Tribal nations and Indigenous communities are key collaborators on adaptation work within the Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) network. The centers have partnered with numerous Tribal and Indigenous communities on projects or activities to better understand the communities’ specific knowledge of and exposure to impacts of climate change, to increase or assist with capacity to support adaptation planning, and to identify and address climate science needs. Projects and activities generated in the various CASC regions have different Tribal and Indigenous stakeholders, climate change contexts, and training needs. Consequently, these projects and activities were neither implemented nor reported consistently throughout the network. Information and materials on the various projects and activities were gathered and are presented in the Tribal and Indigenous Projects Data Sheet (hereafter, Data Sheet) with the goals of reducing inconsistencies between CASCs and benefitting other agencies who plan to implement similar activities. The Data Sheet is complementary to this report, which provides a synthesis of the CASC-led climate-related, capacity-building activities for Tribes and Indigenous communities. The results described in this report provide an analysis of the categorization of projects, activities, and individual trainings to highlight detailed information on the various ways each CASC works with and supports Native and Indigenous communities.
Month: January 2023
In a drought, California is watching water wash out to sea
Read the full story in the New York Times.
Heavy storms have flooded parts of California, but the state has been unable to capture billions of gallons of water that are flowing unchecked into the ocean. Los Angeles is embarking on an ambitious new program to change that.
What does ESG mean? Two business scholars explain what environmental, social and governance standards and principles are
by Luciana Echazú, University of New Hampshire and Diego C. Nocetti, Clarkson University
Environmental, social and governance business standards and principles, often referred to as ESG, are becoming both more commonplace and controversial.
But what does “ESG” really mean?
It’s shorthand for the way that many corporations operate in accordance with the belief that their long-term survival and their ability to generate profits require accounting for the impact their decisions and actions have on the environment, society as a whole and their own workforce.
These practices grew out of long-standing efforts to make businesses more socially and environmentally responsible.
ESG investing, sometimes called sustainable investment, also takes these considerations into account.
Zeroing in on the E, S and G
ESG priorities vary widely, but there are some common themes.
These priorities usually emphasize environmental sustainability – the E in ESG – with a focus on contributing to efforts to slow the pace of climate change.
There’s also an effort to uphold high ethical standards through corporate operations. These social concerns – the S – can include, for example, ensuring that a company doesn’t buy goods and services from exploitative suppliers, or treats its employees well. Or it might entail taking care to hire and retain a diverse workforce and taking steps to reduce social injustices in the communities where a corporation operates.
Companies embracing ESG principles should also have high-quality governance – the G. Governance includes oversight, handled by a competent and qualified board of directors, regarding the hiring and firing of top corporate leaders, executive compensation and any dividends paid to shareholders.
Governance also pertains to whether a company’s leadership operates fairly and responsibly, with transparency and accountability.
Why ESG matters
By 2026, the total amount invested globally according to these principles will nearly double to US$34 trillion from $18.4 trillion in 2021, the accounting firm PwC estimates. However, increasing scrutiny of which investments really qualify as ESG could mean it takes longer to reach that volume.
This corporate concept is becoming a political touchstone in the U.S. because some states, like Florida and Kentucky, arguing that these practices divert from the focus on maximizing profits and can be detrimental to investors by making other considerations a priority, have barred their pension funds from using ESG principles as part of their investment considerations. Some very large asset managers, including BlackRock, aren’t allowed to work with those pension funds anymore.
Many of the arguments against embracing these principles hold that they reduce profits by taking other factors into account. But how do ESG practices affect financial performance?
A team of New York University scholars looked at the results of 1,000 different studies that had sought to answer this question. It found mixed results: Some of the studies found that ESG principles increased returns, others found that they weakened performance, and a third group determined that these principles made no difference at all.
It’s possible that the disparities among results could be due largely to the lack of clarity regarding what counts and does not count as ESG, which has been a long-standing discussion and makes it hard to assess how ESG investments perform.
The NYU scholars also found two consistent results regarding ESG strategies. First, they help protect investors against risks such as losses resulting from the failure of a supply chain due to environmental or geopolitical issues, and they can protect companies from volatility during periods of economic instability and downturns. Second, investors and companies benefit more from ESG strategies in the long term than in the short term.
Luciana Echazú, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education; Associate Professor of Economics, University of New Hampshire and Diego C. Nocetti, Dean, School of Business; Professor of Economics and Financial Studies, Clarkson University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Road salts wash into Mississippi River, damaging ecosystems and pipes
Read the full story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Wisconsin Watch.
This winter has already brought significant snowfall to much of the U.S. Historically, more snow has meant more road salt. It’s an effective way to clear roads — but also brings cascading environmental impacts as it washes into rivers and streams.
But amid one powerful winter storm that walloped the Midwest in December, employees from the La Crosse County Facilities Department in Wisconsin did something a little different.
As usual, they clocked into work well before dawn to plow the county’s downtown parking lots. They were followed by facilities director Ryan Westphal, who walked each of the lots, checking for slick spots. Finding none, he didn’t lay any salt down on top.
That’s a major departure from how he would have handled the situation a few years ago – before their department made the decision to dramatically cut back on salt use to prevent it from flowing into waters like the nearby Mississippi River, which new data show has been growing saltier for decades.
How the product passport is set to change the supply chain industry
Read the full story at Supply & Demand Chain Executive.
Sustainability seems to be the current “name of the game” in the manufacturing industry, but several sustainability initiatives have faltered due to a lack of resources required to back them up. A new initiative led by the European Union proposes the idea of “digital product passports” (DPPs) that will revolutionize how consumers and businesses understand their supply chains and significantly aid in implementing sustainability initiatives.
A big step toward ‘green’ ammonia and a ‘greener’ fertilizer
Read the full story from the University of California – Berkeley.
Synthesizing ammonia, the key ingredient in fertilizer, is energy intensive and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas warming of the planet. Chemists designed and synthesized porous materials — metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs — that bind and release ammonia at more moderate pressures and temperatures than the standard Haber-Bosch process for making ammonia. The MOF doesn’t bind to any of the reactants, making capture and release of ammonia less energy intensive and greener.
Significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions still possible
Read the full story from McGill University.
About a quarter of the world’s electricity currently comes from power plants fired by natural gas. These contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions (amounting to 10% of energy-related emissions according to the most recent figures from 2017) and climate change. By gathering data from 108 countries around the world and quantifying the emissions by country, a team has estimated that total global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the life cycle of gas-fired power is 3.6 billion tonnes each year. They found that this amount could be reduced by as much as 71% if a variety of mitigation options were used around the world.
London Underground polluted with metallic particles small enough to enter human bloodstream
Read the full story from the University of Cambridge.
The London Underground is polluted with ultrafine metallic particles small enough to end up in the human bloodstream, according to researchers. These particles are so small that they are likely being underestimated in surveys of pollution in the world’s oldest metro system.
Floating solar panels could unlock clean power without wasting land
Read the full story at Canary Media.
Many countries bet on solar panels when engaging in the switch to cleaner energy. But the technology requires much larger areas than conventional fossil fuel plants to generate the same amount of electricity. An emerging solution to save space is to float the panels on bodies of water, an approach dubbed “floatovoltaics.” Scientists believe this new approach could help solar energy to scale globally and fight climate change, but its environmental impacts are largely unexplored.
The world’s first commercial floatovoltaic system was installed on an irrigation pond at a California winery in 2008. Since then, bigger plants with capacities in the hundreds of megawatts have been built on lakes and hydropower reservoirs in China, and more are planned in Southeast Asia and Brazil.
Accelerating reuse models to achieve a world free of plastic waste
Read the full story from the World Economic Forum.
The World Economic Forum’s Consumers Beyond Waste initiative is driving a shift towards reuse models through the standardization of measurement and is elevating reuse as a critical aspect of the UN agreement on plastic pollution.
Half of global plastic production is for single-use and only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling; reliance on recycling alone will not solve the waste problem.
The production of plastic also increases carbon emissions since it is a by-product of petroleum and it impacts health, with microplastics recently found in human blood.
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