5 themes for a capital week

April 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

5 themes for a capital week Joel Makower Mon, 04/12/2021 – 02:11 GreenFin 21 takes place this week (April 13–14), a fact that I hope has not been lost on you. We’ll be livestreaming the daily 75-minute plenary sessions on GreenBiz.com, starting promptly at 11:30 a.m. Eastern / 8:30 a.m. Pacific, although you’ll need to register to partake in the dozens of breakout, roundtable and networking sessions that will follow both days. It’s such an exciting time in green finance, with significant news and developments happening at a whirlwind clip. In just the past week, for example, Bank of America announced a goal of deploying $1 trillion to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy; BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, said it would peg the interest rate of a $4.4 billion line of credit to its performance on such metrics as female leadership in the company and its employment of people of color; Invesco, a global investment manager with about $1.3 trillion under management, set a goal of integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics into all of its investments by 2023; and JetBlue announced it would tie senior leaders’ compensation to a series of ESG metrics, including reduced emissions per available seat-mile and efforts to engage and work with minority- and women-owned businesses. That’s a mere sampling of what seems to be taking place every week lately. It’s such an exciting time in green finance, with significant news and developments happening at a whirlwind clip. But enough about the past. Let’s talk about this week. Here are five themes you’ll be hearing at GreenFin 21 — and, presumably, beyond — that help define this moment in sustainable finance and corporate sustainability reporting. In no particular order: 1. The rise of sustainability in corporate finance. The above headlines demonstrate the rise of ESG on the investor side, but there’s plenty happening on the corporate site. For the first time, chief financial officers, corporate treasurers, chief investor relations officers and other corporate leaders are leaning into ESG metrics, since these things have become important to lenders and investors. And that’s driven the sustainability agenda up the ranks, all the way to the board of directors. Of course, merely reporting data to investors and banks doesn’t necessarily equate to the kinds of things that matter to people and the planet: drastically reducing carbon emissions, turning waste streams into circular value, creating jobs, ensuring environmental justice and more. So, there’s also increased attention — by activists and regulators, as well as investors — to corporate greenwash, in which a company’s actions doesn’t match its proclamations. 2. The revolution in social finance. The “S” in ESG is also rising. There are new investment funds targeting women, people of color, rural communities and others who haven’t historically had sufficient access to capital. And, as noted above, companies are being assessed by investors and credit-rating agencies in part by their attention to diversity, especially in the higher echelons of company leadership. Social justice issues are another growing field for companies, including ensuring access to healthcare and education, protecting human rights and fostering employee well-being. Still another area that’s gaining traction are company investments in local businesses. In the past, that has been difficult for big firms to do at scale — there’s just too much due diligence and risk for most corporate appetites. But innovative social enterprises are finding ways to funnel tens of millions of big-company dollars to lend to women- and minority-owned local businesses, potentially enabling these companies to grow and thrive, along with their communities. 3. The need to simplify ESG data and reporting. This has been festering for years, but suddenly there’s hope. The recent rapid rise of ESG in finance circles seems to be spurring global efforts to consolidate and harmonize the many reporting standards and frameworks. The past year saw a relative flurry of activity by nonprofit and professional organizations to align and harmonize their frameworks. SASB, GRI, CDP, TCFD, et al. — the whole alphabet soup of corporate reporting seems to be coming together. The big kahuna, though, is a relative newcomer to the sustainability space: the IFRS Foundation, which sets global accounting standards. It is moving — slowly, but ever so surely — toward a unified set of sustainability reporting metrics. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Biden administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission is moving toward mandatory climate-risk reporting, joining its European counterparts. That would likely accelerate the standardization of reporting, moving everyone forward. 4. A growing menu of financial products. We’ve been covering the world of green bonds and sustainability-linked loans for a while now, so it should be no surprise that these and other financing mechanisms are on the rise. Issuance of sustainability-related bonds — green bonds, blue bonds, sustainability bonds, social bonds and more — are among the fastest-growing products offered by financial institutions. Each quarter seems to set a new record in the issuance of such bonds and loans as the demand by investors seems to show no end, leading some to predict a green-financing bubble. Many of the bond issuances have been oversubscribed — meaning investor demand exceeds supply — by five or ten times. What’s also significant is how these bonds and loans are aligning the interests of corporate finance and sustainability departments, which historically rarely ventured into the other’s territory. (See theme No. 1, above.) 5. Financing the just transition. In some ways, the focus on ESG is the least interesting part of the sustainable finance arena. The standards and language will eventually sort themselves out, and ESG reporting will become humdrum routine. The much, much bigger question is how to find and deploy tens of trillions of dollars globally to fund the transition to a clean and just economy. For my money, this is one of the most exciting and dynamic challenges the world will face in the coming decades. There’s roughly a quarter of a quadrillion dollars available globally — yes, quadrillion with a Q — according to a study by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Whether and how that money can be used to finance clean energy, electrified transportation, sustainable food production and other parts of the clean economy represents perhaps the biggest economic opportunity in human history. That’s just a taste. I hope you can join us this week at GreenFin 21. There’s still time to request an invitation . 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 It’s such an exciting time in green finance, with significant news and developments happening at a whirlwind clip. Topics Finance & Investing Leadership GreenFin 21 ESG Banking GreenFin 21 Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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5 themes for a capital week

Earth911 Podcast: Joe Gantz on His New Film, The Race to Save the World

April 12, 2021 by  
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Director Joe Gantz’s new film, The Race to Save the World, captures the energy and… The post Earth911 Podcast: Joe Gantz on His New Film, The Race to Save the World appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Joe Gantz on His New Film, The Race to Save the World

Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change?

April 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change? Aubrey McCormick Fri, 04/09/2021 – 02:00 Sports leagues are seeing the impacts and the surge of climate-responsible athletes using their platforms to promote positive environmental and social impact — it’s something for the history books. The golf industry, for one, is increasing its efforts to promote environmental sustainability and marketing to the general public its desire to embrace a more diverse demographic. Professional golfers have started speaking out about the changing climate, leading to some corporate sponsors rethinking strategies and how they can better align. For many professional athletes, it’s no longer enough to represent a brand without purpose. The same can be said for consumers. People want to engage with companies, brands and industries that represent their values. Over the last few years, the golf industry has made strides towards being more “sustainable,” but is it enough? According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, “climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.” The future is net-zero, and re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement should be seen as a signal to step up and act faster than ever before. Nearly every country in the world, including the U.S., has agreed to voluntarily lower their carbon emissions, report progress and implementation efforts to show transparency. In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. The UN Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to unite the global sports community to combat climate change through “commitments and partnerships according to verified standards including measuring, reducing and reporting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.” Currently, five golf organizations have joined: the United States Golf Association (USGA); Waste Management Phoenix Open; The International Golf Federation; World Minigolf Federation; and Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. Golf is making strides both on social and environmental impact. Internationally, the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) uses its OnCourse program to help facilities, tournaments and golf course developments meet strict voluntary standards of sustainability. GEO’s influence is found around the world with partnerships spanning over 60 countries, including its new partnership with the Saudi Golf Federation, which is implementing GEO’s current sustainability strategy. New golf course developments in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are incorporating sustainability into the design and implementation phases of their projects. Particularly, Laguna L?ng Cô Golf Course and Resort in Vietnam has developed a regenerative model with a 17-acre rice field that runs throughout the property that yielded a 28-ton crop in 2020. As one of three golf courses in the world to be EarthCheck-certified , it is empowering employees to support the local community and protect the environment. In the U.S., the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) just completed its three-year plan to establish Environmental Best Management Practices for all 50 states. In professional golf, several PGA Tour tournaments are leading the way to decrease their carbon footprints by becoming GEO-certified events. Led by the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, these high-profile events are the PGA’s platform to broadly engage local communities and fans while assessing and reporting the true impact their tournaments have on local ecosystems. Nonprofit organizations such as the National Links Trust , recent bid winners to take over operations of Washington, D.C.’s three public golf courses, are dedicated to protecting affordable municipal golf courses, understanding the positive impact they have on local communities. Issues of diversity and inclusion in the game are garnering more attention as investments are made in supporting golf programs managed by historically Black colleges and universities. Of particular note are the establishment of Howard University’s men’s and women’s golf teams by Steph Curry and “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change,” an event featuring Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson that raised $6.4 million . LPGA professional and two-time major champion Suzann Pettersen has emerged as a leading golf sustainability spokesperson, becoming the first professional golfer to openly endorse and partner with the GEO Foundation to establish new levels of awareness and action. Said Pettersen at the 2020 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, “As a mother of a young child, it is incredible how concerned you become over the future of the planet, its biodiversity, air quality and climate. These things are absolutely vital to the health and wellbeing of future generations, so we all need to do our best to make things better.” According to the National Golf Foundation 2019 Industry Report , there are about 15,000 golf facilities and 24 million golfers. This is equivalent to around one in every nine Americans playing some form of golf. The industry has significant reach and an opportunity to lead by example and align to the world’s global emission goals. In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. Subsequently, millennials and Gen Z individuals will become the majority of the population. As these generations mature, environmental transparency and carbon impact data, among many other sustainability-focused initiatives, will become the standard. So, what’s next? We have some ideas on how the golf industry can join the green sports movement and take action.  The Golf Channel should join the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Initiative. If the Golf Channel were to become the first major American sports broadcasting network to sign onto this framework, the move would be a signifier of the golf industry’s recognition of its environmental impact beyond golf course development and tournament operations and show leadership in sustainable broadcasting and messaging. We need more sustainability commitments from golf equipment manufacturers. Incredible amounts of money are spent every year on R&D as top golf equipment manufacturers compete for consumer dollars. Implementation of transparent, ethical and sustainable practices into their supply and value chains would increase accountability and responsible sourcing of inputs, report true emissions impact and expose gaps where current sustainable initiatives can increase efficiencies. If Amazon, Waste Management (and any other Fortune 500 company) can do it, then certainly the top manufacturers such as Titleist, TaylorMade and Ping Karsten Group can, too. The PGA of America should introduce a sustainability curriculum to its member certification process. With over 26,000 members around the globe, PGA golf professionals are the lifeblood of the golf industry and serve as the industry’s experts. Giving them the tools to redesign systems to be more sustainable, innovative and regenerative would generate significant ROI opportunities while adding value to the profession and meeting global emission reduction goals. We’d love to see broad implementation of sustainable operations across professional tournament golf. The select few professional golf tournaments that have committed to zero-waste and emission goals have provided a blueprint for how to conduct largescale tournaments in harmony with local communities. However, as the sponsorship dollars driving Corporate America’s investment into professional golf tournaments shift focus to include social and environmental accountability, will the managers and operators of golf tournaments be prepared to answer the call? A tremendous opportunity to activate climate action awareness campaigns awaits as fans and sponsors begin to return to the course to watch the game’s greats.  Federal legislation should help cities reinvest and retrofit existing municipal and public golf courses. In an effort to build back better, include city-owned golf facilities in any legislation that calls for grants, policies or loans that make them more accessible, inclusive and able to incorporate renewable systems. Investment in energy efficiency, water reclamation and irrigation systems, solar technology and alternative agricultural uses of unused space present golf courses as living laboratories for regenerative and circular urban ecosystems. Imagine if golf courses could grow enough food to feed an afterschool program or provide enough energy to power a homeless shelter. The time is now. Pull Quote In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. Contributors Andrew Szunyog Topics Corporate Strategy Sports Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock S. Wassana Close Authorship

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Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change?

Episode 263: Simulating transformation, investing in underserved communities

April 9, 2021 by  
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Episode 263: Simulating transformation, investing in underserved communities Heather Clancy Fri, 04/09/2021 – 01:30 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:05). An open letter to CPG companies on recycling Food companies must be healthy and sustainable, not one or the other From pioneers to fast-followers: Circular metrics are for the masses Features Learning through simulation (16:30) Last spring, GreenBiz teamed up with leadership development firm WholeWorks on the ” Leading the Sustainability Transformation ” professional certificate program, organized as a simulation exercise. GreenBiz Senior Vice President and Senior Analyst John Davies drops by with a progress report. Making community investments count (25:20) Catherine Berman is CEO of CNote , a woman-owned, woman-led organization focused on helping institutions invest in underserved communities. She offers insight into the model.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere : “Curiosity,” “I’m Going for a Coffee,” “Here’s the Thing,” “Arcade Montage” and “Southside” Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episode of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes or Spotify . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Topics Podcast Corporate Strategy Social Justice Public-Private Partnerships Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 34:51 Sponsored Article Off

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Episode 263: Simulating transformation, investing in underserved communities

Can sustainability save capitalism?

March 30, 2021 by  
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Can sustainability save capitalism? Joel Makower Tue, 03/30/2021 – 02:11 My inbox and bookshelf have been groaning lately under the heft of some weighty books, essays and reports heralding a kinder, gentler era for capitalism. This idea isn’t exactly new. For years — decades, even — there has been a steady stream of visions and proposals aimed at, variously, reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. For most of those years, those visions and proposals were relegated to a relatively small group of academics and activists toiling in a world unto themselves. Few were taken seriously outside those circles. But it’s a different time. The conversation is growing, and not just among those selfsame insiders. It has broadened to include global business groups, investors, entrepreneurs and even some big-company CEOs, who believe that many of the woes facing the world — and especially the planet — can be linked directly to capitalism’s excesses. And that it may be time for a rethink. To be sure, few of these individuals and organizations are advocating for a sharp turn to socialism, communism or any other alternative-ism. Indeed, many claim to be diehard capitalists. And there’s a clear appreciation of the role capitalism has played in advancing food production, healthcare, transportation, industrial productivity and other quality-of-life aspects of our 21st-century world. For years, there has been a steady stream of visions aimed at reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. There is also a growing understanding that these advances haven’t been spread equitably — that vast swaths of the global economy lack adequate food, healthcare, housing, work, education and other basic human needs. And that while many at the lower rungs of the economic ladder are slowly moving up, those on the upper rungs are moving up much, much faster. Enter the alternatives: stakeholder capitalism; inclusive capitalism; regenerative capitalism; responsible capitalism; and probably a few others. Each has a slightly different take but a similar goal: to ensure that capitalistic economies and companies lift all boats and consider the interests of a broad range of stakeholders and interests, including the environment. Why now? I probably needn’t recite the current litany of global challenges — just peruse the 17 Sustainable Development Goals , perhaps the most comprehensive inventory of what needs to change or improve. The past year has laid bare a number of global and local problems and inequities, many of which were hiding in plain sight — most lately, the inequitable distribution of vaccines to combat the global pandemic, overwhelmingly favoring wealthier countries and populations, and growing “more grotesque every day,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It’s become clear that the current system works only for a relatively small slice of humanity, and that the planet and vast populations are suffering as a result. Biblical proportions Amidst all this, the sustainability agenda has continued to gain steam, including recognition by heads of state, corporate chieftains, religious leaders and others of the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, the hunger crisis and the healthcare crisis, among others. Today, the notion of providing a universal basic income, wiping out poverty, protecting human rights, ensuring clean water and sanitation and mitigating climate change are no longer seen as do-good fantasies. They are viewed as moral and economic imperatives for living gracefully on a planet inexorably creeping its way toward 10 billion human inhabitants. As I said, there is no shortage of ideas. Both the World Economic Forum (WEF) and The Conference Board have weighed in with their Davos Manifesto and Purpose of a Corporation treatises. BSR has advocated Creating a 21st-Century Social Contract . The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is focused on Reinventing Capitalism . Perhaps most intriguing of all is the new Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican , which describes itself as “a movement of the world’s business and public sector leaders who are working to build a more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system.” The group, whose global membership includes dozens of corporate CEOs and board chairs, launched in December but its roots emanate from the publication of Laudato si’ , Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on climate change. The pope’s emissary on the council is Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development at the Vatican. According to the council’s launch press release, its emergence “signifies the urgency of joining moral and market imperatives to reform capitalism into a powerful force for the good of humanity.” (We’ll host a keynote conversation with the council’s leadership at next month’s GreenFin 21  event.) The council, which is partnering with WEF and WBCSD, among others, aims to be the “convener of conversation,” as one of its leaders described to me, and intends to encourage CEOs to make public commitments about sustainability and social purpose. The business execs share a mission to “harness the private sector to create a more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system,” according to the council’s website . It remains to be seen whether the pope’s influential voice can help transform today’s capitalist model, or merely encourages companies to continue to make commitments already within their comfort zone. And what kind of pushback will the council encounter? Will the Vatican find itself in a standoff of biblical proportions with some of the world’s largest companies and investors? It will be fascinating to watch where this goes. What’s significant is that all of these efforts to tame capitalism’s worst impulses stem from the basic tenets of sustainability — full-spectrum sustainability, that is, not just the environmental stuff: That economies, and the companies and institutions that drive them, must ensure that their benefits extend broadly and deeply through society, and that they promote the well-being and prosperity of all living systems and species, human and not. 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 For years, there has been a steady stream of visions aimed at reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. Topics Finance & Investing Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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Can sustainability save capitalism?

Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

March 29, 2021 by  
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As countries around the world increasingly embrace electric vehicles , charging is top of mind. In Scotland, the island of Yell is powering its EVs with tidal energy. Nova Innovation has built an underwater network of revolving tidal turbines anchored to the ocean floor. You can’t see them from above, and they’re designed to pose no navigational hazards. One thing is for sure about Yell — there’s plenty of ocean around it, so this is a predicable power source for the island’s grid. Related: Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen At 83 square miles, Yell is the second largest of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Sheep outnumber the 966 inhabitants by about 10 to one. The underwater turbines have already been powering houses and businesses on Yell for the last five years. “We now have the reality of tidal powered cars , which demonstrates the huge steps forward we are making in tackling the climate emergency and achieving net-zero by working in harmony with our natural environment,” said Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation’s CEO. Scotland has long been a global renewable energy leader. The blustery country has harnessed enough wind to power a country twice its size. Its first tidal energy farm launched in 2016, and by 2020, it had more underwater turbines than any other country. The new tidal turbine charging station is a first. Forrest says this technology can be deployed around the world. Because traditional combustion engines in vehicles produce about one-fifth of U.K. carbon emissions, underwater turbines could be key in meeting emission reduction goals. More tidal turbines could be coming soon, as the Scottish government has banned the sale of new cars powered solely by diesel or gas by 2032. Marine scientists are still assessing the effects on wildlife . According to Andrea Copping with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, animals colliding with the turbines could be bruised but probably not killed. Compared to other coastal energy endeavors, such as offshore oil drilling, the threat from underwater turbines seems low. Via EcoWatch and Hakai Magazine Image via Leo Roomets

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Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

March 26, 2021 by  
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A recent paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has established that there is a connection between deforestation and the occurrence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. The study indicates that deforestation has led to increased outbreaks of viruses similar to COVID-19 and also facilitates the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Of more concern is the fact that the findings also show an increase in disease spread in areas that are undergoing reforestation . The authors of the paper say that tree planting can equally increase the risk of diseases if not done correctly. The researchers explained that monocultures, like commercial forests, can kill native plants that provide protection against viruses and pests. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic “I was surprised by how clear the pattern was,” said Serge Morand, study co-author and director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “We must give more consideration to the role of the forest in human health , animal health and environmental health. The message from this study is ‘don’t forget the forest.’” The researchers used data from the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization, among others, to determine correlations among diseases, populations and forest cover. They found that from 1990 to 2016, there were nearly 4,000 outbreaks of 116 zoonotic diseases that crossed the species barrier to infect humans as well as 1,996 outbreaks of 69 vector-borne diseases. Previous studies have shown a strong relationship between the risk of diseases and proximity to ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity. In particular, increased instances of malaria have been reported in Brazil, close to the Amazon rainforest , due to increased deforestation. Morand is concerned with the continued deterioration of the Amazon. Since president Jair Bolsonaro took over, logging and forest fires have been the order of the day. “Everyone in the field of planetary health is worried about what is happening to biodiversity , climate and public health in Brazil,” Morand said. “The stress there is growing. The Amazon is near a tipping point due to climate change, which is not good at all for the world ecosystem. If we reach the tipping point, the outcomes will be very bad in terms of drought, fires and for sure in terms of disease.” + Frontiers in Veterinary Science Via The Guardian Image via Martin Wegmann

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Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

Students design skateboard wheels made from chewing gum

March 26, 2021 by  
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Chewing gum: it’s a type of plastic pollution that we’re just not talking about enough. Most modern chewing gums are made from synthetic plastic polymers that don’t break down or biodegrade. That means when you toss your used chewing gum on the sidewalk or stick it underneath a bench, you’re littering. Not only that, but chewing gum is commonly mistaken for food by wild animals (especially birds), causing them to choke or die. Two design students from the L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France are imagining ways to combat this silent pollution problem creatively. Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer have created a concept that turns used chewing gum into skateboard wheels. Related: Sam Kaplan unwrapped 500 sticks of gum to create futuristic geometric structures They got the idea while brainstorming for a designed-focused way to tackle the gum pollution issue in urban areas. “We thought, why not take this characteristic waste of the city and use it to make it greener,” Maupetit and Fischer told Inhabitat. “The bold colors and texture of chewing gum is the perfect fit for use in skatewheels.” The idea is to bring the gum from the streets back to the streets in a sustainable way. The students envisioned a fictional partnership between Mentos, one of Europe’s biggest chewing gum producers, and Vans Europe, a popular manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and accessories. The students’ project proposes a line of vibrant skateboard wheels sold by Vans that uses old gum collected from the streets. How would they go about collecting the gum? According to the students, Mentos would install “gum boards” in urban areas to help spread the word and inspire passersby to stick their used gum to the signs instead of tossing it elsewhere. The gum would then be cleaned, molded with a stabilizing agent and stained with natural dye to form the base of the wheels. “Our initiative is supposed to clean the streets in a sustainable way. That is why we invented a system that will transform used wheels and turn them into new ones,” the students explained. “No more waste is created and the material stays in use.” + L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique Images via Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer

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Designer Lucas Couto joins Precious Plastic for recycling project

March 25, 2021 by  
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Lucas Couto, Senior Industrial Designer at EGGS Design in  Norway , is focused on turning plastic pollution into innovative recycled designs. The designer has teamed up with plastic recycling company Precious Plastic to help reveal the potential of plastic waste in the design space. According to Precious Plastic, the world produces about 300 million metric tons of new  plastic  each year. And since plastic has one of the slowest decomposition rates — close to 500 years — all of that waste has the potential to stick around for generations to come. The company is on a mission to show the world the opportunities of plastic waste, reduce the demand for virgin plastic and create a circular economy based around plastic recycling. Related: KALO’s PVC Bench is made from plastic waste and wood scraps Precious Plastic teaches everyday people how to create their own plastic  recycling  company and turns almost any type of plastic waste into large colorful sheets of new material that can be used to make different types of products (such as furniture and construction pieces). Upcycled plastic sheets come in a variety of colors based on the plastic products used in manufacturing. The community develops tools and machines that recycle plastic and share it with others around the world. Now, the company is collaborating with designer Lucas Couto on a project aimed at engaging the community in designing recycled plastic products. Over three weeks in July 2020, the Recycled Plastic Product series focused on challenges centered around different Precious Plastic Machines. Each week highlighted a different plastic recycling  technology : injection molding, beam extrusion and sheetpress. For example, a stool designed by Couto used extruded beams made from sheets of recycled plastic made up of four separate pieces that fit together. Another  stool  design helps to visualize the sheet press materials. After becoming inspired by the nursery pots around his home, the designer also created flower pots that highlighted the looks of mixed color injection molding while providing a product that would benefit from recyclability. + Lucas Couto Images via Lucas Couto

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Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

March 25, 2021 by  
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Banks are taking greenwashing to a whole new level. Despite climate-conscious PR, they are still putting their money toward financing fossil fuel projects, according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report. In the last five years, while acceptance of climate change has gone more mainstream, the 60 largest commercial and private investment banks in the world financed the fossil fuel industry to a tune of nearly $4 trillion. At the same time, their glossy marketing promised things like “climate-conscious checking accounts” and “1% for the planet” credit cards. Despite some financial institutions pledging to achieve net-zero financed emissions, their strategies for doing so are vague. Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “Banks are admitting that fossil fuel companies are major climate emitters, but they are taking no immediate steps to phase out the financing of fossil fuels across the board,” said Ginger Cassady, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, as reported by  Sierra Club . “Many of those banks are making 2050 commitments to align with the Paris Agreement when they need to act now on fossil fuels. Any bank that makes a ‘net zero by 2050’ policy commitment and then treats it as a license to continue with business as usual is guilty of greenwashing.” The Banking on Climate Chaos report (formerly called Banking on Climate Change) has come out annually since 2012, and it provides one of the most comprehensive looks at how the fossil fuel industry is financed. This year’s 157-page report covers big finance’s relation to tar sands oil , Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, liquefied natural gas, coal mining and coal power. JPMorgan Chase is the worst offender for five years running, according to the report. The bank directed $51.3 billion into fossil fuel projects last year. From 2016 to 2020, it lent or underwrote $317 billion to similar projects. On the plus side, JPMorgan Chase was slightly less heinous in 2020 than in the past and has pledged to bring its financing more in line with the Paris Agreement . Citibank came in as second worst, but was still 33% better than JPMorgan Chase. + Banking on Climate Chaos Via Sierra Club Image via Niek Verlaan

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