impact. Hot topics at the event will include wellness, renewable energy, sustainable food solutions, environmental justice, zero-waste living and youth environmental activism.  The event starts Sunday, April 18 and extends into Monday, April 19 as a kick off to Earth Week. If you’re interested in attending, you can RSVP in advance for free. If you want to represent a nonprofit or sustainably minded business, you can register as an exhibitor. Three days of climate action Earth Day is also hosting a virtual, three-day summit in conjunction with President Biden’s climate summit for global leaders. The focus for these events is improving climate literacy, promoting environmental justice and creating a platform for a broad range of youth-led, climate-focused issues. It begins on April 20, and the youth climate summit is organized and promoted by Earth Uprising, My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists. The four-hour digital event will cover a range of hot topics including green jobs, climate literacy, civic skill training, environmental justice , biodiversity protection and sustainable agriculture. That same evening, the Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit, which will highlight the connection between the climate crisis and poverty, pollution and racial issues. April 21 will launch the “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit” presented by Education International. This virtual gathering will focus on the importance of educators in spreading messages about climate change. Parallel to Biden’s summit that takes place on Earth Day, April 22, the Earth Day organization will sponsor a live digital event covering ongoing discussions regarding environmental education, climate restoration and innovative ideas. Pick your passion project If you’re not interested in or able to attend these virtual events, there are a slew of other organized events to consider. The Earth Day website provides an interactive map, with an available filter, that shows ways you can get involved in your area or through an organization that shares your particular passion.  You can participate with a local cause, such as garbage clean-ups and other events, learn more about ways to help the planet through educational events, or join an aviary or conservation group in their scheduled activities.  Start your own event If you have a particular passion and you’d like to lead the cause, you can register your event on the Earth Day website, and the organization will help you advertise and bring people together. Earth Day asks that you adhere to local restrictions in regard to the pandemic . However, even if you can’t gather in person, the opportunity to be virtual also provides a wider audience beyond those that may be able to attend locally. Remember the small things There are a million ways to honor the Earth on its special day, and celebrations don’t have to be via virtual or in-person gatherings. Instead, look within your own home and lifestyle for actions that will lower your impact and facilitate the health of the planet. It can be as simple as cancelling your print magazine or picking up trash while on a hike. Look up a food, water or electrical footprint calculator and take the quiz to figure out where you can conserve. Plan a week of vegan meals. Learn more about regenerative farming and eliminate tilling on your property. Plant a tree or flowers . Write your congressperson. Promote climate literacy at the local level within schools and the community. You can become part of a global community gathering information about the planet by downloading the Global Earth Challenge app . Provide information in regards to air quality , water quality, insect populations, climate change, plastic pollution and food sustainability to help guide policies for the future. Within your own home, look for ways to eliminate plastic by taking your own shopping and produce bags to the store. Shop in bulk and bring your own containers. Make foods from scratch instead of buying prepackaged options. Buy textiles made from natural materials like hemp, bamboo and organic cotton. Conserve water by saving pasta water or collected shower water for your plants, indoors or out. Reuse bath water for the pets.  Reduce your car emissions by saving up for an electric car, or consolidate trips to the store, ride your bike, walk or rely on public transportation. You can also set up a ride-share with coworkers and carpools with other parents. April 22 is just a date on the calendar, but it’s an excellent motivation to come together as a community for the benefit of the planet.  + Earth Day Images via Noah Buscher , Sigmund , Ocean Cleanup Group and Nacho Fernández

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Noa* tucks a 3-star hotel beneath a refurbished barn in Italy

April 16, 2021 by  
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When Network of Architecture (noa*) was asked to expand the traditional South Tyrolean restaurant Schönblick with a new hotel, the firm knew that preserving the site’s spectacular views would be a key design objective. As a result, the architects opted against adding a new level in favor of embedding the hospitality spaces into an existing hill — a solution that noa* says not only retains views of the Dolomite scenery but is also less invasive and more environmentally friendly. Terraced into a hillside, the new hotel rooms have been placed beneath an old, existing barn that the architects also renovated to house the hotel’s reception, lounge and breakfast hall. Named after the Gfell meadows (prati di Gfell) area and placed adjacent to Schönblick, the three-star Gfell hotel was designed to immerse its guests in nature with vast glazing that frames spectacular views and a natural materials palette mainly comprising unprocessed durmast wood with neutral, rough-fiber upholstery. The hotel’s main entrance is located in the old barn, which was carefully renovated to preserve its traditional appearance on the exterior and introduce a modern and cozy aesthetic to the interior. Related: Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol Gfell’s 17 guestrooms are located in the two partially underground, terraced levels beneath the barn. Each room includes massive glazed walls revealing Dolomite views as well as a wooden terrace to extend the living space to the outdoors. Guests also have access to a wellness space equipped with a sauna and a relaxation area. “It’s an earth shelter construction that reduces the impact of the operation without taking any views away from the restaurant, whilst in actual fact, providing all the guests at the new hotel with a spectacular panorama,” explained Andreas Profanter, architect and noa* partner. The hotel is also equipped with high-performance insulation and pellet-powered heating and hot water systems that the architects say “guarantees zero impact on carbon emissions.”  + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Noa* tucks a 3-star hotel beneath a refurbished barn in Italy

We need to talk about consumption

February 15, 2021 by  
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We need to talk about consumption Lauren Phipps Mon, 02/15/2021 – 01:30 Want more great analysis of the circular economy? Sign up for Circularity Weekly , our free email newsletter. I know, it’s not the most popular of subjects. But on the heels of last week’s GreenBiz 21 conference, the annual gathering of corporate sustainability professionals, I can’t help but address the elephant in the room. (Or as the World Resources Institute appropriately dubbed it, the latest elephant in the boardroom .)  “We need to do a heck of a lot more than change the ways that we create and consume,” said Sherri Mitchell, an environmental and Indigenous rights activist, teacher and founding director of the Land Peace Foundation . “We need to actually change our relationship with consumption.”  Mitchell’s words, and the keynote panel, “All We Can Save: Why We Must Learn from Indigenous Wisdom” on which she sat, have rattled around in my mind all week between breakouts on the nuts and bolts of the corporate sustainability profession. Consumption often remains unspoken or unacknowledged.  To be fair, we are getting increasingly better at the way we make things. Across industries, companies are beginning to prioritize recycled and renewable materials, powering manufacturing with clean energy, and (sometimes) embracing circular design principles of durability, modularity and reparability. The path forward for better products is relatively clear.  We’re even getting a bit better at the way we enable sustainable consumption and get the most out of what we already have: Repair, remanufacturing and product life extension; resale and recommerce; sharing and rental are quietly gaining momentum.  But making better products and extending their useful lives won’t be enough.  When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? Mitchell continued, “We have to reevaluate our entire value structure so that consumption is not holding a primary role within the [framework] that we’re operating under. When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? We commodify ourselves in nearly every aspect of our lives. We need to start looking at changing the ways that we apply value.” The roots of overconsumption — culture, values, worldviews, capitalism — are some of the most unpopular and uncomfortable topics of conversation at any company. And for good reason: they threaten the fundamental premise of the sustainable business community and its theory of change (see: ” Winners Take All ” by Anand Giridharadas).  Frankly, corporate audiences don’t often take seriously value-driven inquiries about consumption, writing them off as aspirational or totally unrealistic.  Mitchell spoke on stage alongside Tara Houska — tribal attorney, land defender, former adviser on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders and founder of Giniw Collective — who stepped indoors from the Line 3 pipeline resistance camp to participate in the conversation. She had some things to say about how many business leaders typically respond to these calls for reflection by indigenous leaders.  “Native people make up 5 percent of the population globally and hold 80 percent of the biodiversity. I think we know something and have some information to share,” Houska said. “We’ve been around for thousands and thousands of years. We’ve learned something in our time here on this planet that we all share. Obviously, those connections and that deep interconnectedness with nature [enabled us to] have 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.”  Despite the virtual format of the event, you could hear a proverbial pin drop.  “So please listen and please do your best to take our words to heart instead of just putting them into some ‘Oh that was inspiring and made me feel good, but back to business.’ This should be the business. The business of life is critically important to life. We care about life and we want life-givers and life to continue on this earth because we owe it to the next generation to come.”  So yes, we need to talk about consumption. But we also need to listen, particularly to Indigenous leaders, on addressing the symptoms of a systemic problem and on reframing the definition of business itself.  I invite you to listen to Mitchell and Houska’s entire conversation here .  Pull Quote When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? Topics Circular Economy Social Justice GreenBiz 21 Environmental Justice GreenBiz 21 Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image: Shutterstock/Oneinchpunch Close Authorship

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Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector

February 15, 2021 by  
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Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector Lisa Woll Mon, 02/15/2021 – 01:00 Like no president in recent times, Joe Biden assumed office facing multiple interlocking crises. His ability to achieve his agenda will require action from key sectors across the country, including the investment and business community. Biden already has rejoined the Paris Agreement, committed to advocating for environmental justice and rolled out a government-wide focus on racial justice. He is advocating for a higher minimum wage, among other policies to address economic inequality. To accomplish this ambitious agenda, we believe the time is right for the president to establish a White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business. It would create a focal point to engage the private sector to contribute to current and future priorities and to further accelerate the private sector’s focus on sustainability. The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Here’s how it could work: The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business through collaboration with the fast-growing network of businesses and organizations promoting such goals. Here’s why it can’t wait: The magnitude of the challenges facing the United States requires that the new administration leverage all sectors of society. Biden needs the private sector to help move this important work forward. This new office would significantly strengthen the administration’s government-wide approach to tackling urgent social and environmental issues. The sustainable investment community already is engaged in this effort, channeling dollars to companies with better environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. One in every three professionally managed dollars in the United States — $17 trillion — is invested with an ESG focus. Sustainable investors were among the early voices urging companies to take action on climate change. They engage with companies to improve policies on issues ranging from human rights to diversity and water use. They also have been long-term investors in community banks and credit unions that are addressing economic and racial inequality in urban, rural and Indigenous communities. In parallel, more companies are embracing the shift to sustainable business practices that deliver important societal benefits as well as a strategic advantage. This includes committing to net-zero climate targets and changing their business models, products and services to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. In the last year, leading companies have made new commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Today, 90 percent of S&P 500 companies publish sustainability reports, up from 20 percent in 2011. Companies are being urged to transition from a shareholder primacy model to one focused on multiple stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, the environment and shareholders. This is often referred to as stakeholder capitalism. In a July speech, Biden noted that “it’s way past time to put an end to shareholder capitalism.” We agree that this shift is overdue. A new White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would accelerate the growth of sustainable investment and catalyze the shift to stakeholder capitalism, both of which are critical contributions to Biden’s pledge to “build back better.” Advancing policies that support the growth of a sustainable American economy also supports U.S. economic competitiveness and our broader national interest. The office, in fact, could serve as an important tool for the restoration of American “soft power,” decimated by the past administration. Such an office also would reflect the priorities of an increasing number of Americans, particularly millennials and members of Gen Z, who expect that the places at which they shop and invest will be focused on positive outcomes for society and the environment. A White House office also will allow sustainable investors and companies to partner with the administration to achieve a more sustainable and equitable economy. By highlighting the critical role of the private sector, Biden can further drive alignment of investment capital and corporate actions with his administration’s policy priorities. Pull Quote The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Contributors Aron Cramer Topics Policy & Politics Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Why IKEA is investing in sustainable mobility

November 3, 2020 by  
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Why IKEA is investing in sustainable mobility Holly Secon Tue, 11/03/2020 – 00:30 Swedish home furnishing company IKEA isn’t just focusing on what’s happening inside your home anymore. The company is also thinking about what’s happening in the streets outside. That is, the company is pumping cash into a new sustainable mobility program. For the company known for its delicious meatballs and DIY shelves, the investment isn’t actually that surprising. It’s about reaching customers — or more specifically, helping customers reach IKEA. “The No. 1 reason that a consumer is not an IKEA customer is accessibility,” Angela Hultberg, head of sustainable transportation at IKEA, said last week on the virtual stage of GreenBiz Group’s clean economy conference, VERGE 20 . It’s about reaching customers — or more specifically, helping customers reach IKEA.   The furniture giant is starting with a sustainable mobility strategy in urban areas, which has several dimensions, Hultberg explained. Many of IKEA’s customers live in cities and don’t have access to large vehicles that would allow them to travel to IKEA and return to their homes with furniture. Meanwhile, the pandemic has accelerated a shift from brick-and-mortar business to e-commerce, but diesel delivery trucks bring air and noise pollution into these downtowns. All the while, transportation emissions have risen around the world in the past few years to over 24 percent of global CO2 emissions . “So we need to figure out — how can we get the customer to us in a convenient, affordable and sustainable way?” she added.  The company plans to make 100 percent of its last-mile deliveries be zero-emission by 2025. In addition, IKEA wants its operations in five cities around the world — Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai, which already met the goal — to be zero-emission by the end of this year. Specifically, that includes shuttle buses, electric fleets and EV charging stations powered by 100 percent renewable electricity for customers. IKEA climate commitments and cities The furniture giant’s commitments have the potential to move markets: IKEA has 433 stores in 53 countries, and it hit 2019 global retail sales of about $45.5 billion .  The company has been reorienting towards a sustainability strategy that it’s calling ” climate positive “: by 2030, the goal is to remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than the entire IKEA value chain emits. IKEA has invested about $2 billion in total in clean energy — at the end of last year, it earmarked $220 million on green energy, reforestation and forest protection projects. Its sustainable transportation focus is part of its long-term sustainability plan. Specifically, Hultberg said that the company is worried about being able to align with the climate goals of the communities where it does business. Hultberg said that the company is worried about being able to align with the climate goals of the communities they’re in. “We have goods we need to deliver to people — in a sustainable way,” she described. “As air pollution is on the rise, cities all over the world are looking to close city borders to fossil fuels. If we can’t deliver, that’s a huge problem.” More than 100 cities around the world, ranging from San Francisco to London to Addis Abada, Ethiopia, have committed to create and implement inclusive climate action plans in line with keeping global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius through the C40 Cities initiative . These cities have committed to science-based targets to cut emissions in sectors that are some of the biggest urban emitters: buildings ; transportation ; and waste . That means low-carbon deliveries for businesses that want to operate in these locations. “So it’s about futureproofing our business,” Hultberg said. Sustainable mobility in cities will provide support for not only IKEA’s Millennial, urban-dwelling customers, but also for young, car-free employees.  “We know that young people don’t want to go on public transportation more than 30 minutes, and they don’t want to walk more than four blocks,” she said. “So that means that they want a job that is close to where they live so if you’re an employer and your workplaces are kind of remote, you risk losing out on talent. We can’t have that.” Equity matters, too Sustainable mobility commitments are important to Hultberg and IKEA as a whole because it’s not just an environmental issue, it’s also a social issue, she said.  “If you can’t afford a car and if you don’t have good and reliable public transportation, you can’t get to work,” Hultberg said. “Maybe you can’t even get a job because it’s just too far, and then you’re stuck in a very negative spiral of poverty. In many parts of the world public transportation isn’t safe, especially for women. So if you can’t get in a bus to go to school, or to get to work, then what?” IKEA is known for its affordable furniture solutions. Making sure that those who turn to IKEA for the cheaper, stylish product are able to come shop there is critical for the company’s core business. For example, the company is pushing its electric fleet partners to go electric, and investing in low-carbon fuel technologies. In addition, IKEA already has implemented free shuttles in New York City to help customers reach the store. “Mobility is a prerequisite for business and really for everything in society,” she said. Pull Quote It’s about reaching customers — or more specifically, helping customers reach IKEA. Hultberg said that the company is worried about being able to align with the climate goals of the communities they’re in. Topics Transportation & Mobility Shipping & Logistics VERGE 20 Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Flickr Brendan Lynch Close Authorship

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Online farmers markets gain popularity during pandemic

June 5, 2020 by  
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Virtual farmers markets have been online for a few years now, but the COVID-19 pandemic is giving them a boost. Many consumers are happy to get fresh goods from local farmers without having to brave in-person stores or markets. Online farmers markets usually operate in a fairly small geographical area. The operators partner with local farms to market their wares online and deliver them to individuals. The consumer peruses a website packed with delicious fruits and vegetables, picking what they want from various producers, just like at a real farmers market. After paying online, the market ships or delivers the goods. This is a little like the convenience of a community supported agriculture subscription, but with a full choice of items from a variety of farmers. Related: Everything you need to know about online farmers markets In Southern California, online farmers market Market Box recently expanded its delivery area to Los Angeles. This virtual farmers market is based in El Cajon, a small city east of San Diego. The new venture involves 50 local vendors offering upward of 600 items. All are vegan and locally grown. When Jessica Davis and Amanda Zollinger Waterman heard that their local farmers markets were closing due to the pandemic, the vendors teamed up to found Market Box. “Finding vendors was the easy part — everyone was looking for sales outlets and we had relationships already built from doing farmers markets. What we did not plan was everything else. Just finding supplies, alone, was so difficult,” Davis and Zollinger Waterman told VegNews . “Our community helped us so much — we would not have been able to pull this off without friends volunteering, families flying in from out of town to help, vendors being insanely patient and kind to us, companies renting us refrigerated vans off their own fleet, and our customers that were so sweet, understanding, and encouraging, through every steep learning curve we experienced.” Other online farmers markets include OurHarvest in New York, NoCo Virtual Farmers Market in northern Colorado and Champaign County Ohio Virtual Farmers’ Market . During the pandemic, Crescent City Farmers Market is offering a weekly drive-through market in New Orleans. Via VegNews Image via Adobe Stock

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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening?

May 18, 2020 by  
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Companies push Congress to promote climate action. Is anyone listening? Joel Makower Mon, 05/18/2020 – 09:15 What happens when more than 300 business people descend, virtually, on Capitol Hill to advocate for climate action amid a pandemic and economic crisis? Logic would dictate that these well-intentioned lobbyists-for-a-day would be met with a resounding shrug. After all, with two of the most devastating events to hit the United States happening simultaneously, there doesn’t seem to be much room to talk about anything else. As with so many other things these days, logic is not always the best guide. That’s my takeaway from last week’s LEAD on Climate 2020 , organized by the nonprofit Ceres and supported by other sustainability-focused business groups. It was the second annual opportunity for companies to educate legislators and their staff on the need for congressional action on the climate crisis. Among the larger participating companies were Adobe, Capital One, Danone, Dow, eBay, General Mills, LafargeHolcim, Mars, Microsoft, NRG, Pepsico, Salesforce, Tiffany and Visa, along with hundreds of smaller firms . Last year’s LEAD (for Lawmaker Education and Advocacy Day) event brought 75 companies to Capitol Hill. This year’s garnered 333 companies, including more than 100 CEOs, to have video meetups with 88 congressional offices — 50 Democrats, 36 Republicans and 2 Independents — from both the House (51 meetings) and Senate (37 meetings). Some had as many as 70 companies in attendance. This year’s bigger turnout no doubt had to do in part with the ease of meeting from one’s sequestered location — no travel, no costs and a lot smaller carbon footprint — but also from the growing push to get companies off the sidelines on climate action advocacy, whether motivated by external pressure groups, ESG-minded investors, employee concerns or a company’s own board or C-suite. To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. Last year’s LEAD event focused specifically on carbon pricing; this year’s focus was broadened, Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres, the event’s organizer, told me last week. “We reframed it knowing that long-term solutions like carbon pricing are important, but that there were immediate opportunities that companies could speak to.” That, too, may have broadened its appeal. For Nestlé, the event was an opportunity “to have meaningful conversations with Congress on climate change and on our priorities,” said Meg Villareal, the company’s manager of policy and public affairs, in an interview for last week’s GreenBiz 350 podcast . “To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. I think the virtual platform created an opportunity for us to have very in-depth discussions about what company priorities are and how we want to see Congress engage on climate going into the future.” Among Nestlé’s interests, Villareal said, was scaling up renewable energy use in its operations. “We also want to develop agriculture initiatives for carbon storage and reforestation and biodiversity that help support our carbon initiatives. That was definitely a key piece of some of the conversations we had as well.” Her company is a founding member of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance , along with Mars, Danone and Unilever. “We put out a set of climate principles last May that have five principles as part of it, the first of which is creating a price on carbon.” Several congressional allies participated, first among them Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who has a strong record on climate advocacy. It appeared that his role in the event was primarily to cheer the companies on and give them insight into the Capitol Hill zeitgeist. Bank shot Whitehouse made it clear that while CEO pronouncements on their company’s climate commitments are good, they only go so far. “CEOs may say we support a carbon price,” he explained. “No, they don’t. I happen to know that because I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. And nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ You can’t underestimate the continued opposition and challenge that the fossil-fuel industry presents. They’re still really strong here and really powerful.” The senator cited the American Beverage Association as a case in point. “Coke and Pepsi both have terrific climate policies. They do all the stuff they should be doing. But they pretty much control the American Beverage Association because of their size. And the American Beverage Association has not lifted a finger, period” to support climate action, he said. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ Whitehouse advocated what he called a “bank shot” — perhaps an unintentional play on words — as a way to build pressure on companies through their investors. “We put pressure on Marathon Petroleum for the climate mischief that they have done — particularly the CAFE standards, the fuel efficiency standards mischief, that they’ve been string-pulling-on behind the scenes. They could care less when I call them out on that. But their four biggest shareholders are BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and JPMorgan. And all those entities care quite a lot when they’re funding climate misbehavior. And they get called out on it themselves. So, you can use the pressure that the financial community feels to defend itself now against these climate and economic crash warnings to bring pressure to bear on even very recalcitrant companies.” The human factor I had the opportunity to speak during the LEAD training day, the day before they “hit the Hill” for their member meetings. As part of that, I interviewed Leah Rubin Shen, energy and environment policy advisor to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who co-chairs the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana). I asked Shen, a trained electrochemist with research experience in energy storage technologies and green chemistry, for some insights into what it takes to change minds on Capitol Hill. “I’m a scientist,” she responded. “I think there are plenty of things that we could do tomorrow, or today even, that would make all of our systems much more robust and resilient, and set us on the right path. But politically, it’s just really difficult. As tempting as it is to just say, ‘Well, this is what experts say,’ or ‘This is what people say we should be doing’ — I wish that were enough; it’s not. It needs to be something that will resonate back home.” Storytelling is key, she noted. “Don’t discount the human element. Facts and figures are helpful — ‘This is how many jobs we have in your state,’ or ‘This is what our annual revenue was last year.’ Those things are important and helpful. But being able to tell a story is something that will resonate with a lot of staffers and members both.” Nestlé’s Villareal experienced that in a conversation last week with a congressman from Florida “with whom last year it was a bit of a difficult conversation, particularly around carbon pricing,” she told me. “So, this year, we tried a new approach with that office. We didn’t go in and lead with the ask on carbon pricing but wanted to have more of a general conversation about the companies in his district and how we are prioritizing our carbon principles and our climate principles. And it led into a very healthy discussion on carbon pricing and why the companies in his district were supportive of it. It was a very productive and surprisingly good conversation, and we were really pleased coming out of it.” We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. The whole exercise isn’t just about getting members of Congress to support climate action. It’s also letting them know that if they do, they’ll get business support.  “We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back,” explained Anne Kelly. “Most lawmakers think that big businesses only want to break the rules, not call for new ones.” Among other things, she says, members generally aren’t aware of corporate climate leadership, science-based targets or large-scale renewable energy procurement by companies. The LEAD exchanges help them understand such things.  According to Kelly, the success of the virtual advocacy day — which she dubbed a “high-impact, low-footprint and low-budget model” — and the enthusiasm by participating companies has led Ceres to consider upping the frequency of LEAD events, from annually to quarterly. “Based on the rave reviews, I’d say many colleagues are hooked,” she added. I asked Villareal, one of those enthusiasts, what advice she’d give someone who hasn’t yet dipped their toe into the congressional advocacy waters. “It can always be scary to try something new, but it is so worth it,” she replied. “In the end, you get tremendous benefit from using your voice and especially on critical and positive issues like climate.” 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 To be quite frank, it was some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with members on climate in a long time. CEOs may say we support a carbon price. No, they don’t. I have the carbon price bill in the Senate. Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We want to support your bill.’ We have to make these introductions on a large scale so that Congress knows if they act on climate, the broad business community will have their back. 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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals

May 18, 2020 by  
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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals Heather Clancy Mon, 05/18/2020 – 02:16 ‘Tis the season for new corporate social and climate commitments, especially at the start of this decade of action and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires short-term prioritization from responsible companies around the world.  So Intel’s declaration of its latest goals, which include a new 100 percent commitment to clean power and a “net positive” water ambition, isn’t all that unusual. But one component is highly unique: the company’s decision to include three “global challenges” — ones that require collaboration with “industries, governments and communities” to pull off. Simply stated, they are: Revolutionize health and safety with technology Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change In the press release touting the new initiative, Intel CEO Bob Swan noted: “The world is facing challenges that we understand better each day as we collect and analyze more data, but they go unchecked without a collective response — from climate change to deep digital divides around the world to the current pandemic that has fundamentally changed all our lives. We can solve them, but only by working together.” If you glance at the challenges above, you’d be right in thinking they’re awfully broad. But Intel has laid out some very specific milestones under each of them (more on those in moment), and those aspirations are timebound. They’ll be measured and reported on, just like another other sustainability metric and the company’s leadership will be held accountable for them, said Todd Brady, senior director of global public affairs and sustainability at Intel. This year, for example, Brady said a portion of bonuses is linked to whether Intel achieves a 75 percent renewable energy benchmark (it’s near that mark) and for further progress on its water restoration efforts — so far, it has conserved billions of gallons in local communities in which it operates. This is a longstanding practice for Intel, something the company has done since 2008 . ‘One company can’t solve climate change’ Swan, who took the helm as Intel CEO in January 2019, was the catalyst for the creation of the shared goals — because “one company can’t solve climate change” — and a broad coalition of stakeholders across the company was responsible for developing them, according to Brady.  “He really pushed us to think big. We don’t see this space as competitive, we see it as one where we can work together and collaborate,” he said. The challenges are pegged to the adjectives that drive the company’s renewed corporate mandate: Responsible. Inclusive. Sustainable. Enabling. (The shorthand used by Intel is RISE.) Here is a summary of what falls under each of them, all integrally linked with Intel’s high-level strategic agenda: Revolutionize health and safety with technology A focus on providing technology to accelerate cures for diseases; it includes the company’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative The creation of a global coalition focused on defining and setting safety standards for autonomous vehicles Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness It is spearheading an effort to create and standardize a Global Inclusion Index that companies can use to track and disclose progress on issues such as equal pay or the percentage of women and minorities in senior positions A major focus on addressing the digital divide and expanding access to technology skills. By 2030, it has pledged to partner with 30 governments (it doesn’t specify at what level) and 30,000 institutions to achieve this. Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change It will work with personal computer manufactures to create “the most sustainable and energy-efficient PC in the world — one that eliminates carbon, water and waste in its design and use.”  The creation of a collective approach to reducing emissions for semiconductor manufacturing and cloud computing and on using technology to combat the negative impact of climate change While Brady didn’t share the specific milestones for the global challenges — which leaves them open to interpretation — they are bound by its 2030 agenda. He acknowledged that the work already has started and that the company will be discussing new partnerships in the coming months that point the way. “We have started in a few different areas,” he said. A work in progress As you contemplate the next phase of Intel’s corporate sustainability journey, make sure to step back for a reality check on the company’s 2020 goals. According to the its latest report , Intel has delivered on the vast majority of them. For example, it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent over the past decade, achieved its zero waste to landfill aspiration and has saved more than 4.5 kilowatt-hours of energy from 2012 to 2020 (beating its goal of 4 billion kWh).  It has also restored more than 1.6 billion gallons of water. That puts it ahead of its goal to restore as much water as it uses by 2025, which is one reason Intel is stressing a net positive vision that will see it restore more water than it uses. It’s another place where collaboration is integral. “Where we have been most successful is where we have brought multiple players to the table,” Brady said. Where Intel hasn’t delivered: increasing the energy efficiency of notebook computers and data center servers by 25 times by 2020 over 2010 level (it has managed a 14 times increase) and encouraging at least 90 percent compliance among its supply chain on 12 environmental, labor, ethics, health and safety, and diversity and inclusivity metrics (it has achieved nine out of 12).  Topics Corporate Strategy Technology Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Intel Close Authorship

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Let’s get together: Intel’s 2030 commitments include ‘shared’ climate and social goals

Protect or destroy a virtual world in The Sims new eco pack

May 12, 2020 by  
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Just as real-life youth are growing up in a world where pollution will ruin their  health , neighborhoods, oceans and planet if they don’t take drastic action, so go their virtual counterparts in The Sims. Electronic Arts will issue a new eco take on its wildly popular video game series on June 5. The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack introduces Evergreen Harbor, a neighborhood threatened by garbage and bad air quality. Players will see the consequences of their actions in real-time. If they add solar panels, build eco-friendly houses and use wind power, the virtual air turns from gray to blue. Make enough positive decisions, and players will be rewarded with a glimpse of the aurora borealis. They can even dumpster dive for upcycling  material. If they ignore questions of sustainability, Evergreen Harbor gets grim indeed. A trailer shows the young Sim activists making speeches, working in a maker space using 3-D printers, raising baby chicks, building eco-housing, inventing a pollution-sucking machine and dancing in a rooftop garden. Originally, The Sims came out in 2000, a spinoff of the SimCity game introduced in 1989. Players create virtual characters called Sims and make all the decisions about where they live, who they associate with and how they spend their time and money. The Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack introduces new career options for Sims, such as civil designer and freelance crafter. Video game company Maxis developed The Sims franchise, and Electronic Arts publishes the games. The series is one of the top video games worldwide, selling almost 200 million copies. The new Eco Lifestyle Expansion gives players the chance to guide their Sims via personal decisions that have wide-ranging consequences. “We’re thrilled to give players the opportunity to explore an eco-friendly way of living in The Sims and play the change they want to see,” George Pigula, producer of The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle Expansion Pack, said in a press release. “By discovering and practicing sustainable habits, like using  solar panels  or wind turbines to power their electricity, or upcycling materials to create new furniture, players and their Sims can play with life in all-new ways.” + Electronic Arts Images via EA Games

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Protect or destroy a virtual world in The Sims new eco pack

Tour 5 national parks from home

March 19, 2020 by  
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As people social distance and shelter in place, they may feel the walls closing in on them. Fortunately, the National Park Service has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to offer free virtual tours of five beloved parks. Of course, the online experience isn’t quite like being there, but these tours are pretty cool and may inspire dreams of post-pandemic travels . The five tours feature Kenai Fjords in Alaska , Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Hawaii Volcanoes, Bryce Canyon in Utah and Dry Tortugas in Florida. Each virtual tour is led by a National Park Service ranger. The varied terrains and activities help entertain viewers. Related: How National Parks benefit the environment The tour of Kenai Fjords lets you climb down a slippery, icy crevasse in Exit Glacier — much easier done virtually than in real life. In Carlsbad Caverns, viewers get a bat’s eye view to help them learn about echolocation. Hawaii Volcanoes features a walk through a lava tube and a trip up volcanic cliffs. Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park consists of 1% Fort Jefferson and 99% underwater. Join a ranger for a virtual dive into this diverse ecosystem, including a swim through a coral reef and an exploration of the Windjammer shipwreck. As the Bryce Canyon tour points out, two-thirds of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way from their backyards. This tour highlights Bryce Canyon’s dark skies and allows viewers to tap around to check out constellations while listening to night sounds like owls and crickets. At press time, many National Park Service units are still open with reduced services and closed visitors centers. But this may change as the coronavirus situation progresses. “The NPS is working with federal, state and local authorities, while we as a nation respond to this public health challenge,” NPS deputy director David Vela said in a press release. “Park superintendents are assessing their operations now to determine how best to protect the people and their parks going forward.” So before setting out on that big drive to camp in a park, consider sitting tight on your couch and taking a virtual tour. + National Park Service and Google Arts & Culture Images via Wikimedia Commons

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