Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Are Benefit Corporations the New Face of Capitalism?

The B Corp may give us some indication of what the future of capitalism looks like.  An increasing number of people are disgusted with the growing inequality between rich and poor. The ubiquitous feelings of marginalization and hopelessness are a recipe for disaster. At the very least they create fertile grounds for the rise of populist leaders who propagate fear and division.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Climate Change is the Real Emergency While Border Walls are a Ruse

The climate crisis is a real emergency the border wall is not. The window of opportunity to act on climate change is closing. Despite warnings from scientists, we are not seeing enough action from governments, especially the US federal government. We are on the cusp of civilization altering tipping points from which we will not be able to recover yet US President Donald Trump is preoccupied with building a border wall.  He has denied the existence of climate change, while threatened to declare a state of national emergency to build his wall. He has pledged to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement while his administration has systematically dismantled environmental protections and climate action.

Monday, January 14, 2019

8 Factors Driving Corporate Activism

Value systems drive activism and these efforts are increasingly intersecting with corporate self interest.  Companies have a vested interest in combating consumer skepticism. They know they cannot ignore consumers' distrust nor can they avoid the growing demand that businesses act in an ethical manner. Apart from the inherent value of doing the right thing, there are powerful incentives and disincentives that are driving corporate activism. Here are eight reasons why companies are feeling compelled to act.

1. BOTTOM LINE BENEFITS

It pays for business to be ethical. Companies like Patagonia have demonstrated how ethical conduct enhances their reputation, reinforces customer loyalty and improves the bottom line. This is in line with research shows that consumers are more likely to buy products and services from a company they deem to be responsible. According to a Nielsen survey released at the end of last year almost half of US shoppers indicate they would change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental footprint. This poll indicates that US consumer are increasing their purchases of sustainable products at four times the rate of non-sustainable products. The survey indicated that there has been a 20 percent increase in the purchase of sustainable products since 2014. In 2018 US consumers spent $129 billion on sustainable products and by 2021 that spend is expected to increase to $150 billion. Businesses benefit from science-based climate action and a recent CSE study is among a large pool of research that confirms the bottom line benefits of sustainability.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Event - Solar World Congress in Santiago Chile (Call for Participation)

The Solar World Congress (SWC) will take place on November 4-7, 2019 at the Centro Parque in Santiago, Chile.  This new and modern conference center is situated in a public park, with convenient access and many good hotels nearby. It has both an outdoor area, ideal for an exhibition, and indoor conference facilities. SWC will also include the 9th Edition of the International Conference on solar heating and cooling (SHC). There will be many parallel activities taking place alongside these conferences as well as a post Congress Technical Tour to visit landmark solar facilities in Northern Chile.

Event - Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge

Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge will take place on June 3-4, 2019 at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany. Successful reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels is among the most pressing current challenges for scientific innovation. Given the scale of its impact on the global ecosystems and socio-economic implications, innovative solutions are urgently needed at the chemistry as well as biological front. The EMBL conference “Biological Solutions for the Global CO2 Challenge” will bring together scientific leaders, industrial players, as well as policy makers to discuss how synthetic biology and metabolic engineering can contribute to sustainable CO2 capture and conversion.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Women are at the Forefront of Historic Change

Women are claiming their rightful place in the halls of political power and they are changing the world in the process. Nowhere is this more evident than in the blue wave that solidly rebuked the GOP's leadership in the US midterm elections of 2018.

In recent years women are making their voices heard with unprecedented vigor and in unprecedented numbers. The day after Trump was inaugurated women staged the single largest day of protest in US history. They came out again to demonstrate against Trump's first year in office with a day of national protest. Almost 2.5 million people came out for the second annual Women’s March to fight for women’s rights, resist Trump and denounce the Republican agenda. At these demonstrations they carried signs like "grab him by the midterms" and that is precisely what they proceeded to do.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anthropogenic Species Extinction is a Crime Against Nature

Year after year we are witnessing the extinction of species. To be fair species extinction has been part of life on Earth since life originated on this planet but what makes contemporary extinctions unique is the fact that they are happening 100 to 1000 times faster than the normal natural rate of die-offs. Species extinction is being accelerated by human activities including climate change. Thousands of species are currently under threat from habitat loss, deforestation, poaching and climate change. The problem will get worse as habitats continue to shrink, forests continue to be destroyed and the climate continues to warm. Many of the species that are disappearing have yet to be identified by scientists.

According to a 2017 paper in Nature Climate Change a review of 136 studies published between 1990 and 2015 concluded that 47 percent of the land mammals and 23 percent of the birds on the threatened list are affected negatively by climate change. Primates and marsupials were found to be the most at risk because of climate change.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Corporate Activism Targeting Trump will Increase in 2019

Corporate America has challenged Trump's leadership and they will engage in unprecedented levels of climate advocacy in 2019.   They will speak out against Trump's presidency because they realize that they have no choice, silence is no longer an option. Standing up to Trump is now synonymous with protecting their brands.

As explained in The Conversation: "Staying out of politics is no longer an option for the corporate world, even if its tactics can sometimes clash with strategies to optimise profits."

Corporate resistance to Trump is not new, however, it is intensifying. CEOs from companies like Tesla, Patagonia, Starbucks, General Motors, JP Morgan and Walmart have all spoken out against this president. They have repeatedly rebuked Trump and some played an uncharacteristically active role supporting Democrats in the midterm elections of 2018.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Conservation Success Stories are Shining Light into the Darkness

You would be forgiven for not noticing the good news stories in 2018 as they languish in the shadow of some devastating events. Brazil’s new president appears intent on destroying vast swaths of Amazon rainforest and Trump continues his reign of terror as the president of the United States.

Two major climate reports (UN and US) make it painfully clear that we are rapidly running out of time. Last year was the hottest year on record after 2015, 2016 and 2017 (20 of the warmest years on record around the planet occurred in the past 22 years). More than 3 trillion tons of ice was lost in Antarctica last year and carbon emissions in 2018 hit a record high.  Despite these occurrences there was lots of good news in 2018 and not just for the environment.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Business Will Lead Climate Action in 2019

Corporate support for climate action can counter the Trump administration and help to make 2019 a turning point for climate action.  In 2018 we witnessed the awakening of corporate America as a growing number of companies came to the realization that standing up to this president is synonymous with protecting their brands. As 2018 came to a close it became clear that corporate activism is now a force to be reckoned with. Each year a growing number of companies are adopting science based environmental governance strategies. "Business is pretty much the most powerful force on the planet. If you really harness it, what change could we create as a result?," B Lab UK's Kate Sandle said.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Event - OWP Japan Offshore Wind Power

OWP Japan (Offshore Wind Power) will take place on May 16-17, 2019 in Tokyo, JAPAN. The Key highlights of the agenda include the following:

Offshore wind opportunities in Japan and a regulator’s perspectives. How to construct a successful offshore wind partnership in Japan. Pilot case studies experiences including lessons from Taiwan and Europe. Financing and funding options as well as strategies for offshore wind projects. Offshore wind project risk, mitigation and insurance. Creating the supply chain – needs and opportunities. Offshore wind technologies for the Japanese environment.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Reasons to Hope that 2019 is a Turning Point for Climate Action in the US

We can certainly use a dose of hope in the wake of the brutal year that was 2018.  No amount of optimism can obscure the destructiveness of the Trump administration. However, this darkness is countered by the promise that 2019 will augur meaningful change. Democracy is under siege from within, however, the actions of the legislative and judicial branches of government have made it possible for the liberal constitutional state to survive this Russian made Trojan Horse. It is a credit to the system of checks and balances that the Republic has withstood repeated attacks from the commander and chief.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Dark Star of the Trump Administration in 2018

The year that was will go down in history as one of the darkest in the life of the Republic. While 2017 was an awful year 2018 was worse. The corruption of Trump and his administration became painfully clear last year. Nativism and hatred are defining features of this administration. Trump's tirades against the media and his aversion to science are now inextricably linked to this president and his demonstrably amoral administration. Their unilateralism and transactional approach to the world is now infamous.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Kids are Turning to the Courts to Demand Climate Action

There are waves of legal actions from kids around the world demanding that their governments act to combat climate change. In the absence of science based climate action a court-ordered mandate to reduce emissions may be our best hope of protecting our planet for future generations.

Kids are leading the call for climate action as a matter of survival. They are protesting the inaction of their political leaders and turning to the courts to demand that governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase out fossil fuels. As these kids point out, they are being forced to act because adults are behaving like irresponsible children. Emboldened by leaders like 15 year old Greta Thornburg kids around the world are coming together to demand action.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Kids Are Fighting for their Lives

The warming world has dire implications for us all but it is especially dangerous for kids. They are more susceptible to heat, infectious diseases, air pollution, and food insecurity. They are forced to reckon with the realization that adults are destroying their future by failing to do what they must to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Studies show that children are disproportionately affected by climate change. The World Health Organization estimates that climate change related diarrheal illness will kill 48,000 children younger than 15 by 2030 and nutritional deficiencies are expected to kill 95,000 children in the same time frame. Children are also at greater risk of sickness and death from extreme heat, droughts and air pollution.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Young People are Leading Climate Activism and Giving Us Reason to Hope

We live in a world where the adults are acting like children and the children are acting like adults. There is no escaping the conclusion that we have not done enough to protect kids from climate change. In defense of their futures children are taking it upon themselves to expose our unconscionable failure and demand climate justice. One of the world's leading advocates for climate action is 15 year old Swede Greta Thunberg. While some may see her as an angel, others think she is more like a ghost from Charles Dickens popular novella, A Christmas Carol. Either way the message Greta delivered at COP24 is reverberating around the world. She pulls no punches and tells it like it is. She reflects on her future and she imagines that if she has children one day they may ask her, "why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act." She then makes an appeal to parents saying: "You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Like a Dickensonian Ghost Greta Thunberg Offers a Chilling Rebuke and a Haunting Warning


Fifteen year old Greta Thunberg spoke truth to power at the recent UN COP24 climate talks. Her address on behalf of environmental non-governmental organizations was one of the most powerful speeches ever delivered on climate action. Like a ghost from Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol she shows us what we have done, what we are doing and what we must do. She cuts through our excuses for inaction and exposes the insanity of our failure to do what common sense dictates we must. Here are the full transcripts of two speeches that she delivered at COP24:

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Festering Rot that is Corruption in the Trump Administration

Despite promises to "drain the swamp" Trump and his administration have been defined by ethics violations and rampant corruption. On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly vowed to end government corruption. Instead he has made it worse in ways that most could not have imagined.

Trump has been tied to shady deals, questionable financial partners, hush money, conspiracy, tax evasion, illegal payments, and conflicts of interest.

Although Trump has indicated that he does not trust his own government (DOJ, FBI, intelligence services, government scientists, etc) a report at the end of last year concluded that most Americans share the view that the White House is the most corrupt institution in government.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Corporate Activism and the End of Silence

Corporate activism is growing and ushering in a new era. Never before have corporations been more involved in activism or felt more compelled to engage. What corporate leaders say or don't say can have profound consequences for their personal reputations and the reputation of the brands they lead. Businesses are standing up for environmental issues, LGBTQ rights, immigration policies, sexual harassment, gun safety and climate action.

As they come to the realization that ethics are as important as cost and quality, businesses are doing more than just leveraging issues to sell their products and services. They are engaging in brand activism campaigns that build awareness and promote a message.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Green New Deal: The Moonshot of Our Generation

Democrats are proposing a Green New Deal to confront climate change. Newly elected legislators are joining forces with venerable law makers to promote government support for climate action. On December 10th more than 1000 young people went to the Capitol to support the proposed deal. A number of high profile supporters were present for an online town hall that drew thousands of viewers. There is widespread support from both progressive politicians and organizations, there are already 38 Congresspeople who have stood up to support Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) proposal for a Select Committee for a Green New Deal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fashion Industry's Leadership at COP24

The fashion industry was on hand at COP24 and  they are working to transform the industry from an environmental Luddite to and environmental leader.  The industry has a well earned reputation for being environmentally destructive. Despite valient attempts from some clothing manufacturers to clean up their act, the industry is often wasteful and highly polluting.

The fashion industry, especially fast fashion, is among the dirtiest industries on earth.  Dozens of fashion brands came together at COP24, in Katowice Poland to sign a Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action under the auspices of the UN Climate Change Convention secretariat, UNFCCC.  This document is aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Achievements and Shortcomings of COP24

"We will all have to give in order to gain. We will all have to be courageous to look into the future and make yet another step for the sake of humanity."

Michal Kurtyka, senior Polish official

After 12 days of intense negotiations in Katowice Poland almost two hundred countries signed an agreement that keeps the Paris Agreement alive.  As has become habitual at the annual UN climate meetings known as the Conference of the Parties, officials had to work overtime to come to an agreement.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Event - Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD 2019)

The 7th International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD 2019) will take place on September 4, 2019 09:00 - September 5, 2019 19:30, in Rome, Italy. The Conference theme is: "Creating a unified foundation for the Sustainable Development: research, practice and education".

Friday, December 14, 2018

What Businesses are Doing at COP24

Members of the business community were present at 24th Conference of Parties (COP24). The UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland showcased a wide range of private sector accomplishments. They also supported a number of studies which indicate that adopting less environmentally harmful practices is good for business.

The business community is vulnerable to climate change. As explained by ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO., "a failure to address climate change will hurt us all."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Economic Arguments as a Pretext to Torpedo Climate Action

National governments and conservative commentators commonly invoke economic arguments to justify climate inaction. However, a slew of studies flatly contradict the contention that the cost of climate action outweighs the benefits. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the economic argument is a ruse. There are a couple of factors driving this fraudulent economic argument. The first is the politics of conservative governments, the second is industry, particularly fossil fuels.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Resistance from Oil Producing States is Killing Climate Talks

Fossil fuel producing states are making progress very difficult at COP24.  Instead of climate action the world's leading oil producers are opting to defend their oil interests.   Member states are falling far short of the objectives laid out for the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24).  The scientific report that was meant to inform these proceeding is being resisted by the world's three largest oil producers, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia.  Even Poland, the host nation for COP24 is putting the brakes on climate action in an effort to protect its coal industry.

Monday, December 10, 2018

COP24 Goals and Objectives

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be held in Katowice, Poland, it runs from December 3 - 14. This meeting hosts representatives from United Nations member states, including government ministers and subnational leaders. There will also be CEOs, the leaders of nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. The goal of the meeting is to hammer out a framework for implementing the Paris Agreement, which was reached in 2015 at the 21st conference.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Event - Conference on Sustainability in Engineering 2019

Conference on Sustainability in Engineering (CSE) will take place February 22nd - 25th, 2019 at the University of Northern British Columbia. The theme "Triple Bottom Line", will provide a foundation of knowledge on sustainability, while considering social, economic, and environmental implications. CSE 2019 will equip students with the knowledge required to tackle challenges related to sustainability. The Conference on Sustainability in Engineering is the CFES' newest conference, ratified at PM 2018. The conference aims to raise awareness about issues in sustainability and environmental engineering, and encourage students to discuss and design solutions to counter them. The Conference on Sustainability in Engineering (CSE) is a three-day national conference to educate and engage engineering students on issues of sustainability and how they can tackle it within their engineering career and everyday life.

Event - 2019 Shareholder Activism Summit

The 2019 Shareholder Activism Summit will take place on January 24th 2019. The Summit will once again unite activists, board directors and corporate management to discuss the state of play in activist engagement and what to expect in the upcoming shareholder season.

A full day of interviews, panel discussions, and presentations by practice experts, strategists, advisors, activists and investors makes this one-day program an invaluable gathering, needed to effectively manage through the ever-evolving landscape of proxy fights and settlements. Share views and practices on the evolution and current state of shareholder activism in the US and abroad, with a focus on how engagements continue to shape efforts between directors, public company management and activist investors, all seeking positive outcomes.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Life and Funeral of George H.W. Bush Defines Leadership for a Nation that has Lost its Way

The funeral for George H.W. Bush takes place at a time when the nation's values are under siege from within. The Bush funeral calls us to remember what great American leadership looks like. In these dark times remembering a leader who is loving, humble, honest and self-effacing gives us reason to hope.

After lying in state at the US Capitol the coffin of the 41st president of the United States traveled by motorcade to Washington National Cathedral for his funeral and some final farewells. The touching 3 hour ceremony that ensued showcased a man of faith who believed in causes larger than himself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Life of Service: George H.W. Bush a Good Man and a Model President

George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) was a humble family man who has contributed enormously to the history of the United States and the world. One of his enduring achievements was the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air act.  He is best known for being the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. After he left office he continued to be active in humanitarian activities

He leaves behind an impressive legacy of service. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor Bush postponed his university studies and when he turned 18 he enlisted to become one of the youngest aviators in the US Navy. After the war he attended and graduated from Yale University.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Beware the Ides of March: Climate Denial and Trump's Demise

Trump's climate denial is part of a maniacal litany of lies that may help bring his presidency to an end. The facts are beginning to coalesce and they are painting a convincing portrait of a corrupt and dishonest president with delusions of grandeur.

Trump resists as best he can maligning truth tellers and spouting self-serving narratives. He savages fact based sources of information like science and the media, while trying to portray himself as a victim of a "witch-hunt". However, two reports strike at the heart of this pessimal presidency, one has already been released and the other, the most damning of all is expected to drop in 2019. To all but his minions, Trump's predicament is a direct corollary of his own actions.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Event - International Sustainability Transitions Conference

The 10th International Sustainability Transitions conference will be held from June 23-26, 2019 at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. The IST onference theme is Accelerating sustainability transitions: Building visions, unlocking pathways, navigating conflicts.

IST 2019 is hosted by the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University in association with the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN). Accelerating sustainability transitions Building visions, unlocking pathways, navigating conflicts.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Event - NCSE 2019 Annual Conference: Sustainable Infrastructure & Resilience

NCSE 2019 Annual Conference: Sustainable Infrastructure & Resilience will take place on January 7-10, 2019 at the at the Omni Shoreham Hotel located at 2500 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008. The National Council for Science and the Environment works with scientists, educators, policymakers, business leaders, and officials at all levels of government to inform environmental policy and decision-making with the use of science. NCSE programs are designed to foster leadership and education around timely and pressing issues at the intersection of science, policy, education, and decision-making. The programs also advance interdisciplinary education and develop international cooperation and engagement.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

National Governments Failing to Act on Climate Change

The most recent data indicates that not only are we are far from where we need to be to slow global warming, we are falling further behind. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising again and the planet is getting hotter. After three consecutive years of decline, global emissions began to rise again in 2017. They are expected to increase even more in 2018.

The UN emissions gap report was released ahead of the upcoming COP 24 meetings in Katowice, Poland where governments will meet to discuss their failure to achieve the targets laid out in the Paris climate agreement.

At 53.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, global emissions have reached historic levels. Worse still they show no signs of peaking. If we are to stave off the most cataclysmic impacts of climate change we must urgently reduce emissions. Scientists have determined that we need to keep temperatures from rising above the upper threshold limit of 1.5 - 2.0 degrees Celsius. Earth has already warmed 1.8 C since the beginning of the 20th century.

Webinar - The Science of Resilience in Decision-Making

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, Dec 5th 2018, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM EST. Erica Goldman, NSCE Science Policy Director, will moderate a multi-disciplinary discussion on climate resilient infrastructure. She'll be joined by specialists in engineering, water resources, urban planning and natural hazards. Erica will moderates a multi-disciplinary discussion on climate resilient infrastructure. This 90-minute webinar is sponsored by ASU's School of Sustainability in partnership with the National Council for Science and the Environment and will explore:
  • Resilience as a paradigm to understand infrastructure at a systems level
  • Social science as a critical component in planning for and understanding resilience
  • Resilient design as a continuum, rather than an endpoint
  • The role of social and institutional infrastructure in disaster response and planning for climate impacts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sustainability Benefits the Bottom Line

A slew of studies have demonstrated that there are financial benefits associated with corporate sustainability performance. Recent research adds to the body of evidence linking ESG performance to a strong ROI.

These are the findings of a new report that also shows that an increasing number of companies are integrating the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their reporting paradigms. The fact that the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the dominant platform makes sense given the fact that new GRI standards are compatible with SDGs. The report also indicates that an increasing number of companies reporting to the CDP, an organization that supports corporate disclosures of environmental impacts.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Trump Hides New US Climate Report to Conceal the Costs

The release of a major new climate report on Black Friday is entirely consistent with the subterfuge that defines the Trump administration. The hope was that by releasing it on the busiest shopping day of the year no one would notice the economic toll foretold in the report. It is a savage irony that Trump is using the consumer spectacle of Black Friday to hide a study that predicts massive economic consequences from unchecked climate change. It should be obvious by now that Trump disavows facts that are inconvenient. He won't accept the conclusion of his own intelligence services regarding Russian interference. He equivocates on the CIA's conclusions about the murder of a journalist by Saudi Arabia. He even disputed the death toll from Hurricane Maria because it revealed how his administration's neglect killed hundreds in Puerto Rico. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Event - United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights

This event will take place on November 26-28, 2018, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The central theme for the 2018 Forum will be: "Business respect for human rights – building on what works".