The open source movement takes on climate data

September 3, 2020 by  
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The open source movement takes on climate data Heather Clancy Thu, 09/03/2020 – 00:15 As GreenBiz co-founder and Executive Editor Joel Makower wrote earlier this week, many companies are moving to disclose ” climate risk ,” although far fewer are moving to actually minimize it. And as those tasked with preparing those reports can attest, the process of gathering the data for them is frustrating and complex, especially as the level of detail desired and required by investors becomes deeper. That pain point was the inspiration for a new climate data project launched this week that will be spearheaded by the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit host organization for thousands of the most influential open source software and data initiatives in the world such as GitHub. The foundation is central to the evolution of the Linux software that runs in the back offices of most major financial services firms.  There are four powerful founding members for the new group, the LF Climate Finance Foundation (LFCF): Insurance and asset management company Allianz, cloud software giants Amazon and Microsoft, and data intelligence powerhouse S&P Global. The foundation’s “planning team” includes World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ceres and the Sustainability Account Standards Board (SASB). The group’s intention is to collaborate on an open source project called the OS-Climate platform, which will include economic and physical risk scenarios that investors, regulators, companies, financial analysts and others can use for their analysis.  The idea is to create a “public service utility” where certain types of climate data can be accessed easily, then combined with other, more proprietary information that someone might be using for risk analysis, according to Truman Semans, CEO of OS-Climate, who was instrumental in getting the effort off the ground. “There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate,” he told me.  There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate. Why does this matter? It helps to understand the history of open source software, which was once a thing that many powerful software companies, notably Microsoft, abhorred because they were worried about the financial hit on their intellectual property. Flash forward to today and the open source software movement, “staffed” by literally millions of software developers, is credited with accelerating the creation of common system-level elements so that companies can focus their own resources on solving problems directly related to their business. In short, this budding effort could make the right data available more quickly, so that businesses — particularly financial institutions — can make better informed decisions. Or, as Microsoft’s chief intellectual property counsel, Jennifer Yokoyama, observed in the announcement press release: “Addressing climate issues in a meaningful way requires people and organizations to have access to data to better understand the impact of their actions. Opening up and sharing our contribution of significant and relevant sustainability data through the LF Climate Finance Foundation will help advance the financial modeling and understanding of climate change impact — an important step in affecting political change. We’re excited to collaborate with the other founding members and hope additional organizations will join.” An investor might use the platform, for example, to run projections focus on portfolios or specific investment opportunities. Governments might consult the resource while evaluating resilient infrastructure projects and policies. The main buckets of historical and forward-looking information that the LFCF group hopes to make available include research and development spending, policy response scenarios, or historical data about fires, floods and droughts. One example of a tool that data hounds will find there is a Finance Tool related to the Science-Based Targets Initiative. There also will be industry-specific data, likely starting with the energy, transport and industrial sectors, Semans said. Early beta versions of various pieces of the platform will be available this fall, with certain elements of the data commons available first, followed by modeling and analytics resources. Just because the data is “open” doesn’t mean it’s entirely free. Companies need to be a member of the foundation to participate in the governance process (although there will be seats on the board for non-fee paying members from academia, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations). Talk to your CIO about the power of open source, and consider this your call to action. Pull Quote There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate. 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The open source movement takes on climate data

The U.S. Plastics Pact launches new initiative to redesign the plastics value chain at Circularity 20

September 2, 2020 by  
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The U.S. Plastics Pact launches new initiative to redesign the plastics value chain at Circularity 20 Holly Secon Wed, 09/02/2020 – 00:45 The U.S. recycling market has been in free fall since 2018, when China, Malaysia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries announced that they would no longer import many types of recyclable material scraps. Of course, the U.S. recycling system had been a mess for far longer — seeing as the country never fully developed the infrastructure to recycle anywhere near the amount of plastic waste it produces. Indeed, only 8.4 percent of all the plastic produced in 2017 eventually got recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency .  But a new agreement announced last week at Circularity 20, GreenBiz Group’s virtual conference on the circular economy, has the potential to change that: The U.S. Plastics Pact. This new initiative is a collaborative project launched by the Recycling Partnership and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that aims to redesign the way the United States uses plastics so that they don’t become waste in the first place. The effort is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network: The think tank has helped organize key public and private stakeholders to push towards a circular economy for plastic in countries around the world, from the United Kingdom to Chile to South Africa. Redesigning the way we use one of the most ubiquitous and convenient materials on the planet won’t be easy. But the initiative is setting distinct targets and deadlines for meeting them. Shooting for 2025, its main goals are: Make sure all plastic packaging is 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable  Take action to ensure that 50 percent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted Have the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging be 30 percent The U.S. Plastics Pact has gathered more than 60 prominent partners, which will provide research and funding. They include local governments from Arizona to Texas to California; NGOs such as the Ocean Conservancy and The United States Composting Council; and companies ranging from Eastman to Target. All of these stakeholders have to agree to work in a pre-competitive environment towards the Pact’s targets. So what will this new collaboration look like? Stephanie Kersten-Johnston, director of innovation at the Recycling Partnership, told GreenBiz that she expects it to be not just a network, but “a network on fire” — with all partners engaged to take the most effective action and make the most impact on the targets. In some ways it’s a support group for organizations to meet these targets, but we can’t just expect some representatives talking — we need the full value chain in there acting. “In some ways it’s a support group for organizations to meet these targets, but we can’t just expect some representatives talking — we need the full value chain in there acting,” she added. A recycling facility for PET bottles, which can be transformed to make new products including carpeting and sneakers. Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship Alba_alioth Close Authorship Hitting the target: How the U.S. Plastics Pact aims to achieve its ambitious goals 2025 isn’t too far off, so the U.S. Plastics Pact is getting started right away, according to Kersten-Johnston. In the first six months to one year, developing a roadmap will be the top priority for the project. “So we set these targets, these aspirations — but what are the practical steps we need to get there?” she said. “In the first year, this will look like network meetings,” she explained. “In practice, groups [of partner organizations] will be convening that will be called ‘workstreams.’ They focus on smaller, specific topics that can’t be solved by a singular organization … where the work is done, where the research is undertaken, and the formulation of the practical steps will take place.” For example, workstreams include deciding on the data that will be used. “How do we agree to tight definitions that we haven’t agreed on before?” Kersten-Johnston added. “What does that look like in the U.S. in practice? What cadence are we measuring on? What data sources will we be using?” If certain types of plastic are too hard to recycle or reuse, meaning they don’t have an end-of-life, they can’t have any place in a circular economy for plastics. Another workstream will decide which plastic materials are too problematic and unnecessary, and need simply to be eliminated from production. If certain types of plastic are too hard to recycle or reuse, meaning they don’t have an end of life, they can’t have any place in a circular economy for plastics.  After that, the organizations along the plastics value chain — from chemical companies to product designers to plastic recycling facilities and municipalities to materials recovery groups — will rework their operations in line with the targets.  That’s where the power of having corporate partners from several sectors comes in. Large companies and governments have been saying for years that they want to work to eliminate single-use plastics. In the past few years, there have been a flurry of plastics-related commitments. McDonald’s , for example, set a commitment in 2018 that its 36,000 restaurants would use only packaging from renewable, recycled or certified sustainable sources by 2025. Coca-Cola also announced it would help collect and recycle “the equivalent” of 100 percent of its packaging and make bottles with an average of 50 percent recycled content by 2030. Nestle , Disney , Starbucks , IKEA and others also have pledged to cut down on single-use plastics over that time. For all these companies, working together to make a better plastics value chain, from producing more recyclable plastics to creating more chemical recycling facilities, will enable them to meet both their targets and the targets of the entire U.S. Plastics Pact more easily. “We can start to address the plastic waste issue by taking fast and transformative action at every point in the plastic cycle,” said Viviana Alvarez, head of sustainability, North America, at Unilever, in a statement. “Recycling alone can’t solve the circular economy, but the circular economy can help solve the problem on waste and recycling. Keeping plastic in the economy and out of the environment will require everyone to work together — whether that’s product designers, governments, consumers or the waste management industry.” A history of the Global Plastics Pact The Ellen MacArthur Foundation first created its Global Plastic Pact as part of its New Plastics Economy Global Commitment in 2016. The circular economy powerhouse got over 20 percent of all global plastic packaging companies to pledge to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. (In total, more than 450 organizations have joined their global pacts around the world, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.) These Global Plastics Pact are networks of plastic waste initiatives in different countries, which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation organizes.  They include the UK Plastics Pact , the Pacte National sur les emballages plastiques in France, Circula El Plástico in Chile, the Plastic Pact NL  (Dutch) in the Netherlands, the South African Plastics Pact , and the Pacto Português para os Plásticos  (Portuguese) in Portugal. Each country’s goals are slightly different, based on the infrastructure of the location, and the U.S. is the latest initiative. “There was an unspoken question in the U.S. about how we were going to meet these targets, particularly how we were going to achieve particularly closing the gaps between supply and demand so everyone viewed it as a topic that needed to be tackled but it was never addressed,” Kersten-Johnston described. So the Recycling Partnership stepped up to meet the massive opportunity in the U.S.: transforming the waste management system of the biggest economy in the world to foster sustainability on a massive scale. Pull Quote In some ways it’s a support group for organizations to meet these targets, but we can’t just expect some representatives talking — we need the full value chain in there acting. If certain types of plastic are too hard to recycle or reuse, meaning they don’t have an end-of-life, they can’t have any place in a circular economy for plastics. 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The U.S. Plastics Pact launches new initiative to redesign the plastics value chain at Circularity 20

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive

October 31, 2019 by  
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The collaboration spearheaded by WWF will focus on boosting recycling infrastructure and public awareness campaigns in the U.S.

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Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive

Oil companies aren’t making big investments in a low-carbon future yet

October 31, 2019 by  
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But some companies are showing an interest in it.

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Oil companies aren’t making big investments in a low-carbon future yet

New Animal Endangerment Map shows global distribution of threatened animal species

October 3, 2019 by  
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Today’s wildlife are in peril, facing a variety of threats that test their survivability.  To illustrate the crisis magnitude, a new Animal Endangerment Map has been presented that reflects the conservation status of globally threatened species . Species survival is vital to preserving biodiversity and a region’s unique natural history but progress has not been kind to flora and fauna of late.  What’s causing species endangerment? Some threats are natural, like disease, for instance. However, the main culprits are because of human activities alone. Climate change , habitat loss (deforestation, urban/suburban development, agriculture, livestock farming), illegal trapping and poaching for wildlife trade, invasive species, overexploitation (excess hunting, overfishing, over-harvesting of aquatic resources) and pollution all have the human footprint.  Related: US and Canada in drastic crisis with 3 billion birds lost since 1970 Human population growth fundamentally leaves less room for wildlife species.  And as ecosystems are weakened, many species are forced to adapt quickly or face extinction in the decades ahead.  The newly devised Animal Endangerment Map collates and analyzes data from both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).  The map classifies global animal distributions as vulnerable, endangered or extinct .  How the species are assigned into the various categories is based on two factors standardized by the IUCN and WWF – the population size, as well as the amount of population decline over the previous 10 years or three generations. The Animal Endangerment Map has determined that the United States currently has 1,283 total species at risk. They are further sub-categorized as follows: 237 extinct, 4 extinct in the wilderness , 214 critically endangered, 277 endangered and 551 vulnerable. It is hoped data provided by the Animal Endangerment Map can assist in efforts to secure habitats and to sustain entire species. With this information, researchers and governments can address target areas for preservation.  The map, interestingly, has a toggle feature that displays data from 10 years ago to correlate with present day results, thereby allowing users to longitudinally compare conservation status of various species. Hence, the information provided can reveal efficacy and long-term feasibility of programs as they develop and are implemented.  More importantly, past initiatives have proven that well-managed protected areas can escape from the brink, allowing species to recover.  It is hoped therefore that the Animal Endangerment Map can inspire well-informed conservation action to safeguard the wildlife that currently need help.  + Animal Endangerment Map

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Good Clothing releases capsule collection made from hemp and organic cotton

October 3, 2019 by  
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Manufacturing is bad for the planet in general, and the textile industry is one of the leading producers of manufacturing pollution and waste . With this in mind, the Good Clothing Co. decided to implement old-school clothing production that is better for the Earth and a pleasure for the consumer. The Good Clothing Co.’s Good Apparel Capsule Collection is the most recent clothing line to come out of the Fall River, Massachusetts mill, an area connected to the textile industry since the 1800s. The company aims to live up to its name at every level, beginning with providing jobs within the United States in an industry that has been mostly moved overseas in recent decades. Related: 6 eco-friendly ways to incorporate hemp into your daily routine Rather than focusing on fast fashion to keep up with the trends of the season, Good Clothing Co. targets classic, multipurpose designs meant to be in a closet for the long-term, reducing the need to purchase a lot of clothes. In fact, the newest release is a capsule collection, meaning that the basics are interchangeable for endless attire options from the boat to the boardroom. The move to offer quality clothing that is versatile and long-lasting stems from the company’s goal to produce sustainable clothing . Made in small batches, Good Clothing Co. produces little waste compared to other mass-produced, consumed and promptly discarded clothing lines. To ensure quality, each piece is made in-house under the supervision of master tailor and founder Kathryn Hilderbrand. To further its dedication to creating sustainable clothing, the company sources materials locally as much as possible and selects earth-friendly materials such as organic cotton and hemp . Both products are made without herbicides and pesticides , toxins that can end up in our waterways. With a continued focus on the entire production cycle, from design to material selection to production to consumer use, Good Clothing Co. hopes to not only put the United States back on the map of the textile industry, but to have the country stand as a shining example of sustainable fashion . + Good Clothing Co. Photography by Shannan Grant Photography via Good Clothing Co.

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Good Clothing releases capsule collection made from hemp and organic cotton

Endangered Malayan tigers are threatened by the demand for durian

October 24, 2018 by  
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The habitat of the Malayan tiger — one of the world’s most endangered tigers — is being threatened by a strange fruit. Because of a growing demand in China for durian, a ‘smelly’ and controversial fruit, Malaysian forests are being cleared to make room for growing the crop. This deforestation could destroy the chances of survival for the Malayan tigers, of which only 300 remain in the world. Forests in the Malaysian region of Raub, home of the Malayan tiger , have become a popular destination for “durian tours.” As such, this forested land is being burned and cleared to make room for plantations to grow the Muang King variety of durian. Related: Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhtstan after 70-year absence According to Siti Zuraidah Abidin from WWF Malaysia, the Hulu Sempam area of the country had been named an “expected tiger habitat.” Now, plans for a new durian plantation in this region are in place, despite its proximity to the habitat of most of the planet’s 300 remaining Malayan tigers. Perbadanan Setiausaha Kerajaan, a company with ties to the government, has plans to cut down more than 1,200 hectares of land in Hulu Sempam for a durian plantation. The Pahang Forestry Department said that the company does not need permission for the project, even though Malayan tigers exist only on the Malay Peninsula and southern Thailand . “Land clearing at Hulu Sempam can cause the wider forests to be fragmented, which in turn can affect the wildlife movement,” Abidin warned. As The Guardian reported, the durian market has become incredibly profitable. In just the last year, demand has increased the cost of the fruit in China, leading to a surge in durian farming in Malaysia. Some experts even predict that it could replace palm oil as the country’s largest export. Over the past decade, the value of China’s durian imports has jumped about 26 percent each year, reaching $1.1 billion in 2016. Environmental groups are afraid that durian will be just like palm oil and lead to the same destruction of endangered wildlife habitats, particularly of the Malayan tigers. Via  The Guardian Images via Kent Wang and Rennett Stowe

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Endangered Malayan tigers are threatened by the demand for durian

‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

June 11, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. In this episode: How American businesses, from WWF to Ceres to Microsoft to Ingersoll Rand, are still proving their commitments to the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.

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‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

How business can bolster the Paris Agreement

November 9, 2017 by  
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An interview with David McCauley, senior vice president of Policy and Government Affairs at WWF.

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How business can bolster the Paris Agreement

Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund

October 17, 2017 by  
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Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund

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