DiCaprio’s Before The Flood is an epic documentary on Climate Change

2 11 2016

before-the-flood-cover

Leonardo DiCaprio spent two years traveling the globe to talk to those on the front line of Climate Change and focus on the key sources and impacts of the problems.  In the process, he talks to scientists, sustainability and carbon reduction experts, local government officials and world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

According to The Los Angeles Times:  “The origins of wanting to do this movie is to give the scientific community out there a voice,” DiCaprio said before the screening, to more cheers in the packed house, at Toronto’s giant and august Princess of Wales Theater. “Because we have ignored the predictions of the scientific community for way too long.”

You can watch the entire film on You Tube here.

 

https://www.beforetheflood.com





TetraPak: Most U.S. Consumers Would Choose Renewable Packaging to Help Mitigate Climate Change

17 08 2015

Tetra_1

 

A new survey suggests U.S. consumers are largely unaware of the severity of global resource scarcity, but their choice of packaging would be impacted if they had readily available information on how renewable materials mitigate climate change.

Tetra Pak and the Global Footprint Network conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers about their grocery spending habits. An overwhelming 86 percent agreed that if they knew the use of renewable packaging contributed to reducing carbon emissions, it would impact their choice of packaging. Women were particularly motivated to choose renewable packaging options based on this knowledge: 90 percent of females said they would modify their purchasing habits while 77 percent of men did.

According to TetraPak, consumers indicated that they are ready to be held as accountable as government and industry for climate change, and they are ready to support actions to mitigate its harmful effects. While 81 percent of respondents said that no one group is responsible for addressing natural resource constraints, the majority also believes that no single group is doing enough.

“Our survey confirms our belief that with information and education, consumers will respond favorably to the need to pay closer attention to resource challenges and change their individual actions, including making more environmentally responsible decisions around packaging,” said Elizabeth Comere, Director of Environment & Government Affairs for Tetra Pak US and Canada.

The survey also asked respondents about specific actions they would be willing to take to conserve natural resources. The top three responses were:

  • buying local grown food as much as possible (75 percent)
  • only buying as much food as a household was going to consume (72 percent)
  • seeking out food or beverage products that come in renewable packaging (69 percent).

Daily purchasing choices can make a difference, said Mathis Wackernagel, president and co-founder of Global Footprint Network.

“How we meet our basic needs — including food — is a powerful way to shape sustainability. Eating food from local sources and less emphasis on animal-based diets can lower the Ecological Footprint,” he said. “When we buy packaged foods, opting for packaging made from renewable materials also contributes to a lower Ecological Footprint.”

These findings coincide with Earth Overshoot Day, an indicator of when humanity has used up nature’s ‘budget’ for the entire year. Global Footprint Network announced Wednesdaythat we have overshot faster than ever: Overshoot Day moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

This survey follows Tetra Pak’s launch of the first carton made entirely from renewable packaging materials last year, and is the latest evidence that consumers desire more sustainable packaging options.

 

Original article from Sustainable Brands





Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change.

30 01 2015

31CLIMATEWEB1-master675

The poll found that 83% of Americans, including 61% of Republicans and 86% of independents, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future.

An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times,Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.

Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called “the most powerful finding” in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.

Although the poll found that climate change was not a top issue in determining a person’s vote, a candidate’s position on climate change influences how a person will vote. For example, 67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.

Over all, the number of Americans who believe that climate change is caused by human activity is growing. In a 2011 Stanford University poll, 72 percent of people thought climate change was caused at least in part by human activities. That grew to 81 percent in the latest poll. By party, 88 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents and 71 percent of Republicans said that climate change was caused at least in part by human activities.

Although the poll found that climate change was not a top issue in determining a person’s vote, a candidate’s position on climate change influences how a person will vote. For example, 67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.

Jason Becker, a self-identified independent and stay-at-home father in Ocoee, Fla., said that although climate change was not his top concern, a candidate who questioned global warming would seem out of touch.

“If someone feels it’s a hoax they are denying the evidence out there. Many arguments can be made on both sides of the fence. But to just ignore it completely indicates a close-minded individual, and I don’t want a close-minded individual in a seat of political power.”

Source:  The New York Times.





Conservation International: Nature Is Speaking. And She’s Not Happy.

8 10 2014

“Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” 

In a series of short films debuting this week for Conservation International, Hollywood celebrities and advertising legend Lee Clow of TWBA Media Arts Lab lend a hand to raise awareness of the importance of protecting, preserving and nurturing the environment – for the good of mankind.

Narrated by various leading actors including Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, Ed Norton, Robert Redford, Penelope Cruz, Kevin Spacey, and Ian Somerhalder, each film highlights some aspect of the natural world and represents its point of view about the relationship with humanity.

Ford serves on the Conservation International Board of Directors and has been involved with the non-profit for twenty years.  He called on his celebrity friends to lend their voices to this important campaign.

In commenting on the campaign, Clow told Fast Company’s Co-Create:  “Like so many things right now in our culture and politics, everything seems so polarized that the two extreme ends are the loudest and everyone else in the middle is getting tired and sick of nobody being able to solve anything. That was the hope for this is to be a balanced message that everyone could get on board with.”

The films include the #NatureIsSpeaking hashtag the CI team is encouraging social media discussion with Twitter handles for each of the films’ subjects (@MotherNature_CI, @Ocean_CI, @Rainforest_CI, @Soil_CI, @Water_CI, @Redwood_CI, @CoralReef_CI).

HP, sponsor of the #NatureIsSpeaking hashtag will donate $1 to Conservation International, for every social media mention, up to $1 million.

 





CDP: Companies Managing Climate Change Enjoy 18% Higher Return On Equity

4 10 2014

You-Control-Climate-Change-773583_1

 

In a significant new report, CDP has demonstrated that among S&P 500 Industry Leaders, those corporations who have made significant efforts to reduce their impact on climate change have much improved financial performance and return on equity (ROE) than those companies who are not taking such steps and do not disclose their carbon impact. CDP’s analysis shows that, on climate change management, S&P 500 industry leaders:

  • Generate superior profitability: ROE 18% higher than low scoring peers and 67% higher than non-responders.
  • Have more stability with 50% lower volatility of earnings over the past decade than low scoring peers.
  • Grow dividends to shareholders: 21% stronger than low scoring peers.
  • Exhibit value attributes attractive to equity investors.
The report presents the progress achieved by 70% of S&P 500 companies in integrating climate change risk management into strategic planning, taking action towards emissions reductions and demonstrating a long-term view of how to best manage the assets of shareholders. In the report, Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP says, “There is a palpable sea change in approach by companies driven by a growing recognition that there is a cost associated with the carbon they emit. Measurement, transparency and accountability drives positive change in the world of business and investment.” Here are the CDP leading companies and their corresponding three year return on equity. Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 1.04.55 PM   In commenting on the report, HP Chairman Meg Whitman said, “By integrating sustainability across the entire value chain, companies can capture return on capital today and build leadership and business value for their future. These investments help companies create a competitive advantage, build stability, and provide assurances to stakeholders that they are well positioned for the challenges of the 21st century.” Read the CDP Climate Action and Profitability Report here




Nielsen: Doing Well By Doing Good

3 07 2014

business-of-doing-well

 

55% of global respondents in Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 45% in 2011.  However, people living in North America lag the global average, with only 42% saying they would be willing to pay extra – a 7% increase from three years ago.

As continued impactful climate change events and social consciousness raises people’s concern about companies’ impact on society, the importance of brand’s corporate responsibility reputations will continue to rise.  Brands which act responsibly and communicate those actions effectively will increasingly be the ones rewarded by consumers.

 

corp social responsibility report image

 

Images:  Future Leaders in Philanthropy, Nielsen





WHO: 1 in 8 Global Deaths Linked To Air Pollution

8 04 2014

The World Health Organization reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure.  This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

CHINA SANDSTORM

Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

The new data reveal a strong link between air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.  The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas.

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents non-communicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

After analysing the risk factors and taking into account revisions in methodology, WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves. The new estimate is explained by better information about pollution exposures among the estimated 2.9 billion people living in homes using wood, coal or dung as their primary cooking fuel, as well as evidence about air pollution’s role in the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancers.

In the case of outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

Many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together, hence the total estimate of around 7 million deaths in 2012.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains,” says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.”





SOGB: Business Sustainability Progress Has Stalled

27 01 2014
According to the 2014 State of Green Business report published by GreenBiz Group in partnership with Trucost plc., companies around the world are struggling to make progress on climate change, resource efficiency and natural capital dependency.
Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.57.56 PM
“While more and more companies are undertaking a growing number of initiatives to reduce their environmental impacts, there’s very little progress to show for it. Company initiatives are not having an impact at the scale needed to address such challenges as climate change and the availability of water and natural resources,” said Joel Makower, GreenBiz Group executive editor and the report’s principal author.
The seventh annual edition of the report, which measures the global progress of large, publicly traded companies in addressing a myriad of environmental challenges, reveals little meaningful progress across most metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste disposal and other pollutant impacts.
“The environmental impacts of business – air pollution, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity – are threatening the ability of our finite stock of natural capital to deliver sustainable growth,” said Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost. “The challenge for business is to identify growth models that result in reduced environmental impact.
”The report also names the 10 sustainable business trends for 2014. Among them are the growth of collaboration among big corporations to solve mutual sustainability challenges, the growth of chemical transparency for consumer products, the emergence of “shadow pricing” as a means for companies to assess their environmental risks and net-positive buildings.
The 2014 report includes the launch of the Natural Capital Leaders Index, a new methodology for identifying companies that are growing their revenue while reducing their environmental impacts. The 2014 Index found 34 companies from 10 countries that met Trucost’s criteria, which include increasing revenue between 2008 and 2012, disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in environmental impacts during that same period.Among the 34 “decoupling leaders” are Carnival Corp., CSX, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, National Australia Bank, Pearson, Tata Power and Verizon.The Index further identifies US and Global “efficiency leaders” that use the least natural capital to generate revenue compared to sector peers – the more traditional sustainability leaders – which include Adobe Systems, AMEC, BMW, Ford, Manpower, McGraw Hill Financial, Pepco Holdings and Sprint Corp.The metrics from the report were drawn from Trucost’s assessment of 4,600 of the world’s largest companies representing 93% of global markets by market capitalization.The State of Green Business report will be the centrepiece of the upcoming GreenBiz Forum (Feb 18-20), taking place in Phoenix, AZ, where speakers will address many of these trends and metrics.The free report can be downloaded from GreenBiz.com.





National Research Council: Abrupt, near-term impacts to rival dinosaur extinction

10 12 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 11.56.39 AM

With little fanfare and a noticeable lack of press coverage, the National Research Council released its report:  Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises last week.  The 200 page report suggests that a wave of species extinctions rivaling the dinosaurs’ demise might well be coming within the century — and that the time has come to set up early warning systems to detect this and other imminent climate catastrophes.

One of the authors, Anthony Barnosky, made this comment on the report:  “Our report focuses on abrupt change, that is, things that happen within a few years to decades: basically, over short enough time scales that young people living today would see the societal impacts brought on by faster-than-normal planetary changes.”

The study was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. intelligence community and the National Academies, which is made up of The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.

Abrupt Changes Already Underway

Some of the abrupt changes are already taking place, according to the report.

  • The disappearance of late-summer sea ice in the Arctic, with predictions that it may be gone entirely within decades, which “would have potentially large and irreversible effects of various components of the Arctic East Coast system including disruptions in the marine food web, shifts and habitats of summary mammals, and erosion of vulnerable coastlines.”

Because the Arctic region interacts with a large-scale circulation systems of the ocean and atmosphere, changes in the extent of sea ice could cause shifts in climate and weather around the northern hemisphere. The Arctic is also region of increasing economic importance for diverse range of stakeholders, and reductions in Arctic sea ice will bring new legal and political challenges this navigation routes for commercial shipping open and marine access to the region increases for offshore oil and gas development, tourism, fishing and other activities.

  • Rapidly increasing extinction of plant and animal species at a rate already “probably as fast as any warming event in the past 65 million years, and it is projected that its pace over the next 30 to 80 years will continue to be faster and more intense.”   The report cites the following scenarios for species extinction.

If unchecked, habitat destruction, fragmentation, and over-exploitation, even without climate change, could result in a mass extinction within the next few centuries equivalent in magnitude to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. With the ongoing pressures of climate change, comparable levels of extinction conceivably could occur before the year 2100; indeed, some models show a crash of coral reefs from climate change alone as early as 2060 under certain scenarios.

  • Destabilization of the west Antarctic ice sheet, an “abrupt change of unknown probability,” carries the threat of sea-level rise “at a rate several times faster than those observed today. “

Early Warning System 

In the face of these threats, the report urges development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System (ACEWS) to closely monitor signals of tipping points drawing near, digest the data and feed it into the best predictive models that can be developed.   “We watch our streets, we watch our banks,” the report’s chief author, climatologist James White of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Los Angeles Times. “But we do not watch our environment with the same amount of care and zeal.”  In a press statement releasing the report, Mr. White said “The time has come for us to quit talking and take action.  Right now we don’t know what many of these thresholds are.  But with better information, we will be able to anticipate some major changes before they occur and help reduce the potential consequences.”

The executive summary of the report concludes with this rather dire warning:

“Although there is much to learn about climate change and abrupt impacts, to willingly ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering and environmental degradation.  The time is here to be serious about the threat of the tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.”





Project Sunlight: Unilever’s Call To Action For Sustainable Living

21 11 2013

Unilever has launched  a worldwide new initiative to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.  Launched yesterday on Universal Children’s Day in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the US, Project Sunlight aims to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people, and in particular parents, to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

Project Sunlight was launched with the four-minute film embedded here and created by DAVID Latin America and Ogilvy & Mather London at dawn on November 20th in Indonesia and then follow the sun to India, the UK, Brazil and the US. Additional information can be found at an online hub – www.projectsunlight.com – which brings together the social mission stories of Unilever’s brands across the world, and invites consumers to get involved in doing small things that help their own families, others around the world and the planet.

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping 2 million children through its ongoing partnerships, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; supporting Save the Children to provide clean, safe drinking water; and improved hygiene through UNICEF.

Ogilvy & Mather Chairman and CEO Miles Young, explains: “Unilever asked us to find a new way to talk about sustainability that would make the benefits real for ordinary people. Project Sunlight is founded on the principle that even small actions can make a big difference and that together, we can create a brighter future.  We are honored to be a part of such a positive and significant movement for the good of our client and our communities.”  Famed film director Erroll Morris directed “Why bring a child into this world?” including moving interviews with expectant parents from around the world.

The project draws on the legacy of Unilever’s founder Lord Leverhulme, who believed that he could change the world with a brand of soap he called Sunlight.

Kudos to Unilever, Ogilvy, DAVID and everyone involved in this important initiative that hits at the heart of the matter: if we can’t work to improve living conditions on our precious planet, how dare you bring a child into this world.





Survey Shows Weak Collaboration Around Sustainability In Companies

11 11 2013

global_sustainability-green-globe-v4019046

BSR/GlobeScan of 700+ corporate sustainability executives in companies worldwide shows decreasing levels of collaboration between sustainability functions and other core corporate functions.

Survey respondents note a lower level, and decreasing, engagement between sustainability functions and corporate functions, such as investor relations (with 37 percent of those surveyed saying they engage with investor relations, down 1 point from 2011), human resources (34 percent, down 3 points), R&D (32 percent, down 9 points), marketing (28 percent, down 14 points).  The weakest area of engagement is between corporate sustainability and finance at 16 percent, down 2 points from 2011.  Unless greater collaboration is made in this area, the business case for sustainability and its potential positive impact on financial performance will be very difficult to make.

“The trend toward weaker engagement between sustainability functions and core functions such as finance, marketing, HR, investor relations, and R&D, is concerning.” Chris Coulter, CEO at GlobeScan, noted, “Not only is engagement limited with these strategic areas, but collaboration between them and sustainability teams has declined—in some cases by a significant margin. While there is a clear need for external collaboration, there is an equally important case to be made for greater internal collaboration.”

Additional topline findings from this survey include:

  • When asked to choose which sustainability issues need collaboration the most, climate change and public policy frameworks promoting sustainability are ranked highest.
  • Only one in five companies has fully integrated sustainability into business.
  • Engagement between sustainability functions and corporate functions such as marketing, R&D, and finance remains very low.
  • Collaboration by BSR member companies focuses more often on engagement with NGOs and other businesses than it does on engagement with government.

Fewer companies collaborate often with governments (46 percent) or media (27 percent), both of which are rated as the most difficult partners for collaboration.

21 percent report that their company is close to full integration. A majority say that their company is either about halfway to integration (51 percent), or is just getting started (22 percent).

“The survey reveals both the sense of urgency to address climate change, and the sense that meaningful progress goes well beyond the steps a single company can take,” observed Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR.  “No one sector—not business, government, civil society, or consumers—can ‘save us’ from climate change.

 

State_of_Sustainable_Business_Poll_2013_Full_Report__BSR_Globescan





One Year After Sandy: Companies Push White House On Climate Action Plan

29 10 2013

Hurricane-Sandy-Damage

20 leading corporations – including Starbucks, Levis, Unilever and Mars -call on President Obama to follow through on climate change preparedness efforts outlined in the Climate Action Plan announced by the President on June 25th.

The corporate signatories of the letter, which rely on the stability of global supply chains for growth and profitability, cited the economic impacts of severe weather events on company operations and called for ongoing and significant investments to be made in strengthening climate change resiliency both in the United States and the world’s most vulnerable countries. Many of the signatories are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy – a group of businesses advocating for meaningful energy and climate legislation.

Critical components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan included federal investments in climate science, and support for disaster planning and risk management in multiple sectors. On the anniversary of one of the most catastrophic weather events in history, the companies reiterated the need for federal funding of programs and projects that benefit the most vulnerable communities and the businesses they rely on for employment, products and services.

“Our businesses depend upon a resilient infrastructure, resilient communities, and resilient value chains,” the companies wrote in a letter to President Obama today. “In recent years, severe weather events, combined with rising temperatures, have devastated critical infrastructure, decreased crop yields, and threatened water supplies. These trends are being felt globally… We call upon your administration to follow through on commitments for robust support of climate change resilience efforts.”

“Public investment in climate resilience is critical to the economic viability of companies we invest in that rely on consumers, labor, raw materials, and operations located in regions susceptible to extreme weather,” said Bennett Freeman, SVP for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments. “We applaud the U.S. government for making investments in resilience and hope to see this strengthened in future years.”

“Extreme weather trends pose challenges to managing reliable supply chains and business planning,” said Anna Walker, Senior Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss & Co. “While Levi Strauss & Co. is committed to addressing its climate impact, we believe U.S. government leadership is essential for widespread action on climate resilience to strengthen communities and minimize economic disruption.”

The signatories recognized the Obama Administration’s efforts thus far to address climate change, and expressed support for public and private sector collaboration to continue advancing the implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

“The human and economic costs of severe weather are escalating and it is increasingly important that business and communities integrate climate risk into their operational and decision-making processes,” said Mark Way, Head of Sustainability Americas at Swiss Re America. “As experts on risk, everything we see points to the fact that climate change is something we simply cannot ignore.”





United Nations: CEOs say sustainability less important.

24 09 2013

ceo-in-boardroom-600*304

In a massive new study which interviewed 1,000 CEOs around the world, The United Nations and Accenture report that only 32% of CEOs believe the global economy is on track to meet the demands of a growing population within global environmental and resource constraints.  Alarmingly, the number of CEOs of saying that sustainability is “very important” to their business success dropped to 45%, a decline from 54% just three years ago.

The third United Nations Global Compact – Accenture CEO Study On Sustainability 2013 points to CEOs concern about an uncertain global economic climate as directly impacting the urgency of addressing sustainable business operations.  Despite the report that 63% of CEOs expect sustainability to transform their business within five years – and 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities – many struggle with market expectations, investor pressure and the difficulty of measuring the business value of sustainability.

The report demonstrates how the world’s CEOs are conflicted on the extent to which they believe that business is making sufficient efforts to address sustainability. with 33% agreeing business is making the acceptable effort, while 38% disagree.  See the report chart below:

UN-accenture-graph

In an executive summary of the CEO survey, the authors conclude:

“CEOs clearly recognize the scale of the global challenge—but may not yet see the urgency or the incentive for their own businesses to do more and to have a greater impact. This disconnect suggests that a gap persists between the approach to sustainability of the majority of companies globally—an approach centered on philanthropy, compliance, mitigation and the license to operate—and the approach being adopted by leading companies, focused on innovation, growth and new sources of value.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • 83% of CEOs see an increase in efforts by governments and policy makers to provide an enabling environment for the private sector as integral to advancing sustainability.
  • 85% of CEOs demand clearer policy and market signals to support green growth.
  • Only 29% of CEOs regard climate change as one of the most important sustainability challenges for the future of their business
  • And just 14% regard water sanitation as an important issue for their business to address.

Clearly the lack of progress on the global economy and the failure of governments and regulators to provide consistent sustainability frameworks are holding back CEOs from focusing their full attention on the long-term issues of sustainability and threatened natural resources.  As the report highlights, more urgency is needed:

“As business leaders across the world come together this year to set out an architecture to align business action with global priorities, there is a clear and unequivocal call for greater ambition, greater speed and greater impact.”

– United Nations Global Compact

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 8.38.41 AM





Carbon Trust: 2/3 of public unable to name businesses that take sustainability seriously.

23 09 2013

busy-street-682_1109319a

In a recent survey of more than 1,800 adults in the United Kingdom, The Carbon Trust Fund found that 68% of people were unable to name a company that is taking sustainability seriously.

In addition, just 5% of respondents see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment.  Despite the significant efforts many companies across the world are making to turn their business operations to more responsible and sustainable entities, the UK study underscores how poorly those companies are communicating their actions.

According to Tom Delay, the chief executive of Carbon Trust:

“While it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources. Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part.  As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

The same survey of UK adults did have some encouraging signs regarding concern for the environment.   The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than five years ago while almost three in ten (27%) said they are more likely.   Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than five years ago.





CDP Report: World’s Largest Companies Doing Little On Climate Change

17 09 2013

CarbonEmissions

“As countries around the world seek economic growth, strong employment and safe environments, corporations have a unique responsibility to deliver that growth in a way that uses natural resources wisely. The opportunity is enormous and it is the only growth worth having.” – Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, CDP

Fifty of the 500 largest listed companies in the world are responsible for nearly three quarters of the group’s 3.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, so finds the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 released this week. The carbon emitted by these 50 highest emitting companies, which primarily operate in the energy, materials and utilities sectors, has risen 1.65% to 2.54 billion metric tons over the past four years.

The report is co-written by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and professional services firm PwC. It provides the most authoritative evaluation of corporate progress on climate change.

Inadequate momentum to mitigate climate change is also true of the biggest emitters found in each of the ten sectors covered in the report. Titled Sector insights: what is driving climate change action in the world’s largest companies, the new publication includes industry-specific analysis which shows that the five highest emitting companies from each sector have seen their emissions increase by an average of 2.3% since 2009.

Guardian Sustainable Business offered a biting analysis of the report, concluding companies are making little progress in addressing climate change.

“For all the talk of companies taking the threat of climate change seriously, the latest evidence shows the corporate sector is failing to respond in a meaningful way to the threat of environmental catastrophe,” wrote GSB’s Jo Confino.

Paul Simpson, CEO at CDP says: “Many countries are demonstrating signs of recovery following the global economic downturn. However, clear scientific evidence and increasingly severe weather events are sending strong signals that we must pursue routes to economic prosperity whilst reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is imperative that big emitters improve their performance in this regard and governments provide more incentives to make this happen.” 

While the biggest emitters present the greatest opportunity for large-scale change, the report identifies opportunities for all Global 500 companies to help build resilience to climate and policy shocks by significantly reducing the amount of carbon dioxide they produce each year. For example, the emissions from nearly half (47%) of the most carbon intensive activities that companies identify across their value chains are yet to be measured. The lack of detailed reporting and information of GHGs from sources related to company activities (Scope 3 emissions), as opposed to those from sources owned or directly controlled by them, may lead companies to underestimate their full carbon impact.

Malcolm Preston, global lead, sustainability and climate change, PwC says: “The report underlines how customers, suppliers, employees, governments and society in general are becoming more demanding of business. It raises questions for some organizations about whether they are focused on sustaining growth in the long term, or just doing enough to recover growth until the next issue arises. With the initial IPCC report only weeks away corporate emissions are still rising. Either business action increases, or the risk is regulation overtakes them.”

Companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to managing their impact on the environment are generating improved financial and environmental results. Analysis of the corporations leading on climate progress, as based on CDP’s acclaimed methodology and including BMW, Nestlé and Cisco Systems, suggests that they generate superior stock performance. Further, the businesses that offer employees monetary incentives related to energy consumption and carbon emissions are 18% more successful at accomplishing reductions.

The CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 is available to download free. It launches this week at CDP’s annual Global Climate Forum which is broadcast live online. The public disclosures of climate change information from Global 500 companies taking part in CDP this year are also available on the CDP website. Over 4,500 businesses in markets around the world have disclosed through CDP this year. Their data will be disseminated to investors via various channels, such as Bloomberg terminals, where it is downloaded an average of 1 million times every six weeks.

Read the CDP Report here

Adapted from an original article at Sustainable Industries blog here





Gallup: 58% of Americans worry about global warming.

2 05 2013

Drought_Swimming_Hole

A new Gallup survey of American adults shows rising belief and continued concern about global warming, with 58% say they worry about it.

More specifically, 33% of Americans worry about global warming “a great deal,” 25% worry “a fair amount,” 20% “only a little,” and 23% “not at all.”

Public concern about global warming has waxed and waned over the past two decades, ranging between 50% and 72%. The average percentage over time for “worrying a great deal/fair amount” comes in at just under 60%, similar to the March 7-10 reading from Gallup’s 2013 Environment poll.

The same poll finds 54% of Americans saying the effects of global warming have already begun. This also matches the average in Gallup trends on this measure since 1997. The low points were recorded in 1997 and 2011, when less than half thought global warming’s effects were already manifest. The high point was recorded in 2008, at 61%. This year’s percentage represents a slight increase from the lows reached just a couple of years ago.

xzumtsjkxueekifjhphptg

Gallup trends throughout the past decade — and some stretching back to 1989 — have shown generally consistent majority support for the idea that global warming is real, that human activities cause it, and that news reports on it are correct, if not underestimated. However, those views have shown significant variability.

Americans’ concerns about global warming peaked at points in the late 1980s and the late 1990s, and again between 2006 and 2008, possibly related to strong environmentalist campaigns to raise awareness of the issue at those times — including the release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006.

Conversely, concerns receded in 2009 and 2010, particularly among Republicans and conservatives, corresponding with a flurry of publicity about scientists who doubt global warming is caused by human activities, as well as some controversy about global warming research. With all of this dying down somewhat in the last few years, attitudes are returning to previous levels, putting them near the long-term averages.

In contrast to majority acceptance of global warming as real, Gallup finds Americans less than alarmed. One-third worry “a great deal,” and 34% expect it to threaten their way of life. These could be the attitudes that matter most when it comes to Americans’ support for public policies designed to address the issue.





RAIN: Replenish Africa Initiative From Coca-Cola

1 05 2013

rainLogo

 

Nearly one billion people do not have access to clean, safe water – that’s the equivalent of 1 in 8 people on the planet!  In Africa, preventable waterborne illnesses claim the lives of millions of people each year. No single organization can resolve Africa’s water crisis, but together, with a combination of civil society, non-governmental organizations and government, we can make a positive difference on Africa’s water challenges.

The Replenish Africa Initiative, or RAIN, is therefore the signature community initiative of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. Backed by a six-year, $30 million dollar commitment by The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with other donors, RAIN’s goal is to provide over 2 million people in Africa with access to drinking water by 2015. RAIN will launch over 100 water access programs across Africa, including sanitation and hygiene education programs.

girlatpump

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has been involved in community water programs since 2005. To date, 42 water projects in 27 countries have been supported, in partnership with and co-funded by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) under the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) and other partners. Within The Coca-Cola Company’s three-tier global water stewardship strategy which is focused on Reducing, Recycling and Replenishing the amount of water used in Coca-Cola beverages and their production, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s focus is on Replenishing – or community based water interventions.

The-Water-Project-logo-140

The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; that’s the same as a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce! This is incredibly valuable time.

According to The Water Project, with much of one’s day already consumed by meeting basic needs, there isn’t time for much else. The hours lost to gathering water are often the difference between time to do a trade and earn a living and not. Just think of all the things you would miss if you had to take three hours out each day to get water.

When a water solution is put into place, sustainable agriculture is possible. Children get back to school instead of collecting dirty water all day, or being sick from waterborne illnesses. Parents find more time to care for their families, expand minimal farming to sustainable levels, and even run small businesses.  learn more at http://thewaterproject.org

In collaboration with various partners, volunteers, patrons and organizations, RAIN is not just for the immediate future of Africa, but also for the long-term sustainability of its resources. RAIN is also The Coca-Cola Company’s contribution to help Africa meet the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation.





ourhorizon.org: Climate Change Warnings On Gas Pumps

23 04 2013

5-cent-sticker

Canadian lawyer Robert Shirkey wants all Canadians who pump gasoline to understand the threat of climate change. He has started a campaign, ourhorizon.org that calls for labels to be put on gas pump nozzles. The campaign aims to get municipalities in Canadian provinces to pass legislation that require the labels.

If the name of the campaign sounds familiar, it is a reference to the offshore drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon that spilled 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. As the campaign states, “Our name is a rejection of the system that made BP’s offshore drilling rig the Deepwater Horizon a reality.” However, the campaign makes it clear that it does “not blame BP,” but takes the position “that we each share in the responsibility for this tragedy.”

There are 4,000 municipalities in Canada. The campaign’s website contains a database of municipal councilors in Canada, and encourages people to send a letter to their local representative, called a councillor, in Canada. The database has “every single municipal councillor’s email in all of Canada.” Through the website, a user can email a letter to their local councillor just by clicking a button.

Here is a screen shot of the ourhorizon.org home page

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 3.19.11 PM

The campaign is funded through crowdsourcing via a donation page. The donation page asks users to donate in order to help the campaign do two things:

  • Fund a legal campaign for every province and territory in Canada in order to empower representatives to pass legislation, which carries an estimated $40,000 price tag
  • Send a postcard to every elected official in Canada with an image of the campaign’s concept and an explanation on the back, which carries an estimated $20,000 price tag

There are a few interesting facts about the campaign, including that it is market-based, as its website stresses. The purpose of the warning labels is to “supply the market with relevant information and let the market do its thing.” The way it will work is that the “label will change some behaviors but, more importantly, they will create a shift in the social environment to facilitate political action on climate change.”

Canadian Environment Under Siege

Many environmentalists and concerned citizens in Canada have been frustrated to watch the unbridled development of Canadian natural resources by the government at the urging of powerful lobby groups.  The continued oil industry development of the Alberta Tar Sands and the promotion of the building of the Keystone XL pipeline have alarmed many people concerned about the future direction of the country.  Activists such as Idle No More – a group of First Nations members – are protesting the government’s development of natural resources on Crown Land – in violation of treaties between First Nations groups and the Canadian government.  According to Wikipedia, The Idle No More movement generally opposes certain types of resource exploitation, particularly on First Nations territory.  The movement takes this stance against resource exploitation, as attributed to First Nations sovereignty and environmental sustainability.  The position is supported by many groups including non-governmental and grassroots organizations. In a human rights report on Canada, Amnesty International suggested that the government should have “respect for indigenous rights when issuing licences for mining, logging and petroleum and other resource extraction.”  Learn more at idlenomore.ca

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 3.38.06 PM

Warning Labels Work.

The European Union requires the use of climate change warnings in regards to new car sales. In 2008, the EU’s Department of Transport (DfT) issued new guidelines which required all promotional literature for new cars sales to include information about carbon dioxide emissions.

Our Horizon label

Warning labels with graphic images are proven to raise public awareness.  ourhorizon.org compares the warning labels, which contain strong images, to those on “tobacco packages.” In 2001, Canada became the first country to use images in its cigarette warning labels. The use of such warning labels works, according to a 2009 report by the European Commission, Directorate General for Health and Consumers.  The report found the following:

  • Warning labels on cigarette packages “increase consumers’ knowledge about the health consequences of tobacco use and contribute to changing consumer’s attitudes towards tobacco use as well as changing consumers’ behavior”
  • Warning labels are “a critical element of an effective tobacco control policy”
  • Warning labels have a high impact in educating consumers about the risks of tobacco use, and a medium impact in changing smokers’ behavior
  • Fear-induced warnings (using shocking images related to health risks) are the most effective way to educate consumers on the health risks of tobacco use and to change their attitudes and behavior.

Original post at Triple Pundit by Gina-Marie Cheeseman.

http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/04/canadian-lawyer-climate-change-warning-labels-gas-pumps/

Photos by ourhorizon.org





U.S. Business Leaders Urge Strong Policy Action on Climate Change

11 04 2013

Ceres_BICEP_logo_final

As the President unveils his budget for the coming year, 33 major U.S. companies, including eBay Inc., Nike and Limited Brands signed a “Climate Declaration,” urging federal policymakers to take action on climate change, asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.

“The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses.  The cost of inaction is too high. Policymakers should see climate change policy for what it is: an economic opportunity.” said Anne Kelly, Director of BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) coalition. 

Together, the Declaration signatories provide approximately 475,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected several Climate Declaration signatories and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change.  Signatories of the Climate Declaration are among the country’s best-known consumer brands, including Starbucks, Levis EMC Corporation, IKEA, Jones Lang LaSalle, L’Oréal, the North Face, the Portland Trail Blazers, Timberland and Unilever, among others.

“From droughts that affect cotton crops to Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage to our operations, climate affects all aspects of our business,” said Eileen Fisher, CEO of New York-based apparel firm Eileen Fisher, which suffered severe damage and business interruption during the 2012 storm. “As a socially and environmentally responsible company, we are trying to affect positive change, but business can’t do it alone. We need the support of strong climate legislation.”

The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions – strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations.

“Businesses understand that planning for a successful future takes investment today. One of the most important things Congress can do to grow our economy and protect our planet is to pass smart climate change legislation this year. Our workforce, supply chain and consumers are counting on us to lead the way,” said Anna Walker, Director, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss & Co.

BICEP members have supported several climate-driven policies, including historic automotive fuel economy standards signed into law in 2012 and the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind power. Innovation within the transportation, electric power sectors and IT sectors, among others, will be essential to meeting the climate challenge.

image_preview

“eBay Inc. is committed to driving a future for commerce that embraces clean energy innovation and is ultimately more sustainable,” said Lori Duvall, Global Director, Green at eBay Inc. “Our efforts extend across our data, employee and distribution center portfolios, our shipping and logistics infrastructure, as well as the actions of buyers, sellers, and merchants on our platforms. We see our participation in this coalition as a key element in bringing to life our vision for enabling greener forms of commerce over the long term.”

The Climate Declaration comes on the heels of the President’s renewed commitment to combat the threat of climate change and a recent study from Ceres, Calvert Investments and WWF indicating that a strong majority of Fortune 100 companies have set renewable energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals. Recent polls conducted by Gallup and Yale University, respectively, indicate that a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening and that corporations, as well as government officials, should be doing more to address the issue.





Cone: Green Gap Shows Actions Don’t Align With Intent

6 04 2013

Green-Question-300x300In the release of its latest 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. However, Americans continue to struggle with their role in the life-cycle of products with an environmental benefit.

90% said they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent:

• Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit

• 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit

• 45% of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.

Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.

• 71% of Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use or dispose (66%) of a product.

• 41% said they perform additional research to determine how best to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.

Responsible Brands Communicate and Facilitate Change

In a statement,  Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice president of Sustainable Business Practices said “Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferred products, but they need companies’ help.  This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle.  The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal.  They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on companies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.”

Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.

Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.

• 71% of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:

• 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages

• 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest

• 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading

Abridged from a report on the research in a statement from Cone Communications.  Read the full press release here.

Click to access 2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf





PwC: Businesses need to be prepared for unpredictability – whether that’s policy, climate or consumer change.

13 03 2013

Melting-ice-polar-bear

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional services firm, points to a catastrophic future unless radical action is taken now to combat climate change.

“The new normal for businesses is a period of high uncertainty, subdued growth and volatile commodity prices. If regulatory certainty doesn’t come soon, businesses’ ability to plan and act – particularly around energy, supply chain and risk – could be anything but ‘normal’.” said Malcom Preston, PwC’s global lead, sustainability and climate change. 

PwC says any investors in long-term assets or infrastructure — particularly in coastal or low-lying regions — need to consider more pessimistic scenarios. Sectors dependent on food, water, energy or ecosystem services need to scrutinise the resilience and viability of their supply chains. More carbon-intensive sectors need to anticipate more invasive regulation and the possibility of stranded assets.

The trigger for its dire warning comes from the failure of the global community to reduce carbon emissions by anywhere near the amount needed to restrict temperature rises.

“Business leaders have been asking for clarity in political ambition on climate change,” says partner Leo Johnson. “Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2C, but 4C or even 6C.”

PwC’s latest report shows the required improvement in global carbon intensity to meet a 2C warming target has risen to 5.1% every year from now to 2050. The improvement in 2011 was just 0.7% despite the global economic slowdown, and since the turn of the century the rate of decarbonisation has averaged 0.8%.

“It’s the boy scout motto – be prepared,” says Jonathan Grant, PwC’s director for sustainability and climate change. “Businesses need to be prepared for unpredictability – whether that’s policy, climate or consumer change. Extreme weather events have become more common, and unpredictability looks set to increase. Businesses that have failed to prepare will find it difficult to keep their operations running smoothly as the risk of disruption increases.

PwC, the largest of the big four accounting firms, points out that even if the 5.1% improvement might be achievable in the longer term, it is unrealistic to expect that decarbonisation could be stepped up immediately – which means that the reduction required in future years is likely to be far greater.

“We have passed a critical threshold – not once since the second world war has the world achieved that rate of decarbonisation, but the task now confronting us is to achieve it for 39 consecutive years,” says the report.

It adds: “Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees [C] of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees [C] will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation.

“Governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2C now appear highly unrealistic. This new reality means that we must contemplate a much more challenging future. Whilst the negotiators continue to focus on 2C, a growing number of scientists and other expert organisations are now projecting much more pessimistic scenarios for global temperatures. The International Energy Agency, for example, now considers 4C and 6C scenarios as well as 2C in their latest analysis.”

Grant add: “Tools like real options analysis, developed as part of the investment decision-making process in the oil industry for example, analyse the impact of significant uncertainty on a decision.

“Working with our clients, the reality is we will have to advise on a much wider range of climate scenarios. Resilience is the watch word. Businesses need to get engaged on the areas materially relevant to their business. For example if you’re a consumer goods company you need to consider the longer-term security of supply of the resources you need, where you will source them from, and the more day-to-day issues of how you deal with the potential for disruption to their supply or delivery caused by extreme weather events.”

PwC’s report says there will need to be radical transformations in the ways the global economy currently functions, a rapid uptake of renewable energy, sharp falls in fossil fuel use or massive deployment of carbon capture and storage, removal of industrial emissions and halting deforestation.

It also warns against seeing the dash for gas as a long-term panacea. While the boom of shale gas in the United States may buy some time to help limit emissions growth, low prices may also reduce the incentive for investment in lower-carbon nuclear power and renewable energy.

This post is adapted from an original article in The Guardian.  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/pwc-climate-change-reduction-business-investments





GlobalScan: Environmental Concerns At 20 Year Lows

12 03 2013

Cloud formation in the shape of a map of the world, over a green field

Environmental concerns among citizens around the world have been falling since 2009 and have now reached twenty-year lows, according to a multi-country GlobeScan poll.  Asked how serious they consider each of six environmental problems to be — air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change — fewer people now consider them “very serious” than at any time since tracking began twenty years ago.

globescan-enviro-concerns

A total of 22,812 people from 22 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone as part of the GlobeScan Radar annual tracking poll during the second half of 2012. Twelve of the represented countries have been regularly polled on environmental issues since 1992.

“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever—but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out,” says GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller. “Those who care about mobilizing public opinion on the environment need to find new messages in order to reinvigorate a stalled debate.”

Climate change is the only exception, where concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. Concern about air and water pollution, as well as biodiversity, is significantly below where it was even in the 1990s. Many of the sharpest falls have taken place in the past two years.

The perceived seriousness of climate change has fallen particularly sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Climate concern dropped first in industrialized countries, but this year’s figures show that concern has now fallen in major developing economies such as Brazil and China as well.

Despite the steep fall in environmental concern over the past three years, majorities still consider most of these environmental problems to be “very serious.” Water pollution is viewed as the most serious environmental problem among those tested, rated by 58 percent as very serious. Climate change is rated second least serious out of the six, with one in two (49%) viewing it as “very serious.”





Aspirational Consumers: Balancing Style and Sustainability

5 02 2013

consumer_shopping

A new study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility finds that a majority of consumers across six international markets are seeking to reconcile their desire for shopping and style with responsibility to the environment and society through their purchases. According to the report, Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, nearly two-thirds of consumers globally equate shopping with happiness (63%) while also feeling a sense of responsibility for society (65%). The study draws from an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

In exploring the intersection of consumer values, motivations and behaviors, the study identifies four consumer segments on the sustainability spectrum: highly committed Advocates (14%); style and social status-seeking Aspirationals (37%); price and performance-minded Practicals (34%) and less engaged Indifferents (16%).

Aspirationals represent hundreds of millions of consumers globally, and are the largest consumer segment in Brazil, China and India. More than any other segment, Aspirationals care about style (65%) and social status (52%), and equate shopping with happiness (70%). Yet, they are also among the most likely to believe that we need to “consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (73%), and feel “a sense of responsibility to society” (73%).

Aspirationals are looking for brands to provide solutions that both improve their lives and serve society as a whole,” said Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs at L’Oréal USA, a sponsor of the study. “Understanding this dynamic tension provides the greatest opportunity for companies to create positive impact through consumers’ purchasing decisions and social actions.”

Aspirationals represent the persuadable mainstream on the path to more sustainable behavior. They love to shop, are influenced by brands, yet aspire to be sustainable in their purchases and actions,” said Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of brand and innovation consultancy BBMG. “This consumer segment represents a significant opportunity for forward-looking brands to unite consumerism with social and environmental values.”

“The ideals, influence and size of the Aspirationals segment — particularly in developing markets — is what makes them so compelling for sustainable brands,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at think tank and strategic advisory firm SustainAbility. “But simply helping people to consume more products that are incrementally ‘better’ is not necessarily the answer. Leading companies will seek to meet the needs of the Aspirationals beyond just products by delivering value through services, sharing, expertise and purposeful engagement.”

Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, added: “In our fifteen years of market analysis, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Aspirationals will chart the future of sustainable consumption, as long as their favorite brands offer them what they want.”

Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption. The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.





World Resources Institute: Launches Aqueduct Water Risk Mapping Tool

4 02 2013

Aqueduct provides companies with comprehensive, high-resolution picture of water risks worldwide.

8428776625_ca104fb3ee_n

 

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has launched a new online tool that maps water risk worldwide based on the most current, highest resolution data available. Companies, investors, and governments can use the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to see how water stress will affect operations locally and globally, and help prioritize investments that will increase water security.

The online tool was developed by WRI, working with founding members of the Aqueduct Alliance, GE and Goldman Sachs, as well as Skoll Global Threats Fund, Shell, Bloomberg, Talisman Energy, Dow, United Technologies (UTC), DuPont, John Deere, Veolia Water, and the Dutch and Swedish governments.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas is a customizable global map, based on 12 indicators of physical, regulatory, and reputational risk. In a user-friendly way, companies can now evaluate how water stress, flood occurrence, access to water, drought, and other issues may affect operations. Additionally, the global map can be tailored specifically for nine water-intense industry sectors – from oil and gas, to agriculture, to chemicals.

“Recent history is littered with companies that failed to anticipate emerging threats. Water scarcity is one such threat. Thankfully, forward-thinking business leaders are starting to get it. They understand that water risk is one of the top issues that they face,” said Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute. “This new platform will provide companies with comprehensive, high-resolution tools to measure water risk. It gives them an unprecedented ability to understand and better manage these risks.”

Companies have already been using earlier versions of the Aqueduct tool to understand how their operations and supply chains may be exposed to water risk. For example:

  • McDonalds has asked 353 of its global suppliers’ facilities to use Aqueduct to assess their local water risk;
  • Procter & Gamble, Owens-Corning, and AU Optronics have used Aqueduct to understand how local water supply, quality, and other risk factors may affect their global facilities, and to prioritize water efficiency and other investments;
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch used Aqueduct to inform investors about water risks and opportunities in a recently released research report; and
  • Companies used Aqueduct to disclose and report on external water risk in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2012 Global Water Report.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk map provides an innovative tool and important step forward in understanding critical water issues,” said Kyung-Ah Park, Head of the Environmental Markets Group at Goldman Sachs. “Assessing risk is challenging, and even more so with complex issues like water. Aqueduct provides a much more complete picture of the water issues affecting business globally than we’ve had before.”

Through the Atlas, users can plot the locations that matter most to them – from facilities, to suppliers, to potential new markets or proposed power plants – and compare those locations’ potential exposure to water stress and risk. They can also review maps of individual indicators, such as seasonal variability, which may be highly important to their operations.

You can link to the video demo of the Aqueduct Atlas below.

http://aqueduct.wri.org/aqueduct/how-to

“GE knows first-hand that water scarcity is a major challenge in many parts of the world,” said Heiner Markhoff, President and CEO of GE Water. “We’re very pleased that Aqueduct’s new global water risk maps will enhance understanding of these risks in ways that enable society to address them more effectively.”

The release of the global Water Risk Atlas is the culmination of a three-year effort by WRI to create a peer-reviewed and robust methodology for mapping complex water security around the world.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk mapping information is a valuable tool for understanding and addressing the pressing global threat of water security,” said Sylvia Lee, Water Manager, Skoll Global Threats Fund. “We understand that water is not just an environmental issue, but a real and substantial risk to communities, economies, and businesses. The new global water risk maps make it easier than ever to research and understand where in the world these risks are greatest, and where action is most needed.”





World Bank: Bleak Future Without Action

2 02 2013

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 8.50.37 AM

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was interviewed recently in The Washington Post about Climate Change and its impact  on populations of people around the world.

“If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a report in November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.” said Yong Kim.

Especially vulnerable will be the largest population centers around the world who live near the oceans – who are expected to rise with melting polar ice.

He continued, “A world that warm means seas would rise 1.5 to 3 feet, putting at risk hundreds of millions of city dwellers globally. It would mean that storms once dubbed “once in a century” would become common, perhaps occurring every year. And it would mean that much of the United States, from Los Angeles to Kansas to the nation’s capital, would feel like an unbearable oven in the summer.”

Among the long-range scientific forecasts cited in the report, significant climate change is expected in key regions in the world.

• Drier conditions are projected for southern Europe, Africa(except some areas in the northeast), large parts of North America and South America, and southern Australia, among others.

• Wetter conditions are projected in particular for the northern high latitudes—that is, northern North America, northern Europe, and Siberia—and in some monsoon regions. Some regions may experience reduced water stress compared to a case without climate change.

• Sub-seasonal and sub-regional changes to the hydrological cycle are associated with severe risks, such as flooding and drought, which may increase significantly even if annual averages change little.





A4S REPORT: Future Proofed Decision Making

3 01 2013

“There was a time when we could say that there was either a complete lack of knowledge, or at least room for doubt, about the consequences for our planet of our actions.

That time has gone.

We now know all too clearly what we are actually doing and that we need to do something about it urgently. Better accounting must be part of that process.”

Prince Charles, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) commissioned research into which types of information may be most effective in driving the integration of environmental and social factors into Board level decision-making.  The A4S research indicated that:

1. There is a growing recognition of the changing business landscape and a potential need for changes to decision-making processes and strategic objectives to reflect new risks and opportunities.

2. The business case for the inclusion of environmental and social factors at Board level is not yet clear, particularly for many CFOs, due to uncertainty around the relevance of these issues to their organization.

3. Environmental and social information is often assumed to have been formally considered by the CSR / Sustainability team (with sometimes limited impact on the wider business) before decisions reach Board level. Information is typically presented as traditional sustainability data e.g. tonnes of carbon — with little alignment to strategic objectives or financial information.

4. Scepticism over the quality and robustness of many types of environmental and social data is preventing more widespread use.

5. A belief among respondents that expressing many environmental and social factors in financial terms can be counter-productive as data can be viewed as unreliable, spurious or unethical.

6. A perception that action can be left to successors who will understand these issues more fully.

The A4S research highlights that there are a number of barriers to overcome before the majority of organizations truly integrate environmental and social factors into decision making, including:

Demonstrate the business case

There is a need to articulate more clearly the commercial rationale for incorporating social and environmental factors into decision making to help ensure that organizations are aware of the risks to mitigate and the opportunities to grasp over the short, medium and long term.

Speak the right language

Narratives that are aligned with the needs and ‘language’ of business need to be developed. These need to be focussed at a sector and organizational level and grounded in commercial understanding.

Develop more robust information

Organizations should work with existing collaborations to develop commonly agreed methodologies to value environmental and social inputs and impacts in financial terms. These should clearly demonstrate the link to an organization’s strategic objectives and financial performance, either directly or via reputational impact. They should work with others to develop a wider set of tools that enable future risk, opportunity and uncertainty to be incorporated into decision making processes.

Bridge the knowledge gap

The need for skills expansion at Board level and within the finance and accounting community should be recognized and addressed.

Create an enabling environment

Organizations need to be given clear signals to drive more sustainable behaviour, including the need to align national and global frameworks with business incentives and performance measurement systems.

Access the full report below.

Prince Charles Photo Credit:  The Guardian





Climate Counts: 15 Companies “Soaring” With Climate and Energy Strategy

8 12 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 9.32.06 AM

In its 6th annual report, Climate Counts (CC) has released it scorecard of 145 companies’ performance of publicly available information regarding their efforts to reduce green house emissions, support the need for a comprehensive climate policy and report its progress.  15 of those companies have received a score of “soaring” by CC for their leadership and innovation in reducing their impact on the environment.

Unilever leads the pack with an amazing score of 91 (out of 100).  Here are the rest of the “soaring” companies:

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 9.40.02 AM

In the report, Mike Bellamente, Director of the non-profit Climate Counts, said, “Business leaders are making remarkably innovative progress to minimize waste, employ renewable energy, and design products with a lower carbon impact – all while turning a profit and growing their business. As the economy shows limited signs of improvement, top performers on our scorecard are demonstrating that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can be achieved simultaneously. We would call that a win-win if it weren’t for the great distance we still have to go in squaring up human consumption with the true carrying capacity of our planet.”

However, some companies are “stuck” according to the CC report.  Among the least improved companies are some household brand names that people should re-consider their patronage based on their lack of progress in assessing and responding to their impact on the environment.  The fast food sector  is particularly guilty of ignoring its impact on climate change as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all squarely in the bottom six companies that rank as least improved over the six years of the Climate Counts reports.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 9.46.33 AM

Cheers to the “soaring” companies and jeers to those that are “stuck”. according to Climate Counts.

Read the Climate Counts Report here.





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

Two hands hold euro coins where a plant starts to grow

Sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) accounts for 11.23 percent of all assets under professional management in the United States at year end 2011. According to the report, $3.74 trillion out of $33.3 trillion of investment assets is held by individuals, institutions, investment companies or money managers that practice SRI strategies.

This total, an increase of 22 percent since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders.

The new 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, released today by the US SIF Foundation, found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly:

Mutual Funds: $641 billion, a doubling from 2010.

Alternative Investment Funds: $132 billion, a 250 percent increase from the corresponding assets identified at year-end 2009.

The report also found sizable growth in financial institutions that have a mission of serving low and middle-income communities:

Community Development Banks: $30.1 billion, a 74 percent increase since 2010.

Credit Unions: $17.1 billion, a 54 percent increase from 2010.

Importantly, the report found a significant increase of institutional investor assets involved ESG criteria related to environmental issues since the last report published in 2010.  It now represents $636 billion, 43 percent increase from 2010. Climate change is now considered by 23 percent of institutional asset owners incorporating ESG criteria.

In a statement, Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF said, “The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy.  From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the United States. We are pleased that this report details many important and interrelated trends that indicate that sustainable and responsible investing will continue its impressive growth and impact.”

About US SIF:

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. The 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is a publication of the US SIF Foundation, a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.

 





Climate Vulnerable Forum: Climate Change Cost 1.7% of Global GDP in 2010.

2 10 2012

“A HUNDRED YEARS from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change.”

THE ECONOMIST December 2011

In the 2nd edition, The Climate Vulnerability Monitor (A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet) reports on the economic and social impact of climate change.  Among the highlights of this scientific report, 1.7% of global GDP losses are attributed to climate change and the carbon economy in 2010.  The report projects that by 2030, global GDP losses will rise to 3.2% by climate change and carbon emissions.  This includes a projection of a loss of 2% of the United States GDP by 2030.

But as important as the economic impact of climate change is the human toll.  The Climate Vulnerability Monitor reports:  “Continuing today’s patterns of carbon-intensive energy use is estimated, together with climate change, to cause 6 million deaths per year by 2030, close to 700,000 of which would be due to climate change. This implies that a combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade.”

Here is a chart from the report that highlights the vulnerability based on regions in the world  to climate and carbon dependence.

Access an executive summary of the Monitor report here.

 

About CVF:

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) is an international cooperation group for coordination, advocacy and knowledge-building among countries that face significant insecurity due to climate change. The Forum has distinguished itself through a determination to catalyze more effective and broad-based action for tackling the global climate challenge, internationally and nationally. Founded in 2009 by the Maldives, it now includes 20 governments and is a major foreign policy initiative of its current chair, Bangladesh. The Climate Vulnerability Monitor’s second edition was commissioned at the November 2011 Ministerial Meeting of the Forum at Dhaka, Bangladesh.





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





Vestas Survey: 85% of consumers want more renewable energy.

18 09 2012

Vestas has released this year’s Global Consumer Wind Study, surveying 24,000 consumers worldwide about their attitude toward renewable energy.  The study shows that 79% per cent of consumers prefer renewable energy, that 62% are more willing to buy products produced with renewable energy, and not least that consumers indicate a willingness to pay a premium price for such products.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production.
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy.
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy production.
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.

Importantly for brand marketers, the research also studied the impact of renewable energy use on brand perceptions.  28% of people surveyed indicated they would get a “much more positive perception” of the brand if the brand used wind energy as its primary source.

According to the research report, “This year’s Global Consumer Wind Study indicates that brands need their core business to be green in order to reap the full benefits of consumers’ preferences. The research suggests that consumers have raised the threshold for being “green,” and that consumers are more likely to choose brands that integrate sustainability into their core business operations by sourcing renewable energy, and to recommend those brands to other potential purchasers.”

You can read the full summary of the Global Consumer Wind Study here.





World Water Week: The Relationship Between Water and Food.

28 08 2012

If the wars of the 20thcentury were fought over oil,

the wars of this century will be fought over water.

 The World Bank

World Water Week is sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute and is being conducted this week in Stockholm.  World Water Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, climate, economic and poverty reduction agendas.

This year’s program is focused on Water and Food Security.  According to the SIWI, water interventions for food security, at production and household levels, need to focus on improved nutrition, better health, critical bio-diversity and sustainable livelihoods, achieving co-benefits for environmental as well as human health.

Says SIWI, “The food production in the world is more than enough to feed all its inhabitants properly. Yet, a billion are undernourished, around two billion are overeating, and staggering amounts of food are lost or wasted. In addition, food alone will not eradicate hunger as up to 50% of malnutrition is related to unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene.”

Wonderwater:  An initiative to educate and inspire.

One group that is pioneering the campaign to raise awareness about the relationship between water and food production is the U.K. based Wonderwater.They have created public awareness campaigns and interactive learning opportunities to help educate people about the food and water.

How much water do you eat? This is the question posed by Wonderwater to consumers, businesses, politicians and NGOs around the world, as the pressures of population growth, climate change and water scarcity continue to pose serious challenges to our future food security. The group uses creative, thought-provoking design exhibitions and striking café installations to stimulate conversations relating to the water footprint of food, prompting visitors to consider how much of the world’s scarce fresh water (which represents just 3% of Earth’s water) are required to produce the food we consume.

Wonderwater’s latest project is another of its Wonderwater Cafe’s.  In September 2012 Wonderwater Cafe will arrive in London at Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch. Leila McAlister’s responsibly sourced and seasonal menu will be utilized to illustrate how much water it takes to produce our favorite foods, and highlight the importance of considering water consumption when making culinary decisions.

Learn more about Wonderwater Cafe London here

Read more about Wonderwater at 2degrees with blogger Katharine Earley





Project Earth: School kids worldwide unite to solve environmental problems.

21 06 2012

In advance of the Rio+20 summit this week, winners were announced in the Project Earth competition recognizing the best school projects addressing environmental problems from around the world.  More than 2,400 schools and clubs from 117 countries are currently participating in Project Earth, creating real projects to improve our global environment. All winners are featured on the Project Earth (www.projectearth.net) website.  

Congratulations to all the winners and kudos to the kids who are stepping up to protect the planet even while their leaders debate and deny.

Highlights of a press release announcing the winners are featured below.

Whether or not their countries agree to move forward, thousands of schools representing 117 countries are collaborating to solve the world’s biggest environmental problems. As today’s world leaders gather at the RIO+20 Conference to define pathways toward a more resilient and sustainable world, tomorrow’s world leaders were also recognized. The best school projects from around the world were announced at the conference today.

Project Earth is an online forum created to foster environmental and cultural exchange, networking schools and clubs around the world. Recognizing that environmental issues are global, that tomorrow’s leaders must be prepared to work across borders and cultures, and that technology makes connecting on a global scale more accessible than ever, Project Earth is a space where classes and clubs can post environmental projects of all kinds and begin to network with like-minded students around the world.

Partner countries like Chile, Russia, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates have embraced Project Earth on a country-wide scale and global outreach efforts have contributed to Project Earth’s swift growth — from ten participating countries 18 months ago to 117 countries today.

Maurice Strong, the first executive director of the UN Environment Programme and Secretary General of the first Rio Earth Summit, congratulated this year’s Project Earth World Environment Day project winners at the RIO+20 conference. “In embracing Project Earth’s power to foster global collaboration and understanding, these students and educators assume a leadership role in our collective future,” said Strong. “These projects are pioneering examples of the kind of environmental stewardship that can and will make a difference.”

Project Earth was launched in late 2010 by Ecology and Environment, Inc. (E & E). E & E president and CEO Kevin Neumaier is encouraged by the quality of this year’s contest entries. “These are meaningful projects, like keeping grease out of the sewers, reclaiming biodiversity by harnessing community involvement, and creating gardens out of what once went to the landfill,” he said. “The students go energetically and quickly toward solutions and work in creative and innovative ways — their enthusiasm illustrates that collectively we can all have a genuine impact.”





KPMG: Expect the Unexpected. Building business value in a changing world.

21 02 2012

In a massive report, KPMG’s study, Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World, identifies 10 “megaforces” that will significantly affect corporate growth globally over the next two decades. It explores issues such as climate change, energy and fuel volatility, water availability and cost and resource availability, as well as population growth spawning new urban centers. The analysis examines how these global forces may impact business and industry, and calculates the environmental costs to business.

Michael Andrew, Chairman of KPMG International, said: “We are living in a resource-constrained world. The rapid growth of developing markets, climate change, and issues of energy and water security are among the forces that will exert tremendous pressure on both business and society.”

“We know that governments alone cannot address these challenges. Business must take a leadership role in the development of solutions that will help to create a more sustainable future. By leveraging its ability to enhance processes, create efficiencies, manage risk, and drive innovation, business will contribute to society and long-term economic growth.”

The study also highlights that up to one third of the world’s population now live in persistent deprivation.  With 72% of the world’s poor now residing in middle income countries.  The report declares that “persistent inequality is not only wrong, it’s bad for business – it prevents huge swathes of the population from being workers and customers and it increases the risks to business from the type of instability seen in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011.”

Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global Adviser on Climate Change and Sustainability, said global sustainability megaforces will significantly increase the complexity of the business environment. “Without action and strategic planning, risks will multiply and opportunities will be lost. Corporations are recognizing that there is value and opportunity in responsibility beyond the next quarter’s results; that what is good for people and the planet can also be good for the long term bottom line and shareholder value,” De Boer said.

The report was released last week during KPMG’s business leader summit in New York City in cooperation with the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).





Hertz Living Journey: Global Sustainability Initiative

13 02 2012

Hertz — the world’s largest general use car rental brand—introduced “Living Journey” last week… the Company’s corporate sustainability strategy. Living Journey positions Hertz to be the leader in Sustainable Mobility and Equipment Solutions through various strategic initiatives that integrate sustainability best practices throughout the Company including:

  • Smart Mobility—Hertz is committed to providing customers vehicle rental options that are fuel efficient and use clean, low-emissions technology such as Electric Vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.
  • Environment—Hertz’s goal is to minimize its environmental footprint and operating costs through efficiency improvements, resource management and renewable energy production.
  • Community—Hertz is dedicated to creating a positive impact and enhancing the communities it serves by giving back through philanthropic and volunteer efforts.

“We have a long-standing tradition of innovation and leadership that includes managing the environmental performance and social impacts of the Company alongside our fiscal responsibilities,” said Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of Hertz. “In 2011, we made tremendous progress on Hertz’s industry-leading solar generation and Electric Vehicle initiatives in addition to ongoing efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible manner at our corporate offices and rental facilities. As a continuation of our success, we are excited to introduce Living Journey which encompasses all of our efforts as an organization through partnerships, employee education and investments to reduce our impact on the environment, provide customer value, and manage our business sustainably.”

Through Hertz’s sustainability efforts, the Company has:

  • Recycled over 50,000 IT units since 2005 which diverted 2 million tons of e-waste from landfills,
  • Recycled approximately 680,000 gallons of used oil in 2011, and
  • Reduced paper use by 2.8 million pounds since 2006.

In addition, more than 80% of the water used at Hertz car washes is recycled. The Company is currently implementing energy audits and lighting upgrades across many of its facilities. Estimated results from recent lighting upgrades include 1.1 million kilowatt-hours and 776 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved annually (across 20 Hertz locations).

To communicate Living Journey to its stakeholders, Hertz has launched a sustainability website (http://www.hertzlivingjourney.com) which is the first of its kind for the Company. The site highlights Hertz’s achievements and plans in the sustainability arena, which includes energy-efficiency improvements such as lighting and HVAC upgrades, utilizing LEED certification standards for Hertz buildings, solar energy production, global recycling efforts, and delivering fuel-efficient fleet choices to consumers.

Last year, Hertz was recognized by the Global Business Travel Association for Sustainable Practice through Hertz On Demand, Hertz’s hourly car rental program.





UC Davis Study: Carbon Disclosure Boosts Stock Price.

9 02 2012

Companies that disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon reduction strategies see their stock values rise.

“Companies should not be as reluctant as they have been to provide this information because we show that it can be shareholder-positive. Our message is that it pays to be green.” said Graduate School of Management Professor Paul Griffin.  Along with his co-author, Yuan Sun of UC Berkeley, Griffin tracked stock prices of firms around the time these companies voluntarily issued press releases disclosing carbon emission information. In the days after the press releases were issued, the companies saw their stock prices increase, Griffin and Sun found.

“When a company makes a voluntary disclosure of this kind, it signals to the investment community that this is a firm that is environmentally responsible,” Griffin said. “Investors are saying they would prefer to invest in an environmentally responsible firm.”

The study, “Going Green: Market Reaction to CSR Newswire Releases,” uses the archives of CSR Newswire to identify climate change related press releases issued by companies between 2000 and 2010. The researchers tracked the stock changes of the companies from two days before a press release was issued to two days after.

For the 172 companies identified as making voluntary disclosures, average stock prices increased just under a half percent in the five-day span around the disclosures, according to the study.

“This is evidence that managers’ voluntary climate change disclosures generate positive returns for shareholders,” Griffin said.

The study looked at voluntary disclosures only, so the authors could not definitively determine if required disclosures by all such companies would have yielded similarly favorable stock value increases.

However, to test their findings, the researchers compared stock movements of these companies to stock shifts of similar firms that did not disclose carbon emission information during the same time periods. The companies that did not disclose climate change information did not see a statistically significant increase in values, the study found.

“The matched sample companies do not behave the same way as the companies that disclose,” Griffin said. “If anything, in the matched sample, the price runs in the opposite direction.”

While much of the concern about greenhouse gas emissions has focused on energy and utility companies, the study by Griffin and Sun examined carbon emission strategies across a broad range of industries, including information technology, health care, telecommunications, and financial services, as well as energy and utilities.

The researchers analyzed separately the stock changes for smaller firms that disclosed carbon emission information. These firms saw an even greater effect on their stock values, with prices increasing 2.32 percent.

Compared with large firms, small firms are not followed as closely by analysts, and investors know less about them, so it makes sense that the release of climate change information would have a more pronounced effect, according to Griffin and Sun.

In recent years, companies have faced increased pressure from environmental activists and concerned shareholders to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and to develop strategies to reduce them. Many firms have taken up the challenge, examining the environmental impacts of all aspects of their businesses, from supply chains to manufacturing processes to heating and air conditioning in office buildings.

Original post at Sustainable Brands





U.N.: “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.”

1 02 2012

The UN High-Level Panel Global Sustainability released its report in Addis Ababa yesterday entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.” The panel’s 99-page report, which will serve as an input to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June, (otherwise known as the Rio+20 Summit) is a call to action, “to address the sustainable development challenge in a fresh and operational way.”

The executive secretary of the panel, Janos Pasztor said:

We cannot go into sustainable development without making a radical transformation of the economy.”

The long-term vision of the Panel is to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries. In light of this, the report makes a range of recommendations to take forward the Panel’s vision for a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy.

 In their summary report, the panel reminded us of the sober reality of the world today.
  • 27 per cent of the world’s population lives in absolute poverty (down from 46 per cent in 1990)
  • Global economic growth is up 75 per cent since 1992 but inequality is still high
  • An increase of 20 million undernourished people since 2000
  • 5.2 million hectares net forest loss per year
  • Ozone layer will recover to pre-1980 levels in 50 years plus
  • Two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are in decline
  • 85 per cent of all fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, recovering or fully exploited
  • 38 per cent increase in annual global carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2009
  • 20 per cent of the world’s population lack access to electricity
  • 884 million people lack access to clean water
  • 2.6 billion people are without access to basic sanitation
  • 67 million children of primary school age are out of school
  • 3.5-year increase in life expectancy between 1990 and 2010

The report says:

“The signposts are clear: We need to change dramatically, beginning with how we think about our relationship to each other, to future generations, and to the eco-systems that support us. Our mission as a Panel was to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.

With seven billion of us now inhabiting our planet, it is time to reflect on our current path. Today we stand at a crossroads. Continuing on the same path will put people and our planet at greatly heightened risk.”

Article originally posted on Triplepundit.com





PwC: 50% of CEOs prepared to change strategies based on customers’ environmental and corporate responsibility expectations.

27 01 2012

PwC released the results of its 14th annual Global CEO Survey focused on sustainable growth.  The research was conducted with 1,201 business leaders in 69 countries and also included further, in-depth interviews with 31 CEOs to gain a better understanding of those issues.

In this year’s survey, nearly half of CEOs said they would change their companies’ strategies within the next three years because they expect stakeholders to factor companies’ environmental and corporate responsibility practices into purchasing decisions (see figure). Companies are planning to adapt their offerings—or develop entirely new ones—to address society’s changing sentiments. They’re also planning to answer questions about their environmental and corporate responsibility practices—which includes the practices of their suppliers—to stay in their customers’ good graces.

“Most corporations want to do the right thing. They want to be responsive regarding energy use. The people we’re hiring expect us to be. They want to work for a company that has a value system built around sustainability. I don’t think you need government regulation to drive it.”

– Stephen A. Roell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Controls





She’s Alive. Beautiful. Finite. Hurting. Worth Dying For.

22 01 2012

The anthem for 2012.  

This cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (www.sanctuaryasia.com).





Bloomberg: EPA Providing Water to Homes Near Pennsylvania Fracking Site

21 01 2012

By Mark Drajem – Jan 19, 2012 8:48 PM CT
The Environmental Protection Agency will deliver water to four families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, where residents say their water has been contaminated during hydraulic fracturing by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG)

The EPA will also test water at 60 homes to assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances, the agency said in a statement.

“EPA is working diligently to understand the situation in Dimock and address residents’ concerns,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement. “Conducting our own sampling will help us fill information gaps.”

Residents and activists protested outside a venue where EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was speaking in Philadelphia last week, urging her to force Houston-based Cabot to clean up wells they say were contaminated after drilling started nearby. The company is using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that injects water and chemicals to free gas in rock.

Cabot has no data that indicates natural gas operations are the cause of the concerns identified by the EPA, George Stark, a company spokesman, said. He said the agency is conducting an “unwarranted investigation.”

“Cabot looks forward to helping educate the U.S. EPA on the ground water and geological features of Susquehanna County,” where Dimock is located, Stark said in an e-mail.

The agency offered water to the families earlier this month and then reversed the decision the next day. The EPA now has agreed to start water delivery tomorrow, Michael Kulik, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Court Case Pending

Dimock residents say their water went bad more than three years ago. In an agreement with state environmental regulators, Cabot pledged to install methane-removal equipment on wells and set aside $4.1 million to pay residents who say they were harmed. The company didn’t admit fault.

Some residents settled. Others went to court and their lawsuit is pending. EPA officials visited residents at the end of last year, and told some not to drink their well water.

In Pennsylvania, the economic losses from possible environmental damage could be high. Drilling in the state’s portion of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation could generate $20 billion for the state’s economy by 2020, up from $13 billion last year, according to an industry-funded study published by researchers from Pennsylvania State University.

Separately, the U.S. House Oversight Committee led by California Republican Darrell Issa today asked the Energy Department for transcripts of interviews regarding fracking.

In an e-mailed statement, Issa said the committee also asked Jackson to explain documents obtained by the panel that “appear to indicate” that the EPA “is planning for a future where new supplies of natural gas are limited because of the agency’s concern about the environmental impacts” of the process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at +1-

mdrajem@bloomberg.net