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Monday, May 22, 2017

Release: Thomson Reuters Launches Latest Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report

There is great data in this report.  And some key points we highlight:  "A significant finding of this report is there is an increasing correlation between sustainability and growth. Committing to rigorous decarbonization will not adversely impact financial gain and will positively increase shareholder value over the long term.  This argument is critical to ensuring that the Global 100 remain committed to operating responsibly."

And:  "Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment shared, “The message we hear from the private sector is that going green is good for business, and transparency is a crucial part of this shift. The markets are moving rapidly, and the private sector is where some of the most exciting low-carbon innovations are taking place."

Our prism is the business side of green.  We see the exact same correlation between sustainability and growth. It is our current and future economic engine.  None of us should  waiver on our investments in the green economy.  The returns, for organizations and mankind, are too great.

May  2017
Global 100 Greenhouse Gas Performance: New Pathways for Growth and Leadership reveals not only new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data across the value chain from the world’s 100 largest publicly traded emitters (Global 100), but the pathways these companies have for emissions reduction and earnings growth. This information is critical as policymakers and investors consider long term financial performance, as discussed in this Reuters Insider interview with Tim Nixon, a co-author, and Hugh Segal, Co-Chair of the UK-Canada colloquium on pathways to a lower carbon economy

The report was written in collaboration with CDP, a global non-profit specializing in carbon disclosure, and BSD Consulting, a global sustainability consultancy, with key contributions from Baker McKenzieKPMG and State Street Global Exchange.
Tim Nixon, Head of Sustainability Thought Leadership, Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion at Thomson Reuters, and co-author for the report commented, “A significant finding of this report is there is an increasing correlation between sustainability and growth.  Committing to rigorous decarbonization will not adversely impact financial gain and will positively increase shareholder value over the long term.  This argument is critical to ensuring that the Global 100 remain committed to operating responsibly.”
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment shared, “The message we hear from the private sector is that going green is good for business, and transparency is a crucial part of this shift. The markets are moving rapidly, and the private sector is where some of the most exciting low-carbon innovations are taking place. This is essential if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and close the emissions gap.”
The Global 100 currently contribute a significant portion of worldwide emissions annually. Any significant progress will require their buy-in.  This report specifically explores:
  • The most current publicly available emissions data from the Global 100
  • New data on emissions from value or supply chains from the Global 100
  • Key pathways to decarbonization for the Global 100
  • The impact of shareholders and investors on this trend
  • The impact for companies as investors begin to reward carbon-intensive companies for developing and executing decarbonization plans.
Lance Pierce, President of CDP North America, commented, “What’s powerful about this report is that it not only clearly articulates the problem posed by high emitting companies, it also highlights what the leaders are doing to innovate, and a pathway to success whether you are an investor or a corporation.  At CDP we are delighted to partner with Thomson Reuters in helping show how the “Sustainability Premium” is real, and to pull back the curtain on the trend toward how the businesses of the future will be managing themselves.
Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion, commented, “Our clients increasingly see ESG data and trends as important for their work across the investing, tax & accounting, and legal marketplaces.  This report is another milestone for professional risk managers globally who can and do influence the direction of the global economy.”
In collaboration with CDP, data for the report was gathered from publicly available GHG emissions data from businesses and from estimates either from CDP or Thomson Reuters environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) research data.  Thomson Reuters ESG research data gathers standardized, objective, quantitative and qualitative ESG data from an estimated 5,000 publicly listed companies.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How Come Sharks Are Washing Up Dead On San Francisco Bay?

So, this is the other side of poor waste management.  Our debris is clogging up San Francisco Bay.  It is killing mamas.  Then, what are the health ramifications for us?

How Come Sharks Are Washing Up Dead On San Francisco Bay?

By Kalyan Kumar

Large scale deaths of leopard sharks in San Francisco Bay have alarmed environmentalists. This is in contrast to the good times enjoyed by sharks in southern California in terms of good food and enduring climate.  

Large scale deaths of leopard sharks have been reported in San Francisco Bay. The death toll running into thousands was the highest in last six years and has rightly alarmed environmentalists.

Dead sharks have been washing up on the shores of the San Francisco Bay for many weeks. 

According to reports, hundreds of dead sharks have been found on the beaches from San Mateo to Bolinas. The die-off has been unprecedented as far as the striped fish is concerned.

The dead sharks were washed up since March second week at the shorelines of Redwood City, San Francisco, Hayward, Foster City, Alameda, Berkeley, and Oakland, according to researchers.
Sean Van Sommeran, executive director, Foundation said the death toll will be thousands. This was the highest mortality since 2011.

According to experts, the shark deaths in San Francisco Bay shores were the fallout of sharks consuming poisoned food in stagnant salt waters. The concern was fuelled by the high numbers and death of newborns and mature adults.

Chemical Waste From Drains Poisoned Sharks
Pelagic Shark Research Foundation blamed the shark deaths to debris, trash, and chemical waste piled up in Bay Area from drains and waterways whose influx exacerbated the poisoning of creatures.

The closure of tide gates inside the bay to guard against flooding also trapped sharks in the bay and made them victims of the toxic runoff.

"This is an issue of San Francisco Bay sharks and associated wildlife being exposed to toxic watershed ... due to Tide Gate entrapment and subsequent discharges into the San Francisco Bay," the center said in a Facebook post.

Closing Of Tidal Gates Trapped Sharks
The leopard sharks picked up more toxins in stagnant saltwater marshes near the gates of the Foster City and Redwood City lagoons.

"My estimate is that several hundred sharks have already died," said Mark Okihiro, the senior fish pathologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sommeran also noted that the problem becomes acute as leopard sharks move into the shallow waterways to mate and breed during the summer and spring.

When the tidal gates are closed ahead of heavy rains to avoid extra precipitation and flood, fungal blooms develop in the stagnant water exhausting oxygen and further poison the fish.

Sommeran said rainy season also adds to the damage by washing out accumulated toxins in the ground into the bay.

Shark attack In Southern California
Meanwhile, commenting on a severe shark attack in coastal California on Leanne Ericson of Vista, director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach Chris Lowe said the shark that attacked the Ericson may not be a full grown adult. It must have mistaken her for food. However, he added that there is no need for panic and the coastline is very safe.

The young shark bit off a portion of Ericson's leg while swimming off San Onofre State Beach. She underwent multiple surgeries after heavy loss of blood.

"Accidents do happen and that's what we think these are. There's no indication these sharks have any penchant for eating people," he added.

Obviously, in California coast, sharks are thriving with abundant food and warming waters. White sharks arrived in Southern California after their winter sojourn off Baja California.

Baby white sharks cannot withstand temperatures above 80 degrees. That is why they have made Southern California the perfect abode to live from late spring to mid-fall.

Dell Says the Circular Economy Is Good for Business: Q&A with Michael Murphy/Environmental Leader

Don't take our word for it that triple-bottom line is the essence of doing business today.  Here we bring you expert advice from a global leader in technology, dedicated to circular management.  Seeing waste as an asset to be properly reused is a great step forward for the consumer world.  We hope you share that dedication as well.

At Dell, obsolete electronics are viewed as a resource rather than waste. In North America, the Dell Reconnect program with Goodwill Industries accepts computer equipment of any brand for refurbishment or recycling. Since 2008, the company reports that it has collected 1.6 billion pounds of electronics from its global take-back programs.
Scaling up is essential, especially to meet aggressive goals for incorporating post-consumer recycled content (PCR) into products, according to Michael Murphy, vice president of global product compliance engineering and environmental affairs at Dell Technologies. Murphy will be talking about the circular economy at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently we caught up with him to find out how the world’s largest technology recycler is closing the loop.
What does the circular economy mean for Dell?
The circular economy for Dell means smart business. We’ve gotten more sophisticated in the efficiencies for the environmental attributes of our products and packaging. We started to work more cross-functionally beyond the product designs.
Has Dell’s approach to reducing waste changed over time?
Dell’s core initially was how to bring PCs to market. We aimed to design products to be built quickly. Then we were doing design for manufacture. As we started putting a lot of products in the field, we had to design for quick serviceability. Years ago, we had to look at the recyclability of our products as they came off the market.
Consumers wanted post-consumer recycled content in our products. Some of that was on the public procurement side. A good intersect was when we connected Goodwill with a recycling partner that wanted to take products back from the market, and [send] plastics and precious metals back into the PC loop. We did that in 2014 with the OptiPlex 3030 All-in-One, and we’ve scaled that to 91 different Dell products. Since 2015, we’ve recycled more than 10.5 million pounds of plastics into those products.
How did the design, take-back, procurement, and marketing teams come together?
We’re talking about major parts of the business. They’re all great at what they do. But when you start looking at a circular economy, you’ve got to step back, do systems thinking, and get folks to commit to the end state. For the procurement team, the cost of PCR coming out of a closed-loop process initially was going to be slightly higher than PCR from other suppliers. However, if we could get to scale, we believed that we could [make] the cost lower than traditional PCR.
You have to start bringing in other team members. One was our services team. We negotiated a cost for the value of the goods that we direct to our environmental partners. For post-consumer recycled content, the goods come to Goodwill. Then they’re aggregated and sent to a company called Wistron out of McKinney, Texas.
By changing the available market of recycled goods that we’re giving our environmental partners, we could get savings to offset the initial increased cost of PCR plastic. Longer term, not only do the procurement costs go down, but you can start negotiating with your primary material suppliers for a different cost model. Now we’re getting more value creation for products coming back on the market, and finding wins for each business unit.
How does the recycling program actually work?
We have the largest technology recycling program on the planet. We offer free consumer take-back in 83 countries and territories, and we offer take-back as a service for corporate customers. We look at PCs that are coming back off the market as a resource. The first pass is refurbishment. The bulk we take back goes into our asset recovery business, and we are either reselling those as refurbished or utilizing components of those systems in the manufacturing of refurbished systems.
Our products, like many, reach a point where the embedded value is no longer worth trying to reuse the system so we’ve got a network of environmental partners held to the highest standards on recycling. PCs are a complex product type, but value streams come out of them. One key is the extraction of precious metals. We’ve helped design for recyclability so our partners can get the materials that are of most value easily, and either get them back into our product or into other sectors.
What’s an example of a material that wasn’t easy to get early on?
In 2008, because of demand from federal and institutional purchasers, we started utilizing post-consumer recycled content and blending it in with our plastic. We had to get recycled plastic water bottles, PET. The cost for that had been going up because other industries were using PET and post-consumer recycled content. That’s when we started to close the loop on the materials already in our product.
With our PCR project, we brought in the design, take-back, procurement, and marketing teams. We had no intention of doing a demonstration project. The intent was to scale it. We’ve been able to do that even with the fluctuation of oil prices that [influence] the cost of plastic. We had set a target that to use 50 million pounds of PCR in our product by 2020. We actually achieved that goal in the last year. For 2020 we reset that to 100 million pounds. A big piece is closed-loop PCR from electronics that come through Goodwill and are repurposed into our products. If you can make the economics work for plastics that are fairly inexpensive, it becomes a tipping point for recyclers to get the volumes they need to close the loop on higher-cost materials.
What is your advice to other companies, especially around systems thinking?
You’ve got to be willing to take risks and be willing to fail. We almost failed in our ability to get the formulation right for PCR to go back into our products. We worked through that. A systems approach with a focused outcome opened our eyes to opportunities. We’re driving better costs. There’s no compromise on the product. And it’s driving different business relationships within our company, and with our partners.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Quicksilver bullet: New convention to slow the flow of mercury/UN Environment

One of the great aspects of building a cleaner, brighter future is looking at our growing ability to turn liabilities into assets--such as converting brownstone sites to vibrant commercial centers, the entire world of recycling, waste-to-energy facilities and many more.  Here's the latest--a positive conversion of mercury, a particularly pernicious chemical:

It has no safe level of exposure, is one of the top 10 health threats in the world, and is used to produce a wide array of products and processes. The world’s poorest people, along with babies and unborn children, are most vulnerable to its poisonous effects. Yet there are viable substitutes available for its use. The Minamata Convention comes into force on 16 August 2017, with the aim of tipping the scale in favour of controlling the entire life-cycle of mercury use. 

Like millions of people around the world, Maria, who is in her thirties and lives in Tarza, Colombia, spends her evenings using an online university. She’s studying philosophy in the hope of getting a better job and a better future for her young son— and their long-term health depends on it.

Because Maria isn’t like most students. Her husband was killed during the conflict in Colombia and she had to flee the violence with their baby boy. Now she mines gold to survive – part of a global industry of artisanal and small-scale mining that is one of the most significant sources of man-made mercury pollution.

Colombia produces about 5 per cent of the world’s gold, but uses about 20 per cent of the world’s mercury supply to do it. As most of the gold is produced illegally, there’s no protection for workers like Maria or their families. Many miners are contaminated from handling it directly; many more people live with mercury contaminated water, soil and air.

Maria started mining nine years ago and her son has grown up in this environment.

Today, Maria hopes the peace process in Colombia can finally bring new opportunities for her region.

“What we need, more than anything else, is employment,” she said. “We don’t want handouts. For peace to come to this region, we need dignified work.”
Maria is one of up to 15 million workers in 70 different countries exposed to mercury through mining, including up to 5 million children. Small and artisanal gold mining is mostly an unregulated, informal sector, and often takes place where there is little other work.

But the sector and its workers have reason to hope that things will get better.
This week, the Minamata Convention clocked up 50 ratifications, meaning it will come into force on 16 August 2017.

The Convention, which has been signed by 128 countries, commits Parties to specific measures to control mercury pollution, one of the top 10 threats to human health globally.

It is the first new global Convention related to the environment and health in close to a decade, and covers the entire “lifecycle” of man-made mercury pollution. Obligations include banning new mercury mines, phasing-out existing ones, regulating artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and reducing emissions and mercury use. Since the element is indestructible, the Convention also lays out conditions for interim storage and disposal of mercury waste....


World's First Refugee Camp Powered by Solar/Eco Watch

How incredible is this story?  Is this the poster boy for using sustainability to bring social and economic equity to the world?  We love this story:

A new solar plant is now powering the Azraq refugee camp in the Jordanian desert, making Azraq the first refugee camp to run on renewable energy, the UN refugee agency reported Wednesday.

20,000 of the 35,000 Syrian refugees living in the camp will be able to use the electricity to light shelters, power cell phones and run fridges. The UN reported that all refugees at the camp will have access to the solar power by next year. The $9.7 million plant, funded by Ikea's Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, will be connected to the national grid and save the UN agency $1.5 million annually.

"Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement," said Kelly T. Clements, deputy high commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"It provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up livelihoods opportunities and gives children the chance to study after dark. Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives."

For each LED light-bulb IKEA sold during the campaign period from 2014 to 2015, the IKEA Foundation donated one euro to UNHCR to fund renewable energy and education for refugees.

"The world's first solar farm in a refugee camp signals a paradigm shift in how the humanitarian sector supports displaced populations," said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.

"UNHCR Jordan will save millions of dollars, while reducing carbon emissions and improving living conditions for some of the world's most vulnerable children and families."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

For Today's Show/John Wasiutynski/Multnomah County Director of Sustainability

Multnomah County Logo

Multnomah County, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a national leader in promoting sustainability. Since 2001, Multnomah County's Office of Sustainability has led on projects, policies, and initiatives that have helped to shape sustainable internal government operations and efforts in the community.

The Office of Sustainability works with County Departments and the community to promote programs and policies that lead to a more equitable, prosperous, and environmentally sound Multnomah County.
We envision a Multnomah County that is:
  • Equitable
  • Livable 
  • Healthy
  • Resilient
  • Low-Carbon
We believe that:
  • The best solution to environmental problems is to eradicate the root causes of injustice in our community
  • Our entire community thrives when we meet the needs of our most vulnerable
  • Community-driven solution solutions are more effective and long lasting
Key efforts include:

Winning Awards in Green/Rhode Island College

Congratulations to one of our partners for their big win:

A Note from Peter Arpin, RNN Founder & President
To the Green Ribbon Graduates of 2017, 

Your class marks the five-year anniversary of the Green Ribbon Schools Program, an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Education, in conjunction with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Earth Day Network - acknowledging our nation's leading schools, districts and institutions of higher education for their deep commitment to sustainable practices. 

As you embark into this next phase of your lives, you are empowered with a rich and unique set of tools that present a world of opportunity - not only to change the world, but to lead the way for all of us to make sustainability what it should be - a way of life. As Founder and President of Renewable Now Network, I am reinforcing the value of the three pillars of sustainability:

1. Positively impacting our environment

2. Positively impacting our society as a whole

3. Positively impacting our economy 

Through combined progress in all three of these areas, sustainability leaders have an unparalleled opportunity to touch each and every area of the world by incorporating sustainability into their own daily lifestyles - as well as through business, education, government, media, and philanthropy. By employing practices that embody all three of these pillars, you have the key to opening new doors and unlocking yet-to-be-discovered ones. 

Your career path may already be set and that may - and most likely will - evolve over time. Some of you may not yet know your precise career path. Either way, you all have the foundation to succeed and to implement your rich knowledge of sustainability into your own lives and lifestyles, homes and families, companies, and communities. Organizations, government agencies, schools, and corporations are at your fingertips. Here are four reasons why:

Youth brings fresh approach and enthusiasm into tackling the world's greatest challenges
You have a unique capability to capitalize on information through social media and technology
You - like no other generation - have a profound connection to social justice and responsibility
You have knowledge of a still emerging - and disruptive - specialty that is a touchstone across all parts of an organization or company.

Your employers may not have all of the sustainability tools at their disposal. Those teaching you, however, bring value in the way of life experience, business knowledge, and wisdom. Take this opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and collaborate with them, as well as learn from them. Combining your knowledge with their life wisdom through collaboration and interactive learning is an extraordinary recipe for sustainability success and the cornerstone to overall success. 

While the economic and political situation continues to challenge businesses and the global economy, we are taking a positive, optimistic stance about the future outlook.  Take the example of RNN's longtime partner and one of only nine postsecondary schools to earn the Green Ribbon award:  Rhode Island College, a school with a focused, campus-wide effort to make the college a national model for sustainable practices and programs, serving as an inspiration to other institutions.  

Significant accomplishments include the establishment of the Rhode Island College Green Team in 2009 and the development of several cost-saving initiatives by campus offices and divisions through waste reduction, recycling, energy efficiency, green cleaning and sustainable grounds management. Serviced by a central heating plant that uses both light oil and natural gas and provides steam for heat, hot water and steam absorption chillers for air conditioning, RIC buildings are continuously being improved to incorporate more efficiency in lighting, heating and cooling in their operation and design. The school has worked with AMERESCO (an energy services contractor) to implement fuel and electrical efficiencies across the campus.

Each year, RIC graduates don caps and gowns made from recycled plastic water bottles, which are then collected after graduation to be repurposed into carpeting. The college decreased the amount of waste disposed by 55 tons from 2015 to 2016, in large part by working with Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island. This initiative has helped to divert tens of thousands of pounds of material destined for the landfill by collecting the school's used clothing and e-waste.  RIC has also worked in association with National Grid to improve energy efficiencies. The National Grid partnership has provided resources, rebates and incentives to assist with achieving the college's objectives.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics generally defines sustainability professionals as people who promote environmental protection, social responsibility and profitability. In early April, LinkedIn listed a total of 27,100 sustainability jobs across the country.  More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies have chief sustainability officers in their ranks, according to the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. The organization itself has seen its membership climb from 50 in 2008 to more than 1,000 today, with a LinkedIn network of 150,000, up from 100,000 just two years ago. Further to that, the number of businesses worldwide adopting sustainability practices has grown exponentially in the last decade.

Despite the naysayers and challenging political climate, the climate for the class of 2017 is promising and ripe for the taking. We look forward to seeing how you and your fellow graduates will do with this green ribbon, to working with you together on greening our world, so that the green ribbon is not just a symbol, but a reality toward making sustainability embedded in lexicon and practice for everyone - in the near future and beyond. 

- Peter Arpin, CEO and Co-Founder of RNN