Former Shell Chairman Criticizes Industry Inaction on Climate

RP Siegel | Wednesday June 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment

gas wellJames Smith, as the former chair of Shell U.K. and current chair of the consultancy Carbon Trust, is a man who has looked at the questions of fossil fuel consumption and climate change, in Joni Mitchell’s words, “from both sides now.” Not surprisingly, he has much to say on the subject, informed as he is by his background as both a physicist and a chartered accountant, as well as his experience.

Clearly no climate denier, he told Business Green that, “Climate change is a problem that absolutely must be tackled, and it is a very urgent problem and the longer we leave it the more and more urgent it becomes.”

Blending ecological sensitivity with the pragmatism of an oilman, he points out that, “It is going to be hard to kick the fossil fuel habit, because the phenomenal density of fossil fuels is what brought us the industrial revolution.”

Smith talks about the “trillionth ton” of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, which is projected to occur by 2040. We need to stop emitting before we get there, but that won’t be easy. Says Smith: “It is an order of magnitude problem. What we need is a unit of economic output for one-third of the energy input and a unit of energy for one-third of the carbon-output. That is the scale of the challenge.”

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NGOs Align to Ask #WhatsInYourPaper with Launch of Global Paper Vision

3p Contributor | Wednesday June 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Global Paper VisionBy Dayna Reggero

Collaboration is a beautiful and powerful thing. Today, an international network of more than 120 organizations on six continents is unveiling a new Global Paper Vision that unites the myriad of voices currently challenging the paper industry to adopt more sustainable practices. This Vision is remarkable in its alignment of such diverse and influential organizations from around the world focused on a common goal.

The Global Paper Vision articulates and focuses our aspirations as a social and environmental movement with millions of members around the world,” says Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network. “This network is a powerful movement for change because it is global, it has a clear vision and it has momentum that is bringing solutions to scale.”

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Stress and Anxiety: The Lesser-Known Effects of Climate Change

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday June 18th, 2014 | 11 Comments

Factory pollutionWe now know all too well the effects that climate change will have on the environment and society: from making weather events more severe to damaging infrastructure, displacing populations and threatening our food and water supply. But climate change will also have a significant impact on our psychology and well-being, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association, the country’s largest professional organization representing the field of psychology, and ecoAmerica, a nonprofit focused on climate solutions.

Rather than being simply another “doom-and-gloom” study intended to scare unconvinced Americans into acknowledging that climate change is real, the report’s authors hope their findings can help people better understand the phenomenon of climate change, as well as motivate them to take action.

Anxiety, depression, shock, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder – these are some of the mental health consequences for individuals experiencing climate change-related disasters like floods and hurricanes, according to Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change. One study of flood survivors found that some individuals were having panic attacks, insomnia, low motivation and obsessive behavior long after the natural disaster hit their community.

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President Obama Takes On Seafood Fraud and Illegal Fishing

| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the Opening Session of the "Our Ocean" Conference June 16, 2014 [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the Opening Session of the “Our Ocean” Conference June 16, 2014.

When we started this series on Sustainable Seafood, we couldn’t have imagined that it would culminate with action taken at the highest level of U.S. government. Thanks for reading, Mr. President!

This morning, President Barack Obama announced an initiative to tackle seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the United States. His announcement coincides with the Global “Our Ocean” conference convened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In President Obama’s announcement, he referenced the negative financial repercussions of overfishing as one of the key reasons for the initiative:

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to undermine the economic and environmental sustainability of fisheries and fish stocks, both in the United States and around the world.  Global losses attributable to the black market from IUU fishing are estimated to be $10-23 billion annually, weakening profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking operations, and undermining economic opportunity for legitimate fishermen in the United States and around the world.

As Beth Lowell of Oceana noted in an earlier post, between 20 percent and 32 percent of seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. “These pirate fishermen often use illegal gear, fish in prohibited areas or catch endangered and threatened species. Illegal fishing is a major threat to the worldwide fishing industry, undermining decades of conservation measures and provoking billions of dollars in economic losses.” Oceana sites traceability — that is, tracking seafood from catch to plate — as one of the key solutions to the global problem.

President Obama’s initiative starts with stronger guidelines and better enforcement of existing traceability standards: 

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The Difference Between Market-Driven and Sustainable Seafood

RP Siegel | Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Boats lined up in the historic fishing community of Leland, Michigan.

Boats lined up in the historic fishing community of Leland, Michigan.

Because of the state of the fishing industry today, small fishermen find themselves squeezed between massive international fleets and heavily depleted stocks. In their fight for survival, many are finding themselves becoming both educators and advocates along the way. In grappling with these forces and trying to find a way to keep afloat, they may have just hit on a key principle that lies at the heart of the sustainability journey.

I spoke with two fishermen on the New England coast (on different days), who both wear multiple hats.

Chris Brown is both the owner of the Brown Family Seafood Co. in Rhode Island and also the president of the newly formed Seafood Harvesters of America (SHA), a group that, among other things, is focused on lobbying Capitol Hill, to ensure that the concerns of commercial fishermen are represented in the re-authorization of the Magnuson Stevenson Act (MSA).

Josh Wiersma is the Manager of Northeast Fisheries Groundfish Sectors XI and XII in New Hampshire. He is responsible for the implementation of the sector management system established in 2010. Josh is also the founder of New Hampshire Community Seafood, a community supported fishery (CSF).

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Mars Coral Reef Restoration Empowers Indonesian Islanders

| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

sustain_v4Multinational food, drink and confectionery company Mars, Inc. recently announced the completion of one of the world’s largest coral reef restoration projects off the southern coast of the island of Pulau Badi in southern Indonesia. Located just 20 kilometers (~12.5 miles) from a Mars cocoa processing factory on the neighboring Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Mars’ project also includes the establishment of a new marine protected area and development of a local industry in which ornamental tropical fish are raised.

Part of the Coral Triangle, the tropical coral reefs and eastern Pacific Ocean waters surrounding Pulau Badi and Sulawesi are recognized worldwide as being home to the richest marine biodiversity on the planet. Unsustainable fishing practices, such as the use of dynamite and cyanide, have devastated large tracts of coral reef and associated fish populations — robbing local residents and communities of food and nutrition, as well as livelihoods.

Spanning an area of 7,000 square meters (~75,347 square feet), the project entailed installation of over 3,000 “specially-constructed, innovative structures on which coral fragments grow to rehabilitate and re-establish native fish populations,” Mars Symbioscience elaborates in a press release. Realizing the multi-faceted project was a collaborative effort on the part of the island community, Mars Sustainable Solutions, itself a part of Mars Symbioscience, and employees participating in the Mars Ambassador Program.

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Ceres: Bumper Harvests Mask Serious Threats to U.S. Corn Production

| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

americangothicLast year was a “bumper” year for corn production in the U.S., as American farms harvested nearly 14 billion bushels, enough to fill a freight train longer than the Earth’s circumference. However, “climate change, unsustainable water use, and inefficient and damaging fertilizer practices” pose a real and present threat to the long-term productivity of U.S. corn production — threats that ripple through U.S. corn’s extensive and vital supply chain, according to a new report from Ceres.

Nearly doubling in size over the past 20 years to yield $67 billion a year in revenue, corn is America’s biggest and most important crop. Nearly one-third of U.S. farmland — an area equivalent to two Floridas – is being used to grow corn. This is far more than the second and third largest U.S. crops, wheat and soy. In addition, U.S. farmers grow, harvest and export more corn than their counterparts anywhere in the world. That’s the good news.

Last year’s record corn harvest — and the corn industry’s growth over the past two decades — masks serious, and growing, threats from climate change, inefficient water use and over-reliance on fertilizers, Ceres report authors highlight in Water & Climate Risks Facing U.S. Corn Production.

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New 49ers Stadium Set to Use 85 Percent Recycled Water

Mike Hower
| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 10.24.25 PM Recycled water will account for around 85 percent of all water used in Levi’s Stadium – the new home of the San Francisco 49ers — and will be used for playing field irrigation, a 27,000-square-foot green roof, flushing toilets, and cooling tower make-up water. Inside, the stadium is dual plumbed with recycled water used for flushing toilets.

Following final testing by the City of Santa Clara Water and Sewer Utilities, Levi’s Stadium was recently connected to the city’s recycled water system, making it the first stadium in California to utilize the drought-proof water source. The milestone brings the facility one step closer to a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Though other stadiums in the U.S. are plumbed for recycled water use, none are using it to the extent and in the myriad of ways as Levi’s Stadium.

“Utilizing recycled water in so many different spaces and in such a variety of ways was a challenging proposition,” said Chris de Groot, the city’s Director of Water and Sewer Utilities. “We had to develop a new way to test both potable and recycled systems for a building of this size, and get approval from the California Department of Public Health. Through innovation and cooperative partnerships, we were able to achieve this new standard.”

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American Eagle Outfitters Expands Clothing Recycling Program

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

American Eagle OutfittersClothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters is expanding its partnership with I:Collect (I:CO), a closed loop textile recycling company. AE added a clothing and shoes recycling program in all of its 823 stores in the U.S. and Canada, beginning June 14.

The program allows customers to drop off unwanted clothes, shoes and textiles from any brand into boxes marked I:CO at any North America store. The customers will then be rewarded with a text code for $5 off a pair of AE jeans to be used in the store that day. The proceeds from the program will be donated to the Student Conservation Association. The expanded program builds on a pilot program with I:CO in AE’s corporate offices, in six stores and in San Francisco, and it is I:CO’s largest North American partnership.

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5 Tips for Introducing a Charitable Giving Program to Your Company

3p Contributor | Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Corporate giving can take many forms, from staff volunteer days (like this tree-planting initiative at Yahoo!) to charitable donations. This post details five tips for getting involved.

Corporate giving can take many forms, from charitable donations to staff volunteer days (like this tree-planting initiative at Yahoo!). This post details five tips for getting involved.

By Evrim Oralkan

Capitalism as we know it is over. Enter Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Panera Bread, TOMS Shoes, and other companies that have soared in the wake of Great Recession cynicism with a heavy focus on “conscious capitalism.”

Charitable giving and a corporate focus on sustainability are not only becoming profitable; they’re becoming necessary for survival. In 2013, 97 percent of companies surveyed reported allocating specific budgets for corporate citizenship, compared to 81 percent in 2010.

This supports a growing trend toward socially conscious consumption. Consumers prefer to buy from businesses they perceive as “doing good.” In fact, 50 percent of global consumers said they’d be willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies.

The best thing about donating, though, is that it has two-way benefits. When J.C. Penney and the World Wildlife Fund worked together to produce a line of T-shirts bearing the WWF logo, the charity received the proceeds from more than 1 million shirts and expanded its audience. J.C. Penney got to associate its brand with an organization doing meaningful work.

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Interview: Margaret Morey-Reuner, Timberland

| Tuesday June 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TriplePundit attended Sustainable Brands 2014 in San Diego this month. These videos are part of our coverage. Find the rest here.

Released in July 2012 by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Higg Index is a sustainability measurement tool that allows apparel companies to measure the impacts of their products across the value chain.

Late last year, the SAC – a trade organization comprised of brands, retailers and manufacturers – announced an updated version of the index reflecting 18 months of development effort. In this interview, Nick Aster talks to Timberland’s Margaret Morey-Reuner about sustainability at Timberland and how the Higg Index is coming into use.

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Elon Musk (Again) Demonstrates Sustainable CEO Leadership

Bill Roth | Monday June 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

BN-AM645_musk_DV_20131121100316Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk has once again demonstrated business leadership by offering a business solution to climate change. Musk’s act of leadership is to open-source his company’s invaluable intellectual property for building world-class electric cars to the global auto industry. Musk’s actions must look crazy to many business leaders and Wall Street “financial engineers,” and they must be questioning whether it violates Musk’s fiduciary obligation to shareholders. In fact, Musk has once again demonstrated real business leadership by creating a viable path to solving climate change that also holds the potential of accelerating his company’s financial success.

100 million fossil fueled vehicles per year is not sustainable

The global auto industry produces 100 million fossil fuel vehicles annually. (In comparison, the U.S. fleet of automobiles is approximately 250 million.) This is not sustainable in the face of climate change, continued sectarian wars in the Middle East, and the price of oil defined by its escalating and volatile pump price. Electric cars with their zero tailpipe emissions, especially if the electricity is supplied from zero-emissions renewable energy like solar and wind, is a solution. Musk’s vision is that the electric car can deliver exciting performance and cost-effective operations without damaging our planet or our health. Musk’s actions to remove the legal barriers to his company’s cutting-edge technology opens the door to realizing a sustainable car industry.

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EDF: Green Trucks Good for the Planet and Business

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday June 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

class 8 tractor-trailer A report released last week by the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

In fact, the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and GHG standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Barack Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March 2015.

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An Innovative Community Solar Program from NRG and…Boeing?

| Monday June 16th, 2014 | 2 Comments

NRG and Boeing community solarThe diversified energy company NRG Energy, Inc. is becoming a familiar name in the solar power market, so it’s not too surprising to see the NRG moniker attached to an unusual community solar power project in California. The new twist is that NRG has teamed up for the project with Boeing, a company better known for aerospace and defense experience.

This is the first joint project between Boeing and NRG, and the two companies are already teaming up on a much larger project. The next one up is a 25.6 megawatt solar power plant for Guam, which will be the island’s first utility-scale solar facility. Considering how quickly the two companies are building on their initial partnership, this could just be the beginning of a string of future projects.

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The Quick & Dirty: Is Engagement Nothing but Activist ‘Sound Washing’?

Henk Campher
| Monday June 16th, 2014 | 5 Comments
Protest signs outside the Sustainable Brands conference.

Protest signs outside the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego.

By Henk Campher

I’m a recovering activist. From being a trade unionist and anti-Apartheid activist to being an African development worker and running campaigns for Oxfam. Note I didn’t say an ex-activist because you can never be an ex-activist. Activism stays in your blood, and you stay hooked once you get hooked the first time. But I am a recovering activist because I am trying to get over it and working on activism 3.0. We’re in 2.0 right now, but that is a story for another day.

First let me say that not all nonprofits are born the same and neither are all activists born the same. I see activists as the Greenpeace, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, PETA and Rainforest Action Network type and not the Conservation International, WWF or The Nature Conservancy type. This last set is better at running programs on the ground but not so great at running activist campaigns, partly because they work too closely with the business community. And they hardly ever run a campaign that really annoys the living hell out of business. Maybe that should be the main criteria: Have you annoyed business to a high enough level with your campaigning?

Secondly, what I am about to write is not meant to slam these activists at all. They play an absolutely crucial role in society. Without them we will hardly ever see the change needed to build a more just and a “greener” world. Thanks to them we ended slavery; the coffee industry is more equitable; more people have access to much needed medicine; whales are more protected; child labor is outlawed in most countries; and every issue from climate change, to poverty, to animal protection is brought to light each and every day. But just because they are our conscience doesn’t mean they play fair. Or that they should play fair…

However, we do need to call them out when we smell something wrong. And there is one major lie that always gets to me when I hear it. The “let’s engage” lie. No, you don’t really want to engage.

A few weeks back I attended the Sustainable Brands conference down in San Diego and an activist group targeted a major company speaking at the conference.

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