Health is Everyone’s Business

3p Contributor | Friday September 26th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Humana CEO   Bruce D. Broussard, Nicole Newman of D.C. Promise Neighborhood, President Barack Obama and elementary students at an event commemorating this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance in Washington, D.C.

Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard (second from left), Nicole Newman of D.C. Promise Neighborhood, President Barack Obama and elementary students at an event commemorating this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance in Washington, D.C.

By Bruce Broussard

Americans spend in excess of $2.7 trillion dollars on health care each year. This is roughly one of every six dollars spent in the U.S. economy. It’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of this spending is inefficient and therefore wasteful.

We’ve heard a lot recently about the challenges we face and the importance of “fixing” health care in the U.S. We recognize that people face challenges as they navigate complex and changing health care systems, and we are committed to helping our members and patients achieve better health.

As the head of one of the country’s largest health insurers, I want to share some observations about what we at Humana believe are important components to overcoming these challenges.

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Companies Scramble to Meet Consumer Demand for Zero Deforestation

3p Contributor | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

CIFOR: Cleared LandBy Adam Wiskind

The global uptake of ‘zero deforestation‘ claims is growing, with demand for deforestation-free products on the rise. The Consumer Goods Forum, representing 400 global brands such as L’Oreal, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever, has committed to help members “achieve zero net deforestation” in their supply chains by 2020. Retailers have also stepped up, such as Safeway, with its recent pledge to source palm oil only from sites where “no deforestation has occurred after Dec. 20, 2013.”

In fact, more than 50 percent of the palm oil traded globally is now covered by some “deforestation-free” commitment. Governments, too, are taking action, with more than 60 countries signing onto the World Wildlife Fund’s Zero Net Deforestation pledge in 2013.

These pledges are significant and represent an important driver of interest and attention. How these claims are translated on the ground will determine their actual impact in terms of protecting critical forest habitat around the globe.  The next step is verified action. This is where leveraging existing responsible forestry and palm oil certification schemes can help.

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Masdar Invests $858M in U.K. Offshore Wind

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments
From Left to Right - Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, President and CEO of Statkraft; Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Chairman of Masdar; Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, United Kingdom; Helge Lund, CEO of Statoil

From Left to Right – Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, President and CEO of Statkraft; Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Chairman of Masdar; Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, United Kingdom; Helge Lund, CEO of Statoil

Yesterday Masdar announced its partnership with two Norwegian firms in the Dudgeon offshore wind farm, located off the Norfolk coast in Eastern England. Valued at £1.5 billion (around US$1.9 billion or AED 8.95 billion), the wind farm will provide enough energy to power 410,000 homes in the U.K.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, acquired a 35 percent stake in the project from Statoil, a Harstad, Norway-based oil and gas company. Statoil remains as operator of the project with a 35 percent stake, with the remaining 30 percent owned by Statkraft — an international hydropower company and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy.

“As the only OPEC nation supplying both traditional and renewable energy to international markets, the United Arab Emirates is committed to accelerating the use of wind energy as an effective means of balancing the global energy mix as we move toward a sustainable, low-carbon future,” Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, chairman of Masdar, said in a statement.

Al Jaber, along with Ed Davey, U.K. Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Statoil CEO Helge Lund and Statkraft CEO Christian Rynning-Tonnesen, announced the investment on the sidelines of the United Nations’ Climate Change Summit in New York.

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Note to U.N. Climate Delegates: Don’t Forget Renewable Natural Gas

3p Contributor | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Energy Vision President Joanna D. Underwood (left) at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

Energy Vision President Joanna D. Underwood (left) at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

By Joanna D. Underwood

Amid clamor for bolder action on climate change, there’s dispute over the U.S. strategy of boosting production and dependence on natural gas as a bridge to a low-carbon future.

2013 was a record year for global CO2 emissions, and included a 2.9 percent rise in U.S. CO2 emissions after several years of decline. Burning natural gas to generate power releases only half the CO2 of burning coal, and when it is used as a vehicle fuel, it’s 20 to 25 percent better in terms of overall greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.

But it is, after all, still a fossil fuel. It consists mostly of methane, an unregulated heat-trapping gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Methane leakage from well sites and pipelines has become a hot topic. U.S. environmental groups are demanding the EPA regulate it, and it’s an issue at the United Nations Climate Summit taking place in New York this week.

Renewable energy advocates point out that the money spent on natural gas development preempts renewables spending, and there’s a limit to how much methane leakage and emissions regulation can be controlled and how much natural gas emissions can be improved. It’s understandable why, for many, swapping natural gas for oil and mitigating carbon dioxide emissions with methane seems like incremental punting — not a robust solution to climate change.

But natural gas critics and boosters alike are missing something important: the advent of a fuel called renewable natural gas (RNG), which is chemically similar to fossil natural gas, but better. It is produced not by drilling or hydrofracking fossilized deposits, but by capturing biogases wherever organic wastes decompose: in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, etc. The stream of organic waste is massive, but until recently, we’ve largely ignored it as a source of energy and emissions savings.

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Seattle Assesses Fine to Homeowners for Wasting Food

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 4 Comments

640px-Garbage_Truck_landfillThe push for increased sustainable methods can be seen everywhere these days — certainly when it comes to local efforts to pare down on what we toss in the landfill.

Massachusetts’ ongoing effort to increase composting throughout the state is one such example, which will require any company or facility that disposes of at least a ton of organic material a week to compost its food scraps and other compostable materials. The disposal ban takes effect on Oct. 1 and affects more than 1,500 businesses, hospitals, public offices and facilities. Connecticut and Vermont have similar bans for wasting food that exceeds a 2-ton limit on organic waste per week.

The city of Seattle has also embraced the composting idea with a bit more of a creative edge: In an effort to encourage residents to stop wasting food, the city council passed an ordinance this last Monday that allows households to be fined $1 each time that garbage collectors find more than 10 percent of organic waste in their garbage bins.

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MyMeter Provides Energy-Saving Tools to Homes and Businesses

RP Siegel | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

mymeter-445x304 On a sunny summer day in Los Angles, a thousand air conditioners might easily turn on at the exact same moment. That would elicit a surge of electrical power to get all of those compressors running, driving up what is known as peak demand. Typically, a power plant must have enough capacity to meet that demand whenever it occurs. That requires the power plant to be much larger than what is needed most of the time, which makes it inherently less efficient. But if starting those thousand air conditioners could be spread out — using tiny delays, over a period of less than a minute — that would reduce peak demand, and the required plant capacity, considerably.

This is the idea behind demand management, an essential element of a smart grid architecture. Overall, a smart grid relies on a number of elements from the various domains. Generation includes the various sources and generating types, both variable and non-variable. Distribution includes storage, switches and transmission lines. Both of these domains have become smarter through the use of technology to control, measure and record the amount of power passing through them, as well as to protect the various elements from surges or overloads.

The customer domain is regulated primarily through the smart meter, which helps the user to optimize efficiency and manage demand. Software applications like MyMeter, from Accelerated Innovations LLC, help to “empower electric, gas, and water utilities and their customers to better manage end-use demand and consumption. It’s the engaging, intelligent connection that transforms meter data into insights for action.”

If knowledge is power, MyMeter provides power in that form, to both the customer and the utility, about the other kind of power being provided and consumed — allowing each to optimize their own interests.

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Nominate Your Favorite Nonprofit to Win $10,000 from Tom’s of Maine

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Through the Tom's of Maine

Through the Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good program, anyone can nominate their favorite nonprofit to receive $10,000 in project funding through Sept. 30. Participants can also show their support online to renovate a distressed park in Detroit.

Now in its sixth year, the Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good program rewards grassroots nonprofits with a total of $500,000 in project funding. But the natural personal care brand doesn’t pluck these groups out of thin air — it allows the public to weigh in on how funding is dispersed through a simple online nomination.

Nominations are open to anyone 18 years of age or older – including nonprofit representatives and supporters. Any qualifying 501(c)3 nonprofit in good standing with an operating budget under $2 million is eligible for nomination.

After the nomination period ends on Sept. 30, an independent panel of judges will pick the winners. This year, for the first time, the program will feature 51 winners across the country, one from each state and the District of Columbia — bringing this year’s project funding total to $510,000.

In addition to nominating a nonprofit, participants can also show their support and make an immediate impact on revitalizing a distressed park in Detroit with just a few clicks. Also new for 2014, Tom’s is asking consumers to be “Virtual Volunteers” and use their collective social media power to bring much-needed park equipment to Knudsen Park along Detroit’s historic 8 Mile Boulevard.

Participants can visit 50StatesforGood.com and use the social sharing buttons to show their support for park needs ranging from swing sets to picnic tables. Renovations will be made possible by consumer support online and a $25,000 donation from Tom’s to the nonprofit Eight Mile Boulevard Association, the company said.

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How to Tell Your Company’s Sustainability Story

3p Contributor | Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

4181767596_0d0f971143_zBy Nicole Skibola

Building a narrative around a social enterprise is tricky. You need to appeal to the bottom line, convey social/environmental impact, resonate with a variety of different stakeholders, and every team member needs to feel personal passion when they tell the story or make a pitch.

At Centurion Consulting, we began working with a technology-driven sustainable agriculture enterprise in its startup phase last month. (That’s all I can say until they launch officially, but our work with them is a mix of sustainability, economic development, technology, and business model and product design). Going in, we had read a lengthy business plan. We had a sense of what our clients were trying to accomplish, but there were many moving parts and we knew the product was complex. We also gathered that the client team didn’t have a crystal clear understanding of what the product was.

In the old world of business plans, this would be a problem. We, however, saw it as an opportunity to bring the team together to craft a shared narrative. We knew that the only way we could help them to accelerate both their product development and prepare them for telling a cohesive story was through the Running Lean world of product experimentation and validation.

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Hershey Expands Ivory Coast Cocoa Farmer Program

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday September 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

HersheyEarlier this month, Hershey announced the expansion of its cocoa farmer training and community initiatives in the Ivory Coast. The company will partner with Cargill to expand the initiative, called ‘Learn to Grow Ivory Coast,’ to include seven farmer cooperatives and investments in education and teacher housing. Through the initiatives, 10,000 cocoa farmers will be trained in agricultural and social practices that are certified with the UTZ Certified standard. The farmers will receive higher premiums for the cocoa as a result.

The Learn to Grow Ivory Coast program will accelerate Hershey’s purchase of sustainably-sourced cocoa. Hershey has committed to sourcing 100 percent certified cocoa for all of its products globally by 2020. It is committed to sourcing cocoa certified through UTZ, Fairtrade USA and Rainforest Alliance, three of the most recognized cocoa certification programs.

In 2013, Hershey sourced 18 percent of its cocoa from certified sources. By 2016, the company hopes to increase that percentage to between 40 and 50 percent.

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World Leaders Respond to U.N. Call for Climate Change Action

| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

climatesummit2014At the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, held at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 23, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for bold commitments to catalyze climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. In response, leaders spanning government, business, finance and civil society announced new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.

New climate change action initiatives were announced in the areas of finance, farming and forests. New coalitions between cities, businesses and citizens were formed that aim to reduce GHG emissions and strengthen resilience to climate change, according to a Climate Summit 2014 news release.

“Change is in the air. Today’s Climate Summit has shown an entirely new, cooperative global approach to climate change,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “The actions announced today by governments, businesses, finance and civil society show that many partners are eager to confront the challenges of climate change together.”

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Carbon Offsets 101: A Simple Guide to Buying Quality

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments
The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract is a community forest located in Northern California creating verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Forest Project Protocol. The land was purchased from a timber company and was determined to be at high risk of intensive harvesting or cutting.  Image courtesy Terrapass.

The Arcata City Forest Barnum Tract is a community forest located in Northern California creating verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Forest Project Protocol.

Carbon offsets used to be maligned as a way for individuals to assuage their eco-guilt or for companies to falsely promote a green image without changing their behavior – a system no better than the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences during the Middle Ages. But the market for carbon offsets has come a long way in recent years, and now, with more regulation and oversight, carbon offsets are a valid way to reduce your individual or company’s carbon footprint, as long as they’re accompanied, of course, with measures to green your personal lifestyle or business operations.

As TriplePundit launches its new series this week – a business buyer’s guide to carbon offsets – we thought we’d start with the basics, reviewing what exactly a carbon offset is, how the market works and how companies can go about purchasing offsets.

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Campaign Calls for 100 Companies, 100 Percent Renewable Power

| Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

RE100TCG A consortium of leading climate change nonprofits and multinational businesses have joined to launch an initiative that aims to see 100 of the world’s largest companies power their businesses solely from renewable energy resources by 2020. Led by the Climate Group, the campaign — dubbed RE100 — counts Ikea, Swiss Re, BT, Commerzbank, Formula E, H&M, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, Reed Elsevier and J. Safra among its founding business members. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also are working with the Climate Group to see the RE100 through to fruition.

Launched Sept. 22 during Climate Week NYC, the RE100 campaign aims to lead by example. It will serve as a showcase that highlights the economic, social and environmental benefits businesses can realize by going 100 percent renewable — and just how leading businesses are moving towards the goal of 100 percent renewable power. It will also assist companies looking to make the switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources, including “providing guidance as to selecting and implementing the best approach to utilizing renewable power, and information on the financial implications, risks and rewards of different options.”

“We are delighted with the ambition of leading companies to go 100 percent renewable,” Ben Ferrari, director of partnerships for the Climate Group, was quoted in a news release. “We plan to continue to grow this group and expand our outreach in China and India over the coming year. It is an exciting time for renewable power.”

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Greenpeace India: Tea Leaves Show DDT Pesticide Residue

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 7 Comments

Greenpeace_India_pesticides_GPITea is a $2 billion industry in India, which is the fourth-largest producer in the world of the sought-after beverage. The rich, fragrant chai is also unquestionably a domestic market-driver, since more than 80 percent of the product grown in India is sold at home. So when Greenpeace recently released a report stating that tested samples of India’s most prolific brands had traces of pesticides – including the banned substance DDT – well, you can imagine it wasn’t an easy swallow.

The India Tea Board immediately released a statement that all samples met India’s stipulated limits of pesticides and were within safety parameters. With equally rapid speed, Crop Care Federation, which represents the country’s agricultural-chemical industry, demanded a retraction — asserting that Greenpeace had made up the numbers. Within days, Crop Care launched a suit against Greenpeace, stating that the environmental organization had refused to share data with outside sources.

“Greenpeace’s effort to keep essential data away from Indian experts is a clear indication that the report is not just unscientific and fabricated but also done with malicious intent to harm Indian economy at the behest of its foreign donors,” said Crop Care Chair Rajjul Shroff.

This statement piqued our interest. Why would Greenpeace do the extensive research it boasted, and yet refuse to share data with outside sources?

The fact is, it did share the data, said Neha Saigal, senior campaigner for Greenpeace India’s sustainability campaign.

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Business Risks and Opportunities in a Carbon Surge Economy

Bill Roth | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
A supporter of climate change action holds up a sign at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

A supporter of climate change action holds up a sign at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday.

Business now operates within a carbon surge economy: Carbon surge — rapidly rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases —  is rapidly raising the risks and cost of doing business. Extreme weather tied to the carbon surge is reducing business revenues by disrupting customer access to stores and websites. Increasing evidence of climate change tied to the carbon surge is pushing consumers, especially the millennial generation, to question what they buy and who they buy from.

This consumer shift is threatening utility revenues while growing the sales of smart, energy efficient technologies. The net result is the emergence of an economy defined and shaped by carbon surge.

Carbon surge evidence

The World Meteorological Organization’s latest report finds that a carbon surge in climate-changing emissions has pushed atmospheric CO2 concentration to 142 percent of the pre-industrial era, with methane and nitrous oxide levels at 253 percent and 121 percent of pre-industrial levels. The ocean’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases may have reached its limits — with ocean acidification now at levels unseen for over 300 million years.

Carbon surge’s threat to business costs

A carbon surge economy is a costlier place to do business. Examples of how carbon surge and the inceased incidence of extreme weather are increasing business costs include:

  • Rising electricity and fossil fuel costs tied to increased regulation of climate changing pollution;
  • Increased commodity costs, plus increased price volatility, as extreme weather events disrupt or destroy supplies;
  • Increased property insurance tied to the increase in extreme weather damage claims;
  • Lost productivity due to electrical service disruption;
  • Lost productivity due to storm and weather related worker attendance disruptions.
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Work More and Warm Less: Integrating Jobs and Climate Solutions

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Participants carry signs at the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday. As Climate Week NYC continues, Robert Wolcott of Get America Working argues that climate change and jobs are inextricably linked.

Participants carry signs at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday. As Climate Week NYC continues, Robert Wolcott of Get America Working argues that climate change and jobs are inextricably linked.

By Rob Wolcott

As citizens and world leaders converge on New York City seeking a way to address climate change, across the U.S. tens of millions are also out of work. The political challenge of achieving a climate policy consensus is hard. There is no broad agreement that the U.S. even has a climate problem. But there is bedrock consensus that we have an unemployment problem, and tackling it may be one of the best ways to help the climate.

Monthly jobs reports indicate U.S. unemployment a little over 6 percent, representing about 11 million people. But that ignores at least another 10 to 12 million Americans who want to work, but are so dejected by the lack of jobs that they have given up looking. The labor force participation rate (the percent of healthy, working-aged adults with jobs) is 62.8 percent, the lowest in 35 years. That means almost 40 percent of Americans are jobless — many by choice, but many, many others for lack of opportunities.

Factors driving this crisis include a skills/needs mismatch, labor-saving mechanization, globalization, a hangover from the Great Recession and a chronic, self-inflicted problem of double taxation of labor. On top of personal income taxes, our payroll taxes raise hiring costs and encourage employers to use more energy and less labor. Labor and energy/materials are relative substitutes in the overall economy: In general, the more a business uses one, the less it uses the other.

That’s why, even though at first glance jobs and climate seem to be distinct policy questions, they are in fact deeply intertwined. For more than a century through tax policy and other means, development and use of fossil fuels have been incentivized and subsidized. Today with only 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. consumes 20 percent of the world’s fossil fuels. Fees or taxes on energy would cut greenhouse gas emissions more efficiently than regulation, yet we’ve failed to put a price on carbon, and therefore failed to curb energy consumption driving climate change.

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