Why wholesale markets matter to big power buyers

November 5, 2020 by  
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Why wholesale markets matter to big power buyers Adam Aston Thu, 11/05/2020 – 01:30 When a big brand such as Google, General Motors or Walmart unveils an eye-popping commitment to use more renewable energy, the news usually gets attention. And as these pledges have multiplied in number and scale, corporate energy buyers are having impacts beyond the headlines. They’re reshaping larger U.S. power trends by pulling investment into renewables. Already, roughly half of the Fortune 500 have climate and clean energy goals; over 250 large companies have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy. Corporate buyers have collectively deployed over 23 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy over the past five years, according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). Over the next decade, renewable energy demand from Fortune 1000 companies could add 85 GW. To speed progress, REBA and its membership of 200-plus energy buyers and sellers have launched a set of guiding principles to standardize wholesale electricity markets across the U.S.  By making it easier for big power buyers to synchronize terms with utilities and project developers, the principles should stimulate investment, drive down renewable energy prices and, the alliance hopes, boost market competition while growing supply. REBA’s goal is to catalyze 60 GW of new renewable energy projects over the next five years. Wholesale power markets already serve most U.S. consumers. The largest of these — such as the middle-Atlantic’s PJM or MISO, which spans Louisiana to Minnesota — straddle multiple states and coordinate the intricate flow of power from thousands of power plants, across millions of miles of wires, to tens of millions of customers. Today, roughly 80 percent of corporate power purchase agreements take place within existing wholesale energy markets, according to REBA.  The principles are significant because American businesses are making wholesale market design a central priority not just to meet their own clean energy goals but also to shape the market structures … Yet large swaths of the economy remain outside these regions. So standardizing rules for all the participants and extending wholesale markets across the entire country could enable even more deals.  In a document released during a breakout session at last week’s VERGE 20 event, REBA laid out key principles to organize extant and new wholesale markets. According to this roadmap, well-functioning wholesale energy markets are defined by three core principles which should: Unlock wholesale market competition to catalyze clean energy by ensuring a level playing field, large energy buyer participation, and services that provide actual value for energy customers. Safeguard market integrity through independent and responsive governance structures, transparency and broad stakeholder engagement and representation. Design to scale to the future by ensuring operational scale, customer-oriented options to meet decarbonization goals, alignment with federal and state public policy and predictable investment decisions. Improving wholesale markets “The principles are significant because American businesses are making wholesale market design a central priority not just to meet their own clean energy goals but also to shape the market structures that are critical to help decarbonize the entire power most affordably, for everyone,” said Bryn Baker, director of policy innovation at REBA. Operators should ensure customers have pathways to engage in decision-making, which is not always the case today, Baker explained. “Energy buyers can and want to have a seat at the table. It’s going to be really important that a broad cross-section of customer voices are present in these markets.”  From the perspective of a big buyer such as GM, an effective wholesale market can capture supply from a larger geographical area. This can help optimize for price, by buying wind one day in one region and switching to solar in another area on another day.  Diversity of sources reinforces grid resiliency, said Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of sustainable energy, supply and reliability. In one region, solar power may be surging, while in another wind output is waning. “A wholesale market allows you to really match that generation with the load at the lowest cost possible,” Threlkeld said. A wholesale market allows you to really match that generation with the load at the lowest cost possible. “As we think about the wholesale markets, we want to drive toward a clean and lean grid,” Threlkeld added. “We’re moving from big, centralized plants to more decentralized operations … It allows us to optimize the grid itself, matching generation with load.” GM has accelerated its commitment to renewable energy, aiming to power 100 percent of U.S. facilities by 2030 and global operations by 2040. Wholesale markets can help, Threlkeld said, by hastening the deployment and procurement of cost-effective clean energy.  Energy consumers take the lead REBA’s efforts reflect wider trends in the energy industry, where households and big businesses alike are pushing energy companies to respond to their needs. “The conversation is shifting from a production focus to one where consumers are driving the next wave. It’s about what customers want and how they’re consuming power,” said Miranda Ballantine, REBA’s chief executive.  Localization of renewable energy is also guiding REBA’s agenda. In the past, companies had little choice but to contract renewable capacity from far-off markets. Today, more are seeking to procure renewable energy near their facilities on the same grid they operate. “More companies are saying that they want to time match those renewable electrons with their consumption,” Ballantine said.  Google recently unveiled plans that highlight the challenges corporate energy buyers face in upgrading their renewables sourcing from such a first-generation approach, where they may still use local fossil-generated energy but net that out against purchases elsewhere. In April, the internet goliath unveiled complex software-based plans to dynamically match its actual minute-by-minute consumption with low-carbon electricity supplies by region, a technical challenge no other large company has yet solved. For other companies, simply accessing regional grids with sufficient low-carbon energy remains a challenge. Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of corporate assets are not in the kinds of regional transmission organizations (RTOs) that can draw and balance power from a wider region, Ballentine said.  “Those customers have very little opportunity in those markets to actually make choices to drive zero-carbon electrons to power their facilities,” Ballantine added. Absent organized wholesale markets, companies can’t really use their demand signals to drive change in the type of electricity they’re consuming.  Pull Quote The principles are significant because American businesses are making wholesale market design a central priority not just to meet their own clean energy goals but also to shape the market structures … A wholesale market allows you to really match that generation with the load at the lowest cost possible. Topics Renewable Energy VERGE 20 REBA Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GM’s Factory Zero program is building a new generation of EVs in a Detroit factory that will run on zero-emission power. Courtesy of General Motors Close Authorship

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Corporate sustainability leadership during a pandemic

November 2, 2020 by  
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Corporate sustainability leadership during a pandemic Tove Malmqvist Mon, 11/02/2020 – 01:00 As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating social and economic effects, companies are continuing their efforts to become more sustainable — and some are being recognized for their efforts. The 2020 Sustainability Leaders , a GlobeScan- SustainAbility survey of experts worldwide, reveals which companies are perceived to be leaders on sustainability during this challenging time by sustainability professionals representing business, government, NGOs and academia. Over 700 experts were surveyed online across 71 countries in May. Results show that Unilever continues to dominate as a recognized leader among the sustainability community, securing the leading position for the 10th year in a row, with Patagonia and IKEA following in the second and third spots, respectively. Data from the survey indicate that corporate sustainability leaders need to navigate an increasing sense of urgency for almost all sustainability challenges. At the same time, about half of experts fear that the impact of the current pandemic will deprioritize the sustainability agenda over the next decade. While environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and water pollution dominate the list of issues that experts say are the most urgent — these are all considered more urgent than they were in 2019 — the perceived urgency of social issues is also on the rise. Experts express significant increases in concern about poverty, economic inequality and discrimination, and growing attention is also given to accessibility of needs such as education, food and energy. Although the issues we are facing are becoming more urgent, most experts believe that the pandemic will have a negative impact on the sustainable development agenda over the next 10 years, potentially making the transformation to sustainable business much more challenging. The pandemic and its economic aftermath are expected to further exacerbate inequalities and poverty, emphasizing the importance of the social aspects of the sustainability agenda. However, almost a third of experts also believe that the pandemic will lead to a renewed focus on environmental issues, and some point to shifting supply chains and changes in consumer behaviors and travel as potentially positive outcomes. In this challenging context, experts in North America as well as globally continue to recognize the efforts made by Unilever to advance the sustainability agenda. Unilever has dominated perceptions of sustainability leadership among sustainability professionals for a decade, but there are some signs that the leadership landscape may be beginning to shift. At the global level, four new companies enter the list this year: Microsoft; Ørsted; L’Oréal; and Tata. North American experts’ views on which companies are leaders largely line up with the global average, although recognition of both Unilever and Patagonia is even stronger among this group. Experts based in North America also recognize additional North American-based companies as top-tier sustainability leaders, including Mars, Nike, Walmart and Maple Leaf Foods. While having sustainability as part of the core business model continues to be a major factor of recognized sustainability leadership, setting ambitious targets and committing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are the top issues in the eyes of experts. As we confront a global pandemic and the economic hardship it is producing, efforts around communications and advocacy alongside health, social engagement and human rights have become increasingly important criteria as well. In order to increase resilience and their ability to withstand future systemic shocks, businesses are first and foremost expected to double down on their ESG commitments. Beyond ensuring business continuity and risk preparedness, the private sector is encouraged by experts to take far-reaching action by rethinking business models, transforming supply chains and focusing on lowering GHG emissions. Collaboration and partnerships with governments are also pointed to as urgent actions that companies should take to build resilience. The findings of this 2020 survey make it clear what the private sector must do to increase resilience and the ability to withstand future shocks in the wake of COVID-19: embed environmental sustainability and ESG in strategy, develop new and sustainable business models, improve risk management and business continuity planning and transform supply chains. The time to act is now. Topics Consumer Trends Public Opinion 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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Fleet leaders share four recommendations for driving toward zero emissions

October 29, 2020 by  
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Fleet leaders share four recommendations for driving toward zero emissions Mike DeSocio Thu, 10/29/2020 – 01:45 The transportation industry is at a turning point: Ever-more ambitious climate goals are combining with the dropping cost of electric and low-carbon vehicles to make sustainable fleets more of a reality. It’s still early days, but public and private sector organizations alike — all recognized on our top 25 most sustainable fleets list this week — are making the transition, and solving thorny infrastructure and workforce challenges along the way. “It’s tough to do, it takes a huge concert of effort to do it, but it’s been able to happen,” said Philip Saunders, deputy division director of the green fleet program for the city of Seattle, at VERGE 20 conference. We felt it was important to walk the talk, to spend the money, to go through the pain of the transition really, because the infrastructure is the biggest issue even as costs come down on the vehicle side. Seattle’s fleet is already 80 percent electrified, driven by a mandate to be fossil fuel-free by 2030. Saunders joined experts from municipalities and corporations around the country to discuss the strategies of these top sustainable fleets. Here are four takeaways from the conference: 1. Combine near-term efficiency with long-term electrification Even for Seattle, where Saunders has managed to electrify a majority of the city’s fleet, the path to carbon reduction isn’t simple. “At this point, it takes a combination of everything to reach that sustainable goal. We’re electrifying first, as always, but it takes quite a bit. We’re still using renewable diesel … We’re also using renewable gasoline,” Saunders said. He’s not alone in that strategy. Zach Freeze, senior director for sustainability at Walmart, is also looking at renewable natural gas and efficiency improvements on the road to broader electrification. “We have to be able to make our fleet as efficient as possible while we still make those long-term bets on what the technology will be,” Freeze said. Walmart has set a goal for zero emissions companywide by 2040, which means tackling a huge fleet of long-haul trucks that are not easily electrified right now. “While we think that that is absolutely part of the solution, it’s hard to tell if that’s going to be the only solution to play out,” Freeze said. Seattle’s new EV charging stations, powering the city fleet with electricity provided by the nation’s greenest utility. Courtesy, city of Seattle 2. Make it about the total cost of ownership Describing the financial case for sustainable fleets is essential for both executive boards and city councils. Angie Slaughter, vice president of sustainability, logistics, SVC and capabilities procurement for Anheuser-Busch InBev North America, is learning to find the right metrics — beyond just fuel savings — to create buy-in for a more sustainable fleet. “In every situation you have to be very careful to take a total cost of operation approach and make sure that you’re drawing the box big enough,” Slaughter said. In Seattle, Saunders baked that total cost of ownership into his green fleet plan from the beginning. He includes upfront capital investment, electricity costs and vehicle replacement cycles into his budget. 3. Remember, it will take a village Designing a strategy and buying the vehicles isn’t where the challenges end. “There’s really this huge change management and workforce development piece of the transition that we’re sort of living through. I think first-movers especially are starting to help work out some of the kinks,” said Christine Weydig, director of environmental and energy programs at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. For example, some of the agency’s vehicle maintenance partners are unfamiliar with the new technology, which means it’s difficult to make timely repairs on the Port Authority’s fleet of electric buses in particular. “Having an executive order, leadership at the top is fantastic, but if you really don’t have that whole ecosystem that’s prepared to support the fleet owners, than that can certainly be an issue,” Weydig said. On the corporate side, biotech firm Genentech is using its progress on electrifying commuter vehicles to help smaller companies in its own business district who can’t afford to do so. “As we start opening up our programs, and we’ve started sharing our shuttles to the local transit stations, as well as actually selling the surplus seats we have on our off-peak buses, these other companies are starting to participate in this. And it’s a win-win,” said Andy Jefferson, director of transportation for site services at Genentech. One of Genentech’s electric commuter buses. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Genentech Close Authorship 4. Build on the examples of big players At the Port Authority, which operates five airports and eight seaports, one of Weydig’s big motivations for electrifying the fleet was to blaze a path that the agency’s partners could follow. “We felt it was important to walk the talk, to spend the money, to go through the pain of the transition really, because the infrastructure is the biggest issue even as costs come down on the vehicle side,” Weydig said. That gives the Port Authority the credibility to encourage air and marine terminal operators to start electrifying their equipment, too. Andrew Savage, vice president and head of sustainability at Lime, sees his company’s efforts along similar lines. Lime is best known for its global network of 100,000 electric scooters and bikes, but it also manages a fleet of vehicles tasked with repairing and rebalancing those units. While Lime works to electrify most of those vehicles, it’s encouraging its partners to do the same by sharing their total cost of ownership model — and even their purchasing power — to show the financial benefits of electrification. “It’s thinking one step beyond our scope to the partners that we work with, and how do we get them to electrify as well?” Savage said. Pull Quote We felt it was important to walk the talk, to spend the money, to go through the pain of the transition really, because the infrastructure is the biggest issue even as costs come down on the vehicle side. Topics Transportation & Mobility Shipping & Logistics VERGE 20 Clean Fleets Zero Emissions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is began operating 36 electric buses at Laguardia, Newark Liberty and JFK airports this month. Courtesy of the PA of NY and NJ

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Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain

October 29, 2020 by  
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Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain Jesse Klein Thu, 10/29/2020 – 01:00 Picture your local salad bar either at your school, grocery store or office. There are many options between the greens, toppings and dressings. At the end of each day, it’s the job of a kitchen worker to perform a “shrink analysis” on each ingredient — manually identifying, weighing and recording the leftover volume of each item. By comparing that number to initial inventory amounts, the kitchen tracks its food waste.  The process is a big hassle for the prepared food sector, but food waste is an even bigger problem for the planet, accounting for 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Phood CEO Luc Dang hopes to solve both.  Phood’s main product, PhoodX, is a combination scale and camera that uses artificial intelligence and enhanced analytics to cut down on the time it takes to record data about the leftovers. The system uses that information to recommend changes within foodservice operations aimed at reducing food waste.  The technology is most appropriate in places where items are sold by weight, such as dining halls or the prepared food sections of grocery stores. The Phood system is integrated directly with the inventory system so it can use the data to calculate waste compared to the sold volume. Phood’s devices have been used in dining halls at Yale and Rhode Island School of Design, and in K-12 cafeterias. The company also has devices installed at 10 Whole Foods locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Even before Dang was infiltrating the foodservice industry of the North Atlantic region, he had a deep understanding of the agricultural supply chain from growing up on a small Connecticut farm. After working a few years in the financial sector, he read a statistic estimating that 40 percent of food is wasted. Dang couldn’t believe that headline: During his childhood on farms and near restaurants, he hadn’t noticed anything like that kind of waste. But when Dang called friends and restaurants that used to buy from his family farm, they told him they composted everything but didn’t and couldn’t actually track waste empirically.  Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue? We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back. According to Dang, the time-consuming, arduous and convoluted traditional method of tracking food waste is standard in about 85 percent of foodservice operations. The headline was right: According to data from Phood, most foodservice organizations throw away between 35 and 65 percent of their ingredient purchases.  According to Dang, Phood can reduce that food waste by 50 percent with a bonus of saving the kitchen staff time. The company said the algorithm, trained using millions of food items recognized by Amazon Rekognition and Google Cloud Vision, can identify food items with 98 percent accuracy in two to three seconds.  Aside from the relationships mentioned earlier, Phood recently started a partnership with two large food giants, Cargill and Gordon Food Service, which will see the system used in more kitchens, giving it access to more data to improve its artificial intelligence. The real value of Phood’s device isn’t the time-saving AI, it’s the data harvested from the device, which helps uncover habits that contribute to a business’s food waste issue, Dang said. “Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue?” he said. “We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back.” Many foodservice businesses tout their composting policies and donation rates for leftover food, but that doesn’t really address the bigger issue — wasting food in the first place. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , composting isn’t much better than sending food to the landfill. Phood is helping companies attack the problem at the top of the food chain — source reduction — by helping operations become better informed about consumption habits. According to Dang, many parts of an industrial kitchen are siloed. The person ordering ingredients is different from the chef doing the cooking, which is not the same person recording the leftovers at the end of the day. And rarely are these individuals informed about the details of each other’s step in the process, so the purchasing and production habits never get adjusted.  Phood becomes a centralized system that connects each step. Dang suggests a three-week period of baseline analysis when customers first start using the system, but often they start making changes to their ordering earlier, he said.  “They start leveraging those insights and changing their ordering by week two,” Dang said. “We’ve seen waste reductions occur from the first week.” The food and restaurant business has extremely thin margins, and few companies have had access to this degree of detail before. Aside from cutting back on waste, Phood can help operations save money, which is often the impetus for an investment. Because source reduction has such strong economic benefits, the sustainability aspect gets to tag along. According to Dang, Phood can save up to 10 percent on annual food costs.  Pull Quote Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue? We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back. Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Information Technology Food Waste Food & Beverage Artificial Intelligence Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Phood’s all-in-one scale and AI can identify food waste and make recommendations to kitchens to save money and reduce waste.  

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The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now

September 29, 2020 by  
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The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now Maria Mendiluce Tue, 09/29/2020 – 01:00 As the world grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequality and more, the impacts of climate change cannot be ignored. Most weeks bring fresh headlines of wildfires, droughts and rapidly melting ice caps. They’re a reminder that climate action cannot wait for calmer times.  Encouragingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not diminished the recognized need for bold climate action and actually has strengthened resolve among citizens, companies, governments and investors to drive real progress. Consequently the need to develop a robust leadership position on climate action is more urgent than ever and central to any company’s strategic vision.  Companies can harness this moment to join the race to zero and set a course out of the crisis though climate leadership. For a business to be considered a leader on climate it must respond to the climate crisis with ambition, deliver on that ambition with action and speak up to secure wider change through advocacy. This means aligning corporate ambition with the best available climate science, setting a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest, and setting strong interim targets to get there through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Companies then need to identify and implement action to deliver on their ambition, including engaging with supply chains. The small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up the supply chains of many of the world’s largest companies can access help in setting and achieving climate targets through the new SME Climate Hub . Companies also need to be transparent about progress toward their goals through disclosure and reporting. Beyond that, companies need to advocate for climate action at all levels of government, to industry peers and trade groups, ensuring alignment with lobbying practices and net-zero targets. Companies are stepping up The good news is many of the world’s largest companies are already stepping up their ambition. Just this month, companies including PayPal, Walmart, Ford and Facebook have increased their level of climate commitment, announcing bold strategies to accelerate the zero-carbon transition. To date, nearly 300 companies have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees C campaign, led by SBTi, including those in hard-to-abate sectors such as the world’s largest cement maker, LafargeHolcim.  LafargeHolcim’s commitment represents real ambition. The company is not only aligning its own 2030 decarbonization pathway with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it also is helping to develop a pathway for the entire cement sector, in conjunction with the SBTi. It is clearly the kind of leadership the world needs. Meanwhile, Amazon is taking action against its bold commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Just this month, the online retail giant launched a new program to help make it easier for customers to switch to more sustainable products through labeling and certifications, Climate Pledge Friendly . Last month, the company announced it is buying 1,800 electric delivery vans from Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, building on its previous deal to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive out to 2030.  And companies including renewable energy pioneer Ørsted recognize the importance of working with governments to accelerate climate action and speaking up to make it clear they support bold climate policies.  “It’s quite clear that governments cannot do it alone, and companies cannot do it alone. We need to work together. Governments need to set ambitious targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy deployment and create the visibility needed for companies to deploy the vast amount of capital and drive the innovation that is needed to further mature and scale renewable energy and to further bring down costs,” said Jakob Askou Bøss, senior vice president at Ørsted.  These are some examples, but we want to see many more. We urge all companies to engage with these three A’s: ambition; action; and advocacy. Our new guide, Climate Leadership Now , outlines how companies can progress their climate strategy towards a climate leadership position fit for this decisive decade. Now is the time to join the Race to Zero and show leadership in the global effort to tackle the climate crisis.  Now is the time for companies to lead on climate, to lead us out of this crisis.  Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Climate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

September 25, 2020 by  
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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat Jim Giles Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:30 Editor’s note: Last week’s Foodstuff discussion on the impact of regenerative grazing on emissions from meat production prompted a flurry of comments from the GreenBiz community. This essay advances the dialogue. Let’s get back to the beef brouhaha I wrote about last week. I’d argued that regenerative grazing could cut emissions from beef production , helping reduce the outsized contribution cattle make to food’s carbon footprint. This suggestion produced more responses than anything I’ve written in the roughly six months since the Food Weekly newsletter launched. The future of meat is a critical issue, so I thought I’d summarize some of the reaction. First up, a shocking revelation: There’s no truth in advertising. I’d written about a new beef company called Wholesome Meats, which claims to sell the “only beef that heals the planet.” Hundreds of ranchers actually already are using regenerative methods, pointed out Peter Byck of Arizona State University, who is leading a major study into the impact of these methods. This week, in fact, some of the biggest names in food announced a major regenerative initiative: Walmart, McDonald’s, Cargill and the World Wildlife Fund said they will invest $6 million in scaling up sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres of grassland across the Northern Great Plains . Two members of that team also are moving to cut emissions from conventional beef production. We tend to blame cows’ methane-filled burps for these gases, but around a quarter of livestock emissions come from fertilizer used to grow animal feed . When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Farmers growing corn and other grains can cut those emissions by planting cover crops and using more diverse crop rotations — two techniques that McDonald’s and Cargill will roll out on 100,000 acres in Nebraska as part of an $8.5 million project. These and other emissions-reduction projects are part of Cargill’s goal to cut emissions from every pound of beef in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds great, right? You can imagine a future in which some beef, probably priced at a premium, comes with a carbon-negative label. Perhaps most beef isn’t so climate-friendly, but thanks to regenerative agriculture and other emissions-lowering methods, the burgers and steaks we love — on average, Americans eat the equivalent of more than four quarter-pounders every week — no longer account for such an egregious share of emissions. Well, yes and no. That future is plausible and would be a more sustainable one, but pursuing it may rule out a game-changing alternative. In the United States, around two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion acres of land used for agriculture is devoted to animal grazing . Two-thirds. That’s an extraordinary amount of land. And that doesn’t include the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed those animals. When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. The alternative here is to eat less meat and then, on the land that frees up, restore native ecosystems, such as forests, which draw down carbon. This week, Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, pointed me to a recent paper in Nature Sustainability that quantified the impact of such a shift . The potential is staggering: Switching to a low-meat, low-dairy diet and restoring land could remove more than 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. That’s around a decade of global fossil-fuel emissions. In some regions, regenerative grazing techniques, which mimic an ancient symbiosis between animals and land, might be part of that restorative process. So maybe the trade-off isn’t as stark as it seems. But demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon, where the trade-off is indeed clear: We’re destroying the lungs of the planet to sustain our beef habit. Once you factor in land use, eating less animal protein and restoring ecosystems looks to be an essential part of the challenge of feeding a growing global population while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of our food systems. That doesn’t mean everyone goes vegan, but it does mean we should cut back on meat and dairy. Pull Quote When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

September 25, 2020 by  
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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet Heather Clancy Fri, 09/25/2020 – 00:30 As with virtually all gatherings of the climate community during the COVID age, this year’s Climate Week was convened as an online event — one hosted from more than 20 countries across myriad time zones rather than its usual host city of New York.  Instead of running between Manhattan locations, attendees platform-hopped among more than 450 presentations, panels, screenings and other events, including those hosted by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, while iconic structures such as the Empire State Building turned their lights green to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis. As is their wont, many companies used the occasion to proclaim updated commitments — the buzzword du la semaine was “net-zero” with Walmart declaring a zero-emissions target by 2040 along with a big clean fleet promise and a pledge to “protect, manage or restore” at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. GE made headlines with its decision to stop making equipment for new coal-fired power plants to focus on its renewables business (although it doesn’t say anything about fixing the old ones).  More than 1,500 companies are committed to net-zero emissions, triple the number that had made those pledges by the end of 2019. Morgan Stanley offered its own twist with a promise to reach “net-zero financed emissions” by the critical 2050 timeframe. The intention is to align its portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement. (Morgan Stanley, along with Bank of America and Citigroup, has agreed to deeper disclosure.) In other words, stop financing the emitting stuff, as it has been criticized for in the past. The biggest national-level news of the week came out of the United Nations General Assembly, where Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Given the country’s status as the world’s largest emitter, the development is essential for progress against climate change.  While words aren’t action, the commitment stands in sharp contrast with the extensive environmental protection rollbacks adopted by the Trump administration, which has announced its plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord. At the state level, California Gov. Gavin Newsom put the transportation industry on notice with his executive order banning new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035. Newsom also was named to a two-year term as co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, a network of states and regions looking to integrate the Paris Agreement goals with a mind to social justice.  On the other side of the U.S., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finalized a ban on hydrofluorocarbons, a superpollutant found in refrigerators, air conditioners and other cooling equipment. And the mayors of 12 cities — representing 36 million residents — announced their plans to divest from fossil fuels. Among the signatories to the C40 campaign: Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. Throughout the week the heightened attention to supporting nature and biodiversity and to going beyond carbon emissions reductions was also a frequent theme — with a particular focus on the role of science-based targets in driving corporate action.  The Science Based Targets Network has created new guidance for companies interested in setting goals for land and freshwater use, biodiversity or ecosystem impacts using science-based principles, as many are doing to set emissions reduction targets.  “The best companies in the world are no longer satisfied with ‘doing better’,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, in a statement. “They insist on ‘doing enough’. That’s what science-based targets provide them.” Wondering what you missed from your home office? Below is a curated list of notable corporate commitments and campaign updates that emerged during Climate Week.  Accounting bigwigs suggest ‘universal’ ESG metrics Four iconic accounting firms — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC  — teamed up with Bank of America to develop and release a set of standard metrics and disclosure frameworks that companies can use to report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.  The new guidance, released by the World Economic Forum as part of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit , focuses on four pillars: Treatment of employees, including diversity, wage gaps, and health and safety Dependencies on the natural environment related to emissions, land and water use How a company contributes to community well-being, including what it pays in taxes Criteria for accountability  Amazon signs more Climate Pledgers, curates sustainable products shopping site Five more companies have signed the Climate Pledge, an initiative orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism : retailer Best Buy ; engineering firm McKinstry ; professional sports club Real Betis ; energy firm Schneider Electric; and manufacturer Siemens . This gesture commits them to reaching a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040, one decade before the deadline for the Paris Agreement.  The mighty e-commerce retailer also created a new “Climate Pledge Friendly” shopping section on Amazon.com dedicated to showcasing consumer products that hold one or more of 19 sustainability certifications such as Cradle to Cradle, Energy Star and Fairtrade.  The focus is on grocery, household, fashion, beauty and consumer electronics options — and some initial brands showcased are Burt’s Bees Baby, HP Inc. and Seventh Generation. Amazon also created its own externally validated certification, Compact by Design , which will recognize products designed to require less packaging, which makes them more efficient to ship.  Jenny Ahlen, director of EDF+Business, praised Amazon’s new strategy but said it doesn’t go far enough. “Certifications are a good starting point for companies to help shoppers make more informed and sustainable choices,” she wrote in a blog about the announcement. “But to truly make progress on creating safer, more sustainable products, retailers — Amazon included — need to work with their suppliers to improve the quality of all the products they sell and share that information with shoppers. Calling out a small portion of products that have met environmental standards isn’t enough.”  Climate Group tallies up more members for RE100, EP100  Beverage and snack company PepsiCo set a new global target to source 100 percent of its electricity for company-owned and controlled operations using renewable power by 2030, and across its entire franchise by 2040. (It expects to reach this goal for its U.S. operations by the end of this year.) This move could result in the equivalent of removing 2.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca amped up its renewable energy with a deeper commitment to addressing industrial heat by joining the Renewable Thermal Collaborative, dedicated to decarbonizing tough-to-abate manufacturing and production processes. Currently, 13 percent of AstraZeneca’s power load comes from combined heat and power, and the company has committed to identifying renewable alternatives by 2025. Two energy-centric campaigns managed by the Climate Group welcomed new members this week. The EP100 initiative , which encourages companies to commit to higher levels of productivity and revenue while using less energy, has more than 100 members, with Japan’s Daito Trust Construction among the latest joiners. The RE100 , which represents more than 260 companies committed to using 100 percent renewable power, added new signatories including Intel , ASICS (the apparel company), pharma firm Sanofi and manufacturers SKF and VELUX .  Formidable food purveyors forsake food waste A group of powerful food retailers including Kroger , Tesco and Walmart and food service company Sodexo created the “10x20x30” initiative , which commits them to convincing at least 10 of their suppliers to halving food waste and loss by 2030. The effort is part of Champions 12.3, a group focused on addressing the challenge of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for a 50 percent reduction in food loss and waste by the end of this decade.  One example of the actions we might see as a result is Walmart’s move to source cucumbers that use a coating provided by startup Apeel that extends their shelf life through a natural coating that extends shelf life. “Cutting food loss and waste in half  — from farm to fork — by 2030 will require ambitious, collection action,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart, in a statement. “The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training shareholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste.” IKEA, Unilever, others bring 1.5 Celsius mindset to supply chains The Exponential Roadmap Initiative in Stockholm launched the 1.5 Degrees Supply Chain Leaders initiative , a group of multinational companies that have set targets to halve their absolute GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions across their supply chains by 2050 — in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. Initial supporters include BT Group , Ericsson , IKEA , Telia and Unilever . Among the commitments is making climate-related targets and performance a “key supplier purchasing criteria” by this time next year.  “To tackle the climate challenge, it is not enough for us to collaborate with the big global suppliers,” said Mikko Kuusisto, senior director of strategic sourcing for Telia, in a statement. “We need to engage also with the smaller, more local and often nonlisted companies to get them to commit to halving their emissions by 2030.” To help facilitate that transition, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative teamed up with the International Chamber of Commerce, the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign to create the SME Climate Hub . The website will provide a set of resources intended to help smaller suppliers take these steps, including measurement tools, best practices frameworks and services.  Mars, Carrefour giants cultivate new coalition for forests The Forest Positive Coalition of Action, which includes close to 20 companies with a collective market value of $1.8 trillion, is a CEO-level group under the umbrella of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) vowing to address key commodity supply chains that often contribute to deforestation. Among the actions they are advocating include joining forces for forest conservation in “key production landscapes,” policy initiatives and regular reporting.  Aside from sponsors Mars and Carrefour , the list of participants includes Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Danone, Essity, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Jerónimo Martins, METRO AG, Mondel?z, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart. The launch was greeted with skepticism by environmental NGOs including the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), SumofUs, Friends of the Earth U.S. and Amazon Watch, which notes that the involved companies so far have fallen short on deforestation commitments and on protecting the rights of Indigenous people. “We’ve see 10 years of inaction, half-measures and greenwashing from the CGF, while human rights defenders and frontline communities have been putting their lives on the line to defend forests from rampant corporate expansion,” said Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner at RAN, in a statement. Microsoft shares ‘positive’ vibes for water Building on its “carbon negative” pledge in January, a goal that will see it remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it historically has emitted, Microsoft is applying that same mindset to its water strategy. Only in reverse. Its new commitment will see it reduce the per-megawatt consumption of water related to the energy that powers its operations and also focus on water replenishment in 40 “stressed” regions in which it operates. The goal is to replenish more water than it uses by 2030. That will inspire measures such as: Wetland restoration Removal of impervious pavement Installation of on-site rainwater collection and water recycling systems across its newest offices, including the new Silicon Valley campus, the redesign at its central campus in the Seattle area and facilities in India and Israel A heightened focus on evaporative and “adiabatic” (outside air) cooling technologies for its data centers AI for Earth technologies, such as a project called Vector Center, for helping measure water risk and scarcity  It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s new strategy prioritizes not just availability but also accessibility, the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation. Were there other announcements this week? Sure, and I’m also sure I’ll get plenty of emails about what I “missed.” While I am grateful for every company that commits to taking practical, meaningful, un-greenwashed action, the common thread of the visions advanced above is that they set the bar higher — even if just a little bit. That’s what we need to move entire industries to support taking action on the climate crisis. Topics Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A moment in time for the climate clock on the metronome in New York’s Union Square.

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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040

September 23, 2020 by  
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Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 09/23/2020 – 01:50 If you needed any more evidence that America’s vehicle fleets are driving toward zero-emission status, it’s this: Walmart just announced that it will electrify and zero out emissions from all Walmart vehicles, including long haul trucks, by 2040.  That includes more than 10,000 vehicles, including 6,500 semi-trucks and 4,000 passenger vehicles. Up until this point, Walmart largely had emphasized fuel efficiency , although it also ordered several dozen Tesla electric semi-trucks for a Canadian fulfillment center.  Why the change? Zach Freeze, senior director of strategic initiatives and sustainability at Walmart, told GreenBiz that “more needs to be done,” and Walmart wanted to set the ambitious goal of zero emission “In order to get to zero, we need to transition the fleet,” Freeze said.  The semi-trucks will be the trickiest vehicles to adopt zero emission technologies, be that batteries, hydrogen or alternative fuels. Some heavy-duty truck fleets are opting for swapping in alternative fuels today, while the electric semi-truck market matures (check out this webcast I’m hosting Oct. 1 on the city of Oakland’s circular renewable diesel project). Expect Walmart’s 4,000 passenger vehicles to go electric much more quickly. Passenger EVs today can help fleets reduce their operating costs (less diesel fuel used) and maintenance costs, leading to overall lower costs for the fleets.  Walmart is just at the beginning of its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) journey, but the strategy with its announcement is to “send a signal” to the market. “We want to see ZEV technology scaled, and we want to be on the front lines of that trend,” Freeze said.  Jason Mather, director of vehicles and freight strategy for the Environmental Defense Fund, described Walmart’s new goals in a release as “a critical signal to the industry that the future is zero-emissions.” However, these commitments only cover Scope 1 and 2 zero-emission commitments, not Scope 3. Of course, Walmart isn’t the only big company using ZEV goals to send market signals. Last year, Amazon announced an overall goal to deliver all of its goods via net-zero carbon shipments, and the retailer plans to purchase 100,000 electric trucks via startup Rivian.  Utility fleets will be another key buyer for electric trucks. Oregon utility Portland General Electric tells GreenBiz it plans to electrify just over 60 percent of its entire fleet by 2030. Utilities commonly use modified pick-up trucks, SUVs, bucket trucks, flatbed trucks and dump trucks. PGE says that 100 percent of its class 1 trucks (small pickups, sedans, SUVs) will be electric by 2025, while 30 percent of its heavy-duty trucks will be electric by 2030. Its entire fleet includes more than 1,000 vehicles. “It’s really important for us as a utility to be doing this. At the end of the day, we’ll be serving our customers’ electric fleet loads,” said Aaron Milano, product portfolio manager for transportation electrification at PGE. “It’s necessary that we learn and help our customers through this process.” I’ll be interviewing PGE CEO Maria Pope at our upcoming VERGE 20 conference , which will run half days across the last week in October, virtually of course. Tune in for a combination of keynotes and interactive discussions with leaders such as IKEA’s Angela Hultberg, Apple’s Lisa Jackson, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Amazon’s Kara Hurst, InBev’s Angie Slaughter, the city of Seattle’s Philip Saunders and the Port Authority New York and New Jersey’s Christine Weydig.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Walmart Close Authorship

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Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040

Climate Considerations: Using Circularity to Achieve Carbon Goals

September 14, 2020 by  
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Climate Considerations: Using Circularity to Achieve Carbon Goals How can you advance circularity within your team and throughout your company by championing designers and their process? Design decisions have ripple effects throughout a product’s lifecycle and beyond, affecting production, use and end of life management. In this way, designers and creators hold tremendous influence on material flows throughout the supply chain, determining whether materials end up as waste and pollution, or remain in the economy providing value. As the idea of a circular economy becomes increasingly mainstream, how can we support people making decisions that shape materials, products and business models? Where are these professionals found within your business? What role do they play, and how can you empower them in the context of your circular economy ambition? This discussion is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, alongside practitioners and thought-leaders at the frontier of circular design. Speakers Benjamin Soltoff, Environmental Innovation Manager, Yale Center for Business and the Environment Eva Gladek, Founder & CEO, Metabolic Anna Vinagradova, Director, Sustainability, Walmart Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 14:04 Featured Off

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Climate Considerations: Using Circularity to Achieve Carbon Goals

US Plastics Pact 101

September 14, 2020 by  
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US Plastics Pact 101 What is the U.S. Plastics Pact and how are its signatories advancing a circular economy for plastics? The U.S. Plastics Pact brings together businesses, government entities, NGOs, researchers, and other collaborators as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s network of Plastics Pacts around the world. The U.S. Pact will work collectively towards a common vision of a circular economy for plastics. By bringing together diverse stakeholders and driving collaborative action, the U.S. Pact will deliver a meaningful transition towards a circular economy for plastics, enabling U.S. companies, governments and NGOs to collectively meet impactful goals by 2025 that they could not meet on their own. Learn about the Pact’s launch, targets, and what comes next. Hear from the Pact’s NGOs and companies on why they’re spearheading a common vision for circularity, and the crucial role companies play in plastics recovery. Others in the plastics value chain are welcome to join the U.S. Plastics Pact after its launch. Speakers Erin Simon, Head, Plastic Waste and Business, World Wildlife Fund Ashley C Hall, Director of Sustainable Packaging, Walmart Natalie Betts, Circular Economy Program Manager, City of Austin Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 10:58 Featured Off

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US Plastics Pact 101

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