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Philanthropists Pledge US$4 Billion for Climate Change Battle

The Ferguson Fire burns in California's Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park. August 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region 5) Public domain

The Ferguson Fire burns in California’s Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park. August 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region 5) Public domain

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 24, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Philanthropic foundations from across the United States and around the world have just pledged $4 billion over the next five years to fight climate change – the largest climate-related philanthropic commitment ever made.

In a joint statement, the 29 contributing foundations said, “As climate philanthropists, we are committed to supporting the vast array of solutions required to tackle this global problem. We know that every moment, and every dollar, counts. Which is why we are proud to announce today the joint commitment of more than $4 billion over the next five years to combat climate change.”

“We know that it is only a down payment,” the philanthropists declared. “Everyone has a role to play—and philanthropy must be prepared to invest many billions more.”

The announcement, made at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 14, is a broad global commitment to accelerate proven climate and clean-energy strategies, spur innovation and support organizations everywhere working to protect their communities and the air they breathe.

“Philanthropists can and must work together as catalysts to engage governments, the business community and NGOs to accelerate progress on climate change,” said Nat Simons, co-founder of the Sea Change Foundation. “The multi-billion dollar commitment announced today is only a down payment. Together we’ll need to invest billions more. And soon.”

The contributing foundations are working to form new global coalitions of philanthropic investors focused on high leverage issues like sustainable land use. The goal is to demonstrate their viability and enable investors of all sizes and capacities to participate for maximum impact.

“Now, more than ever, philanthropy has to step up and go big. The health of our children, our communities, and our economic future literally depends on it,” write MacArthur Foundation executives Debra Schwartz, managing director, impact investments, and Susan Phinney Silver, mission investing director, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, in an article on the MacArthur Foundation website.

“If we are going to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, we can only afford to emit about another 600 Gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. At current rates, that will take about 14 years (or perhaps a decade longer if we aim for 2 degrees). In either scenario, urgent action is needed,” write Schwartz and Silver.

The $4 billion worth of investments will support an array of strategies, with an emphasis on those addressing the five challenge areas addressed at the Global Climate Action Summit – healthy energy systems, inclusive economic growth, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship and transformative climate investments.

“The value of these investment strategies are clear in three critical areas that benefit from philanthropic capital that can be flexible and risk-tolerant: renewable energy, energy efficiency in the built environment, and sustainable forestry and land use,” write Schwartz and Silver.

Over the past 20 years, the nonprofit sector, supported by philanthropists, have broadened access to low-cost, reliable wind and solar energy; designed policies that are revolutionizing the integration of a new generation of electric vehicles; and provided critical support to countries working to meet the requirements of the historic Paris Agreement on climate.

“Tackling global climate change requires partnership and collaboration, and philanthropy has an important role to play,” said Patricia Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“We’re proud to support efforts that are making incredible local progress around the world, but there’s so much more that needs to be done,” said Harris. “This landmark pledge is a key step to making even greater impact, together.”

The philanthopists say that by working together, sharing knowledge, welcoming new partners, and harnessing the actions of governments, the private sector and everyday citizens, the philanthropic community can be a catalyst in the fight against our world’s greatest threat.

Much of their $4 billion investment will support local organizations working on the front lines of climate change who are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting carbon sinks such as the Amazon rainforest. They want the funding to “propel the expansion of successful local efforts to solve the climate crisis and allow those most affected by the climate crisis to shape the solutions to it.”

“Each day brings new evidence of climate change affecting lives – from extreme weather events, to increased food insecurity, to tragic impacts on human health,” said Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

“We see the suffering that a steadily warming planet is causing to people around the world, but we also see hope,” Hampton said. “As philanthropists, we are committed to doing our part and to engaging on climate change like never before.”

“This initiative is a breakthrough, and very welcomed by civil society. Political leaders need to feel the pressure from their constituencies to prioritize action on climate change,” said Wael Hmaidan, executive director

the nonprofit Climate Action Network International. “By supporting a strong base of mobilizers, influencers and change agents in local communities around the world, this commitment can help accomplish that.”

Funders contributing to this effort include: Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bullitt Foundation, Sir Christopher Hohn and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, Grantham Foundation, Grove Foundation, Growald Family Fund, George Gund Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Ivey Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPB Foundation, KR Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Dee & Richard Lawrence and OIF, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, McKinney Family Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Oak Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pisces Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Sea Change Foundation, Turner Foundation and Yellow Chair Foundation.

The $4 billion from philanthropic foundations can accomplish a great deal, but it is not the only investment being made by the private sector to mitigate global warming.

Investors Fight Funding Shortfall

The Investor Agenda, also launched at the Global Climate Action Summit, will support investors in accelerating and scaling-up the actions that are critical to tackling climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement across four key focus areas: investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure, and policy advocacy.

Showcasing investor leadership on climate change will be used to inspire even more generous commitments and building on existing momentum.

Momentum is already evident, with 392 investors with US$32 trillion in assets collectively under management using The Investor Agenda to highlight climate action they are already taking and making new commitments.

To date, 120 investors are pursuing new and existing investments in low carbon and climate resilient portfolios, funds, strategies or assets such as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; phasing out investments in coal; and integrating climate change into portfolio analysis and decision-making.

“The emergence of The Investor Agenda reflects the mounting urgency among the global investor community to address the greatest challenge of our time through measurable and transparent actions,” said Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of Danish pension fund PKA with over $42 billion in assets under management, and chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

At least 345 institutional investors with US$30 trillion in assets are urging governments to implement the Paris Agreement and enhance their climate policy ambitions by 2020. They are calling for: phase out of thermal coal power worldwide, greater investment in the low-carbon transition and improving climate-related financial disclosures.

Investor disclosure highlights the more than 60 investors committed to reporting in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations.

Corporate engagement highlights 650 investors with US$87 trillion in assets backing the Carbon Disclosure Project’s environmental disclosure request; and 296 investors from 29 countries with US$31 trillion in assets that are signatories to Climate Action 100+. This investor-led initiative engages the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters and asks them to limit emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), supports these investor actions.

“Investors are showing great leadership to promote climate action in multiple fronts. Their efforts to meet the shortfall in the financial resources required to deliver the Paris Agreement goals, and further building on engagement with high-emitting sectors are a valuable contribution,” said Espinosa. “Yet we believe many more opportunities exist.”


Featured Image:  Human encroachment of Kenya’s Mau Forest by local communities has degraded the forest. Members of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya pambio.org/green-print-project are planting trees to restore the Mau Forest, Kenya’s largest water tower and the region’s rainfall catchment area. September 20, 2018 (Photo by Antony Odhiambo / Global Landscapes Forum) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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Protecting Climate Health Keeps Humans Healthy

Solar panels cover the roof of Santa Clara, California Medical Center's parking garage. (Photo courtesy Kaiser Permanente) Posted for media use

Solar panels cover the roof of Santa Clara, California Medical Center’s parking garage. (Photo courtesy Kaiser Permanente) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 18, 201 (Maximpact.com News) – The health care industry is committing to quickly transition from dependence on climate-destroying fossil fuels to an economy based on clean, renewable energies such as wind and solar.

The initiative comes from Health Care Without Harm, an international nongovernmental organization based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that aims to transform health care worldwide to reduce its environmental footprint and lead the global movement for environmental health and justice.

As Health Care without Harm puts it, “Climate change is an urgent threat to human health everywhere, and health care organizations and professionals are coming together around a collective vision of healthy people living in sustainable and equitable communities on a thriving planet.”

In San Francisco last week, Dr. Aparna Bole, Health Care Without Harm board member and division chief for general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, announced commitments by large health systems, hospitals, and health centers around the world to procure or install 100 percent clean, renewable electricity.

The commitments were made as part of the Global Climate and Health Forum at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), an affiliate event to the three-day Global Climate Action Summit.

Dozens of health organizations representing more than five million doctors, nurses and public health professionals, and 17,000 hospitals in more than 120 countries announced commitments and unveiled a Call to Action on Climate and Health aimed at accelerating stronger advocacy and action in addressing climate change.

To protect their patients and communities from the health impacts of climate change and air pollution, 18 health care institutions, representing the interests of more than 1,200 hospitals and health centers in 10 countries, committed to power their facilities with 100 percent renewable electricity.

When fully implemented, these institutions will collectively serve more than 23 million patients a year at facilities powered by 3.3 billion kilowatt hours of renewable electricity.

In doing so, they will have reduced their aggregate annual greenhouse gas emissions by over one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), equivalent to preventing more than 453 tonnes of coal from being burned.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to health of this century. It is impacting health in every country today and is projected to reverse half a century of progress on global health. Global action is urgent and must be accelerated to avoid potentially catastrophic levels of global warming. The health sector has a vital role to play,” said the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences, an organizer of the Global Climate and Health Forum where these commitments were made public.

Health Care Without Harm president and co-founder Gary Cohen and Kathy Gerwig, Health Care Without Harm board member and Kaiser Permanente VP of environmental stewardship announced more commitments.

First, they said, 178 participants, representing the interests of more than 17,000 hospitals and health centers, have joined the Health Care Climate Challenge.

Launched in June 2018, the Health Care Climate Challenge mobilizes health care institutions around the world to protect public health from climate change.

The Health Care Climate Challenge now has over 335 participants, representing the interests of hospitals and health centers in 24 countries. It is supported by Global Green and Healthy Hospitals and Practice Greenhealth.

In another commitment announced in San Francisco, 21 U.S. health systems, representing 918 hospitals and over one million employees in 41 states signed the We Are Still In pledge, a reply to the move from President Donald Trump to take the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate.

Finally, representing 119 hospitals in California, five of California’s largest health systems – Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Providence St. Joseph Health, Sutter Health, and University of California Health – have formed the California Health Care Climate Alliance to drive stronger commitments from California’s health care sector and to work with policymakers to support the state’s climate goals.

Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean said, “At Dignity Health, we believe that our well-being is inextricably connected to the health of our planet. We also see the effect of environmental change on vulnerable populations – the elderly, our children, people with chronic diseases, and in low-income communities.”

Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest hospital systems in the United States, expects to be carbon net positive by 2025.

“Climate change causes extreme heat waves, wildfires and droughts that hurt people, make them sick—and worse,” said Elizabeth Baca, MD, senior health adviser in the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. “This alliance of large California health providers is taking action to help make our hospitals and healthcare systems more resilient and better prepared for the worst impacts of climate change.”

Alliance members have committed to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions to help in the State of California’s effort to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, known as Senate Bill 100 signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this month.

SB 100 sets three targets for California:

50 percent renewables by 2026

60 percent renewables by 2030

100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045

Thousands of hospitals, health centers and entire health systems around the world are already implementing climate-smart health care strategies.

Working with the UN Development Program <undp.org>, the government of Zimbabwe installed solar energy systems on more than 400 health centers across the country.

Health systems in New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica are committed to becoming carbon neutral.

Health Care Without Harm is providing a series of tools and resources to support the implementation of climate-smart health care.

  •  A series of case studies from around the world demonstrating the viability of a diverse set of replicable strategies for health care infrastructure and community resilience.
  • A set of standardized measurement tools, and a detailed methodology for understanding health care’s contribution to carbon emissions by country and globally.
  • Technical, legal, and financial tools to help decarbonize large facilities and power health care in energy-poor settings.
  • Communications tools and trainings so that employees of member health care institutions can become communicators to their patients and in their communities.

Bob Biggio, senior vice president Facilities & Support Services, Boston Medical Center, is supportive of the health care industry’s move toward climate health. “As the largest safety net hospital in New England, we know first-hand how climate change is impacting the health of the most vulnerable members of our community,” he said. “That’s why Boston Medical Center has invested in a 60-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina, the largest renewable-energy project ever built in the U.S. through an alliance of diverse buyers.”

Featured Images: Doctors in an operating room at Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy Boston Medical Center) Posted for media use


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Caption: Solar panels cover the roof of Santa Clara, California Medical Center’s parking garage. (Photo courtesy Kaiser Permanente) Posted for media use

https://share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/kaiser-permanente-commits-to-increasing-onsite-solar-power-generation/

Global Climate Action Summit Strives to Stoke Ambition

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 13, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Global leaders from across the private sector, local government and civil society are in San Francisco this week to showcase progress, unveil new climate commitments and to launch new platforms to work in partnership across sectors to accelerate implementation of the Paris Climate Accord.

California Governor Jerry Brown welcomes China to the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12, 2018, San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public Domain

California Governor Jerry Brown welcomes China to the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12, 2018, San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor) Public Domain

The Global Climate Action Summit runs from September 12 to 14 in many venues across San Francisco, under the theme Taking Ambition to the Next Level.

To keep warming well below 2°, and ideally 1.5 degrees C – temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences – worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020.

The Summit will showcase climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders the confidence they need to go even further by 2020 to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land and Ocean Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments.

Many partners are supporting the Summit and the mobilization in advance including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; Ceres; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; WWF; and Mission 2020.

The Global Climate Action Summit – the first ever designed exclusively for businesses, sub-national governments, and local leaders – sets the stage for the greater action needed by 2020 from all actors – from national governments within their national climate action plans, and from even more cities, states, businesses, and local communities around the world.

China Gets a Warm Welcome

Helping kick off the Global Climate Action Summit, California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown led his state’s delegation at the Under2 Coalition General Assembly and welcomed new signatories to the California-led coalition, which now represents 17 percent of the global population and 43 percent of the global economy.

Governor Brown also welcomed China’s 120-plus attendees – the largest country delegation at the event. “China has taken this global summit very, very seriously and we hope to build on that in the months and years ahead as California, the U.S. and China, and Jiangsu Province in particular, work ever more closely to combat climate change,” said Brown at the opening of the China Pavilion at the Summit.

“Let’s leave this Summit more committed than ever to get to – not low-carbon, zero–carbon, and then minus carbon – a prosperous world for all,” said Brown in welcoming China’s top environmental officials and representatives from Chinese provinces, cities, business and civil society at the opening ceremony of the China Pavilion, which showcases China’s progress on its climate goals.”

Governor Brown held a bilateral meeting with Vice Governor Miao Ruilin of Jiangsu Province – California’s sister-state and one of the first provinces in China to join the Under2 Coalition – to discuss agreements signed by the Governor in Nanjing last year and in 2013 to expand cooperation on areas including climate, clean energy and technology.

Governor Brown also renewed climate agreements signed with China in 2013 and 2015 – with then-National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua, currently leading the Chinese delegation at the Global Climate Action Summit as China’s Special Representative for Climate Change.

The agreement signed Wednesday seeks to enhance cooperation between California and China on programs that mitigate carbon emissions and short-lived climate forcers, implement carbon emissions trading systems, share clean energy technologies, strengthen low-carbon development and other initiatives.

Indigenous People Make Their Voices Heard

On Monday, hundreds gathered outside the site of the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force meeting leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit.

From the Indigenous and Frontline communities organizing this protest, “People of the world are being led astray by polluting industries and elected officials promoting climate capitalist systems like carbon trading and carbon tax shell games. These systems do nothing to stop the fossil fuel industry from continuing to cause climate disruption. They allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to harm Indigenous people and communities around the world from extraction to transport to refining.”

“Today hundreds helped us demand that our Indigenous representatives from tribes and organizations that are resisting cap and trade schemes, and instead promoting real solutions be allowed to address the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force at the Parc 55 Hotel. Their voices were heard and they were given a chance to speak the truth [of] the tribal groups being courted by those promoting carbon trading in the place of real solutions to climate change.”

This action was organized by Idle No More SF Bay, Indigenous Environmental Network, It Takes Roots, Diablo Rising Tide, Indigenous Bloc at RISE Days of Action, and Indigenous Rising Media.

Food and Land Use Crucial to Climate Conservation

As a member of the Summit’s Advisory Committee, the global nonprofit WWF is coordinating the 30X30 Forest, Food and Land Challenge. The initiative calls on businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land use, working together across all sectors of the economy to deliver up to 30 percent of the climate solutions needed by 2030.

WWF is working with partners to unveil new efforts and commitments at the high-level thematic dialogues on land stewardship on September 13, such as:

  • Science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase sequestration in land-intensive supply chains;
  • Collaborations between multinational companies and local governments and communities to eliminate deforestation in vital ecosystems;
  • Institutional and chef-led programs to halve food loss and waste by 2030;
  • Major financing to help regional and local governments to promote more sustainable land use and restoration.

WWF and its partners in We Are Still In will unveil new commitments from American businesses, mayors, universities and other U.S. actors on September 12 at the We Are Still In Forum.

Since its launch in June 2017, We Are Still In has nearly tripled in size to include over 3,500 signatories, collectively representing more than 155 million Americans and $9.5 trillion in U.S. GDP.

“For too long, land has been the overlooked piece of the climate solution. When we improve the way we manage our land and improve our food systems, we can help reverse the impact of human-caused climate change and get closer to keeping warming below 1.5°C,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy program, and Summit advisory committee member.

“National governments need to follow the pace set by private sector and local leaders this week, looking for opportunities to enhance the ambition of their national climate plans through improved land stewardship,” he said.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change projects that current commitments made by the private sector and local government have the potential to halve the emissions gap between current trajectories and what is needed to stay below 2°C of planetary warming.

In the United States, for example, bottom-up progress can deliver half of what’s needed to achieve the country’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025.

“New targets from business and local leaders are a critical first step but alone they are not enough to transform our transportation, food and energy systems,” said Lou Leonard, senior vice president of climate change and energy, WWF-US.

“To change our trajectory, this Summit must generate new partnerships and new ways of working. In the U.S., this model of radical collaboration is working through efforts like the We Are Still In coalition. Together, unusual partners across American society are coming together to implement their goals,” enthused Leonard. “We can go further and reach higher by partnering across sectors of the economy to drive change.”

Featured Image: People demonstrate their support for action to control climate change, September 10, 2018 San Francisco, California (Photo by Peg Hunter) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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Cities Pledge Net Zero Carbon New Buildings by 2030

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, September 4, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Nineteen pioneering mayors, representing 130 million urban residents, have committed their cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that all new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030.

By joining the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the leaders of: Copenhagen; Johannesburg; London; Los Angeles; Montreal; New York City; Newburyport, Massachusetts; Paris; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Santa Monica; Stockholm; Sydney, Tokyo; Toronto; Tshwane, South Africa; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington, DC, also pledged to ensure all buildings in their cities, old and new, will meet the net zero carbon standard by 2050.

The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment will officially launch at the Global Climate Action Summit <globalclimateactionsummit.org>in San Francisco, California on September 13, 2018.

A zero carbon building is one with zero net energy consumption or zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Commitment signatories will track, verify and report publicly on building performance metrics with a focus on energy use and associated emissions. They will advocate across their supply chains for all suppliers and partners to establish and follow their own commitments to reach net zero by 2030.

Delivering on commitments made now will require a united effort, as city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city. This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action.

In June, WorldGBC celebrated the first three founding private sector signatories of the commitment, among them Majid Al Futtaim, a pioneer in shopping mall, retail and leisure destinations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Majid Al Futtaim, an Emirati holding company based in Dubai, has committed to eliminating operational carbon emissions from all its assets across 15 countries by 2030, including more than 12 malls and shopping centres, 12 hotels and three mixed-use living communities. Their corporate strategy drives emission reductions by requiring green energy leases for mall retail units.

The other two founding private sector signatories are Integral Group, a global engineering firm specializing in delivery of net zero buildings, and Signify formerly known as Philips Lighting – the lighting company for the Internet of Things. With a presence in over 70 countries, Signify has committed to net zero carbon for all its more than 300 buildings.

By setting ambitious absolute targets, the Commitment aims to maximize the chances of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate, by reducing operating emissions from buildings.

Globally, almost 40 percent of energy related greenhouse emissions come from buildings, with 28 percent coming from the operations of buildings themselves. This equals the total emissions of China and the European Union combined.

In 2015, 82 percent of final energy consumption in buildings was supplied by fossil fuels, whereas to meet the Paris Agreement, this must become zero percent.

The WorldGBC definition of a net zero carbon building is a one that is highly energy efficient and fully powered by renewable energy sources, either on-site or off-site.

Urban buildings are some of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and typically account for over half of a city’s total emissions.

In London, Los Angeles and Paris, buildings account for well over 70 percent of the cities’ overall emissions, creating an enormous opportunity for progress on bringing emissions down.

Currently, half a million people die prematurely each year due to outdoor air pollution caused by energy used in buildings, according to research prepared for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis by a team led by Diana Ürge-Vorsatz of the Central European University, Hungary – Fagship-Projects.

The Commitment has been orchestrated by C40 Cities, a global group of major cities committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level. This pledge from cities is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment for businesses, cities, states and regions, which opened for recruitment in June.

Cities making this commitment will:

  • Establish a roadmap for our commitment to reach net zero carbon buildings;
  • Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programs;
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting our targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

In addition, 13 cities: Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane and Vancouver, have committed to owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030.

To achieve this, cities will:

  • Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction.
  • Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

C40 Cities Executive Director Mark Watts blogged earlier this year, “By 2030 the majority of privately owned buildings will need to have been retrofitted to high energy efficiency standards in all categories of cities except the two lowest income groupings, where the primary focus is on new build. In the two highest income categories, 95-100 percent of privately owned buildings will have been retrofitted.”

Watts wrote, “…it is possible for major cities to decarbonise fast and deeply enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But there is now an incredible urgency to get on track.”

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has launched a major initiative to support the development of zero-energy building. Led by Gregory Hayes, the CEO of United Technologies, and Eric Olsen, Chairman of Lafarge, the organization has the support of large global companies and the expertise to mobilize the corporate world and governmental support to make zero-energy building a reality.

Their first report, a survey of key players in real estate and construction, indicates that the costs of building green are overestimated by 300 percent.

Climate and carbon, human health and high technology are among the top trends expected to drive the global green building market in 2018.

Green Building Council of Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said, “In 2018, the UN will undertake a global stock take of emissions reduction actions and progress, and signatories to the Paris Agreement will be required to demonstrate their progress towards accelerating emissions reductions.”

Romilly says this stock taking will “undoubtedly reveal the leaders and laggards on climate action, and will put pressure on national governments to step up.”

Terri Wills, CEO, World Green Building Council, said, “Achieving net zero carbon buildings at the mass scale required is complex, multi-faceted and challenging.

“Whether developed as a new standard, adapting an existing certification scheme, or developing a compliance pathway in collaboration with national government,” said Wills, “these voluntary standards provide an opportunity for companies to embrace net zero carbon buildings as business as usual.”

Featured Image: Tokyo, Japan, a city of 13 million people, is one of the cities that has committed to having all new buildings operating at net zero carbon by 2030. July 26, 2018 (Photo by diamory) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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