Policy Points: Cut Pollution, Move to Safer Chemicals and Keep Our Water Clean

The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s vessel Elizabeth work to clear storm debris from the protected Dismal Swamp Canal in Virginia.

The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s vessel Elizabeth work to clear storm debris from the protected Dismal Swamp Canal in Virginia.

By Richard Eidlin

Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and social enterprises are essential but are not game-changers by themselves. In addition, we need laws and regulations that guide our economy toward sound, long-term decision-making, with full recognition of social and environmental externalities. As business leaders, we can and must support policy changes to help make the economy more sustainable.

A sustainable economy will depend on policies that will help advance change on a societal level.  Here are three important policies that will help – and specific actions you can take.

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Report: China Holds a ‘Wide Lead’ in the Clean Energy Investment Race

Sarah Lozanova | Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

solar panel installationAs clean energy finance falls in Europe — most notably Germany and Italy — it is soaring in Asia, particularly in Japan and China, according to the 2013 “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” report by Pew Charitable Trusts. Renewable energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania regions grew by 64 percent last year, with 50 GW of new capacity added in one year.

Despite the global recession, the clean energy sector is a $250 billion industry, with over $100 billion in investment in Asia. China alone attracted $54 billion in investment in 2013 and was the global leader in wind energy investment with 38 percent of the global total. Several factors indicate that renewable energy has a bright future, particularly in Asia, and that China will remain a clean energy superpower.

The price of solar and wind energy technology has fallen significantly in recent decades and is increasingly competitive in the market. As a result, clean energy stocks soared in 2013, the report noted. Despite the European market contracting, renewable energy markets in Asia, South America and Africa are expanding. The solar energy sector emerged as an industry leader in 2013, outpacing new generation capacity in other technologies.

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Coal and the Role of Multi-Stakeholderism

3p Contributor | Monday April 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment

4430473232_14103ec2ac_zBy Michael Kourabas

When the U.N. Human Rights Council announced, in June 2011, that it was endorsing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had this to say:  “The Guiding Principles are the product of six years of research … involving governments, companies, business associations, civil society, affected individuals and groups, investors and others around the world.”

The OHCHR went on to note that the UNGPs were “based on 47 consultations and site visits in more than 20 countries; an online consultation that attracted thousands of visitors from 120 countries; and voluminous research and submissions from experts from all over the world.”  In other words, without this kind of extensive collaboration across sectors, countries and industries, the UNGPs may not have been born.

Perhaps because of the UNGPs’ success, multi-stakeholderism is often highlighted as an essential ingredient in the continued progress of the business and human rights (BHR) movement. For example: in February, vice-chair of the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Michael Addo, called attention to the importance of multi-stakeholder consultations in the development of National Action Plans; just last week, at an American Bar Association’s Section on International Law panel, Addo again took pains to stress the crucial role of multi-stakeholder participation in the promotion of the rule of law in the BHR context; and the OHCHR recently called for multi-stakeholder consultations in an effort to close the BHR justice gap.

Not surprising, right? After all, presidents get elected by promising to transcend partisanship and bring rival caucuses together. There’s little doubt that multi-stakeholderism is crucial to elements of the BHR movement, but is this type of collaboration always the best strategy? Or, more to the point, is it even realistic? A look at the  behavior of the major stakeholders in the coal industry is illustrative and sobering.

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McDonald’s Recognizes 51 Suppliers With 2014 ‘Best of Sustainable Supply’ Awards

| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

McD2014SustainableSupplyAwardsAs one of the world’s widest ranging multinational corporations, McDonald’s, has received its fair share of criticism — whether the issues are social, environmental or economic. That’s certainly the case when it comes to the overall sustainability of McDonald’s far-flung network of fast-food restaurants and suppliers. The company has also garnered negative attention for its influence and impact on people’s eating habits and nutrition, as well as the wages and benefits it offers employees.

Yet McDonald’s, as is true of a growing number of multinationals, has been dedicating an increasing amount of resources, time and effort to develop a strategic vision and implement sustainable business methods and practices that improve and enhance the social and environmental, as well as economic, impacts of its operations.

Aiming to spur sustainable business methods and practices throughout its vast network of suppliers, McDonald’s on April 1 announced the winners of its 2014 “Best of Sustainable Supply” awards.

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SEEED Summit at Brown University: Interview with Ira Magaziner

3p Conferences
| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Interview by Julia Xu (Brown ’17) and Lainie Rowland (Brown ’17)

We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk with Ira Magaziner, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), and hear about his journey as a social entrepreneur and activist. Here is what we learned!

“I think the meaning of our life is being able to do something that transforms things.” -Ira Magaziner
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Julia Xu: Hello, Mr. Magaziner. We are excited to interview you in anticipation of the SEEED Summit 2014, which you’re speaking at on April 26. We have learned a lot about you in our Social Entrepreneurship class, and we especially admire you for the sustainable approach of using scale to cut down prices and eventually create a virtuous cycle.

Lainie Rowland: We would love to know more about what skills you’ve learned and acquired that you’ve used to become a change-maker. We are especially interested in talking to you because you have the Brown background and because you’re the architect of the open curriculum.

Ira Magaziner: The most important thing is the values, and whether you make a decision to live a life by your values. To me, what we are doing now is trying to deal with the terrible income inequality existing in the world, and trying to help the poorest people with health care.

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UPS Backs Down—Cancels Move to Fire 250 Drivers

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday April 14th, 2014 | 3 Comments

UPS truck2UPS is rescinding its move to fire 250 Queens, N.Y. Teamsters Local 804 drivers, who took part in a 90-minute walk-out on Feb. 26, after city and state officials urged the company to negotiate with the drivers’ union or face the prospect of canceled contracts.

Teamsters Local 804 announced on its website last week that UPS agreed to abandon plans to pink slip drivers who had walked off the job to protest the firing of an employee, Jairo Reyes. Reyes was let go over an hours dispute, a UPS spokesman told Business Insider, but the union said he was terminated without a hearing he was contractually entitled to. It also described the mass firings as “arbitrary discipline.” But UPS maintains that the February walkout jeopardized its ability to serve customers and that the Teamsters’ contract includes a no-strike clause, a company spokesperson told the Huffington Post

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All Eyes on the Forests: The New Norm of Zero-Deforestation

3p Contributor | Sunday April 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment

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An area of natural forest in Riau Province, Indonesia

By Sara Santiago

In the past two years, we’ve seen rapid changes in the forestry sector that we could not have predicted would be realized by 2014. As a starting point, we witnessed the chairman of Indonesia-based Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the world’s second largest pulp and paper producer, announce a groundbreaking Forest Conservation Policy on Feb. 5, 2013, committing to an immediate moratorium on rainforest clearing for its pulp and paper products. This announcement, met with considerable and warranted skepticism, actually set the stage for a new reality for Southeast Asian rainforests. Since February 2013, APP, along with NGOs, brands, and advisers, has strived to uphold that commitment.

Astoundingly, by the end of 2013, the world’s largest palm oil producer and trader, Wilmar, quietly took the zero-deforestation commitment to the next level, by ensuring 45 percent of the world’s palm oil would be produced with zero-deforestation, zero-peatland and zero-social conflict. Unilever took the lead in supporting this policy. By the eve of 2014, commitments from two foremost, global suppliers redefined the mainstream, altering the way brands regard forests.

What has followed the major policy shifts by these two giants is a domino effect, with multiple brands following suit in the first months of 2014. It appeared as though a new U.S.-based brand fell into line on a weekly basis, following the model of their suppliers. GAR, a sister company to APP, suddenly re-entered the scene, by extending its existing Forest Conservation Policy to cover its suppliers, thus with Wilmar, over 50 percent of the world’s palm oil is bound by zero-deforestation commitments. Similarly, brands like Colgate-Palmolive, Mars and Ferrero announced their own zero-deforestation commitments. And most recently, Procter and Gamble and palm oil trader Cargill committed to zero deforestation and tracing palm oil in their supply chains.

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3p Weekend: 10 Clever (and Conscious) Ad Campaigns That Won the Internet

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Click to enlarge

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every FridayTriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

It’s tough to deliver a truly great ad campaign these days.  The good news is that despite an an ever-expanding sea of competition, ads that appeal to social consciousness are cutting through the crowd. With that in mind, this week we’re featuring 10 clever and socially conscious ad campaigns that won the Internet.

1. U.N. Women’s Autocomplete campaign

Released late last year, this ad campaign rocked the Web by featuring portraits of women with discriminatory Google autocomplete results covering their mouths. The campaign, developed as a creative idea for U.N. Women by Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai, features portraits of women with autocomplete results for search terms like “women should” and “women shouldn’t” covering their mouths. The results were disturbing, with responses like women should “be in the kitchen” and women shouldn’t “have rights.”

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Can Corporate Sustainability & Economic Growth Coexist? A Twitter Chat With SAP, BSR and CDP

Marissa Rosen
| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

tweet-jam-sapJoin TriplePundit and CSRwire at #SustyBiz TODAY at 8am PT/11am ET live on this page or on Twitter.

What does it mean for a technology company to lead with sustainability? How can technology companies leverage their expertise and scale to make exponential social and environmental impact? Moreover, how do you sustain your impact while growing your business? In its second SAP Integrated Report , SAP announced “plans to power all its data centers and facilities globally with 100 percent renewable electricity” as well as a shift to a cloud business model, which it predicts will also help “eliminate carbon emissions caused by its customers’ systems by moving them into SAP’s green cloud.

The “green cloud” might sound geeky and industrial to many – especially when companies like Intel are busy making extraordinary commitments to reduce their footprint – but it does address the sustainability conundrum many corporations face on its head: how do you wrap your consumer into your sustainability strategy and attempt to minimize their footprint as well?

The answer isn’t simple, even for a company like SAP that has lead with sustainability for years by committing to ambitious goals and transparently reporting against them via an interactive sustainability platform and early adoption of integrated reporting.

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TerraCycle Wants to Help Businesses Go Zero Waste

Alexis Petru
| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TerraCycle Zero Waste BoxTerraCycle is known for collecting materials that can’t be recycled through traditional curbside recycling programs – like chip bags, water filters and cigarette butts – and turning them into innovative, affordable products. Now with the launch of its Zero Waste Box program, the New Jersey-based company wants to make it easier for businesses to dramatically reduce their waste stream.

Unlike TerraCycle’s recycling Brigades program where participants can often recycle a product from only one company, the Zero Waste initiative allows customers to mix products from different companies in the same box. For example, you can order a Zero Waste Box to collect baby food pouches made by any company, but you would have to sign up for one Brigade to recycle Earth’s Best pouches and a separate one for Ella’s Kitchen. Some of TerraCycle’s Brigades let participants recycle products from different companies together like its cell phone Brigade, but all of TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes are product-based, rather than company-based.

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The Return of the Pink-Mustached Jedi: Lyft Raises $250 Million

Mike Hower
| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

BattleOfHoth-STA few months back, I wrote about Uber’s efforts to level Lyft by leveraging its hefty $258 million in new funding from Google Ventures and TPG Capital. Shortly after, Uber attempted to stifle Lyft’s launches in St. Paul, Phoenix and Indianapolis by offering free rides in these cities. Since then, it has gone on much like this: Lyft expands to new cities, and Uber comes up with ever-more-crafty ways to steal the limelight. Not even kittens are safe.

For the longest time, Uber has been the well-heeled Galactic Empire, and Lyft the scrappy but stalwart Rebel Alliance. Uber respects markets; Lyft values people. But no matter how hard Uber has tried to squash its competitor with silly marketing schemes, attack ads and even lowering rates, Lyft continues to not only survive – but thrive.

And then last week happened. Lyft closed a $250 million Series D round, bringing its total funding up to $332 million – several million above Uber’s $307 million (although some reports claim Uber has actually raised between $361 million and $405 million).

It’s the return of the Jedi, baby. And this one wears a pink mustache.

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IKEA Invests In 98 Megawatt Wind Farm In Illinois

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

windfarmIKEA US announced its investment in a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois. The wind farm, called Hoopeston Wind, is the largest single IKEA Group investment in renewable energy globally. The project is being built by Apex Clean Energy and expected to be in operation by 2015. IKEA Group will own Hoopeston Wind and Apex Clean Energy will manage its operations. Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer of IKEA US made the announcement at an business executive briefing by companies who have signed the Climate Declaration, which calls on the government to take action on climate change, for members of the Congressional Bi-Cameral Task Force on Climate Change.

“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” said Olson.  “We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs and continue providing great value to our customers.

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Clean Solar Initiative II To Add 100 MW of Solar Power on Long Island

| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

lipa-logoResidents of New York’s Long Island (2010 estimated population 7.568 million) will be getting more of their electricity from clean, renewable solar energy as the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and PSEG Long Island move forward with the second-round Clean Solar Initiative (CSI-2). Following a four-month application period that ended Jan. 31, the Long Island electric utility on April 2 announced that it had chosen 76 projects out of a prospective 178 CSI-2 proposals in a bid to bring an additional 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power online — enough to power some 13,000 homes.

PSEG Long Island conducted a clearing auction to determine a final bid price of $0.1688 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the second-round solar energy feed-in tariff (FiT). That’s the fixed rate the utility will pay to project developers over the life of their 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the utility.

CSI-2′s final bid price is almost 25 percent lower than the prices being paid for solar energy generation via CSI-1, LIPA and PSEG Long Island’s first solar feed-in tariff (FiT) — an annual savings of $8.1 million, PSEG Long Island director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables stated in a press release.

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Water-Energy Nexus: Utah Approves Largest Solar Power Park

| Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

UnivUtahSolarScatec Solar on April 1 received final approvals from the Utah Public Service Commission and Iron County Community Development and Renewal Agency to start building what will be Utah’s largest solar energy facility.

Under the terms of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with PacifiCorp, the 80-megawatt (MW) AC Utah Red Hills Renewable Energy Park will supply clean, renewable electricity to residents in far-off Idaho and Wyoming, as well as Utah, through Rocky Mountain Power.

The project highlights the social and environmental, as well as economic, benefits and advantages to deploying solar and other renewable energy sources as opposed to conventional fossil fuels. Those aren’t limited to green job creation and reducing carbon emissions, but extend to the conservation of increasingly precious freshwater resources.

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Climate Change Getting You Down? Just Follow the Butterfly

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday April 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

comma_butterfly_PMatthews123The polar bears are doing it. The birds are doing it; even the trees are doing it. And now, according to research by several biologists, the butterfly has given us the best example so far of how nature, confronted with shifting parameters, is hurrying to adapt to climate change.

As early as 2005, scientists found evidence that animal and plant species were making migratory changes to offset dwindling food supplies or intolerable temperature changes. Species ranging from the Canadian red squirrels to rock barnacles apparently already knew something we found very contentious: that adaptation was going to be necessary.

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