Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Seven Steps to Integrating Sustainability (Report)

Sustainability management is a a powerful and growing trend that can lead to meaningful changes, however, it can be a slow and difficult process. If you and your organization are considering incorporating sustainability into your management planning here is a resource that can help.

In this Environmental Leader 2015 Insider Knowledge Report, sponsor VF Corporation shares 7 steps to balancing environmental impact with a company's business plan in order to deliver value to brands and consumers.

Governments are Pledging to Reduce GHGs Ahead of COP21

The fight against global warming is largely about reducing emissions and both national and regional governments are beginning to do what they must to keep temperatures below the 2 degree Celsius upper threshold limit We are seeing bold action ahead of COP21 where it is hoped that we will finally see an international agreement to combat climate change including radical emissions reductions. As we ebb ever closer to climate talks in Paris, the world is increasingly focused on what is called Intended Nationally Determined Targets (INDC).

Monday, October 5, 2015

Corporate Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The fight against global warming is largely about reducing emissions and corporations are stepping up to the plate to do their part to keep temperatures below the 2 degree Celsius upper threshold limit.

It is becoming increasingly clear that carbon reduction makes good business sense and decoupling emissions from growth is one of the leading challenges of sustainability. We saw evidence of corporate leadership at last year's UN Climate Summit and this year we have seen dramatic carbon reduction efforts from a number of companies including GE, PG&E and Time Warner Cable.

More Evidence for the Decoupling of the Economy and Emissions

A new report confirms that we can simultaneously grow the economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The report corroborates the findings from a number of other sources.

The most recent report called "Turning Point,"comes from research prepared for green thinktank Heinrich Böll by DIW Econ, a German institute for economic research.

Event - Update on the CR Reporting and Communications Summit

CR Reporting and Communications Summit will take place 10-11 November 10-11, 2015 at the Tower Bridge Hilton. Here is an updates speakers and attendee list The increasing importance of sustainability reporting is helping to make this year’s event is the biggest yet. Some of the issues that will be addressed include G4 implementation, master materiality and using reporting to embed sustainable values within your organization.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Event - Wind Integration Workshop

The 14th International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as on Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Power Plants will be held from October 20 to 22, 2015, in Brussels, Belgium. This event will take place immediately following the 5th International Workshop on Integration of Solar Power into Power Systems.

Event - Solar Integration Workshop

This event will take place on October 19 & 20, 2015, in Brussels, Belgium. This one-and-a-half day Solar Integration Workshop will be held for the fifth time, again in conjunction with the International Workshop on Large-scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as on Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Power Plants.

Event - Japan Electric Power Summit (JPES)

JEPS 2015 Summit will take place on November 30 to December 2 at the Tokyo Marriott Hotel. There will be a Pre-Summit Workshop on Business Development in Japan's Liberalized Electric Power Sector. The main conference is titled "Upping Competitiveness & Efficiency towards 2020!" It will address:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Big Oil's Legacy of Lies Misinformation and Subterfuge (Video)

The oil industry uses its vast resources to undermine science and lobby politicians. Oil industry giants have waged war against climate action. Oil giants have created a massive web of misinformation designed to put their profits ahead of the health of people and the planet. On its own ExxonMobil has poured $30 million into funding groups denying the scientific evidence and consensus on human-caused global warming.

An eight month investigation from Pulitzer Prize winning Inside Climate News has uncovered more proof of Exxon's malfeasance. According to this investigation Exxon knew the facts about fossil fuels role as the leading driver of climate change forty years ago. According to Exxon documents they put their concerns about profitability ahead of the science and embarked on a sophisticated campaign of misinformation. As explained by InsideClimate News, Exxon has "spent more than 20 years discrediting the research its own scientists had once confirmed." All the way back in 1982 Exxon's own science clearly indicated that carbon pollution would cause global temperatures to rise.

The Business of Sustainability (Video Webinar)

Bottom line concerns are pushing businesses are inspiring an ever growing number of businesses to pursue sustainability with earnest. In its simplest essence sustainability is about people, planet, and profits. Everyone from corporate giants to small businesses see value in reducing costs and increasing revenue. Sustainability is now widely appreciated as a great way to improve performance. For years now the business case for sustainability has been getting stronger as more companies report on the achievements. Regardless of what brings businesses to the table, support for sustainability is at the forefront of the fight climate change, environmental degradation and social injustice.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Energy Storage in California Schools

Schools in California are leading proponents of energy efficiency and the low carbon economy. To illustrate the point a number of California school districts are working with Green Charge Networks to provide lithium ion-based battery storage. Overall Green Charge is installing more than 1,500 kWh of energy storage capacity under Power Efficiency Agreements (PEAs). Green Charge has also tied electric vehicle charging stations into each of these systems.

Indigenous People Seeking to Profit from Fossil Fuels

It is a sad irony but some indigenous people on the front lines of ecological degradation are benefiting from those who destroy their lands to extract fossil fuels. While many aboriginal communities are at the forefront of efforts to stop fossil fuel exploitation, others are looking to benefit financially from hydrocarbon exploitation as they try to contend with the loss of their traditional ways of life.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Green Infrastructure Initiatives at Three US Schools

Schools have long been at the forefront of green infrastructure initiatives. It is a marriage that makes perfect sense as a greener infrastructure saves costs, improves the health of students, and contributes to better academic performance. Here are some green infrastructure initiatives at three US schools, Fairfield University, Longwood Central School and Ball State University.

At the Longwood Central School District in Long Island, New York, four Flex Energy microturbines are currently being installed as part of a comprehensive energy savings project. These turbines include an integrated hot water cogeneration module to allow for a mechanical connection to multiple facility hot water systems, as well as absorption chilling. The Flex turbines alone will produce the equivalent of 120 tons of air conditioning through an absorption chiller by capturing waste heat.

Why the Corporate World is Embracing Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is looking increasingly attractive to corporate America. There was a time when the corporate world would scoff at renewable energy.  However, the rapid expansion of renewable energy combined with declining price points lends credence to the belief that we truly have a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

It is with good reason that the corporate world is falling in love with renewable energy. According to a report put out by Ceres, David Gardiner & Associates, Calvert Investments, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) clean energy has saved Corporate America more than a billion a year.

As explained by the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, "Investing at scale in clean, efficient power offers one of the clearest no-regret choices ever presented to human progress."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sustainable Systems - Univeristy of Michigan

The University of Michigan offers a field of study called Sustainable Systems. This interdisciplinary program is focused on enabling technology and enterprise to enhance the sustainability of systems that provide mobility, shelter, sustenance, communication and recreation. It draws on and benefits from the diversity of faculty expertise found at the school and across the University. Many cross-listed courses offered by the Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering complement the research activities of the Center for Sustainable Systems and the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.

China and US Continue Climate Cooperation

At a White House summit meeting with President Obama, on Friday, September 23, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced that his country, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases will launch the world’s largest carbon trading system.

The national cap and trade program is scheduled to come online by 2017. It will be based on seven regional pilot programs already operating in China. The carbon trading initiative will reduce emissions from major industries, including steel, cement, paper and electric power. The system will also help expand investments in China's already considerable renewable energy market.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Emissions Reductions Efforts at GE, P&G, and Time Warner Cable

Corporate leaders are increasingly working to lower their emissions profiles. Three such companies are General Electric, Procter & Gamble and Time Warner Cable. These three companies provide good examples of corporate emissions reduction efforts that includes setting ambitious goals for the future. A growing number of companies realize that emissions reductions and other sustainability efforts make sense as we move ever closer to new regulatory regimes.

Climate Recap of the Canadian Leaders Clash in the Munk Debate

During the Munk debate on September 28th the three Canadian leaders articulated their distinct visions of Canada. This was the forth leaders debate of the 2015 federal election and the first ever foreign policy debate between the three major parties. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau clashed on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. All three are running neck and neck in the polls as we head down the final stretch. With less than three weeks to go before election day they went at each other like desperate men fighting for their political lives. While climate change was hardly the dominant theme of the evening it was addressed at least eight times. Here is a recap of those exchanges.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Alabama Schools to Teach Climate Change and Evolution

Alabama is well known for its religious conservatism, however, as of 2016 schools in the state will teach their students about climate change and evolution. All 40 members of the state board of education unanimously voted in favor of the update to the science standard. This is a landmark move given that the state and many of those who vote on the board have strong religious views. For decades faith and science where at odds on the subject of evolution and man-made climate change.

It took three years to develop the guidelines. This is the first time that the standard has been updated in 10 years. In the case of both evolution and climate change educators will now use scientific evidence to explain the existence and causes of climate change and the veracity of evolutionary hypothesis.

Carbon Reduction Rankings for FTSE 100 Companies and Companies that Support Carbon Pollution Standards

Here is a summary of companies leading efforts to manage their carbon emissions and communicate this effectively as well as a list of companies who support carbon reduction standards.

Carbon Clear has published its fifth annual report ranking carbon measurement and reporting efforts of FTSE 100 companies. Carbon Clear ranks companies on their carbon measurement and reporting, strategy and targets, emissions reduction and how carbon reporting is used to engage stakeholders.

BT Group leads the list for its exemplary efforts at carbon measuring and reporting and its science based approach to greenhouse gas reduction targets. They narrowly bested Marks & Spencer who came in second. In 2014 the two companies tied for first place. Both companies lead the field by a considerable margin of almost 10 percentage points and they are both working on going beyond their ambitious carbon reduction targets.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Event - Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century (Canadian Launch)

This launch will take place on Monday, October 5 2015 between 08:00 and 11:00 EDT, at BMO Global Asset Management BMO Conference & Event Centre, 55 Bloor St West – Manulife Centre, Toronto
The purpose of this report is to end the debate about whether fiduciary duty is a legitimate barrier to investors integrating environmental, social and governance issues into their investment processes. While many investors have made positive steps to incorporate sustainability risks into the way they deliver their fiduciary duty, the report argues that too many assets are still managed with a 20th century mind-set, exposing savers and beneficiaries to the threat of value loss.

Event - World of Energy Solutions

This event will take place on October 12 to 14, 2015. Participants will discover how battery and storage, fuel cell technologies, hydrogen technologies and future mobility solutions will affect the future energy industries. This is a leading international conference and trade fair for the convergence of energy generation, storage systems and mobility solutions.  It addresses all players involved in the manufacturing of battery and energy storage systems for mobile and stationary implementation.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Climate Week NYC 2015: Low Carbon Economic Opportunities (Video)

The seventh Climate Week NYC takes place between September 22 and September 29. Corporations are an important part of this event as they are pursuing a range of economic opportunities associated with transitioning to a low carbon economy. Businesses all around the world are developing pragmatic solutions to adapt to a changing climate, minimizing risk and leveraging opportunity throughout their corporate value chains. Climate Week NYC brings together influential global figures, as well as new voices, from the worlds of business, government and society who are leading the low carbon transition. Throughout the week there will be a wide range of events, activities, high-profile meetings, presentations and conferences.

Pope Francis and the Convergence of Morality and Science: Relinquish Fossil Fuels and Embrace Renewables (Video)

Pope Francis is now in the US where he continues to make the moral case for climate action. The most scientifically feasible way we can make progress in the war against climate change is to abandon fossil fuels and turn in earnest towards renewable forms of energy.  In his address to Congress the Pope talked about the need to "put technology at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Students are Powering the Unstoppable Fossil Divestment Movement

The fossil fuel divestment movement was born on college and university campuses. Driven by social justice concerns student activism spawned a multi-trillion dollar sledge hammer. This rapidly burgeoning movement has grown to be a force to be reckoned with. In 2014 there was a doubling in the number of institutions that pledged to divest their fossil fuel holdings. In the last year this number exploded.

Sustainable Development Goals: Increasing the Emphasis on Water

Water must be a priority issue as we adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A total of 193 world leaders are engaged in a process that will formally adopt 17 SDGs. This takes place at the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda which takes place between September 25 and 27, in New York. Although one of the 17 global goals (Goal 6) aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, there needs to be more emphasis on water.

2015 - The Hottest Summer in the Hottest Year on Record

Anthropogenic warming continues to contribute to heat records and this trend shows no signs of abating. We now have the highest concentrations of atmospheric CO2 in human history and it is no coincidence that we are also consistently breaking heat records. The summer of 2015 was the hottest summer ever recorded. Global average sea surface temperatures this summer were 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average. According to NOAA, this is the highest departure from average for this period since records began in 1880. Five months of 2015 are among the top 10 monthly temperature departures.

Oil Pipeline Dominates the Enviromental Component of the French Language Leaders Debate

The Energy East Pipeline was the most prominent environmental issue in the first French language leaders debate. Stephen Harper was criticized by the other leaders for his government's failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. On September 24, 2015, the leaders vying for Prime Minister of Canada held a French language leaders debate in Montreal, Quebec. This debate is important because there are 78 seats in Quebec out of 338 up for grabs in the House of Commons. In addition to the seven million French speakers in Quebec there are one million French speakers outside of the province.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

MIT Gets a Fossil Fuel Divestment Letter from Scientists and Advocates

On September 16, 2015, 33 prominent climate scientists and advocates joined those who are calling for MIT to heed its own committee’s advice to divest from fossil fuels as part of a multi-faceted climate action plan. See their open letter below.

Dear President Reif,

We write — as interested scientists, alumni, and citizens — to ask that you cap off MIT’s exemplary study into fossil fuel divestment by committing the university to selling its stock in fossil fuel companies as part of a multi-faceted climate action plan.

Pope Francis on the Environment Politics and Business (Address to Congress)

As expected, in his address to a joint session of Congress Pope Francis spoke to a number of issues that are sure to earn the ire of Republicans. The Pope repeatedly quoted his environmental encyclical, something that the GOP had warned him not to do. In addition to the environment the Pontiff also spoke about politics and business.

Although the Pope ignored the warnings from Republicans, his tone was dignified not didactic, conciliatory not condemning. Nonetheless the message he is sending amounts to a request for the GOP to rethink many of their core policy positions.

Canadians Want Less Fossil Fuels and More Climate Action

According to recent poll, climate protection, energy policy and energy decision-making processes are strategic issues for Canadians ahead of the forthcoming federal elections.

The majority of Canadians do not support Ottawa's fossil fuel obsession. Canadians appear to recognize that the ruling Conservatives' emphasis on fossil fuels is damaging to the planet and harmful to our longer term economic interests.

As reported by the Climate Action Network, an April 2015 poll indicates:

Why Environmentally Concerned Canadians will Vote for Anyone but the Conservatives: Resources to Vote Strategically

While the NDP and the Liberal party each have massive shortcomings, no party is more of a threat to Canada's environment than the ruling Conservative government under Stephen Harper.

Although the NDP and Liberal parties have pledged to act on climate change they do not have a comprehensive policy to substantially reduce fossil fuel emissions. Neither party has put forth a policy platforms to manage the tarsands.

Harper's Conservatives have done nothing to seriously address climate change while they have done a great deal to exacerbate the problem. During their decade in power, the party has amassed a lamentable rap sheet of environmental abuses.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

School Program that Gets Kids out in Nature and Teaches Environmental Responsibility

The David Suzuki Foundation has launched a fun and free program designed to encourage kids to get outside and learn about environmental responsibility. The program is titled Back to School Superhero Challenge and it intended for families or classrooms.

Research shows that there are numerous benefits associated with being outside in nature. These benefits extend to both students and teachers. Studies show that children who spend time outside are healthier, happier and smarter. We also know that people who feel connected to nature are more likely to care about protecting it. There is tremendous value associated with getting out into green spaces.

Pope Francis and President Obama are a Climate Dream Team

In an address on the south lawn of the White House, Pope Francis spoke pointedly about the need to combat climate change. It quickly became evident that he was ignoring the warnings of Republican climate deniers when the pontiff lauded Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions. He followed that up by criticizing climate change deniers for failing in their duty to protect our "common home".

Republican's fear of the Pontiff's environmental message is entirely justified. The spiritual leader of more than 70 million American Catholics directly attacked the GOP's resistance to climate action. The Pope said that he believed this was a moral issue and he went further calling efforts to combat climate change a moral imperative for all Americans.

Climate Change is Emerging as an Issue in the Canadian Federal Election of 2015

In previous Canadian federal elections climate change has not been much of an issue. However, there appears to be a shift in the mood of Canadians and we may very well see concerns about climate change making an appearance as an election issue at the ballot box in October.

Some of this interest is being driven by Canadians who are experiencing the effects of climate change first hand. This includes floods in Calgary and Toronto, dry summers on the West Coast, low snow packs in the mountains, wildfires in the western provinces, and melting northern ice sheets.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canadian Students Leading the Call for Climate Action Including Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students and faculty are often the ones to lead the charge for societal betterment and environmental justice. Canadian students and faculty are no different and they are showing leadership on campuses all across the country.

In 2014 students at the University of British Columbia have voted to divest from fossil fuels and in February 2015, the UBC Faculty formally voted to divest. This move is significant given that the campus has a $1.1-billion endowment that contains the largest university holding of fossil fuel stocks in Canada. Professors at the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto and Mount Allison University have already voted to urge their university directors to divest.

Why Republican's Fear the Pope's Environmental Message

Pope Francis is on his way to the US and his position on a number of issues is at odds with the core of the GOP's platform. The historic visit will include an address to a joint session of the Republican controlled Congress on Thursday, September 24th. Francis will be the first Pontiff ever to address Congress.

Republicans have warned the pope to avoid speaking on environmental matters, some, like Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who is himself a Catholic, have even vowed to boycott the Pope's speech.

The Canadian Leaders Debate: We Cannot have a Strong Economy without a Healthy Environment

The Globe and Mail debate between the leaders of Canada's three major parties was about the economy and for many Canadians it is becoming increasingly obvious that climate is a serious economic concern. This view is born out in a slew of reports that illustrate the benefits of acting on climate change versus inaction.

Even if we ignore the costs related to climate and the environment, the ruling Conservatives have a questionable economic record. During the debate prime minister Stephen Harper made the understatement of the year when he repeatedly acknowledged that economic growth hasn’t been strong under his watch.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Climate Migrants Will Add to the Refugee Crisis

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are fleeing to Europe to escape conflicts fueled in part by climate change. While this is the worst refugee crisis the world has faced since World War ll, it is nothing compared to the number of climate refugees we can expect as the world continues to warm. In the absence of climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, we can expect to see hundreds of millions of refugees.

Dow Jones Sustainability Index: Who Made the Cut for 2015

There have been some major players who have been removed from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and some other large companies have earned a coveted spot this year. All changes to the DJSI go into effect on Monday September 21, 2015.

Inaugurated in 1999, the DJSI is the longest running sustainability index. To get on the DJSI companies are assessed by RobecoSAM based on their long term economic, social and environmental asset management plans. Selection criteria evolve each year and to stay on the list companies must continue to make improvements to their long term Sustainability Asset Management (SAM) plans.