Archive for category: Green Business

U.S. Corporations at a Turning Point

Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel, on Centre Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2017 at Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile) Creative Commons License via flickr

Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel, on Centre Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2017 at Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile) Creative Commons License via flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BOSTON, Massachusetts, March 30, 2018 (Maximpact.com  News) – The largest and most influential publicly traded companies in the United States are stepping forward in greater numbers than ever before with ambitious sustainability commitments. These companies are responding to urgent calls to act on threats such as climate change, water pollution and scarcity, and abuses of human rights.

Nearly two-thirds of the more than 600 companies examined in a new analysis by Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit working with influential investors and companies, have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More than half of the companies assessed now have formal policies to manage water resources, and nearly half have policies to protect the rights of their workers.

The multinational investment banking and financial services corporation Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, CVS Health, Gap, Inc., General Mills, Intel, Kellogg Company, NIKE, Inc., and PepsiCo are among the companies meeting many of Ceres’ expectations and taking the path beyond business as usual.

“We have reached a turning point,” said Amy Augustine, senior director of the Ceres Company Network, and co-author of the analysis, which she titled, ‘TURNING POINT: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.'”

“It is no longer just about raising the ceiling. It is about lifting the floor,” said Augustine. “The time has come for bold and scalable solutions, not just from a few leading companies, but from companies in all sectors and of all sizes who need to transition from making commitments to taking concrete actions.”

Using the most available data from research provider Vigeo Eiris, TURNING POINT takes a close look at the progress these companies have made against 20 key expectations of sustainability leadership within the areas of governance, disclosure, stakeholder engagement and environmental and social performance as outlined in The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.

The analysis highlights those companies who are meeting many of the Ceres Roadmap expectations to improve resilience in their operations and global supply chains, and calls on all companies to scale up action on sustainability commitments.

Ceres offers company scorecards that highlight the most successful efforts and also those that need more work and commitment.

“At Citi, we have used the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability expectations as guidance to organize our thoughts around sustainability best practices from the very beginning,” said Val Smith, Citi’s managing director and global head of corporate sustainability.

“We look forward to using TURNING POINT to help us identify areas where we can prioritize action and strive further toward sustainability leadership,” said Smith.

Yet, as the new analysis also shows, many companies are neither acting as quickly nor as boldly as they could to transform into sustainable enterprises and prepare for a future beset with environmental and social challenges.

While 69 percent of the companies assessed call on their suppliers to address environmental and social impacts, only 34 percent actually provide the tools and resources to incentivize action, Ceres’ analysis shows.

Compared with the 64 percent of companies with commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, only 36 percent set time-bound, quantitative targets. Only a quarter of those targets commit to reducing emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020.

The analysis reveals some encouraging trends. For instance, more companies are assigning oversight for sustainability to top-most decision makers. Sixty-five percent of companies hold senior-level executives accountable for sustainability performance, up from 42 percent in 2014, the last time Ceres’ conducted a similar analysis.

More companies are responding to investor calls to prioritize action on material issues. Today, 32 percent of companies conduct materiality assessments, while just seven percent did so in 2014.

More companies commit to water stewardship, but few prioritize areas most at risk. 55 percent of companies assessed commit to manage water use, but just 15 percent set quantitative targets prioritizing action in the parts of value chain that pose the highest risk to water resources.

Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at the food giant General Mills, said, “At General Mills, we know that feeding a growing population depends on a healthy planet, so we’ve taken bold actions to advance sustainability.”

“Transforming our global food system and our business model requires collaboration and transparency across our supply chain, along with strong commitment from our executives and board of directors,” said Lynch.

TURNING POINT includes interactive data tables and company scorecards that help investors and companies identify leading industry practices and key sustainability trends in nearly every sector of the economy including transportation, food and beverage, financial services, oil and gas.

“As the tides turn with more mainstream focus on sustainability, we need concrete and comprehensive information from companies about how they are tackling environmental and social issues,” said Betty Yee, California State Controller and a Ceres board member.

“TURNING POINT is a critical tool for smart business decisions,” said Yee, “providing investors and shareholders with helpful insights to better understand key sustainability trends and leading industry practices.”

This is the third assessment of these companies, which represent more than 80 percent of the U.S. market share. The last Ceres assessment, Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, was released in 2014.

Featured image: Citi Bike is New York City’s bike share system, and, with 12,000 bikes, the largest in the nation. Citibank is the title sponsor and MasterCard as the Preferred Payment Partner. (Photo by Phil Roeder) Creative Commons License via flickr


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Impact Investing Grabs University Attention

Oxford University, England 2014 (Photo by Samuel Musarika) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Oxford University, England 2014 (Photo by Samuel Musarika) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

OXFORD, England, March 6, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Many of the world’s most prestigious universities are pooling their wisdom in a new alliance to “help scale-up the green finance sector.” One of their first considerations is impact investing – measuring the social impact of investments alongside business results.

Eighteen major universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Stanford and Columbia, have jointly formed the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI).

Although the Alliance was founded in 2017, it has waited until now to announce its existence, which it made public this week.

The Alliance will undertake a yearly program of academic collaboration and organize an in-depth annual conference that rotates across North America, Europe, and Asia to attract a wide diversity of views.

Alliance Co-chair Rob Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. (Photo courtesy Maastricht University) Posted for media use

Alliance Co-chair Rob Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. (Photo courtesy Maastricht University) Posted for media use

The Alliance is run by an Organizing Committee consisting of representatives from each member university. The Committee is currently co-chaired by Professor Rob Bauer of Maastricht University and Dr. Ben Caldecott of the University of Oxford.

Caldecott co-steers the new Alliance from his office at Oxford, where he is founding director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme.

“Each of these universities is working on sustainable finance and investment research questions in various ways and this is incredibly exciting,” he told “BusinessGreen,” announcing the new Alliance.

The universities’ common goal is to enable rigorous and impactful academic research on sustainable finance.

“The opportunity is clearly in making all of these individual efforts greater than the sum of their parts,” Caldecott said.

In The Netherlands, Professor Bauer will be at the helm as Maastricht University hosts the Alliance’s inaugural conference in September.

Bauer is Professor of Finance, Institutional Investors chair, at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. His research is focused on pension funds, strategic investment policy, mutual fund performance, responsible investing, shareholder activism and corporate governance.

He is also director of the European Centre for Corporate Engagement at Maastricht University where the conference will be held from September 5-7.

The conference, entitled “Managing and Financing Responsible Businesses,” will host papers on sustainability, finance, accounting, management, strategy and development economics.

The Alliance’s list of suitable topics for papers to be presented at this inaugual conference gives an idea of the direction in which these universities are heading.

It’s in the direction of impact investing – measuring social impact of investments alongside business results, which is one of the topics suggested by the Alliance for papers to be presented at Maastricht.

Other topics are:

  • The business of business: profit, purpose, and alternative organizational forms
  • Making sustainability an integral part of companies: implications for strategy, management, finance and accounting
  • Climate change: implications for businesses and institutional investors
  • The role of corporate governance mechanisms and active ownership in promoting sustainability
  • Behavioral factors affecting individuals and the sustainability of markets
  • Philanthropy and effective altruism
  • Big data, FinTech and financial innovation for sustainability
  • Sustainable Development Goals

At the conference the professors will listen to Raphael Betti, head of Equity Risk Management with the European Investment Fund, who will speak on managing risk, return and impact investing goals.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) manages the Social Impact Accelerator, the first pan-European public-private partnership addressing the growing need for equity finance to support social enterprises.

The Accelerator operates as a fund-of-funds managed by EIF and invests in social impact funds which strategically target social enterprises across Europe.

As for an overarching target for all this research work on sustainable finance – the Alliance says on its new website that the research pooled by member universities will help “align the financial system with global environmental sustainability, a necessary condition for implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Alliance consists of the following research universities (listed in alphabetical order):

University of California, Berkeley

University of Cambridge

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE)

Columbia University

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

University of Hamburg

Imperial College London

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Maastricht University

University of Otago

University of Oxford

Stanford University

Stockholm School of Economics

University of Toronto

Tsinghua University

University College London

Yale University

University of Zurich


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Lively Carbon Markets Promise Cooler Earth

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in Europe is owned by Uniper SE in the Scholven district of the city of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Guy Gorek) Creative Commons license via Flickr

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in Europe is owned by Uniper SE in the Scholven district of the city of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Guy Gorek) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 

 

By Sunny Lewis

BERLIN, Germany, March 1, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Carbon emissions trading is gaining popularity in established markets and also in emerging economies; in fact trading now covers 15 percent of all emissions globally, finds a new report from the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP)  on activity in 2017.

Just one year since the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate, 21 Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) are operating around the world at various levels of government.

The past year has seen major developments, with a new system emerging in China and the linking of Ontario’s system with that of California and Quebec.

“While the challenge of climate change grows with every year, so does the competency and determination of the policy response,” said International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) Co-Chair Marc Allessie, director of the Dutch Emissions Authority, while releasing the report on Tuesday.

“We are confident that ETS is bound to its promise of delivering a cost-effective tool for implementing national pledges under the Paris Agreement,” Allessie said.

How Emissions Trading Systems Work

Carbon emissions trading works on a cap-and-trade market-based system. A cap is set on the total amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) that can be emitted by facilities covered by the system. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions drop.

Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. They can buy limited amounts of international credits from emission-saving projects around the world. The limit on the total number of allowances available ensures that they have a value.

Each year a company must surrender enough allowances to cover all its emissions or pay steep fines. If a company reduces its emissions, it can keep the spare allowances to cover its future needs or sell them to another company that is short of allowances.

Trading brings flexibility that ensures emissions are cut where it costs least to do so. A robust carbon price promotes investment in clean, low-carbon technologies.

Since 2005, the share of global carbon emissions capped by an emissions trading system has tripled from five percent to roughly 15 percent, now covering some seven gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), according to the report.

The Network Expands Its Reach

In November 2017, the EU and Switzerland signed an agreement to link their emissions trading systems, the first agreement of this kind for the EU and the first between two parties to the Paris Agreement.

The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China now has overtaken the European Union as the world’s largest carbon market, covering more than three gigatons of CO2e.

The initial launch of China’s national emissions trading system for the power sector in December 2017 is what the ICAP report calls “a remarkable and rapid first step for an emerging economy that is powered by the world’s largest coal fleet.”

This development sends a strong signal to the international community as Chinese coal consumption has recently been one of the key drivers of global emissions.

In November, at the UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn, the EU and China decided to step up their joint cooperation on carbon markets, ahead of the launch of China’s nationwide emissions trading system.

Hosted by China’s Special Representative on Climate Change Affairs Xie Zhenhua, the high-level event took place at the China Pavilion at COP23.

Speaking after the meeting, European Climate and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete said, “China is ready to launch its nationwide emissions trading system, which is set to cover more than twice as much CO2 as the EU ETS, once it reaches its full scope. This will undoubtedly send a strong signal to the rest of the world in support of carbon markets. The EU is therefore pleased to engage in even closer bilateral cooperation with our Chinese counterparts.”

In September, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement to revise the EU Emissions Trading System for the period after 2020. This revision is expected to help put the EU on track to achieve a significant part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030.

To achieve the 40 percent EU target, the sectors covered by the ETS have to reduce their emissions by 43 percent compared to 2005.

The changes to the EU system will speed up emissions reductions and strengthen the Market Stability Reserve to reduce the current oversupply of allowances on the carbon market.

To this end, the overall number of emission allowances will decline at an annual rate of 2.2 percent from 2021 onwards, compared to the current rate of 1.74 percent.

New Zealand Needs to Plant More Trees

New Zealand is the first, and still the only, country to fully include forest landowners in a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, according to a report released in 2017 by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand’s leading non-profit economic and public policy research institute.

The NZ ETS is a partial-coverage all-free allocation, uncapped, internationally linked emissions trading scheme first legislated in 2008 and amended twice, in 2009 and 2012.

Has it been effective?

On February 28, New Zealand’s first environmental accounts show greenhouse gas emissions rose more slowly than economic growth in the last 25 years, but the planting of forests to absorb carbon dioxide has slowed since 2013.

Latin America Prepares for Carbon Markets

Efforts to price carbon are also progressing in Latin America and in subnational governments in North America.

Mexico, Latin America’s second largest economy, will start piloting a mandatory emissions trading system later this year.

In addition, Chile, Colombia and Mexico are jointly exploring regionally consistent carbon market design elements such as monitoring, reporting and verification.

In North America, Subnational Governments Lead the Way

The largest Canadian province, Ontario, linked its system to the joint carbon market of California and Quebec  beginning this year.

As part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, all Canadian provinces and territories will have a price on carbon by the end of 2018.

“A wide range of actions are taking shape across all levels of government, from the municipal level all the way up to the international level. Sub-national governments in particular have played and will continue to play a vital role,” said Jean-Yves Benoit, ICAP Co-Chair, and Director of the Carbon Market, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Fight Against Climate Change of Quebec.

Established in 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RGGI is a cooperative effort among the nine states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

Interest in several U.S. States, like Virginia and New Jersey, could see an expansion of cap-and-trade despite inaction on the federal level under the Trump administration.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, withdrew from the RGGI in 2012. On January 29, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed an executive order directing New Jersey to re-enter the regional compact.

Governor Murphy said. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.”

By withdrawing from RGGI, New Jersey lost an estimated $279 million in revenue that could have been realized by the state’s participation in RGGI’s carbon emission trading program.

As part of the public comment period on Virginia’s proposed carbon trading rule, the Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings throughout the state during the month of March.

After a tough political battle in the California legislature, the state extended its cap-and-trade program until 2030. This will build confidence in an increasingly stringent long-term carbon price signal in the linked Western Climate Initiative carbon market, which includes the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, and the state of California.

The recent legislative changes and regulatory reforms in California have set the cap to decline by about four percent annually from 2021-2030, yielding a 40 percent reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

These renewed commitments to emissions trading give low carbon investors certainty and have resulted in rising carbon prices, with the EU allowance price passing €10 for the first time since 2011.

The reforms have some common elements: steeper cap trajectories aligning with 2030 climate targets; market stability measures becoming standard practice with continuing design innovation; offset policies with focus on domestic abatement with direct local environmental benefits.

The ICAP report concludes that, “Together, these two trends – the continual spread of ETSs and reforms of major systems – will continue to change the landscape of emissions trading – widening and deepening its role in the low-carbon transformation process worldwide.”

The ICAP Status Report is published annually and features in-depth articles from policymakers and carbon market experts with insights into the latest ideas across the globe. To download the full report, executive summaries in Chinese, English, and Spanish, infographics, and a short video, please visit ICAP Status Report.


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One Planet Summit Inspires Climate Action

By Sunny Lewis

PARIS, France, December 12, 2017 (Maximpact.com  News) – Two years to the day after the historic Paris Agreement on climate, more than 50 heads of state, as well as environment ministers and regional leaders, bank and finance executives and celebrities are meeting today to drive action that will finance global efforts to meet the goals of the agreement.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Today’s invitation-only One Planet Summit, convened by President of France Emmanuel Macron, was attended by British Prime Minister Theresa May, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among many others.

President Juncker said, “The time has now come to raise our game and set all the wheels in motion — regulatory, financial and other — to enable us to meet the ambitious targets we have set ourselves. This is a necessity dictated by our current living conditions as well as those of future generations. This is the time that we must act together for the planet. Tomorrow will be too late.”

The European Commission released its 10 item Action Plan for the Planet, consisting of: putting the financial sector at the Service of the Climate, investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood region, urban investment support, clean energy for islands, support for the transition of coal and carbon intensive regions, youth, smart buildings, clean industrial technology and clean, connected and competitive mobility.

Prime Minister May announced a big increase in UK aid for Caribbean countries devastated by hurricanes as part of a £140 million climate change grant for the world’s least developed countries.

“Tackling climate change and mitigating its effects for the world’s poorest are among the most critical challenges that we face,” said May.

“And by redoubling our efforts to phase out coal, as well as build on our world leading electric car production, we are showing we can cut emissions in a way that supports economic growth,” she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump was not invited to the summit, as he is streamlining fossil fuel exploration and development, even removing U.S. public lands from federal protection so industry can have at them.

Trump has vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, a lengthy process that cannot begin until 2020, after that year’s presidential election. Countries cannot withdraw until three years after the Paris Agreement took effect on November 4, 2016. After that, the rules mandate a one-year notice period. Still, because the accord is non-binding, Trump could choose to just ignore the accord’s terms.

President Macron told NBC News in an interview in June, “I’m pretty sure that my friend President Trump will change his mind in the coming months or years, I do hope. It’s extremely aggressive to decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate because one decided to leave the floor.”

Syria last month ratified the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country to reject the accord.

President Macron unveiled the winners of the first “Make Our Planet Great Again” climate research grants established after Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Paris accord. The French president said that Trump’s decision was a “deep wake-up call for the private sector” to take action.

Thirteen of the 18 multi-year award winners are American scientists; all winners will conduct climate research in France. The three-year to five-year grants are worth up to €1.5 million each. Overall, the program totals about €60 million in direct funding and in-kind support.

Macron told the winners Monday night, “What you are showing here this evening, with your commitment, with the projects that have been chosen … is that we do not want climate change, and we can produce, create jobs, do things differently if we decide to.”

In any case, the One Planet Summit featured dire warnings, rich pledges and actions that two years ago were not even on the horizon.

“Those who fail to bet on a green economy will be living in a grey future,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned today, calling for greater ambition by governments, civil society, the private sector and finance partners to help tackle the global climate challenge.

“Green business is good business,” the UN chief said, speaking at the opening of the One Planet Summit. “Renewables are now cheaper than coal-powered energy in dozens of developed and developing countries.”

Guterres stressed that for climate action, it is not funding but trust that is lacking. To fix it, he said, first and foremost, rich countries must honor their commitment and provide US$100 billion a year through 2020 for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to the already-changing climate.

It also means that the Green Climate Fund must become an effective and flexible instrument, especially for the most vulnerable countries such as small island states and least developed countries.

“These two conditions are essential for trust between developed and developing countries,” said Guterres.

“Everyone is looking for paths to economic growth that are low carbon,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, as he announced that the World Bank <worldbank.org> will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019.

In exceptional circumstances, said Kim, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within a country’s Paris Agreement commitments.

Alex Doukas, director of the Stop Funding Fossils Program at Oil Change International, said, “The World Bank’s monumental announcement that they are moving out of upstream oil and gas finance after 2019 stole the show in Paris. This move from the World Bank demonstrates real climate leadership, and could help signal a broader shift away from the tens of billions of dollars in public finance that G20 governments and multilateral development banks dump into fossil fuels each year.”

“These institutions still provide $72 billion in public finance to fossil fuels annually,” said Doukas, “which is why a shift away from fossil fuel finance is crucial if we hope to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement.”

“Government commitments to scale up climate finance are important, but they’re not enough. Others need to follow the lead of the World Bank and signal that they will stop funding fossils,” said Doukas.

Kim said that the World Bank Group is on track to meet its target of 28 percent of its lending going to climate action by 2020 and to meeting the goals of its Climate Change Action Plan, developed following the Paris Agreement.

For instance, last week, the World Bank and the Government of Egypt signed a US$1.15 billion development policy loan aimed at reducing fossil fuel subsidies and creating the environment for low-carbon energy development.

The World Bank Group will accelerate energy efficiency in India; scale up solar energy in Ethiopia, Pakistan and Senegal; establish a West Africa Coastal Areas investment platform to build resilience for coastlines there; and introduce the City Resilience Platform with the Global Covenant of Mayors so that up to 500 cities will have access to finance for climate change resilience.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank Group has pledged invest up to US$325 million in the Green Cornerstone Bond Fund, a partnership with the European asset management company, Amundi, to create the largest-ever green bond fund exclusively dedicated to emerging markets.

“This is a $2 billion initiative aiming to deepen local capital markets, and expand and unlock private funding for climate-related projects. The fund is already subscribed at over $1 billion,” the IFC announced.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said his bank intends to invest up to US$100 million in “Amundi Planet – Emerging Green One.”

The EBRD joined other global development organizations in stepping up the momentum for global climate action.

Chakrabarti told summit participants that the bank expects to meet its ambitious climate finance goals set at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement three years ahead of time. The EBRD is already dedicating close to 40 percent of its annual investments to climate finance, a target it had initially set for 2020.

In Paris, Chakrabarti unveiled plans to step up EBRD support for the promotion of green cities, launching the Green Cities Climate Finance Accelerator with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), an international alliance of 7,498 cities and local governments moving towards a low-emission and climate-resilient society.

Under the new partnership, the EBRD and the GCoM are seeking to drive climate action in up to 60 cities, including many that to date have not been a focus for climate support.

At the One Planet Summit, from left, President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. December 12, 2017 (Photo courtesy Office of President Peña Nieto) Posted for media use

At the One Planet Summit, from left, President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. December 12, 2017 (Photo courtesy Office of President Peña Nieto) Posted for media use

The World Bank, too, is partnering with the Global Covenant of Mayors and will lend US$4.5 billion to ensure 150 cities have the funds to implement initiatives to increase sustainability and resilience and fight climate change.

Marking the two-year anniversary of COP21 where the Paris Agreement was signed, the Global Covenant of Mayors joined with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, ICLEI, and various regional covenant partners, to announce the One Planet Charter – a new commitment campaign that will help cities swiftly implement actions to ensure Paris Agreement goals are met.

Through the One Planet Charter, cities will commit to specific climate action that drives investments, green public procurement, and policy decisions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and efforts for zero emission buildings and zero waste.

Cities will bring detailed descriptions of their commitments to the 2018 Global Action Summit in California.

Chakrabarti said, “We are delighted by our new financing initiative and partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors

for Climate and Energy. … As cities around the world drive climate leadership, we are pleased that this investment will ultimately support the quality of life at the local level and contribute to addressing the global climate challenge.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, board member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, who also chairs C40 Cities: “C40’s Deadline 2020 research revealed precisely what needs to be delivered by the cities of more than 100,000 citizens around the world, to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement. The decisions being made by mayors right now on investments for sustainable and resilient infrastructure will determine the future of generations to come. The One Planet Charter will make it easier to build the argument for bold climate action and investment in these crucial months and years ahead.”

In a separate initiative, nine of Europe’s largest industrial issuers of green bonds – EDF, Enel, ENGIE, Iberdrola, Icade, Paprec, SNCF Réseau, SSE and TenneT – announced their joint pledge to further develop “one of the most dynamic segments of sustainable finance today, the green bond market.”

Their pledge came on Monday, Paris 2017 Climate Finance Day, the day before the One Planet Summit.

Ten years after the first green bond was issued, this market has turned into “an exciting place,” said the nine companies, who say they are committed to tackling climate change, to a growing awareness to environmental protection, low carbon

transport and buildings, as well as energy efficiency.

Said José Sainz Armada, chief financial officer of the Spanish public multinational electric utility Iberdrola, “Ever since incorporating Sustainable Development Goals to the company’s strategy, Iberdrola has become the largest European issuer of green bonds, the perfect source of long-term finance for projects making an environmental difference. Through independent certification, private investors guided by ethical principles ensure their funds are managed with a sustainable perspective and the strictest social criteria.”

To date, all nine companies have issued a total of €26 billion in green bonds, which accounts for over 10 percent of all the world’s outstanding green bonds.

The nine signatories of Monday’s pledge commit to a long-term presence in the market. They say that green bonds will be at the heart of their project financing and business lines, and that they will implement stringent reporting procedures. The pledge also calls upon other industrial corporations to consider issuing green bonds.

Also announced at the One Planet Summit is Climate Action 100+, a new initiative backed by 225 investors, including nearly 70 North American investors, with $26.3 trillion in assets under management.

Climate Action 100+ is a five-year global effort led by investors to scale up engagement with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to improve governance on climate change, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures.

“Moving 100 of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to align their business plans with the goals of the Paris Agreement will have considerable ripple effects,” said Anne Simpson, member of the Climate Action 100+ Steering Committee and investment director of sustainability at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension fund.

“Our collaborative engagements with the largest emitters will spur actions across all sectors as companies work to avoid being vulnerable to climate risk and left behind,” said Simpson.

As part of today’s launch, investors released the list of the first 100 companies that they plan to engage as part of the initiative. The list includes companies in the oil and gas, electric power and transportation sectors that have been identified as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.

But all these actions and promises did not go far enough for the conservationists in the Climate Action Network, a global group of over 1,200 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

Pointing out that 2017 is likely to be among the five-warmest years since the Industrial Revolution, and that the planet has suffered massive hurricanes in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, devastating floods in south Asia, and out of control wildfires in California, the Climate Action Network is pressing for even more urgent action.

Brett Fleishman, 350.org senior finance campaigner, said, “President Macron and other world leaders, are meeting right now to supposedly discuss shifting capital to climate solutions. But we are here to ring the alarm by bringing attention to the unabated support of the fossil fuel industry. We have research that clearly demonstrates that the French government, through its many agencies, is still invested in the energies sources of the past. This acts as a drag on the climate finance summit. This charade of caring about the planet can’t go on. Every euro and dollar spent on adaptation and mitigation is undercut by even more money spent on the fossil fuel industry.”

“Whatever the outcomes from this summit,” said Fleishman, “the global climate movement will keep on pushing through 2018 to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for all.”

MOre than 1,000 delegates participated the summit, which will continue Wednesday with various side events.

The One Planet Summit is organized jointly by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, in partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the We Mean Business Coalition, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, the European Commission, the C40 Cities Network, the OECD and Bloomberg Philanthropies.


Featured Image: President of France Emmanual Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the One Planet Summit, Paris, France, December 12, 2017 (Photo courtesy #10 Downing Street) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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Latin America’s Top 100 Sustainable Companies

BrazilLightForAll

Indexed as one of the Top 100 companies in Latin America, the Spanish utility Iberdrola has brought sustainable electricity to this Brazilian family many thousands of others through its Luz para Todos (Light for All) program, a joint initiative with the Brazilian government. (Photo courtesy Iberdrola) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

November 24, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – A new corporate sustainability index that assesses companies operating in Latin America and the Caribbean based on their corporate governance and environmental and social performance has just released its first listing of the Top 100 companies in the region.

IndexAmericas  is the first index of its kind established by a multilateral development bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the first to evaluate socio-economic development as a key component of sustainability.

To be updated twice a year, the index lists the 100 most sustainable global companies operating in the region as well as the top 30 multilatinas.

But the new listing must be taken with a grain of salt, as not everyone would agree with all the selections.

It includes some companies, such as the Dutch multi-national Unilever, that are recognized the world over for their sustainability efforts.

For instance, Unilever has committed to achieving zero net deforestation associated with four commodities – palm oil, soy, paper and board, and beef – no later than 2020.

Hannah Hislop of Unilever’s Global Sustainability Office, writes in a post on the company website, “Our particular focus is on palm oil where, as the world’s largest single buyer, we have the scale and influence to make a difference.”

The production of palm oil in Latin America is growing fast. Colombia, Latin America’s largest palm oil producer, has plans to increase production six-fold by 2020. Palm oil production in Ecuador has grown seven percent per year over the past decade. Peru quadrupled production between 2000 and 2013. And Guatemala, the largest palm oil exporter in Latin America, has increased the amount of land available for oil palm cultivation by 10 percent annually for the last few years, reported Aditi Sen of Oxfam in October 2016.

Unilever’s approach has three elements: transforming its supply chain, so what the company buys is “fully traceable and certified sustainable;” encouraging the whole industry, from growers and traders, to manufacturers and retailers, “to set and meet high standards;” and working with governments and other partners “to embed no-deforestation pledges into national and international policies.”

But IndexAmericas also includes in its 100 most sustainable list, companies such as the Chevron Corporation, that have come under strong criticism and legal action by local residents and environmentalists for their practices.

Residents of Eccuador’s Lago Agrio region have sought to force Chevron to pay for soil and water contamination caused from 1964 to 1992 by Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001. Chevron has said a 1998 agreement between Texaco and Ecuador absolved it of further liability.

The class action case was originally filed in 1993 on behalf of an estimated 30,000 rainforest villagers in federal court in New York, but in 2001 a U.S. federal judge moved it to Ecuador’s courts at Chevron’s request after the company accepted jurisdiction there.

On February 14, 2011, following an eight-year environmental trial that generated a 220,000-page record, a local court in Ecuador ordered Chevron Corporation to pay US$18.1 billion to the affected communities.

The court designated the funds to be placed in a trust account to compensate the affected communities for environmental harm resulting from the abandonment of hundreds of unlined waste pits and the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste into waterways relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water.

The verdict, believed to be the largest environmental judgment ever from a trial court, was unanimously affirmed by an intermediate appellate court in 2012 and by Ecuador’s Supreme Court in 2013, but the latter court later reduced the award to $9.5 billion.

Chevron has refused to pay the award and vowed to fight the claimants “until hell freezes over.” Chevron claims it had been victimized by fraud in Ecuador, including the bribery of the trial judge. Ecuador’s appellate courts rejected Chevron’s fraud allegations.

The lengthy legal battle was documented in “Crude,” a 2009 documentary film.

Companies must be publicly listed to be assessed by IndexAmericas, and they must be active in the Inter-American Development Bank 26 borrowing member countries.

IndexAmericas rates firms’ environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, performance and “commitment to development.”

The ESG criteria is a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen investments. The standards apply to: how a company performs as a steward of the natural environment; how a company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers and the communities where it operates; and a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits and internal controls, and shareholder rights.

IndexAmericas defines “commitment to development” in the region as “advancing sustainable growth and reducing poverty and inequality,” according to a new institutional strategy affirmed by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2010 and updated in 2015.

IndexAmericas also applies a proprietary IDB methodology to analyze the development commitment of all assessed companies.

The IDB looks at how corporations handle three development challenges: social exclusion and inequality, low productivity and innovation and lack of regional economic integration.

The bank says it strives to address three cross-cutting issues that apply to all these challenges: gender equality and diversity, climate change and environmental sustainability, and institutional capacity and the rule of law.

IndexAmericas was created by the IDB and IDB Invest, the newly rebranded private-sector arm of the IDB Group, in partnership with S-Network Global Indexes and Florida International University (FIU).

“We wholly support IndexAmericas because it aligns with the College of Business’ mission and vision,” said José Aldrich, acting dean of the FIU College of Business.

The FIU College of Business will do research and education around the index. College of Business faculty, and its Capital Markets Lab, will offer regional workshops and forums designed to help companies improve their corporate sustainability performance based on the index.

“At the IDB, our close partnerships with the private sector have allowed us to witness firsthand the evolution of corporate sustainability both in the region and around the world,” commented Bernardo Guillamon, manager of the IDB Office of Outreach and Partnerships.

“IndexAmericas is a testament to the growing importance of sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean, and both celebrates corporate champions and encourages more companies to do the right thing,” said Guillamon.

The methodology, developed by IDB/IIC, is based on 172 ESG indicators including 15 specific to the Latin America and Caribbean region.

The ESG data is powered by Thomson Reuters Global ESG Research. S-Network provided methodology verification and the ranking calculation and IndexAmericas will be recalculated and reconstituted semi-annually by S-Network with oversight by the IndexAmericas Committee.

Gregg Sgambati, head of ESG Solutions at S-Network Global Indexes, explains in an interview with “AlphaQ” that the IndexAmericas is not a financial index, published on an exchange, but step towards creating such an index.

“All involved feel it’s an obvious next step,” Sgambati said. “The driver comes from the IDB and their desire to encourage a greater amount of sustainable behavior for companies in the Latin American region, reflecting an approach towards shared value, which does good for the company but also has an impact for the region.”

The new index is based on financial information, but it reflects a ranking related to the region rather than a general world ranking.

“The index does not have any financial stock price information so it wouldn’t be used by investors at this point,” Sgambati says. “However, when you have a company that has achieved the status and recognition of a ranking, which we believe this is, then it does have some value that investors might consider.”

The aim is to encourage companies to take steps towards greater sustainability and shared value in the region.

IndexAmericas relies on more than 400 data points to evaluate the practices, standards, policies, and activities of companies with a presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, assessing them along environmental, social, and corporate governance lines.

The practice of socially responsible investing is booming as investors look for more than financial returns. According to the US SIF Foundation , as of year-end 2015, more than $1 out of every $5 under professional management in the United States – at least US$8.72 trillion – was invested according to socially responsible strategies.

“IndexAmericas recognizes the leading companies in Latin America and the Caribbean for their efforts in the field of sustainability,” the IDB said in a statement. “It is the first initiative of its kind led by the largest multilateral agency for economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean.”


2-DAY GRANT

Featured Images: Puerto Madero is a revamped dockside area in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sleek skyscrapers house multinational corporations and high-value apartments. Trails loop around several lakes at the wildlife-rich Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. February 2011 (Photo by Alex Proimos) Creative Commons license via Flickr

China Seizes Global Green Finance Leadership

ChinaFloatingSolar

In May 2017, Sungrow Power Supply China switched on the world’s largest floating solar energy plant. The solar panels float on water that flooded a defunct coal mine near the city of Huainan in China’s eastern Anhui province. China has pledged to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy by the year 2020. (Photo courtesy Sungrow Power Supply) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

SINGAPORE, November 17, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Trillions of dollars will need to be deployed each year to finance climate action and sustainability, and China is leading the way toward raising these funds, finds new research released Thursday. “China has become a new growth driver in the global green bonds market,” states the report by the United Nations‘ environment agency and the Beijing-based International Institute of Green Finance.

The report, “Establishing China’s Green Financial System: Progress Report,” reviews China’s development in green finance, and makes recommendations for future development.

The researchers found that China has established itself as a “global leader on green finance,” both domestically and internationally, but the country still faces serious challenges to mobilize its full potential.

The country’s leaders have acknowledged that the rapid growth of their economy, second-largest in the world after the United States, has brought expensive health and environmental problems to China – outdoor and indoor air pollution, water scarcity and pollution, desertification, soil pollution and biodiversity loss.

Speaking at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, President Xi Jinping said the construction of “ecological civilization” and the maintenance of ecological security are the keys to China achieving stable and sustainable development.

“Green finance is essential to realizing China’s national strategic objectives in green development and ‘ecological civilization,'” said co-author Wang Yao, professor and director-general at the International Institute of Green Finance, a think tank established at China’s Central University of Finance and Economics in September 2016.

“Through approaches in practicing green credit, green bonds, green insurance and industrial funds, as well as implementation at local levels, China’s green finance development has contributed significantly to social and economic structural reforms and gained widespread recognition internationally,” said Wang.

The report finds that China, which put green finance on the G20 agenda during its 2016 presidency, is following through on its political commitment to boost the financing required to do this.

Ratings agency Moody’s predicts that, globally, green bonds could exceed US$200 billion this year, driven by the Paris Agreement and reform in China.

Let’s look at China’s recent activities as a way of gauging the country’s progress.

In the first half of 2017, China issued 36 green bonds worth RMB77.67 billion (US$11.7 billion).

In one year, China’s green bonds grew in number by 278 percent and in value by 28 percent, according to the report.

There are 7,826 green and low-carbon projects, at investment of RMB6.4 trillion (US$0.96 trillion), are listed in the public-private partnerships catalogue, and 121 new green regional development funds were set up in 2016, the report states.

The green and low-carbon projects account for 57.7 percent of all the projects and 39.3 percent of the investments in that catalogue.

In addition, many Chinese provinces and cities have established regional green development funds.

By the end of 2016, 265 green funds were registered with the Asset Management Association of China; of these 215 were green industry funds, and 121 of these were established in 2016.

China has demarcated five distinct green finance pilot zones to explore different development models for the local green financial system against different backgrounds.

The Chinese government and the business community have started to attach great importance to developing a green industry chain for outbound investment.

With the Guidelines on Promoting Green Belt and Road, the APEC Green Supply Chain Network, and the Initiative on Environmental Risk Management for China’s Outbound Investment, China is going global in its green investment practices, according to the report.

The Bank of China plans to issue its third set of green bonds in the offshore markets in the near term. The bank states, “…all the net proceeds of its offshore Green Bonds issuances will be used to fund new and existing green projects with environmental benefits.”

Dr. Ma Jun, who chairs China’s Green Finance Committee and serves as special advisor to UN Environment on sustainable finance, said, “China has made huge strides through government leadership to create a domestic green finance market, and has inspired many other countries in developing a green finance policy roadmap. However, to keep this momentum going, China still needs to overcome some challenges.”

The green finance progress report pinpoints where the work needs to be done for China to establish a fully functioning green financial system.

It recommends that China clearly define the term “green.” This would lower the costs of identifying truly green projects and preventing “greenwashing,” the report states.

In this critical recommendation, the report says authorities should clarify lenders’ responsibilities, litigation eligibility, and liabilities by improving laws and regulations on environmental protection. The authors say this would urge commercial banks to incorporate environmental risk analysis into the loan application process.

The authors recommend that China set up statistical systems for green finance, and construct performance evaluation systems for local green development.

Efforts should be made to improve the green finance database and expand channels for international investors to access information about China’s green finance market to help boost their confidence, the authors recommend.

And finally, they recommend that green indexes aligned with the international market should be developed as benchmarks to attract international investors to invest in green bonds and stocks in China.

The report is coauthored by the International Institute of Green Finance of the Beijing-based Central University of Finance and Economics, and UN Environment’s Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.

The Inquiry was launched by UN Environment in January 2014 to improve the financial system’s effectiveness in mobilizing capital for sustainable development.

In October 2015, the Inquiry published the first edition of “The Financial System We Need,” with the second edition launched in October 2016.

The Inquiry has worked in over 20 countries and produced many briefings and reports on sustainable finance. It serves as secretariat for the G20 Green Finance Study Group, co-chaired by China and the United Kingdom, as well as for the Sustainable Insurance Forum of regulators.

In its 2017 Leaders Declaration, the G20 countries committed themselves to sustainable development, declaring, “A strong economy and a healthy planet are mutually reinforcing. We recognise the opportunities for innovation, sustainable growth, competitiveness, and job creation of increased investment into sustainable energy sources and clean energy technologies and infrastructure. We remain collectively committed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through, among others, increased innovation on sustainable and clean energies and energy efficiency, and work towards low greenhouse-gas emission energy systems.”

The UN Environment Inquiry and its partners this week launched another report on the state of play in green finance and upcoming investment opportunities.

On November 13, at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, they issued “Roadmap for a Sustainable Financial System,” with the World Bank Group. This report is aimed at helping governments and the private sector design a global financial system for the era of sustainable development.

It finds that the transition toward a sustainable financial system is already taking place through the interaction of market-based, national and international initiatives.

“Sustainable growth must be the only growth option for the planet and will require sustainable financial systems that are inclusive, deep, and sound,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank vice president for Global Themes.

This report makes three key points:

  • Policy and regulatory measures targeting sustainability have grown 20 percent year on year since 2010
  • Climate action has opened up initial investment opportunity of US$22.6 trillion from 2016 to 2030
  • The next 24 months are crucial to build on existing initiatives and finance sustainable development

“The financial system has enormous transformative power, and has the potential to serve as an engine for the global economy’s transition to sustainable development,” said UN Environment head Erik Solheim. “The roadmap tells us who needs to do what, and when, for this to happen. Here we can see the very real potential to improve the lives of billions of people around the world.”


Featured Image: All three Chinese note-issuing banks are in this shot: Bank of China, HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation), and Standard Chartered Bank, at dusk in Hong Kong, July 27, 2010 (Photo by Brian Sterling) Creative Commons license via Flickr

OECD: Climate Change Action Will Boost Economic Growth

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Construction workers and Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at the official groundbreaking ceremony for a new cyclone resistant market in Rakiraki on Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. May 8, 2017 (Photo by Ariana Yett, UN Women) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

PARIS, France, May 30, 2017 (Maximpact News) – Incorporating climate change preventive actions into regular economic policy will have a positive impact on economic growth over the medium and long term, finds a new report “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth” from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“Far from being a dampener on growth, integrating climate action into growth policies can have a positive economic impact,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, presenting the report to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

“There is no economic excuse for not acting on climate change, and the urgency to act is high,” Gurria said.

Thirty-five ministers from all regions of the world took part in the eighth Petersberg Climate Dialogue on May 22-23 to discuss the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate and prepare for the UN Climate Conference, COP23, set for November in Bonn under the Presidency of Fiji.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama urged quick and concerted climate action, saying, “Only by the entire world coming together as one to address the impacts of climate change can we effectively tackle this crisis.”

“Climate change affects every person on Earth and especially those in vulnerable countries like Fiji,” he said on May 23. “I am convinced that when we act in the interest of the most vulnerable, we are acting in the interests of us all. Because we are all vulnerable and we all need to act.”

German State Secretary for Environment Jochen Flasbarth, and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría jointly present the new OECD study "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth" at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2017. (Photo by Thomas Koehler courtesy BMUB)

German State Secretary for Environment Jochen Flasbarth, and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría jointly present the new OECD study “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth” at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2017. (Photo by Thomas Koehler courtesy BMUB)

The report, “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth” shows that bringing the growth and climate agendas together, rather than treating climate as a separate issue, could add one percent to average economic output in G20 countries by 2021 and lift 2050 output by as much as 2.8 percent.

If the economic benefits of avoiding climate change impacts such as coastal flooding or storm damage are factored in, the net increase to 2050 GDP would be nearly five percent, according to the report, written by OECD experts with input from a distinguished international Advisory Council.                      

Prepared in the context of this year’s German Presidency of the G20, the report says G20 countries, which account for 85 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of CO2 emissions, should adopt a combination of pro-growth and pro-environment policies in developing their overall growth and development strategies.

This means combining climate policies such as carbon pricing with supportive economic policies to drive growth centered on investment in low-emission, climate-resilient infrastructure.

Infrastructure investments made over the next 10-15 years will determine whether the 2015 Paris Agreement’s objective to stabilize the global climate can be achieved.

The report calculates that delaying action until after 2025 would lead to an average output loss for G20 economies of two percent after 10 years as compared with taking action now.

The delay would mean that, eventually, even more stringent climate policies would have to be introduced more urgently, risking greater environmental and economic disruption and leaving more fossil fuel assets as economically unviable, the report warns.

Limiting the global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, in line with the Paris Agreement, will require US$6.9 trillion per year in infrastructure investment between now and 2030.

This amount is roughly 10 percent more than the carbon-intensive alternative, the report calculates.

The report points out that infrastructure is at the heart of economic growth, and yet, in most G20 countries there has been chronic underinvestment in infrastructure.

In addition, climate-friendly infrastructure is energy-efficient and would lead to fossil fuel savings totaling US$1.7 trillion annually, more than offsetting the incremental cost.

Even in countries where the transition to a low-carbon economy will be economically challenging, such as in net fossil-fuel exporters, the report states that “the right combination of policies can mean that low-carbon growth offsets the cost in terms of the economy and jobs of putting in place mitigation policies.”

The report recommends that G20 countries:

  • Ensure the integration of climate objectives in pro-growth reforms to deliver better resource allocation, stronger investment and structural reforms in line with the low-emission transition.
  • Strengthen climate mitigation policies, including carbon pricing, fossil fuel subsidy reform, smart regulations and the use of public procurement to help drive low-carbon innovation
  • Scale up efforts to mobilize private investment in low-emission and climate resilient infrastructure through further efforts to green the finance system.
  • Engage local governments, employers and workforce in the transition of exposed activities and communities, to deliver a just transition for workers.

“Finally,” the report states, “international co-operation remains fundamental to managing climate risks. Countries’ current contributions to emissions reduction beyond 2020 are not consistent with the Paris temperature goal, and need to be scaled up rapidly.”

“Support for action in developing countries will be important, not just for mitigation but also to improve the resilience and adaptive capacity of countries facing the greatest climate challenges.”

“Climate impacts will grow, even if we achieve the Paris temperature goal,” the report warns. “We need flexible and forward-looking decision-making to increase resilience in the face of these risks.”

“Managing the interdependences between climate, food security and biodiversity goals will be critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and long-term robust growth.”


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Fortune 500 Firms Embrace Clean Energy

AlamosaSolar

With over 500 dual-axis, pedestal mounted tracker assemblies, each producing 60 kW, the Alamosa Solar Generating Project is the largest high-concentrating solar photovoltaic power generation system in the world, 2014, Alamosa, Colorado (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL) Public domain

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, May 2, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – A growing number of Fortune 500 companies are taking ambitious steps to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, buy more renewable energy and shrink their energy bills through energy efficiency, finds a new report from World Wildlife Fund, Ceres , Calvert Research and Management  and CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Findings from the new report, “Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change,” are based on 2016 company disclosures to CDP, which holds the world’s largest collection of self-reported corporate environmental data, and other public sources.

“CDP and the investors we work with, representing over US$100 trillion in assets, engage thousands of the world’s largest companies to measure and manage climate-related risks” said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America.

“Voluntary corporate disclosure highlights the compelling business case for corporate clean energy procurement and clearly demonstrates the transition underway in the energy markets,” said Pierce. “Companies in turn have benefited, identifying billions of dollars in savings and new opportunities through their disclosures to CDP.”

The numbers tell the story.

Sixty-three percent of the largest companies, the Fortune 100, have set at least one clean energy target.

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies, 48 percent, have set at least one climate or clean energy target, up five percent from an earlier 2014 report.

A greenhouse gas reduction goal is the most common target, set by 211 companies.

Roughly 80,000 emission-reducing projects by the 190 Fortune 500 companies reporting data showed nearly $3.7 billion in savings in 2016 alone.

Many large companies are setting 100 percent renewable energy goals and science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets that align with the global goal of limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

More than 20 Fortune 500 companies such as industry giants Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Google and Facebook, have committed to powering all corporate operations with 100 percent renewable energy, compared to only a few mega-companies just a few years ago.

Google announced in December that renewable energy will power 100 percent of its global operations in 2017, a year ahead of schedule. Nearly all of this renewable energy will come from wind power.

“American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it’s smart business and it’s what their customers want,” said Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund’s senior director of climate and renewable energy. “Clean energy is fueling economic opportunity from coast to coast without regard for party line. Washington policies may slow this boom, but these companies are making it very clear that a transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable.”

American corporate giants are taking these steps despite the climate denial policies of President Donald Trump and his cabinet. Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, for which President Barack Obama was a leading voice. Adopted by consensus of 195 world governments in December 2015, the pact has been ratified by 144 countries and took effect on November 4, 2016.

Trump has appointed climate change deniers Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy. Pruitt last week ordered removal of all Obama-era climate change data from the EPA website, calling it “outdated.”

On March 28, Trump signed an executive order to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have moved the nation away from burning coal and toward cleaner energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

More than 200,000 people marched in the streets of Washington, DC on Saturday in protest of these moves and tens of thousands more took part in climate marches across the country.

But the large corporations are not embracing renewables and energy efficiency in response to Trump policies or to public condemnation of them. Instead, they are doing so to benefit their bottom lines.

The report highlights the financial benefits companies are receiving from their clean energy investments. The emission reductions from these efforts are equivalent to taking 45 coal-fired power plants offline every year.

The growth in the number and ambition of renewable energy commitments is mainly the result of recent sharp declines in renewable energy costs, which saves companies money, and of price certainty that comes with renewable energy, the report finds.

Praxair, IBM and Microsoft are among the companies saving tens of millions of dollars annually through their energy efficiency efforts.

“We are encouraged to see significant improvement in both the number of Fortune 500 companies setting climate and clean energy goals and the ambition of those goals – in particular commitments to setting science-based and 100 percent renewable energy targets,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP network at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts.

“But in order to meet our national and global emissions goals, more companies will need to join the champions highlighted in this report, both in setting goals and in becoming vocal advocates for continued federal and state policies in support of climate and clean energy progress,” said Kelly.

Ten percent (53) of companies have set renewable energy targets, and almost half of those (23) have committed to power 100 percent of their operations with renewable energy – among those, Wal-Mart, General Motors, Bank of America, Google, Apple and Facebook.

“Corporate commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy is an accelerating trend that illustrates broader recognition within the business community of the importance of clean energy and the financial benefits it can yield,” said Stu Dalheim, vice president of corporate shareholder engagement for Calvert.

“Many of the largest companies in the U.S. are achieving significant cost savings through clean energy programs and mitigating longer-term risks associated with energy price volatility,” he said.

Some of the strongest efforts are among Fortune 100 companies, with 63 percent adopting or retaining goals.

The report also shows strong improvement among the smallest 100 companies in the Fortune 500, with 44 percent setting goals in one or more categories, up 19 percentage points from the same group’s 2014 report, “Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies Are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value.

The report shows a spread in target setting among different sectors, with Consumer Staples (72%), Materials (66%), and Utilities (65%) sectors leading in setting clean energy goals and the Energy sector (11%), including oil & gas companies, lagging.

The report includes three key recommendations for companies, policymakers and investors to continue to scale clean energy efforts.

  •  Companies should continue to set, implement and communicate clean energy targets, while supporting local, state and national policies that make it easier to achieve their climate and energy commitments.
  •  Federal and state policymakers should establish clear, long-term low-carbon polices that will help companies meet their clean energy targets while helping the United States meet its carbon-reducing commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Investors should consider allocating their investments to companies well-positioned for the low-carbon economy. Investors should continue to file shareholder resolutions and engage in dialogues with companies to encourage them to set climate and energy efficiency targets and position themselves for a low-carbon future.

Featured image : Wind turbines at the National Renewable Energy Lab facility in Golden, Colorado. (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain

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Hopscotching Through Davos 2017

WECDavos

Snow on the peaks above Davos, Switzerland where just two weeks ago there was little snow. (Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico courtesy World Economic Forum) Posted for media use on Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 17, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab welcomed participants to the 47th Annual Meeting today with the thought that despite the “disruptive economic and political models,” now underway, the meeting is a way to construct a positive vision for the future.

Sometimes it seems that the world is overwhelmed by pessimism and cynicism,” said Schwab. “But we have to look in a confident way into the future.

Co-chair Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, called for optimism “amid a daunting wave of technological change,” offering hope that technology can help resolve the toughest problems.

Convening under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership, more than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries are taking part in over 400 sessions.

The meeting is focusing on critical leadership challenges for 2017 – strengthening global collaboration, revitalizing economic growth, reforming capitalism, preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and restoring a sense of shared identity.

Responsive means that we listen to and interact with those who have entrusted us with leadership,” Schwab said, emphasizing  values and ethics. “It is always important to prioritize the public social good over our own interests. We must emphasize humanization over robotization.

Networked sensors, machine to machine communications, and data analytics are just a few of the trends driving a global transformation of today’s cities into the smart cities of the future, Johnson Controls chairman and CEO Alex Molinaroli informed the participants today in Davos.

Around the world, governments are investing in innovative technologies and private-sector solutions to make their cities safer, smarter and more sustainable, he blogged at the annual event.

Yet, Molinaroli calls networked sensors a “foundational component of smart cities,” explaining that the technology exists today to “mimic all five of the human senses plus many additional ones” and use that data in computerized monitoring and management systems.

Whether “seeing” security incidents through video surveillance, “hearing” gun shots through audio processing or “smelling” polluted air through chemical and particulate detectors, networked arrays of sensors provide the basis for more accurate analysis and decision-making,” Molinaroli explained.

He points to one growing concern for highly interconnected systems, such as the electric power grid – the risk of cybersecurity breaches.

While individuals have always been at financial and privacy risk from their use of the Internet, interconnected devices and systems communicating and operating autonomously over networks raise significant safety and security concerns,” said Molinaroli. “The cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and the IoT [Internet of Things] is currently being addressed by a number of government bodies and business alliances.

Improving efficiency and resilience are two of the most important drivers of smart city investment, he said.

In 2016, Johnson Controls completed its 10th Energy Efficiency Indicator survey of more than 1,200 organizations with commercial, institutional and industrial facilities in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the United States. Of those polled, 72 percent said they were planning to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in 2017.

From cities to forests, this year’s World Economic Forum covers a lot of ground.

Florian Reber, manager, Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a global public-private partnership to reduce the deforestation associated with harvesting palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp, told the Forum that, “Globally, the link between climate change, forests, land use and economic development is one of the most urgent challenges to solve if we are to avoid costly and irreversible impacts of climate change.

Climate change has already come to Davos, Reber points out. Switzerland is experiencing record low snow levels after the driest December since recordkeeping began in 1864.

The now snowy streets and frosty temperatures in Davos certainly meet the weather expectations of those participants who have travelled to the Forum’s Annual Meeting,” Reber said. “Yet, had they come to the highest town of the Alps just two weeks earlier, they would have experienced a very different backdrop: no snow at all up until high altitudes with only thin slopes made with artificially produced snow.

In a normal year, the natural seasonal hazard would be avalanches,” he said. “This year, not far away from Davos in the southern parts of Graubünden, some of the biggest forest fires in the recent history of Switzerland happened between Christmas and early January. The now missing forest will increase the exposure of villages to future avalanche and rock-fall risk.”

President Xi Jinping spoke at the opening plenary this morning, offering Chinese remedies for the world’s economic ailments. It is the first time a top Chinese leader has attended the event.

The Chinese economy is experiencing “unprecedented and profound changes,” Xi said. He spoke of “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared” development that offers solutions for China’s current economic problems and indicates a direction for its long-term development.

Xi said that efforts to promote deeper overall reforms, the simplifying of administrative procedures and the delegating of central government power to lower levels of government, along with innovation-driven development, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption, will carry the world’s most populous country into the future.

Big business rules, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

Fewer than 10 percent of the world’s public companies account for 80 percent of all profits. Firms with more than US$1 billion in annual revenue account for nearly 60 percent of total global revenues and 65 percent of market capitalization. “The quest for size is producing a global bull market in mergers and acquisitions,” the McKinsey data shows.

One session coming up later today aims to explore what operating at this gigantic scale means for competition, collaboration and innovation.

Sir Martin Sorrell, who heads Great Britain’s WPP plc, the world’s largest advertising company by revenues, tweeted today, “Brexit and [U.S. President-elect Donald] Trump’s victory have generated a populist trend where big business is in the front line.

But Sorrell also gave an encouraging nod to small business, saying, “Leveraging the benefits of scale and size are crucial, but small businesses create jobs.

Ruth Porat, CFO of Google parent company Alphabet, believes that progress results when people take risks and push the frontiers. “Success is just as much about what you do, as what you stop doing,” she declared. “Competition is fierce, and you need to remain focused on that.

Brian Moynihan, CEO of the Bank of America, says inclusiveness and sustainability are important as the global economy grows.

We have to grow, no excuse, but you have to do it the right way,” Moynihan said. “The growth that has to take place has to focus on all participants, it has to include everybody, it has to deal with the ups and downs of market-based forces.”

Growth has to avoid excessive risk and be environmentally sustainable, he said, as well as being “sustainable in building safety nets around the world to make sure all citizens are dealt with fairly.

The World Economic Forum continues through January 20 at Davos.


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Achieving My Max Impact

Achieving_My_Max_ImpactCan I maximize my impact? That’s a fair question many of us raise. I am convinced that your investments, your ideas and your work have a potential you haven’t tapped into yet.

The more we understand what and how we are able to contribute, the bigger our impact will be. Often our pursuit to contribute gets jeopardized by what we don’t understand about the baggage we still carry with us from the time when our thoughts and deeds were primarily focussed on doing business the old fashioned way: meeting business targets and our own personal needs and wants, first and foremost. And let’s be honest, we all had this time in our lives when the ecosystem, people and planet came secondary, if not last.

I suggest you grab a cup of coffee (or tea, if you prefer so), sit down and take an introspective moment for the benefit of our planet and your impact on it. Please ask yourself, what stands in your way to offer more of the best you can give to make this world a better place? Is there a fear that there would not be enough for you and your loved ones if you give more, compromise more, sacrifice more? Is there a fear that the people you love and want to be appreciated and respected by turn away from you because they don’t understand? Fears are illusions created by an overactive left hand side of our brain. They are not a sign of reality. Your brain tricks you and makes you think they are. That’s what brain research tells us. So what about having a coffee break now? The community of the human family needs you, me and many more to achieve our max impact. It might start with this coffee…

Yours,

Martina Violetta Jung

A Hero's Journey to Healthy LeadershipMartina Violetta Jung is a German writer, business woman, leadership coach and speaker. She focuses on the concepts “Leadership Beyond Intellect” and a more Holistically and conscious way of doing business.   Martina Violetta Jung’s most recent book ‘A Hero’s Journey To Healthy Leadership‘ available on Amazon. 

Genuine Sustainability Attracts Savvy Investors

RockTennWaste

RockTenn, based in Norcross, Georgia, one of North America’s leading manufacturers of corrugated and consumer packaging, has been focused on reducing the amount of solid waste it sends to landfills. By engaging employees from every department, such as finishing inspector Byron Manning, at one of the company’s packaging factories, RockTenn recycles much of its process waste. (Photo courtesy RockTenn)

By Sunny Lewis

BOSTON, Massachusetts, May 26, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Attracting “sustainability-savvy investors” entails much more than conserving a little energy or doing a little recycling.

“Investors want to be sure that a company’s sustainability efforts are focused on the material issues that affect its ability to thrive and survive,” advises Boston Consulting Group’s latest sustainability report , authored in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management Review and published earlier this month.

These investors want to know “the business specifics of how sustainability is creating value for the companies they invest in. A host of factors drives that value, ranging from reduced costs of capital to greater innovation.

Based on a survey of more than 3,000 executives and managers from more than 100 countries, the report is titled, “Investing for a Sustainable Future: Investors Care More About Sustainability Than Many Executives Believe.”

Today’s investors have access to richer data and more sophisticated analytics than the investors of the past and their opinions are better grounded in accurate information. As a result, 75 percent of investors now think that increased operational efficiency often accompanies sustainability progress.

The research showed that although 90 percent of executives see sustainability as important, only 60 percent of companies have a sustainability strategy in place, and just 25 percent have developed a clear sustainability business case as a compelling story to woo investors.

The report advises, “Executives who want investor support need to develop and tell their sustainability value-creation story. That value, according to our survey, stems from three interrelated components: a sustainability strategy, a clear business case, and business model changes that realize the benefits.”

The report uses General Electric as an example. In 2004, the company embraced sustainability as a growth driver by establishing Ecomagination brands, focused on environmental safety.

During the recent global economic crisis, these brands were GE’s only source of growth. They grew by 12 percent while other revenues shrank by 2 percent. In 2010, Ecomagination products drove $85 billion in revenue. By 2014, the number had jumped to $200 billion.

Managing sustainability well can attract investors, the authors conclude, using Mitsubishi Corporation as a case in point.

In 2015, Mitsubishi announced that it was making a $1.1 billion investment in Olam International, an agricultural trading company based in Singapore.

Many believed that the purchase was driven by Mitsubishi’s desire to capitalize on growing incomes and consumption in emerging markets. But Mitsubishi was  drawn to the company’s sustainability footprint and its expertise in working with small farmers and producers in remote areas of Asia and Africa.

And on the bottom line – a profit. Olam’s sustainability footprint drove a 29 percent premium over the company’s 2014 average share price.

Earning a reputation as a sustainable business isn’t enough any more either – the reputation doesn’t seem to be as important to investors as how a company uses sustainable practices to create value.

Dow Jones has offered a sustainability index since 1999, and the “Financial Times” has produced its FTSE4 Good Index since 2001, but these mainstay indices appear to be losing their luster for investors; corporate executives seem to care more about these lists than investors do.

Look at the responses from managers in publicly traded companies – 32 percent say their company is listed on a sustainability index, but 36 percent didn’t know if their company was listed or not.

Investors care even less. Only 36 percent of investor respondents said that a company’s inclusion in a major index is an important factor in investment decisions.

“One reason is that data in many sustainability indices is self-reported and usually vetted for completeness, not accuracy,” the report states.

Corporate leaders may believe their place on these lists or indices has brand reputation value that attracts consumers even if potential investors don’t care about them.

But they may begrudge the corporate time and resources spent filling out sustainability questionnaires, especially if they don’t believe investors impute value to these rankings.

Fifty thousand companies are annually subject to environmental, social and governance (ESG) evaluations by 150 ratings systems on approximately 10,000 performance metrics.

The diversity of organizations and systems, ratings, and metrics has led many corporate sustainability managers to the verge of “survey fatigue.”

Yet sustainability is increasingly important for investors, as evidence mounts that a company’s ESG performance has an impact on long-term financial success.

BCG’s 7th sustainability report with MIT Sloan Management Review found that 75 percent of senior executives in investment firms see a company’s sustainability performance as “materially important to their investment decisions.”

Nearly half would not invest in a company with a poor sustainability track record, yet, only 60 percent of managers in publicly traded companies believe that good sustainability practices influence investment decisions.

ABBRadiationInspection

Inspector John Nicholson with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Robert Clark, a radiation control physicist with the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection, at a remediated brook on the ABB, Inc. property in Windsor, Connecticut, take measurements and collect soil samples to verify that the site is clear of radioactive contamination, Sept. 12, 2011 (Photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission) Public domain


Featured Image: Zond wind turbines rise up amidst a young corn crop at the Buffalo Ridge wind farm in southwest Minnesota. (Photo by Warren Gretz / National Renewable Energy Lab) Public domain

Germany Joins Asian Bank for Climate Action

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By Sunny Lewis                                                                         Follow us at: @Maximpactdotcom

FRANKFURT, Germany, May 3, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – The Government of Germany and the Asian Development Bank Monday announced their intention to launch an Asia Climate Finance Facility (ACliFF) in 2017. The announcement came on the first day of the ADB’s 49th Annual Meeting, the first ever held in Germany, the bank’s biggest European shareholder.

The facility will leverage public and private sector investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation in support of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, reached last December and now signed by more than 175 countries.

The facility will help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific region through new and innovative co-financing measures, including guarantees and climate risk insurance, which support country-led implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for investment in resilience.

In their “Frankfurt Declaration,” the bank and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development agreed to join forces for progress on climate action and technical and vocational education and training for the economic empowerment of women.

Officials said this effort is in the spirit of the women’s economic empowerment initiative launched by Germany during the German G7 presidency last year. Based in Manila, ADB is one of the largest multilateral donors for vocational training in developing Asia. Among the activities planned for the coming year is a joint regional vocational training conference.

As part of the annual meeting, the bank and CNBC presented best transaction awards for 2015 to two companies – Credo LLC, a microfinance organization based in the Republic of Georgia received the award for Best Financial Sector Transaction, and Mountain Hazelnuts, an agribusiness based in Bhutan, was recognized for the Best Corporate Finance Transaction.

The two were honored with the inaugural ADB Private Sector-CNBC Awards for their “impactful private sector solutions to key development challenges.”

“These awards demonstrate the critical role of the private sector in spurring economic transformation, job creation, and innovation across Asia,” said PSOD Deputy Director General Mike Barrow.

“The private sector is a core provider of solutions to the most urgent development challenges facing Asia and the Pacific,” said Barrow. “Today’s award winners are exemplars of how the private sector can be at the forefront of inclusive growth.”

Chair of the Board of Governors Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Frankfurt Mayor Peter Feldmann, and Goethe University's Prof. Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz plant a tree on the campus of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, April 30, 2016. (Photo courtesy ADB)

Chair of the Board of Governors Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Frankfurt Mayor Peter Feldmann, and Goethe University’s Prof. Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz plant a tree on the campus of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, April 30, 2016. (Photo courtesy ADB)

Majority owned by Access Microfinance Holding, Credo works to expand banking services for small businesses and farming households and improve delivery of financial services to underserved regions. ADB signed an agreement with Credo for a four-year $23 million loan in 2015 and a technical assistance grant of $300,000 to support its efforts in developing full retail services and expanding its operational systems as it transitions to becoming a bank.

Mountain Hazelnuts is developing an inclusive and environmentally sustainable hazelnut value chain in Bhutan. With assistance from ADB, Mountain Hazelnuts is training thousands of farmers, including women, to use farm practices that will help minimize crop losses from climate change. ADB approved $3 million in equity in 2015 and is also providing $1.5 million in technical assistance for the company.

The winners were chosen by an independent panel of five judges selected from ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department and Office of the General Counsel, as well as Credit Suisse and Commerzbank. Only transactions signed in 2015 were eligible. The judges assessed the transactions on: innovation, impact, scalability, and value addition from ADB and the financial institution or company.

The Asian Development Bank is leaving a gift for Germany – the first “Green Reading Room” at a German university.

The 67 delegates of the ADB member states jointly planted the trees for the Green Reading Room on the premises of the Goethe University of Frankfurt on April 30. The trees will eventually form a green construction that can be used as a reading room by roughly 50 students.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao said, “Sustainability is critical for all economies in Asia and in the rest of the world. The Green Reading Room will serve as a reminder of the importance of environmental sustainability for this and future generations.”

“The Green Reading Room sends out a clear message to young people, as it encourages them to help limit global warming through their own behavior,” said Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and German Governor of the ADB.

“The Paris climate summit made very clear what many of us knew already: much more needs to be done to bind CO2,” said Fuchtel. “With the Green Reading Room, we are planting ideas for the future, quite literally.”

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development plans to use the Green Reading Room as a regular venue for presentations to young scientists about latest developments in the areas of climate change and energy use.

Said Lord Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Peter Feldmann, “For this symbolic act there is no better place than Frankfurt. Because in this green city, dynamics and sustainability as well as the belief in progress and prosperity go in line with taking care of our environment.”


 

Featured image: From left: Chair of the Board of Governors Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Frankfurt Mayor Peter Feldmann, and Goethe University’s Prof. Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz plant a tree on the campus of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, April 30, 2016. (Photo courtesy ADB)

Entrepreneurs’ dreams of saving the planet being crushed by economic reality

Entrepreneurs _dreams of saving the planet being crushed by economic realityBy Guest Contributor Martin Boonham, Warwick Business School

(Opinion on Maximpact.com News) Environmental entrepreneurs are being forced to forgo some of their green ideals despite the historic Paris COP21 summit agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, new research has found.

The 1,000 largest companies alone are responsible for one-fifth of total global greenhouse gas emissions according to the United Nations Environment Programme, while a study by Duke University says the US needs to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 to reach the goal it agreed at Paris in December.

But attempts by start-ups to set up environmentally-friendly businesses are being stymied by money-backers, suppliers and customers.

The study found some environmental entrepreneurs become disillusioned after having to compromise so much to attract investors and clients.

Deniz Ucbasaran, of Warwick Business School, said: “Entrepreneurs passionate about green issues might need to be prepared for some soul searching as ‘enacting a brave new world’ through launching a new venture is unlikely to be without concession to others’ values.

“Attempts to ‘stand out’ by the entrepreneurs portraying their values and beliefs on the environmental benefits of the business are, in most part, counterproductive for gaining legitimacy from investors, suppliers and even customers or clients.

“Their ambitions to ‘break free’ and enact their ‘hopes and dreams to make a difference’ often need to be tempered by the realities of attracting investors and other stakeholders whose primary goal is making money and not environmental issues.

“This led to some entrepreneurs to question if it was all worth it as they had to compromise the scope of their ‘green’ ambitions.”

Professor Ucbasaran and Dr Isobel O’Neil, of Nottingham University Business School, examined six new ventures over four years to understand how they gain support and investment for their paper Balancing “What Matters To Me” With “What Matters To Them”: Exploring The Legitimation Process Of Environmental Entrepreneurs published in the Journal of Business Venturing.

They conducted 18 interviews with the principle entrepreneur as well as 24 interviews with individuals involved in the ventures including investors, customers, employees and suppliers and analysed company documents.

Professor Ucbasaran said: “First, the environmental entrepreneur’s own values and beliefs anchor initial decisions about how to gain support from investors, suppliers and customers: the ‘what matters to me’ stage.

“But they are then toned down as their attention shifts to gain support from investors and other stakeholders: the ‘what matters to them’ stage. Eventually, the entrepreneurs arrive at an approach that tries to balance ‘what matters to them and me’.

“Lastly, the lack of harmony, caused by this balance often leads to some feelings of demotivation, stress and even led some of the entrepreneurs to question their entrepreneurial ambitions.”

The research found the entrepreneurs were initially surprised by resistance to their vision of ‘making a difference’ and building an environmentally-friendly business, but the need to ensure the continued survival of their ventures forced them to adapt.

“They realised a compromise was needed to gain legitimacy in order to engage investors and stakeholders, attract resources, and in turn, improve the prospects of survival and longer-term success,” said Professor Ucbasaran.

“This saw the entrepreneurs shape their offering into one that was likely to be more widely accepted.”

But such a shift in perspective often conflicted with the entrepreneurs’ original ideals and led to feelings of inauthenticity and mental stress.

Coping strategies were developed to help, but Professor Ucbasaran said: “If left unresolved, these emotions might interfere with the entrepreneur’s well-being and the effective running of the business.

“We found being a successful environmental entrepreneur involves balancing both the external demands of investors, suppliers and customers while also remaining true to one’s own values and beliefs.

“However, we must offer a note of caution to entrepreneurs seeking to embed their values and beliefs into their businesses; balancing ‘what matters to me’ with ‘what matters to them’ is likely to demand less discussion of environmental or social change goals than perhaps hoped for.”


 

Deniz Ucbasaran joined Warwick Business School as Professor of Entrepreneurship in November 2010. She is also a member of the Enterprise Research Centre which was established in 2013 and seeks to act as the authority on entrepreneurship to guide policy makers.
Deniz’s research explores entrepreneurial activity (i.e., the identification and exploitation of opportunities for new value creation) at the level of the individual, the team and the firm.
Deniz has co-authored numerous books and has published widely in a range of academic and practitioner journals including Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, and Journal of Management Studiess.

 

Always On: Living with the Internet of Things

InternetOfThingsTumituBy Sunny Lewis

CYBERSPACE, March 10, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Billions of physical objects – devices, vehicles, buildings – embedded with electronics, software and sensors and connected to the Internet, are continuously and automatically collecting and exchanging information about human activities right now. It’s the emerging Internet of Things (IoT).

Companies have a big appetite for this form of data that needs no human intervention to gather, yet can produce enormous business value, so analysts see nearly unlimited opportunities as the Internet of Things grows. Yet there are risks, as hackers, too, see opportunities.

“Corporate IoT use is surging. It is projected that more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet within five years,” writes Evan Sinar, PhD, who serves as director for the Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research and chief scientist at Development Dimensions International (DDI), a multi-national corporation based in Pennsylvania.

Anyone with a Fitbit on their wrist or a Nest Thermostat in their home is using an IoT device, explains Dr. Sinar, who says that “outside the home, many systems track and communicate about our daily activities without our knowledge.”

IoT devices range from front door locks, garage door openers, thermostats, webcams, baby monitors and coffee makers to security systems, medical devices such as heart monitors, smart TVs and refrigerators, lighting controls, office equipment and vehicle fuel monitoring systems.

Connecting a car can be accomplished easily using the OBD-II port to install a small device that will bring in WiFi and connected apps. Every car made in the United States since 1996 has been required to have an OBD-II port, usually located under the dash near the steering wheel.

A new device can be plugged into this port to connect a car to the Internet. This enables drivers to monitor their cars’ locations anywhere, anytime, and download trip history, maintenance alerts, engine diagnostics and driving insights to a smartphone.

A burgeoning network of business connections supporting the Internet of Things is emerging.

For instance, in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area networks, announced a collaboration with information technology giant Cisco to accelerate digital transformation and the development of new business models based on the Internet of Things.

Actility’s ThingPark provides long-range network connectivity for low-power sensors used in multiple applications such as smart cities, facility management and asset tracking.

The Cisco IoT gateways and Cisco Field Network Director tools provide the vital link between the low power, long range radio connections to sensors and devices, and the global Internet or private customer network.

Actility and Cisco are both members of the LoRa Alliance, a non-profit organization that aims to drive the global success of the LoRa protocol (LoRaWAN) by sharing knowledge and experience for interoperability among operators in one open global standard.

The Massachusetts-based global provider of market intelligence International Data Corporation (IDC) has been doing research on the rapid growth of the Internet of Things and what it will take to succeed in this new field.

David Tapper, vice president of outsourcing, managed and offshore services at IDC, said last August, “According to a recent IDC survey, while U.S. consumers are showing interest in procuring managed IoT and home automation services in areas such as energy management, security, appliances and housewares, and home environmental monitoring, there are a broad range of requirements and needs that providers of these services need to meet in order to penetrate this emerging market.”

Success for those seeking to compete in the managed IoT and home automation services market requires that many factors be brought to bear.

Tapper listed the requirements as: “justifying investing in managed home automation services, understanding the housing market and household needs and requirements for home automation services; viewing consumers from a market basket of IoT needs; identifying first adopters of managed home automation services; leveraging the success of the outsourcing-managed services business model; developing a marketing strategy that addresses key elements such as price, product, promotion, place, and packaging; and establishing a clear position within the ecosystem of vendors, while creating a new ecosystem of partners.”

Not only will the IoT change how we run our in-home electronics, it will transform health care services, says Nino Giguashvili, a senior research analyst with IDC Health Insights.

She believes that IoT-driven digital transformation will contribute to major improvements in the performance of healthcare systems across Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMA).

“The Internet of health is gaining momentum fast in the CEMA region, and the innovation-accelerating impact of IoT on CEMA healthcare markets will be massive,” writes Giguashvili in a March 2015 IDC report.

Giguashvili concludes that the Internet of Things will act as an accelerator of digital transformation in CEMA healthcare in eight ways.

  1. Medical care will be more accessible
  2. Hospitals will become safer and smarter
  3. Plenty of health-relevant data will become available, but gaps in analytics and security will widen
  4. Patients will become true partners with their caregivers and care managers
  5. Diagnostics will become more preventative
  6. Treatments will become more personalized
  7. Medical care will follow the patients
  8. Patients will be happier and so will their families and friends
BabyMonitor

Baby monitors like this one are part of the Internet of Things, convenient but hackable. (Photo by NYC Media Lab) creative commons license via Flickr

But despite the many benefits flowing from the Internet of Things, there are also risks and dangers.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns of potential security risks of using interconnected devices such as smart light bulbs, smart fridges, wearables, home security systems, network connected printers, connected cars and fuel monitoring systems.

The FBI warns that cybercriminals can take advantage of system and human vulnerabilities by exploiting the IoT’s deficient security capabilities and patching difficulties.

The FBI said that the lack of consumer awareness can open windows of opportunities for attackers to not only execute online attacks, but threaten the physical safety of consumers as well.

“Since the conception of IoT, we’ve seen several incidents that involved attacks on smart home systems and devices, and the prevalent smartification process could only mean new security challenges,” warned the FBI in a statement. “With the new developments in public-facing technologies, risks and actual attacks aren’t limited to IoT devices, and are becoming widespread among public utilities as well.”

Car hacking through new built-in automotive smart systems has become a reality.

German security specialist Dieter Spaar points to vulnerabilities in the BMW ConnectedDrive technology that could allow attackers to gain control of vehicles and enable them to remotely access function apps.

And last July, automotive security researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller demonstrated how a Jeep Cherokee’s brakes and other systems can be remotely controlled by anyone with an Internet connection. Working with “Wired” writer Andy Greenberg, they showed how a hacker could take control of Greenberg’s vehicle by sending data to its interconnected entertainment system and navigation system via a mobile phone network.

In response, Chrysler announced the recall of 1.4 million vehicles that may be affected by the security issue, and Uber hired Valasek and Miller.

More recently, computer security researcher Troy Hunt was doing a February workshop in Norway when he learned that Nissan’s electric Leaf app could be used to remotely hack any of the Leaf’s systems. A workshop attendee who owns a Leaf discovered was that not only could he connect to his Leaf over the Internet and control features independently of the way Nissan had designed the app, he could control other people’s Leafs as well.

The FBI warns that once cyber criminals find a way into your home or business through cyberspace, “they can move laterally and compromise your network devices, including routers, laptops, phones, tablets, and hard drives to steal your personally identifiable information, identify bank account logins and credit card numbers, send malicious and spam e-mails, abscond with proprietary business information, interfere with business transactions, engage in digital eavesdropping, etc.”

Consumers can minimize these risks. The FBI advises:

  • Understand your IoT devices. Many come with default passwords or open WiFi connections, so change to a strong password and only allow the device to operate on a network with a secured WiFi router.
  • Protect your Wi-Fi networks. Set up firewalls and use strong, complex passwords, and consider using media access control address filtering to limit the devices able to access your network.
  • Many routers give you the option to set up more than one network. If yours does, separate your computing devices from your IoT devices and spread them throughout several different networks. That way, if cyber criminals break into one network, the damage they do will only be limited to the devices on that one network.
  • Disable the Universal Plug and Play protocol (UPnP) on your router. UPnP can be exploited to access many IoT devices.
  • Purchase IoT devices from manufacturers with a track record of providing secure devices, and set your devices for automatic updates when available.

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main image: Representation of the Internet of Things as the Greek legend Medusa, with each of her hairs representing a link to other connected objects. (Image by Tumitu Design) creative commons license via Flickr

World Will Run On 5G Broadband by 2020

MWCCameraLine

By Sunny Lewis

BARCELONA, Spain, February 29, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Union and Brazil have signed an agreement to develop 5G Broadband, the fifth generation of wireless network technology that will speed the uptake of smart transportation, sustainable urban environments, home automation, emergency response, intelligent shopping and e-books, among other applications.

European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger and Brazilian Minister of Communications André Figueiredo Tuesday signed a joint declaration at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Open February 22-25, the Mobile World Congress hosted more than 100,000 visitors for the first time in the event’s nearly 30-year history, with attendees from 204 countries and more than 2,200 exhibitors, organizers report.

Commissioner Oettinger says the Commission already is planning to deploy 5G technology in the EU by 2020. “International agreements are complementary to our efforts to deploy the technology in the EU and the work we are starting today to prepare a 5G action plan for the EU.”

“With today’s agreement we have notably committed to cooperating on the take-up of 5G in so-called vertical industries such as transport or energy,” Oettinger said.

This deal follows similar cooperation initiatives between the EU and South Korea, Japan and China that are beginning to shape up into a global network.

Commissioner Oettinger said, “After landmark agreements with China, Japan and South Korea, today’s cooperation initiative with Brazil is a new key step towards 5G. Neither Europe, nor Brazil can afford to lag behind in the digital era.”

5G promises lightning-fast broadband speeds. Users can expect to do whatever they want from anywhere they are without a drop in speed or connection, no matter how many people are connected at the same time.

EU Vice-President Andrus Ansip, the Commissioner responsible for the Digital Single Market, congratulated his colleagues for “pushing for 5G at global level.”

“This is about essential technology to ensure connectivity,” said Ansip. “But it is also about building trust and confidence in online services and creating the right conditions for the technology to be deployed across borders. Spectrum coordination is essential to make 5G happen.”

To open the way for 5G in the EU, the Commission has presented a proposal to coordinate the use of the 700 MHz band for mobile services.

With coordination, mobile operators using the 700 MHz band could offer faster and higher-quality broadband signal to wider areas, including rural and remote regions.

EU officials hope 5G would enable Europe to surge ahead of the currently leading 4G regions such as South Korea or the United States.

But 5G technology is still in its infancy and the standards are still in development. The EU and Brazil have agreed to develop a global definition of 5G and to identifying the services – connected cars, the Internet of Things or very high-definition video streaming – which should be the first delivered by 5G networks.

The two partners will work to define common standards so they can strengthen their position in this zooming industry. They will cooperate to identify the most promising radio frequencies to meet the additional spectrum requirements for 5G.

And the demand for broadband is ever-rising. Server workloads are growing by 10 percent a year, according to the European Commission. Network bandwidth demand is growing by 35 percent. Storage capacity is growing by 50 percent. Power costs are growing by 20 percent.

Globally, nearly one billion websites exist, there are more than 1.2 million iTunes apps and more than 450,000 Android apps, in addition to thousands of existing Internet radio stations and the millions of people who watch videos on their mobile devices.

MWCattendees

A few of the more than 100,000 visitors to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 22 2016 (Photo by Pierre Metivier) under creative commons license via Flickr

In the future, everybody and everything will use 5G. By 2020, there will be 26 billion connected devices and 70 percent of people will own a smartphone, the Commission projects.

The European Union and most developed countries are working to broaden their capacity to handle this enormous demand.

In the United States, April 12-13, the 5G Forum will be held in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, gathering c-level executives from the carrier and Internet of Things (IoT) communities to define and shape 5G.

4G Americas, the industry trade group and voice of 5G and LTE (Long Term Evolution) of wireless broadband speed for the Americas, changed its name to 5G Americas earlier this month.

Tom Keathley, chairman of 5G Americas and senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T commented, “The name change to 5G Americas will not come as a surprise to the industry, since the association has been contributing to the development of 5G for the past two years; however, its timing is significant given the growing effort to standardize our next generation of wireless technology.”

5G Americas will represent the Americas region in planning and participating in the first global 5G Event to be held by leading 5G global organizations in Beijing, China May 31 and June 1.

Now, 5G is not the only name by which the next-generation cellular system is known. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has decided to call it IMT-2020, even though everyone still calls it 5G.

The ITU is also the organization that last year set a timeline that calls for the new IMT standard to be finished in 2020 – hence IMT-2020. Earlier iterations were IMT-2000 (3G) and IMT-Advanced (4G).

Then, from June 28 through 30 in London, the 5G World 2016 conference will bring together 4000+ telecom operators, solution providers and IoT specialists, to help evolve networks achieve the 2020 vision.

In Barcelona, 5G was the highlight of a keynote address by Laura Desmond, chief revenue officer of Publicis Groupe, one of the largest advertising holding companies in the world; and Global CEO, Starcom Mediavest Group.

“Based on a demo I saw, 5G is the Usain Bolt of mobile,” said Desmond referring to the Jamaican sprinter. “The massive increase in network capacity makes downloads instantaneous and high-definition streaming lightning quick. The speed and convenience of 5G dovetails with the ever-increasing appetite for mobile video consumption among consumers.”

Commissioner Oettinger wrote in a blog post, “The aim is to build on EU investments already planned in 5G research and innovation – €700 million by 2020 – so that European companies are ready to start offering 5G products and services in 2020.”


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main image: Caption: A line of digital camera captures a panoramic view of the 2016 Mobile World Congress. Feb. 23, 2016 (Photo by Pierre Metivier) under creative commons license via Flickr

How to Hire the Right Expert

How-to-Hire-the-Right-Expert

The changing global economy has meant the way in which business is conducted must change also. Businesses are relying more on light company structures; opting to work with more freelance experts and small to medium sized consulting firms to get the job done. Outsourcing is a light weight and more flexible alternative that enables companies to operate more efficiently, as they are no longer weighed down by the cost of only relying on their permanent staff that limits their ability to scale quickly when needed.

Outsourcing expertise has many benefits which are not limited to only saving time and money and can improve a company’s long-term business performance. Your expert should be well-versed in that specific skill and better equipped for resolving problems and thus guaranteeing success. This means that specialized support can be brought in to fix a specific problem and enable the company to move forward with limited disruption.

While the marketplace for consultants and freelance experts is now world wide, the sheer volume of choices makes it confusing. Making errors in selecting experts can be time consuming, costing you time and energy. You need to find ways to vet your consultants and experts thoroughly to avoid trial and error and to ensure brand reputation is being maintained.

Step 1: Identifying Your Needs

Prior to seeking out the right expert, it’s important that you take time to identify the exact hiring needs. View this process in the same way you would approach hiring in-house office staff.

Describe the job specifications and make sure to include each area of responsibility you want that person to be accountable for which includes the deliverables and time lines that are equally important factors.

Working with a consultant in the hiring process can better crystallize your needs as consultants bring with them a wealth of experience to help you better understand the options, solutions and your essential needs for the position. During the process of contracting the expert will assist in providing a concrete framework for the requirements that are expected and he can deliver to finalize the scope of work.

Step 2: Where to Find the Right Expert

Defining the type of expert you need should be the easy part. You might find that a financial expert can help you better to navigate and grow your business, or you might need a marketing or technical consultant to assist you in the office. Whether you are seeking someone with specific skills or in a certain geographic location. Here are some options that might be useful:

Consulting Firms. Rather than hire an individual freelance expert, many people opt to outsource a small to medium sized consulting firm. Dealing with a consulting firm brings to you a mix of expertise and support as a group. On the other hand working with multiple staff members may require more co-ordination than working with one trusted individual but should be decided on a case by case basis.

Step 3: The Selection Process

It can be exceptionally difficult to find the right expert simply by how they present themselves. Whether you’re looking at resumes, CVs, profiles on a professional recruitment site, or expert websites, often what you’ll find is empty marketing rhetoric. You have to be able to weed through the sales pitch and find the qualifications. Here are some things to consider:

Actual experience. Disregard the “noise” and pinpoint the actual experience they have by projects and time.

Concrete achievements. All CVs and profiles tell you how talented the person is. Pinpoint actual achievements. If they’re in marketing, look for figures that show a marked ROI. If it’s not in their material, that might be a good sign to disregard and move on.

Experience in training or mentoring. If you’re hiring a consultant, it’s important that they show experience in training or mentoring because that’s the primary reason for hiring a consultant. The number of publications which have recognized their expertise and the geographic locations they have experience in will be important factors in their ability to deliver.

Consulting fees. Fees can vary widely depending on the level of experience and the amount of time in their field. Someone who has worked with the top in the field, will likely command a much higher pay scale. Geographic location and economic factors will also influence pay scales in their location as well as their specific skill set.

Are You Looking for an Expert or Consultant?

At Maximpact, we can help you identify what your project needs and find the perfect expert for your consulting assignment / vacancy. Our platform offers an easy to use solution to search, speak to, and hire experts.  Maximpact consulting network is a select global network of certified consultants in over 200 sectors and sub-sectors, with experience in over 680 projects. All consultants are verified through a certification screening process, so that Maximpact can assist clients in making the best decision in finding the exact skill set they need.

Marketing Key to Return on CSR Investment

Corporate social responsibility_CSR

By Sunny Lewis

AMES, Iowa, February 23, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – The combination of skillful marketing and corporate social responsibility can yield a 3.5 percent gain in stock returns for a company’s shareholders, a new study by U.S. and Canadian researchers shows.

The study is useful because regardless of the positive effects for society of corporate social responsibility (CSR), there remains an extensive debate regarding its consequences for shareholders.

“A lot of firms question the benefit of corporate social responsibility activities, because they are often viewed as more of a cost. Firms may not always see the benefit because they have to make an investment,” said co-author Sachin Modi, an associate professor in Iowa State University’s College of Business.

“What we want to show is that if a firm is good and has some complimentary capabilities, it can gain a lot from CSR activities,” Modi said.

The researchers defined CSR as “discretionary firm activities aimed at enhancing societal well-being.”

The study, published in the “Journal of Marketing,” analyzed six different types of CSR – environment, products, diversity, corporate governance, employees and community to determine whether marketing of these efforts increased long-term firm value and stock price.

WalmartCardboardRecycling

Walmart employee moves bundled carboard packaging out of a store for shipment to a recycling facility. (Photo by Walmart Corporate)

Walmart’s company-wide goal is to create zero waste. Corrugated cardboard is bundled into bales and sent to paper mills to be recycled into new paper products. But do consumers buy more at Walmart as a result? Not if the company’s marketing doesn’t dramatize and promote its corporate social responsibility, the study finds.

Co-author Saurabh Mishra, an associate professor at McGill University with a PhD in Marketing, says there is a “direct and measurable link” between corporate social responsibility initiatives and financial performance.

The analysis conducted by Modi and Mishra utilized secondary information for a large sample of 1,725 firms for the years 2000-2009.

The findings demonstrate that the effects of overall CSR efforts on stock returns and risk are not significant on their own but only become significant in the presence of superior marketing capability.

Firms benefited from five of the six types of CSR efforts studied, with the exception of charitable giving and philanthropy.

Many companies engage in CSR activities, but do the shareholders benefit?

Will toy buyers associate these Hasbro My Little Pony characters Shining Armour and Princess Cadence with Hasbro's purchase of renewable energy and be more likely to buy them as a result? (Photo by Lass With Toys and Camera)

Will toy buyers associate these Hasbro My Little Pony characters Shining Armour and Princess Cadence with Hasbro’s purchase of renewable energy and be more likely to buy them as a result? (Photo by Lass With Toys and Camera)

Hasbro, Inc., the U.S. playtime giant, specializing in toys and games, television programming, motion pictures and digital gaming, last December announced the purchase of enough wind power to equal growing 164,767 trees for 10 years.

Hasbro’s renewable energy purchase qualifies the company for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club, a distinction given to organizations that have significantly exceeded the U.S. EPA’s minimum purchase requirements.

“We are pleased to be among leading businesses partnering with the U.S. EPA as we continue on our sustainability journey,” said Brian Goldner, chairman, president, and CEO. “Hasbro’s decision to use green power is an important choice in advancing our energy conservation efforts in support of a low carbon economy.”

“Hasbro should be congratulated for its purchase of clean, renewable green power,” said James Critchfield, director of EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “Hasbro’s green power purchase and leadership is something its employees can feel empowered by, the community can stand behind, and its customers can take notice of.”

The purchase of renewable energy benefits the climate and the environment generally, but will the shareholders and customers take notice?

Modi said, “As firms pick what initiatives to get involved with for the community and for charitable giving, they might want to focus on those which are more easily verifiable by consumers. They don’t necessarily have to advertise it, consumers just come to know this firm does a lot for a particular charity.”

“It is very important to give from a community and charity standpoint. And it may be a more true form of giving, because it doesn’t always give the firm value in return,” he said.

The biggest payoff comes from letting shareholders know about a firm’s efforts to improve products, be environmentally friendly, create a diverse workplace and use sustainable resources.

But Modi says it’s important to note this return is not a guarantee for all firms. It depends on effectively communicating and executing a strong marketing strategy. A weak marketing department can translate to weaker returns or payoffs.

Firms must also recognize that some efforts to be more socially responsible can backfire. As an example, Modi asks the question, “Would you buy a recycled toothbrush?”

While most consumers are supportive of and applaud recycling efforts, this is a product few would be likely to buy.

SunChips_Bag

This Sun Chips bag says it’s compostable and a customer is giving the claim a personal test. (Photo by Alan Levine)

Fans of Sun Chips may also remember another example, when the company created a biodegradable bag for its chips.

It was a good move for the environment, but Modi says the bag made a loud crinkling sound at the slightest touch and irritated consumers complained about the noise.

Not all efforts will be a win-win, but that should not be a deterrent for firms, he said.

“Our hope is that firms see it is important to be socially responsible. It’s not a choice of one versus the other. Firms have to do multiple aspects of being socially responsible,” Modi said. “Different types of CSR will have different benefits for firms. Some will be more critical and some will give firms more bang for their buck.”

 


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Happy Employees Attract SRI Fund Investments

WomanWorkerAssemblyLine

By Sunny Lewis

WARWICK, UK, February 11, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Google employees enjoy free rides to work at the California company’s headquarters campus, plus breakfast, lunch, and even dinner if they stay late – for free. New dads receive six weeks of paid leave, and moms can take 18 weeks. And Googlers can even bring their pets to work.

Employees at the Silicon Valley Internet giant enjoy free oil changes and car washes, massages and yoga, a play room, back-up child care assistance and $12,000 a year in tuition reimbursement.

Other California tech companies, too, top numerous lists of the best places to work. The California-based business software company Intuit offers education support up to $5,000 a year, as long as the employee’s courses are related to financial services. At the office, employees enjoy a state-of-the-art gym, dry cleaning services and on-site therapeutic massages.

Dr. Onur Kemal Tosun of Warwick Business School points to Pride Transport, a Utah-based trucking company. “It uses employee engagement as a competitive advantage to keep good drivers. Not only is their pay competitive, but they find accommodation for them while they are on the road and help their families while the truckers are away,” he says.

Dr. Tosun has just published a study of 1,585 U.S. corporations and 47 socially responsible investment (SRI) funds in which he quantifies how much more investment from socially responsible funds employee satisfaction attracted. He concluded it was 35 percent.

“This increased investment makes sense as firms investing in their employees signal high corporate social responsibility (CSR), which in turn potentially enhances a firm’s reputation and prestige,” said Tosun, an assistant professor of finance in Warwick Business School at University of Warwick.

“Improvements in this area of CSR have been known to boost loyalty, employee contribution, and motivation through which productivity, firm performance and firm value increase. Naturally, this would draw funds’ investment,” he said.

“Increases in society CSR, such as improving housing in a bad neighborhood by a construction company or covering education fees for local children, also sees firms gain a significant growth in investment,” Tosun explained.

“McDonald’s is a good example,” he said, “it has a society focus CSR. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families while their child is in hospital.”

As it happens, more than 16 percent of the assets under professional management in the United States are in SRI funds. This sector is growing quickly. SRI funds expanded their portfolios about 76 percent over two years – from $3.74 trillion (2012) to $6.57 trillion (2014).

For his study, Tosun created a unique new measure of investment patterns. “I use a comprehensive measure that combines SRI funds’ own CSR perception with corporate CSR scores to explain funds’ investment in these firms,” he explains.

A firm’s CSR score was measured by summing “Strengths” and “Concerns” of each issue area in the “Kinder, Lydenberg, and Domini Index.”

Funds’ CSR sensitivity was evaluated by SRI funds’ investment policy data for positive investment or negative, restricted, investment, available from Bloomberg’s Environmental, Social and Governance Service.

Tosun then combined the CSR score of each company with the CSR sensitivity of each SRI mutual fund investing in that firm.

“My research also shows firms in specific sectors can benefit more from increased CSR efforts, but on the whole CSR investment is a worthwhile endeavor for any firm looking to attract SRI funds,” he says.

But Tosun writes that CSR investments might not improve a fund’s bottom line, although they had higher returns than the market during the crisis period of 2007-2008.

“I show funds having CSR sensitivity underperform the market in general,” he writes, “and fail to improve their portfolio performance after they invest in firms with high CSR.”

The study, “Is Corporate Social Responsibility Sufficient Enough to Explain the Investment by Socially Responsible Funds?” has been submitted for publication to a number of finance journals.

HappyWorkingWomanAward-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.


Main image: Workers on the Scania front axle assembly line (Photo by Scania Group) creative commons license via flickr.
Bottom image: This happy woman works at TimeWarner in the Media Sales division. (Photo by Dylan H.) creative commons license via flickr.

TPP Unites Old Enemies, Makes New Ones

TPPindigenousprotest

Maori (Indigenous New Zealander’s) demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland, February 4, 2016

 

 

 

 

By Sunny Lewis

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, February 9, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – “We expect this historic agreement to promote economic growth, support higher-paying jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and to promote transparency, good governance, and strong labor and environmental protections,” declared the ministers of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries on February 4 as they signed the document that for the first time opens trade across the region.

The TPP eliminates 98 percent of all tariffs among the 12 countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam.

The agreement includes former enemies at war as well as overwhelmingly Catholic countries such as Peru and Chile, the Buddhist-Shinto country of Japan, and majority Muslim nations such as Brunei and Malaysia.

But many civil society groups oppose the agreement for a host of reasons. They warn it will undermine environmental protections, human rights, labor rights, indigenous rights and internet freedom, despite official assurances to the contrary.

After more than five years of negotiations, ministers finalized the text at a session in Atlanta, Georgia on October 5, 2015 and agreed to sign it within 90 days. That signing event took place in Auckland on February 4, 2016.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the agreement “will be overwhelmingly positive for New Zealand in supporting more trade and investment, jobs and incomes.”

“TPP will provide much better access for goods and services to more than 800 million people across the TPP countries, which make up 36 percent of global GDP,” said Key. “TPP is our biggest-ever free trade deal and is estimated to boost our economy by at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030.”

“It is New Zealand’s first Free Trade Agreement relationship with five of the TPP countries, including the largest and third-largest economies in the world – the United States and Japan. Successive New Zealand governments have been working to achieve this for 25 years, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Key views the TPP as not only good for New Zealand, but also for the entire Asia Pacific region.

“Other countries have already signalled an interest in joining TPP and this could lead to even greater regional economic integration. A more prosperous and therefore secure region, is in all of our interests,” Key said.

The next step is for member countries to ratify the TPP so it can take effect.

The agreement can take effect only with the approval of at least six countries, which account for at least 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of all member nations.

This means that it must be adopted by the legislatures of the two largest TPP economies, the United States and Japan.

Just 71 years ago, the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities, as the two nations were bitter enemies locked in a struggle for control of the Pacific during World War II.

But now Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow Japan and the United States together to write the rules for the global economy.

Speaking at an economic forum in Tokyo in October, the day after the long-secret text of the TPP was made public, Abe said, “Rules should not be something that are imposed on you – you make them. The TPP is the structure where Japan and the U.S. can lead in economic rule-making.”

TPPprotestVirginia

The TPP protest movement has been building for years. Here, American workers demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Leesburg, Virginia, September 9, 2012. CWA stands for Communications Workers of America.

 

 

U.S. President Barack Obama said after the document was signed on February 4, “TPP allows America – and not countries like China – to write the rules of the road in the 21st century, which is especially important in a region as dynamic as the Asia-Pacific.”

“It eliminates more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on Made in America products,” said Obama. “It promotes a free and open Internet and prevents unfair laws that restrict the free flow of data and information.”

“It includes the strongest labor standards and environmental commitments in history – and, unlike in past agreements, these standards are fully enforceable.”

Fifty years ago, the United States and Vietnam were engaged in a fierce war, and U.S. demonstrations against involvement in the Vietnam war sharply divided the country.

Today, both countries are signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Authorized by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang took part in the signing ceremony in Auckland.

The World Bank’s latest “Taking Stock” report features a special section on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, in which it projects that the TPP is expected to generate considerable benefits for Vietnam, despite “implementation challenges.”

“The recently concluded TPP will not only improve market access, but will also serve as a critical anchor for the next phase of structural reforms in Vietnam.” says Sandeep Mahajan, lead economist for the World Bank Vietnam.

As the TPP economy with the lowest per capita GDP, Vietnam has unique comparative advantages, particularly in labor-intensive manufacturing. Simulations suggest that the TPP could add as much as eight percent to Vietnam’s GDP, 17 percent to its real exports, and 12 percent to its capital stock over the next 20 years.

An agreement that opens trade, forges bonds between old enemies, and brings together 800 million people of many different faiths and languages – what could go wrong?

Plenty, according to protesters in some of the TPP countries.

Environmentalists object to language such as this. “3. The Parties further recognize that it is inappropriate to establish or use their environmental laws or other measures in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on trade or investment between the Parties.”

A movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith and other organizations has escalated its campaign to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a joint 1,525-group letter urging the U.S. Congress to oppose the trade agreement.

“As you would expect from a deal negotiated behind closed doors with hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and the press were shut out, the TPP would reward a handful of well-connected elites at the expense of our economy, environment and public health,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, which organized the letter.

The TPP would roll back environmental enforcement provisions found in all U.S. trade agreements since the George W. Bush administration, requiring enforcement of only one out of the seven environmental treaties covered by Bush-era trade agreements, Stamoulis charged in a letter to supporters emailed last week.

“Beyond just failing to mention the term “climate change” in its thousands of pages, the TPP would also provide corporations with new tools for attacking environmental and consumer protections, while simultaneously increasing the export of climate-disrupting fossil fuels,” Stamoulis wrote.

The U.S.-based global climate campaign 350.org called the TPP “a toxic deal that would give dangerous new powers to the fossil fuel industry and pose a serious harm to the climate.”

“The TPP is a fossil fuel industry handout,” said Payal Parekh, 350.org Global Managing Director. “This partnership in pollution gives corporations the right to challenge any local government or community that tries to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

“The deal signed in New Zealand today makes a mockery of the climate agreement decided in Paris last December. If countries are serious about addressing the climate crisis, they need to stand up to coal, oil and gas companies, not reward them with new rights and privileges,” Parekh warned.

350.org is one of many organizations around the world that will be mobilizing members to fight back against the TPP and block its final approval and implementation.

Corporate Accountability International, based in Boston, states, “We oppose the TPP because it prioritizes corporate interests over public health, the environment, human rights, and democracy.”

In Kuala Lumpur in January, some 5,000 Malaysians protested the TPP on Saturday, days before parliament was due to open a debate on the pact.

Many of the demonstrators were from the opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). They voiced fears that their country could lose control of its economy if it enters the partnership with the United States.

The Canadian nonprofit OpenMedia calls the TPP a “reckless Internet censorship deal.”

“We are planning to grow a global coalition and build an international action platform to turn public opinion against the TPP, country by country. We will jam public consultations, build an international action kit, and support our allies across the globe to kill this agreement once and for all.”

“The TPP won’t come into force until it gets ratified,” says OpenMedia. “That means the final and most crucial phase of the battle begins today.”


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image:  U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (right) attend the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministerial Meeting in Sydney, October 25, 2014. Both men signed the TPP pact February 4, 2016. (Photo by TPP Media Australia) under creative commons license via Flickr
Main image : Maori demonstrators against TPP (Photo by Dominic Hartnett) under creative commons license via Flickr
Image 01: American workers demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Leesburg, Virginia, September 9, 2012. CWA stands for Communications Workers of America. (Photo by GlobalTradeWatch) under creative commons license via Flickr

Green Economies Arising Across Europe

GermanyWindfarm By Sunny Lewis

HELSINKI, Finland, February 4, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A broad political will and the involvement of many different economic and social actors are essential for successful transition to a green economy, conclude researchers from five institutes of the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER).

For their newly published report, “Implementing the Green Economy in a European Context: Lessons Learned from Theories, Concepts and Case Studies,” the researchers studied 10 innovative cases from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

They found that successful projects include a broad range of stakeholders, have strong and consistent political support, and integrate research activities into the implementation of the initiatives.

In his forward to the report, PEER Chairman Prof. Dr. Georg Teutsch wrote, “These case studies were utilized to reveal opportunities, but also barriers and challenges for the transformation into a zero waste, renewable bio- and ecosystem-services-based production system.”

“The project aimed at producing increased understanding about the concepts and foundations for future circular and green economy securing the maintenance of a full range of ecosystem services on which society relies,” he wrote.

Transitions to a green economy are never purely based on win-win solutions, but require trade-offs among multiple goals across many sectors, the report finds.

Reaching a win-win proposition becomes more laborious the more stakeholders and competing interests there are, the researchers explained. “Sometimes win-win solutions were not enough if the alternatives remained more profitable, market structures did not encourage change or stakeholders were not committed.”

Driven to meet growing demands for food, drinking water, timber, fiber, and fuel as well as minerals, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively over the past 100 years than at any time in human history, according to the report.

“These changes are a result of traditional one-way linear economic models: resource – product – waste and may lead to depletion of natural resources and irreversible changes in the environment,” the report states.

Today, civil society, industrial and political leaders are acknowledging the urgent need for reconsideration and revision of this type of thinking.

Greening an economy is being promoted as a new strategy for enhancing human well-being and reducing environmental risk, defined as “low-carbon and climate proof, resource-efficient and socially inclusive,” according to the report.

The PEER report contains conceptual analysis and empirical case studies that indicate the need for far-sighted planning, multi-source financing and wide stakeholder participation in green economy initiatives.

Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä is the largest city in the region of central Finland on the Finnish Lakeland. It was the subject of one of the 10 cases analyzed in the PEER report.

 

 

 

 

The 10 case studies spanned national, regional and local activities.

The two on the national level are:

  • Germany’s energy transition, since the 1980s
  • Increasing the construction of large-scale buildings from wood in Finland, since the 1990s

 

The five regional cases are from France, Finland and Germany. They are:

  • A project to support the implementation of biogas plants in the area of Brittany, France (2007-11)
  • A project to minimize organic waste in the Rennes Metropole region of France (2010-2012)
  •  A project to develop the city of Jyväskylä, Finland into a resource-wise region (2013-2015)
  •  A project to form a network of Finnish municipalities that creates and carries out solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since 2008
  • An initiative to sell certificates on emission reductions to support peat land restoration, since 2010

 

The three local case studies are:

  • An industrial symbiosis initiative in the harbor area of Dunkirk, France, since the 1960s
  • Cooperation between farmers and the water company to improve soil in the Duurzaam region of The Netherlands, since 2013
  • A project on off-shore macroalgae cultivation to promote circular resource management and bio-based production in Denmark, since 2012

 

Lea Kauppi, Director General of the Finnish Environment Institute and a former PEER chairperson.

“As illustrated by the study, the complexity and multi-sectoral nature of the green economy calls for a broad integration of sectors connected to environment, innovation, transport, housing, energy, agriculture and spatial planning,” said Lea Kauppi, director general of the Finnish Environment Institute, one of the five institutes responsible for the report, and a former PEER chairperson.

“The case studies also illustrate the need for comprehensive analysis of the effects of regulation and legislation, as well as the importance of stakeholder commitment, good leadership and coordination,” she said.

The report concludes that transforming the economy requires innovation in terms of technology, organizational support, market and broader societal conditions, and an overarching governance framework, but most of all, a consistent and cross-sectoral political will.

All the PEER partners supported the preparation of the project, and finally five institutes were the active research members: the Finnish Environment Institute, which handled coordination of the project; Alterra Wageningen UR in the Netherlands; IRSTEA – the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture in France; the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Germany; and the (DCE) Danish Centre for Environment and Energy at Aarhus University.

A biogas plant in the Brittany region of France developed by Hera Cleantech, the environmental engineering division of the Spanish international group Hera Holding.

A biogas plant in the Brittany region of France developed by Hera Cleantech, the environmental engineering division of the Spanish international group Hera Holding.

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main and Featured image: This windfarm in Gemeinde Driedorf, Hesse, Germany is part of the German transition from energy generated from fossil fuels and nuclear power stations to renewable energy. June 2013 (Photo by Neuwieser) under creative commons license via Flickr
Image 01: Lea Kauppi is director general of the Finnish Environment Institute and a former PEER chairperson. (Photo courtesy Linkedin)
Image 02: A biogas plant in the Brittany (Photo courtesy Hera Cleantech)

Businesses Vow Action at Paris Climate Talks

COP21ClimateBizForum

PARIS, France, December 10, 2015 (ENS) – Corporate actions on key climate issues such as carbon pricing, finance, responsible policy engagement and science-based emissions targets were announced on the 8th December at the Caring for Climate Business Forum, the official avenue for business at COP21 in Paris.

COP21 is shorthand for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the Paris-Le Bourget conference hall, government negotiators toiled over the language of a legally-binding agreement that would require all nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This target was agreed at the 2009 COP in Copenhagen and made official at the 2010 COP in Cancun.

Meanwhile, during this parallel event, more than 450 CEOs from 65 countries across 30 sectors pledged to set emissions targets, report on progress and work with policymakers through the Caring for Climate initiative.

Participants from business, finance, government, civil society and the United Nations gathered for two days to advance the role of the private sector in combating climate change.

The UN Global Compact, UN Environment Programme and the UNFCCC Secretariat gathered the group under the banner of Caring for Climate, the world’s largest business coalition for climate change.

The event was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, France’s Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ban credited the business sector for its work in the global effort to limit damaging climate change. “The collective momentum among the private sector for climate action is growing daily. More companies and investors are leading on climate action than at any time in history,” Ban said.

“But to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees we must go much further and faster,” said the UN leader. “We need 100 percent participation from the business community.”

On the issue of carbon pricing, he indicated that companies have been “instrumental” in ensuring that a price on carbon is recognized as a necessary and effective tool.

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, more than 1,000 companies now say that they have set an internal price or plan to do so in the future. This compares to 100 companies a year ago – a 10-fold increase.

“The private sector can help to fill the gap between what has been committed by governments through the INDCs [Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] and what is needed to reach a carbon neutral economy by mid-century,” said Lise Kingo, executive director of the UN Global Compact. “The momentum is unstoppable.”

“The new targets announced at COP21, if achieved, will generate an estimated annual emissions savings of 93.6 million metric tons CO2e or more than the annual carbon emissions of Peru,” Kingo said.

Launched in 2000, at the turn of the millenium, the UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for responsible corporate policies and practices. It is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with over 8,000 companies and 4,000 non-business signatories based in 170 countries.

“Our job coming out of Paris is to mobilize the great majority of companies that are not yet part of this movement,” Kingo said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the support of 154 U.S. companies for action on climate change through their commitment to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

“As you leave Paris, carry a clear message that how we do business today will determine if we do business in the future,” said Kerry. “In the end, it’s business – the choices you make and the products you make – that will make the difference.”

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CEOs offered commitments to climate solutions:

65 CEOs with a total market capitalization of US$1.9 trillion across 20 sectors have integrated carbon pricing into corporate long-term strategies and investment decisions. They pledged to set an internal carbon price, report publicly, and call for carbon markets through the Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing.

114 companies have committed to set up processes to internally audit all activities that influence climate policy; work to ensure that all of this activity is consistent; and communicate policy positions, actions and outcomes.

114 companies committed to align their emissions reductions targets with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C through the Science-Based Targets initiative.

79 chief executives, representing US$2.13 trillion in revenue, announced that their companies would reduce environmental and carbon footprints, set targets to reduce their emissions, and collaborate with supply chains and across sectors.

140 companies with a total market capitalization of over US$100 billion, and nearly 30 institutional investment firms with assets estimated at US$2.5 trillion, committed to producing climate change-related information in their mainstream reports.

39 French companies pledged to combat climate change, committing at least €45 billion over the next five years for investments and financing in renewable energies, energy efficiency and other technologies accelerating the transition to a clean energy, low carbon future.

Global capital market leaders met separately to discuss how stock exchanges, investors and regulators can support the global climate agenda. The gathering of CEOs began with a special opening bell ceremony December 7 at Euronext Paris dedicated to the success of COP21.

Euronext is one of 11 stock exchanges that showed their commitment to sustainable capital markets, and their support for the evolving climate agenda, by becoming a United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Partner Exchange.

The SSE initiative now has participation from 47 stock exchanges across five continents, including four out of the top five largest exchanges in the world.

Addressing the stock exchange CEOs at a luncheon, economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, encouraged them to act boldly on climate, and congratulated them for work already accomplished.

“Capital markets will be the main driver of the transformation,” said Professor Sachs, “and we will be on the right track when stock markets say ‘shame on you,’ punishing those who continue to add stranded assets to their portfolios.”

Many other corporations are promising action and pressing governments to forge a strong global climate pact.

Citing droughts, temperature shifts and other impacts that will make apparel production “more difficult and costly,” the CEOs of seven top global apparel companies December 3 called on government leaders to reach a strong climate change agreement in Paris that will stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions causing damaging global warming.

Top executives at Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., VF Corporation, H&M, Eileen Fisher, Adidas Group and Burton Snowboards wrote, “We come together … to acknowledge that climate change is harming the world in which we operate. … Therefore, we call on you to reach a global agreement that provides the certainty businesses need and ambition climate science demands.”

Food company CEOs such as the heads of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the Hain Celestial Group Inc., General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg and Hershey’s announced in October that they signed a joint letter to U.S. and world leaders urging a robust international climate agreement in Paris.

The letter cites the growing impacts of drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions on the world’s food supply.

“Combating climate change is not simply about the environment. Promoting clean energy and conserving natural resources today will help create the thriving companies and societies of tomorrow,” said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, said, “As we face a resource-stressed world with growing global demands on food and water, we must seek solutions that drive mutual benefit for business, communities and nature. Companies who successfully balance social, environmental and economic values will be sustainably successful in the 21st century.”

Both the apparel and the food company statements were coordinated by Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit mobilizing business leadership on global sustainability challenges.

Ceres President Mindy Lubber said, “Increasingly more companies, even long-standing competitors, are uniting at this pivotal moment to urge our political leaders to act swiftly and decisively on global warming.”

Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of more than 110 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion.

Throughout the world, investors groups are paying close attention to the COP21 negotiations.

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, based in London, says an agreement on temperature target of 1.5 degrees is “within reach.”

Big emitters, including China, the United States, Canada, and the European Union, have expressed support for the principle of a 1.5 degree Celsius global temperature target.

While this tightening of the 2 degree Celsius target is a key demand from vulnerable developing countries, small island nations and environmental groups, it is opposed by many big developing countries, which argue it would limit their ability to develop modern economies.

UN Secretary-General Ban, who has criss-crossed the globe tirelessly for years to bring about an effective climate agreement, said today, “Across the world, businesses and investors are standing up for a strong agreement in Paris that sends the right market signals. They are asking for a clear message that the transition to cleaner, low emissions energy sources is necessary, inevitable, irreversible and beneficial.”


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Human Energy à la Tour Eiffel à Paris by Yann Caradec (Photo courtesy Flickr)
Header image: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry open the Caring for Climate Business Forum, Paris, France, December 8, 2015 (Photo courtesy United Nations)
Image 01: Global capital market leaders gather in Paris to support UN climate talks. The stock market CEOs began their meeting with a special opening bell ceremony December 7 at Euronext Paris dedicated to the success of COP21. (Photo courtesy UN Environment Programme)

Green Grow the Climate Awareness Bonds

By Sunny Lewis

LUXEMBOURG, October 29, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The European Investment Bank is the first issuer to link its individual green bonds to the projects they finance for the sake of transparency and accountability ahead of the Paris climate talks.

As the planet warms, growing cities and developing countries need airports, roads, buildings, water systems and energy generation that can withstand rising temperatures and extreme weather.

Green bonds, called Climate Awareness Bonds or CABs, are a new and increasingly popular source of climate-friendly funding for these expensive projects.

Green bonds were created to increase funding by accessing the $80 trillion bond market and expanding the investor base for sustainable projects. They are dedicated exclusively to climate mitigation and adaption projects, and other environmentally beneficial activities.

The EU’s nonprofit long-term lending institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest issuer of green bonds, has just announced that it is enhancing the transparency of its reporting on Green Bonds by showing bondholders precisely what their money does.

The bank is going this direction to be in step with the Paris Climate Summit set for November 30 through December 11. There, world leaders will sign a legally-binding universal agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Bertrand de Mazières, director general of finance, European Investment Bank, said, “Ahead of the Paris climate conference, COP 21, EIB is supporting EU’s leadership in climate policy through innovation in the green bond market.”

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“Green bond issuance has grown substantially, and has the potential to contribute significantly to addressing the 2 degree Celsius target,” said de Mazières.

Transparency and accountability are key themes of the European Union’s position for the Paris climate conference, as adopted by the EU Council on September 18.

“The Paris Agreement must provide for a robust common rules-based regime, including transparency and accountability rules applicable to all Parties…” the EU Council declared.

In harmony with this declaration, earlier this month the EIB extended its transparency effort by reporting on the allocations of proceeds from individual CABs to individual projects, beginning with allocations made in the first half of 2015.

De Mazières explained why, saying, “Granular transparency on the allocation of the CAB-proceeds helps this process by bringing investors more precise insights and promoting best practice.”

The disclosure of the allocation of individual CAB-proceeds to individual projects establishes a direct link between the two.

EIB can deliver this level of information due to an upgrade of its internal procedures and IT-infrastructure following extensive due diligence in 2014 and 2015.

Today, the bank records CAB-eligible disbursements and allocates CAB-proceeds to them on a daily, first-in first-out basis.

This enables detailed monitoring and reporting of allocations, and helps to complete the set of information available to investors.

Eila Kreivi, EIB’s director and head of Capital Markets, said, “Investors are increasingly eager to receive clear information on the use of proceeds and the impact of eligible projects. EIB’s launch of detailed reporting in these areas this year has established an important reference.”

“Transparent management and reporting are essential to further grow the green bond market,” she said. “At the same time, one must be careful not to overload issuers with administrative hurdles. Striking the right balance will be a key challenge for the market.”

EIB’s first Climate Awareness Bond pioneered the green bond segment in 2007 and the EIB is the largest issuer of Green Bonds to date.

In September 2014, together with other multi-lateral development banks, the EIB committed to maintaining a developmental role to spur further sustainable growth of the green bond market.

In response to a recommendation in the Green Bond Principles “to help establish a model for impact reporting that others can adopt and/or adapt to their needs,” the African Development Bank, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation (IBRD) have joined EIB in a first harmonization proposal for bonds that fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It is now being circulated for discussion.

Meanwhile, the EIB is popularizing its CABs across the world, entering the Canadian market for the first-time this week.

The Climate Change Support Team, working for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described green bonds as very attractive to institutional investors, with demand for green bonds much larger than the supply.

EIB’s issuance of €2.7 billion equivalent in Green Bonds this year to date has brought total CAB issuance to over €10 billion and confirms EIB’s position as the world’s largest issuer of Green Bonds.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: shutterstock – royalty-free stock images
Slide Show images: a) Gemasolar, a 15 MW solar power tower that uses molten salt for receiving and storing energy, is located in the city of Fuentes de Andalucia, Seville, Spain. (Photo by Markel Redondo/Greenpeace under creative commons license via Flickr). b) Wind turbines generate electricity at Europoort, an area of the Port of Rotterdam and the adjoining industrial area in The Netherlands.  (Photo by Frans de Wit under creative commons license via Flickr)
Image 01: Bertrand de Mazières, director general of finance, European Investment Bank (Photo by Crédit Agricole, sometimes called the Green Bank, a French network of cooperative and mutual banks)

Green Climate Fund Poised to Start Giving

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By Sunny Lewis

SONGDO, South Korea, September 8, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The multi-billion dollar international Green Climate Fund, committed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change, is now ready to fund its first projects.

The GCF Board will take financing decisions on the first project proposals at its next meeting in Livingstone, Zambia in November, immediately before COP 21, the United Nations’ annual conference of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

There, world leaders are expected to agree on a universal, legally-binding deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the planet’s rising temperature.

Green Climate Fund Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou says the GCF’s mandate is to promote “a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development,” taking into account the needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and African states.

In 2014 the GCF got its start with about US$10 billion equivalent in pledges from 35 countries – 60 percent of which now have been converted into signed contributions.

Speaking in Stockholm at World Water Week on August 24, Cheikhrouhou said, “We are now poised to support action on the ground in developing countries through targeted grants, concessional loans to governments, and private sector instruments.”

Cheikhrouhou, a Tunisian national educated in Tunisia and Canada, is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. She was previously director of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department at the African Development Bank, where she helped scale up the bank’s green growth and climate resilient investments through a blend of public and private finance.

At the GCF headquarters in Songdo, funds are already starting to flow.

“Resources have been requested by over 70 governments, and we are already committing funds to the first 10 countries,” she said.

The Fund has a small grants program of “readiness support” that prepares countries to mobilize GCF funding.

Pilot programs with a total budget of $900 million are intended to increase country ownership, support small and medium-sized enterprises and mobilize funding from the private sector.

Cheikhrouhou told Water Week delegates that investments in clean water and water infrastructure will be an integral part of GCF funding because more than one billion people live without access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

“Global demand for water, irrigation, domestic needs, manufacturing, and electricity is projected to increase by over 50 percent by 2050. And at the same time, the risks to our water ecosystem are increasing substantially as global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise,” she warned.

“Water infrastructure projects must support both the goals of sustainable development, and build resilience in the face of inevitable climate change,” Cheikhrouhou declared. “Together, we need to ensure that quick access will be given to finance water projects that are both sustainable and replicable.”

The only international financing institution set up with the sole goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, the Green Climate Fund was established in December 2011 by the Parties to the UNFCCC.

The Green Climate Fund is governed and supervised by a 24-member Board and was designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC.

The Fund works with a wide range of established institutions. Its 20 accredited entities are drawn from the international, regional, national, public, private, and nongovernmental sectors, and Cheikhrouhou anticipates many more partners will join in the near future.

PHOTO: Green Climate Fund Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou (Photo courtesy Green Climate Fund)

Three Ways Fear Gets in the Way of Nonprofits’ Decision-Making Processes

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By Steve Scheier

Whether you’re an executive director, board member, funder, staff member or even a volunteer in a nonprofit, chances are you feel frustrated with the inefficiency of your organization’s decision-making processes.

“Our fear of failure hampers our decision-making and results,” I’ve heard many people at nonprofits say. Or, “We take a long time to mull over decisions, and we constantly revisit decisions we’ve made.”

Indeed, the mere act of making a decision can be time consuming. However, nonprofits face great challenges to their decision-making because they often grapple with a relative lack of clarity about who has power and who makes decisions.

The underlying reason is implicit in these statements but is rarely acknowledged aloud:

Fear.

Think about it. Mulling over and revisiting decisions reflects a fear of failure. Worrying “If someone questions what we’ve decided, we immediately think we’ve done something wrong” – as I’ve also heard many people at nonprofits say, reflects a fear of making mistakes. Other commonly expressed sentiments, such as “Everything is a group decision. We like consensus. We don’t want to disagree,” show that fears of upsetting organizational harmony, of challenging authority and of stepping on other people’s toes also run deep.

Because making decisions is at it’s essence an act of power, it’s natural that it provokes a slew of emotions for many people, including fear. There are three major fears typically connected with decision-making in nonprofits: Fear of failure, fear of conflict and fear of rejection.

Fear of failure

Nonprofits take on huge goals — ending hunger, eliminating homelessness and advocating for people with disabilities. These are challenges that no for-profit company would ever attempt. However, while for-profits are “successful” if their profits are increasing and their market share is growing, nonprofit organizations are rarely satisfied with their progress. Why? Because there’s always another client to serve, another problem to solve. The needs are seemingly never-ending. This is a perfect recipe for encouraging environments that fear failure. People who lead nonprofits also fear the potential failure of disappointing the people and institutions that have given them time and money.

Fear of conflict

People generally don’t enjoy conflict, but in nonprofits, an aversion to conflict can be a by-product of the familial atmosphere of the organization. As J.B. Schramm, Chair of Learn to Earn at New Profit and formerly College Summit Co-founder said, “Looking at my own experience as a leader, there were times when I handled staff with kid gloves, concerned because they were working very hard for less money than they could make in the for-profit sector. Upon reflection, I realized that was a myth—and a little patronizing”.

On the staff level, consensus and harmony are important in the familial nonprofit atmosphere and no one wants to feel ostracized from the group for violating the established norms. Staff are slow to question the existing process, and even more reticent to take on decision-making roles unless they are explicitly encouraged to do so.

These feelings can be further complicated by the unresolved and often awkwardly, if ever, discussed issues of race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation and their effect on decision-making in nonprofits. Whether we want to admit it or not many nonprofit leaders have implicit and unspoken biases about who should be making what decisions in their organizations and these biases are rarely if ever addressed or even acknowledged.

Fear of rejection

A particularly raw emotion, fear of rejection confuses discussions of nonprofit power and stymies decision-making by limiting the issues that people are willing to discuss. Exclusion from an organization can have a devastating effect on an individual, and this is particularly concerning for people outside the dominant white culture. In our observations, people who work in nonprofits are consistently loyal to their organizations and committed to the mission they serve. None of them wants to be seen as uncommitted, and many are willing to stay in untenable situations in order to be faithful to and advance the needs of their constituents.

This tenacity and faithfulness combined with the anxiety over potential loss of affiliation often makes people hesitant to bring up the uncomfortable topics that might cause them to be ostracized. Thus, fear of rejection limits the issues–however important–that people are willing to discuss.

Taken individually or together, these fears have the undeniable effect of complicating decision-making processes in nonprofits.

But there is a remedy. Quite simply, talking about power and decision-making openly within an organization will go a long way toward diffusing fears. To do so, it’s necessary to have a common language that helps navigate the worries that will inevitably spring up during the course of conversations.

Ultimately, the goal of talking is to help move past fear and enable the members of your organization to work together to make the decision-making process more efficient. One important step will be learn how to speak up and advocate for those decisions affecting your job that you would personally like to make.

Here are some ways accomplish this:

  • Be aware of the biases that guide beliefs about who should be making what decisions in organizations. Dare to challenge them – beginning with your own.
  • Manage your fear of rejection and conflict. Often people hold back from asserting themselves because they fear what others might say. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I’m honest about the decisions I want to make?” Is that answer a worthy reason to not be true to yourself?
  • Take a careful inventory of the decisions that affect your job. Identify the decisions you’d like to make and if you are not currently allowed to make these decisions, advocate to do so.
  • In advocating for a decision-making role, approach your boss and say, directly and compassionately, “this decision is important to my job and I want to make it. I’m willing to take the responsibility for making this decision if you will only trust me to take it on. Are you willing to let me do so?

If you’re a leader, doing so will translate into gaining the ability to focus more on high-impact decisions that will make a difference. If you are a team member at the staff level, you will gain the power to use more of your natural decision-making capacity to help move your organization forward in a meaningful way.

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About Steve Scheier:

Steve Scheier, author of Do More Good. Better. Using the Power of Decision Clarity to Mobilize the Talent of Your Nonproft Team is the CEO and Founder of Scheier+Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations distribute power differently so they can do more good. Prior to founding Scheier+ Group in 2010, Steve was vice president of human assets  and training at College Summit, and president at Entrepreneurs Foundation.  On the private-sector side, Steve has served as a vice president of human resources at Food.com and at CKS Group, and worked in marketing at Apple, Inc.  He is a an occasional contributor to the North Bay Business Journal.