Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ontario Systematically Dismantling Climate Action and Environmental Protections

Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government in Ontario is a climate and environmental nightmare. They have systematically dismantled the province's climate initiatives including withdrawing from the national carbon pricing plan. They are currently legislating an end to environmental protections for wildlife. They have even forbidden the use of the words "climate change" by government departments.

This government's resistance to climate action was evident from the start of the PC's mandate. In addition to withdrawing from the national carbon pricing scheme, the province has cut home efficiency incentives and cancelled rebates for electric vehicles. They are also in the process of ending protections for the provinces endangered floral and fauna.  According to Ford's most recent environmental plan Ontario will scale back its provincial emissions reduction targets by 30-megatonnes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

BlackRock's Revolutionary Prioritization of Climate Disclosure

With assets worth $6.52 trillion, BlackRock is the world’s biggest fund manager and they are using their considerable might to advocate for corporate climate disclosure. They have made it clear that they expect to see companies factor climate risks into their strategies.

They have called the lack of climate disclosures a "systemic problem" and they want to compel companies to be more transparent. "There are firms where we think they’re probably not moving fast enough given the risks to the business," Michelle Edkins Global Head of BlackRock’s Investment Stewardship Team told Reuters. This is a game changer. as no company has more ability to augur such change than BlackRock.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Trump Administration's Recent Failures on Plastic, the Arctic and Efficiency

The Trump administration is on the wrong side of a wide range of global issues. This administration defies the global consensus on climate change. They have eradicated  at least 40 regulations and they have hurt the renewable energy industry while supporting fossil fuels.

Even though we are approaching the point of no return on the climate crisis Trump has said he wants to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. In the wake of reports on unprecedented biodiversity loss this administration is enacting policies that are killing wildlife and hastening its extinction.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Benefits of Climate Action Far Outweigh the Costs

Despite problems with existing economic models and resistance from political and business leaderships the logic of climate action is irrefutable. The merits of climate action is born out by a slew of studies and rudimentary math. 

When we factor the costs of environmental damage it is difficult to come up with an assessment that does not convincingly demonstrate the value of climate action over business as usual. Here are three separate assessments that come to the same fundamental conclusion.

In a 2018 Vox article David Roberts concludes, "these days, it has gotten almost impossible to make sustainability look like a bad deal." He points to the fact that as the cost of business as usual keep rising, the costs of sustainable alternatives keep declining.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Event - SRI30: Sustainable Responsible Impact Investing Conference

The 30th Annual SRI Conference will take place on November 11-15, 2019 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The event will celebrate SRI's 30 years at the forefront of sustainable, responsible, impact investing.  SRI30 is about harnessing the power of investing to revolutionize the way investors deploy capital to solve some of our most   pressing social, environmental and cultural challenges. As one of the fastest growing investment movements SRI offers an opportunity for both purpose and profit.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Trees and Forests: There is Good News and Bad News

Although the enthusiasm for planting trees is well warranted, they are not a panacea. Forests provide a wide range of benefits but humans are making it very hard for them to provide their vast array of benefits.

Trees are an important part of combating the climate crisis. Forests can sequester up to a third of the 30 to 40 billion tons of climate change causing carbon dioxide we emit each year. However, no matter how many trees we plant there will never be enough to keep temperatures from exceeding the upper threshold limit. As reported in a Business Insider article by Rob Ludacer and Jessica Orwig, "there isn't enough space on Earth to plant the amount of trees it would take to prevent the climate from warming by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit." Even if trees covered the entire contiguous US they would only sequester about 10 percent of the country's annual CO2 emissions.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Trump Administration is Hurting US Renewables and Imperiling the Planet

Renewable energy now accounts for around 17 percent of US electricity generation and where it not for the Trump administration that number would be higher. Trump has slowed the growth of clean power and hurt the renewable energy industry. At least 20,000 solar jobs have been lost in the first two years of the Trump presidency. After being ravaged by tariffs earlier in Trump's tenure, the US solar energy industry now has to contend with another round of tariffs on imported solar components. This is at odds fact based policy. Scientists tell us that to keep temperatures from rising above the upper threshold limit we will need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.  Instead of supporting clean power the Trump administration is propping up dirty energy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

States Outlawing Protest to Protect the Fossil Fuel Industry

Image Credit: Action Network
There is a movement to stymie protest by making it illegal and by levying fines and/or prison sentences. There has always been a rocky relationship between protests and government, but the situation is going from bad to worse as efforts are underway to make a mockery out of first amendment rights and outlaw protest altogether.

North Dakota has been on the front lines of pipeline protests. In 2016 the state government started fining people $1000 just for bringing in food and supplies to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) camps. In February 2017 DAPL protest camps were raided and the pipeline was completed in March 2019.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Realist Makes the Case for Cassandra

Is this the best of times or the worst of times? Charles Dickens historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities begins with the words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

In a recent article Stephen Martin Walt assesses our times and weighs the merits of optimistic assessments alongside more apocalyptic interpretations. He asks: "Who’s right: Cassandra or Dr. Pangloss? Are we on the brink of serious trouble, as Cassandra of Greek myth prophesied, or is all for the best 'in this best of all possible worlds,'  as the fictional Pangloss insisted in Voltaire’s Candide?"

Monday, May 20, 2019

Webinar - Renewable Energy Understanding and Evaluating Your Options

This complimentary renewable energy webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern. It will explore four salient themes: Options, cost, risk and reliability. It will also answer the question what is the best renewable options for your organization? As well as what is the best way to add them to your energy mix?

"ENGIE Insight" has assembled a panel of experts to answer these and other questions about renewable energy.  The hosts and expert panelists include Brian Dooley, Senior Director of Renewable Consulting and Shy Muralidharan, Director of Product Management. These energy and sustainability experts will show you why now is the time to invest in renewables. Learn how renewables can be part of a holistic energy management strategy, why renewables are now so much more attainable, and future trends to watch. Get your specific questioned answered by submitting them during registration. Dooley and Muralidharan will discuss them during the Q&A session.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Event - Women In Green Forum: A Decade of Impact

The 10th annual Women In Green Forum, subtitled A Decade of Impact will take place on Thursday August 15, 2019, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, 11461 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049, United States.

Over the past ten years, the Women In Green Forum has grown to be the premier event highlighting women in the environmental industry. Each year, they convene sustainability trailblazers who share insights about the newest and most cutting-edge environmental innovations.

Training - Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition

This event will take place on June, 06 - 07 2019 in New York City. The 2019 Sustainability Practitioner Certification Program: Sustainability Strategy and Circular Economy will give you the insights you need to meet the serious challenges we face. This two-day training offered by CSE aims to give you all the latest practical tools and resources required to implement or upscale corporate sustainability in order to drive your initiatives to the next level by generating value and creating effective strategies. Executives from Fortune 500 companies, local governments and academia have trusted CSE and participated in our advanced training to become Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioners and earn a unique recognition in the Sustainability and CSR field. Click here to see the training agenda.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Clean Energy is Essential for More than Just Climate Action

Clean energy is a necessary part of efforts to address the climate crisis and if implemented at scale, renewables would favorably impact far more than just the environment.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) from fossil fuel based energy sources are contributing to planetary warming and driving the climate crisis. We have just surpassed 415 ppm of atmospheric carbon for the first time in human history. We urgently need solutions and making the transition to clean energy would afford substantial GHG reductions.

A 2018 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the rapid deployment of renewables, combined with greater energy efficiency, could achieve 90% of energy sector emission reductions required by the Paris Climate agreement. This would mean that by 2050 clean energy would have to provide 66% of the world’s energy consumption and 80% of its power generation. We have a long way to go to get to these kind of numbers, but we know what we have to do and we know that it is viable.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Assaults on Wildlife from the Top to the Bottom of the Food Web

The Trump administration has proven harmful to species both great and small. Wildlife at the top of the food chain play vital roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems and although species at the bottom of the food web might not captivate the popular imagination like apex predators, they still play pivotal roles. The Trump administration has not been coy about its propensity to prioritize economic interests over the well being of the natural world. Some may celebrate the financial gains wrought through the elimination of environmental regulations and species protections but this is a Pyrrhic victory that ignores the fundamental interconnectedness of all life. Organizations like NRDC and Earth Justice are mounting successful court challenges to force the administration to address it's failure to protect wildlife. One judge described this administration's conduct as a "pattern of bad faith".

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership

In much of the world year over year growth of renewables has slowed, but countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are outpacing the norm. According to recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data, 2018 was the first year since 2001 that renewable energy growth failed to increase year on year. New net capacity from renewable sources was about 180 Gigawatts (GW), which is equivalent to the previous year. However, the report indicates that renewable capacity accelerated in many countries in the MENA region last year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Trump Administration's War on Wildlife

The Trump administration is working to erode protections designed to safeguard America's wildlife. As reiterated in a new U.N. report we are destroying biodiversity at an unprecedented rate.  The future of life on this planet is looking bleak as the world's most powerful nation belligerently disregards the natural world.

This is an administration that puts economic impacts ahead of species protections. They have sought to end protections for threatened species including those that hinder the fossil fuel industry.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Event - Women In Green Forum: A Decade of Impact

The 10th annual Women in Green Forum will take place on Thursday August 15, 2019, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, 11461 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049, United States.

Over the past ten years, the Women In Green Forum has grown to be the premier event highlighting women in the environmental industry. Each year, they convene sustainability trailblazers who share insights about the newest and most cutting-edge environmental innovations.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Our Suicidal Genocide Against Nature and the Need for Transformative Change

We are often reminded that the fate of humanity is tied to the fate of other species. A new report is once again emphasizing the interdependence of life on Earth. It tells us that we are destroying biodiversity at a perilous rate. The sixth great extinction threatens life on the planet. While previous extinction events were caused by things like volcanoes and asteroids, the defining feature of this one is that it is being driven by human activity. This suicidal rampage has been dubbed the age of the Anthropocene. A summary of a comprehensive new report warns that unless we make significant changes, we will, "plunge the planet into a nightmarish, downward spiral of conflict, growing inequality and continuing degradation of Nature."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Green Party Win in BC Foreshadows the Importance of the Environment in the Forthcoming Federal Election

Image Credit: Toronto Star
On Monday May 6th, voters in British Columbia highlighted the growing importance of environmental and climate issues to the Canadian electorate. Green party candidate Paul Manly was elected to the federal parliament in Nanaimo soundly defeating his nearest rival Conservative candidate John Hirst. "People really want to see action on climate change," Manly said.

There are now two Green party members of parliament. The other is party leader Elizabeth May who said Manly's win signals a new era in federal politics, intimating that the environment could be a major factor in forthcoming federal election scheduled for October 21. The Green party almost won the recent provincial election in PEI.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Forest Through the Trees: The Failure of the Ecosystem Services Model to Protect Nature at Scale

Money does not grow on trees: The problems of false equivalency

The aim of the ecosystem services model is to promote conservation and advocates argue that the profit incentive can protect the natural world. It is true that support for market driven solutions is pervasive and longstanding. Efforts to assign values to trees can be traced back more than 30 years.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Climate Emergency Declarations Around the World

The declaration of a climate emergency draws attention to the fact that we are not doing what we must to avert a climate catastrophe. The declaration seeks to mobilize society and government to urgently act on the climate crisis. Although momentum has been growing for years, 2019 is the year that this movement came of age. This campaign is sweeping the globe with hundreds of cities having already declared climate emergencies and mounting pressure to make such declarations at the national level. The UK is the first nation to declare a climate emergency and grassroots pressure is building in Australia, Canada, and the United States. All around the world the notion is gaining traction. More than 517 councils that govern 46 million people in seven countries have made climate emergency declarations.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Event - Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit

Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit will take place on May 20 – 22, 2019, at DeVos Place Grand Rapids Convention Center, in Grand Rapids, MI. Plastic is a major problem in our world today and businesses urgently need to find and deploy innovative approaches to address this crisis.

At this summit participants will discover the newest machinery, innovative materials and technology solutions to take your green goals from aspirational to operational.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Why Republicans Oppose Democrat's Efforts to Revive the Paris Climate Agreement

House Democrats are trying to keep the Paris Climate agreement alive while Senate Republicans are intent on killing the measure. On Thursday May 2, 2019 the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives formally expressed their opposition to President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement. They did this by voting on the first climate bill to come out of Congress in almost a decade. The motion passed by a margin of 41 votes (231 votes for and 190 votes against). House Democrats supported the bill while almost all Republicans voted against it.

The bill known as H.R. 9 would force the Trump administration to stay in the Paris Climate agreement. It would compel the administration to detail plans on how the country will meet its Paris targets that mandate emissions reductions of between 26 and 28 percent (compared to 2005 levels). It would also prevent Trump from using federal funds to finance the withdrawal.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Carbon Sequestration in Natural Forests vs. Monoculture Plantations

We recently saw a report from NASA that suggested the world is getting greener, however, this finding obscures the fact that much of this greenery is actually plantations and other forms of monoculture. Palm oil plantations have a particularly egregious footprint. This point was underscored by the devastating Indonesian fires in 2015.

Cultured forests do not support the kind of biodiversity we see in old growth forests. Massive mono cultures should not be confused with forest restoration. According a ScienceDaily article, "almost half (45%) of the vast areas that countries have pledged are set to become plantations of commercial trees, a move which will seriously reduce expected carbon uptake and prevent agreements to curb climate change being met."

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Climate Change Behind the Worst Flooding Ever in Quebec

Image credit: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers
Quebec has experienced the worst flooding in the recorded history of the province and climate change played a role. More than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes. On the island of Montreal 94 residences were flooded, 49 were surrounded by water and 55 were evacuated. In nearby Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac 6,000 people were forced to evacuate after a dike was breached last weekend. The flooding left more than one third of the homes in the small town under water.