Simply announcing corporate sustainability goals is one thing. But when it comes to achieving those goals, organizations often find themselves in a balancing act with three competing drivers: sustainability, affordability and resiliency.
How exactly are businesses, universities, and municipalities supposed to drive fast and furious carbon reduction goals while still reducing costs and ensuring more reliable backup power for their operations? What are the steps they need to take to achieve the coveted energy trifecta?
On Sept. 9, join Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions for a webcast with industry leaders to learn how to successfully balance priorities in energy strategies. They’ll share:
How to push through challenges to find the right energy balance
Which financing mechanisms and sustainable and resiliency solutions are the most promising for organizations
Why collaboration across industries can better help organizations achieve their own energy trifecta
Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst & VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz Group
Michael Kilpatrick, Key Segment Manager, Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions
Mark Jacobson, Energy Project Manager, Microsoft
Craig D’Arcy, Director, Energy Management, The Home Depot
If you can’t tune in live, please register and GreenBiz. will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast.
When a company sets net-zero goals, how should it think about the footprint of employees, particularly in an increasingly “hybrid” working world? In this webinar, experts in employee engagement, behavior change, Scope 3 emissions and new emerging offset options will discuss the future of the “net-zero employee.”
In this webcast, you’ll learn how to:
Engage employees in sustainability and carbon mitigation efforts
Equip employees with their own personalized footprint and action plan
Incentivize employees with carbon offsets and pro-social rewards
Communicate and report on how individual employee actions are driving collective impacts
Heather Clancy, Vice President & Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group
Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder & CEO, WeSpire
Brandon Schauer, Senior Vice President, U.S. Climate Change, Rare
If you can’t tune in live, please register and GreenBiz will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast.
Urban heat islands are metropolitan places that are hotter than their outlying areas, with the impacts felt most during summer months. About 85% of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas. Paved roads, parking lots, and buildings absorb and retain heat during the day and radiate that heat back into the surrounding air.
Neighborhoods in a highly-developed city can experience mid-afternoon temperatures that are 15°F to 20°F hotter than nearby tree-lined communities or rural areas with fewer people and buildings. Climate change is making extreme heat events worse and more frequent, with summer temperatures stretching into the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. Heat events adversely affect health and quality of life—and this is especially acute in urban communities. Higher cooling demand strains the electric grid and raises electric bills. And heat-related impacts fall unequally, with historically underserved populations facing greater health threats.
This report will look at the factors that contribute to the heat island effect, and our analysis will show how they vary in places across the United States. We’ll discuss some of the impacts of higher temperatures on human health and the built environment. We’ll also take a look at how communities are adapting to these new normals and consider solutions for lessening some of the intensity of the urban heat island.
Investing in regenerative agriculture is the latest trend in fashion. This year, the Kering Luxury Group — home to brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen — has co-founded a regenerative agriculture fund. It aims to transform 247 million acres of land into sustainable fields that produce wool, leather, cotton and cashmere by 2025.
The North Face, Burberry, Timberland, Patagonia, Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Mara Hoffman, Allbirds and Christy Dawn are also among the growing list of brands supporting regenerative farmers.
The touchscreen technology used in billions of smartphones and tablets could also be used as a powerful sensor, without the need for any modifications.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge have demonstrated how a typical touchscreen could be used to identify common ionic contaminants in soil or drinking water by dropping liquid samples on the screen, the first time this has been achieved. The sensitivity of the touchscreen sensor is comparable to typical lab-based equipment, which would make it useful in low-resource settings.
Every few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nation’s climate science body – produces a major report on the state of the climate crisis. However you slice it, the latest IPCC report told the world what it already knew – and added even greater urgency.
Like the last two in 2014 and 2018, the recent IPCC report doesn’t say it directly in the text, but you can clearly infer from the numbers that to have anything like a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C – the goal of 2015’s Paris Agreement – global emissions need to peak by around 2025 and then plunge rapidly towards zero. We had 11 years to reach that peak and turn it around. Now we have four.
The report sets out five different pathways that emissions could take in the coming decades, with different “climate futures” attached to them. The pathway in which emissions fall as fast as possible gives us a bit less than a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In this scenario, the world has to limit total greenhouse gas emissions over time to the equivalent of around 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂).
The report shows that at the moment, the world emits around 40 gigatonnes a year (and growing). That leaves about 12.5 years of emitting at current levels. So if the world reaches zero emissions by 2050, in each year until then, emissions must be no higher than 40% of 2021’s emissions on average.
To get emissions to peak and then start on a downward trend is fairly simple in theory. There are several major changes that can be made in sectors like electricity, construction and transport, where lots of emissions come from, and where there are readily available alternatives. These include:
Global inequalities in emissions remain an important issue to deal with too. There are rapidly growing emissions in developing countries but stable or gently declining emissions in most industrialised nations. Peaking emissions globally means curbing emissions growth in China and other countries, with much more rapid declines in the US, UK and Germany than the global average. The politics of this are delicate and complicated.
Then there is the question of how to finance this rapid shift. This entails mobilising investment in renewable energy, doing huge amounts of retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and electrification, and accelerating the construction of electric vehicle infrastructure. It also entails significant global financing of such transitions in developing countries. But how should this money be mobilised?
The neoliberal consensus of the last four decades favours private finance. But leaving this effort to the free market is likely to be inadequate. Fossil fuels are often still more profitable than renewables, despite the latter’s cost-competitiveness. Reviving notions of public finance to generate sufficient investment in low-carbon sectors may be necessary. There has been some shift towards this approach in the emergence of green new deals in different countries, but a much bigger push in this direction is needed.
And of course, the world remains distracted by other crises. The most obvious of these is COVID-19, which has disrupted climate action in most countries, delaying new policy announcements, focusing attention on both the pandemic and the economic recovery. The level of investment needed to overcome COVID-19 has presented some opportunities, but the evidence so far seems to suggest that the world economy is bouncing back towards high-carbon growth.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has reduced the pressure on political leaders to act on climate change. It has been much harder to organise the protest movements – the school strikes, Extinction Rebellion – that were burgeoning before lockdowns came into force globally.
The importance of COP26
The IPCC report will be used to inform the discussions of world leaders at the UN climate talks, otherwise known as COP26, which are to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. But if there are so many things preventing putting emissions on a downward trajectory, what can the world expect from this fortnight-long meeting?
Clearly it can do some things. It is the key site for negotiating global inequalities, such as how richer countries should compensate poorer ones for having to bear the brunt of a crisis largely not of their making. Such issues have dogged the UN climate process since negotiations started in 1991. It is where national governments are supposed to make new sets of commitments, known as nationally determined contributions, to meet the overall goal of the Paris Agreement’s proposed global temperature limit.
Some of these commitments have already been published, but the signs that they are significantly strengthening global action are not good. So far, and despite US president Joe Biden’s summit in April, there is no sense that leading states are successfully persuading each other to improve their commitments, generating the kind of momentum in 2015 which led to the Paris Agreement.
To expect much from COP26 itself is to miss the key sites of action involved in causing emissions to peak and decline however. In the Paris Agreement, these are national governments. And most of the conflicts preventing action occur within countries.
It’s at this level that people must focus much of their attention, to outweigh the influence of fossil fuel companies, find novel ways to fund decarbonisation and steer the economic recovery from COVID-19 towards a low-carbon future.