News Round-Up: Investing in Sustainability

There are many ways you can incorporate sustainable practices into your personal and professional life.  From recycling at home to encouraging your company’s supply chain to adopt sustainable practices, sustainability is becoming a part of our everyday lives. Another way to impact your sustainability goals is through socially responsible investing or sustainable, “green” or ethical investing.  Investors employing this strategy seek to consider both financial returns and social good to bring about a social change. This Round-Up covers several interesting items related to “the news” on sustainable investing.

 

 

Feature Story

Interest In Environmental, Social and Corporate Governing (ESG) Investing Rises Around The World, Study Says

Over the years many investing trends have come and gone, but ESG investing appears to be here to stay.  In Schroders Global Investor Study 2017,  78 percent of more than 22,000 investors claimed that sustainability is more important than it was five years ago. Sixty-four percent claim that they have increased their allocation to sustainable funds over the last five years.

Schroders said that sustainable investing was the most commonly selected choice from a list of investment topics that investors said they would like to learn more about, ahead of topics like asset classes and the effects of compounding (Tweet about this)

 

 

 

Highlighted Stories

 

Additional News

 

Important Resources

 

See you next time!

 

Jeff Foote

 

Power of One: 4 Ways You Can Take on Climate Change

Have you heard about the Power of One?

There has been a lot of talk in the news about climate change, from record-breaking heat to more extreme weather events.

 
These stories are a great opportunity to recognize the toll these changes can take on people. This awareness lets us zone in on who are especially vulnerable and what kind of help they need.
 
To be honest, the gravity of the problem can feel overwhelming.
 
Trying to solve such a big, complex challenge can leave you feeling helpless or powerless. And however unlikely it may seem that one person can make a difference, one person actually can.
 
It’s the idea behind the Power of One.
 

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” 

 
While we each have individual journeys, and alone our strength may seem small, it’s not. There is an entire group of supporters and like-minded individuals around us who are discovering with us and helping us as we go.
 
This is fun and exhilarating and fulfilling. Because change only happens when individuals act. As Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
 
So, let’s get started. Here are four ways you can raise your voice, take action and get involved to take on climate change.

countdown-climate-change

 

Arm Yourself with Education

The New York Times published a new report from scientists at 13 federal agencies. The study found that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change. So, how do you get involved? Do your research! This will help you learn how to change some of your behaviors to reduce your impact on the environment.

new-york-times-climate-change-report-epa

Follow Your Money

Do you invest? Become a shareholder activist. One way to combat climate change be selective about the companies you invest in. Are you researching their sustainability policies? Making an impact takes more than just recycling; we must avoid funding bad practices. Think about investing in companies that use clean, safe renewables.
You can even drive change with your smartphone! With apps like Buycott or OpenLabel, you can scan product bar codes and spot harmful products. These apps also help you find companies like TreeZero that have strong sustainable products.

open-label-buycott-sustainability

Use Fewer Resources

There’s a good chance you’re already doing some of the things that help reduce your own carbon footprint, such as:
  1. Using energy-saving light bulbs
  2. Reducing meat consumption or buying locally produced food
These small steps are vital. Also consider:
  1. Reducing your water usage
  2. Walking or riding your bike
  3. Taking public transportation
  4. Carpooling with a friend or coworker
Conserving resources is good for everybody, especially the planet.

printing-environment-sustainability-alternative

Advocate

Use your voice and let others know what you’ve learned about great sustainable practices. Talk with your family and friends. It’s great that you want to change your habits, but the real magic happens when you convince others to adopt greener lifestyles. This sets off a ripple effect, as one person tells two more and those two tell two more, and so on.
 
Remind your peers that working together can make a greater difference. Get involved with conservation and volunteer to protect local green spaces. Consider asking local lawmakers to encourage projects that improve the environment around you.

 

Now you can go forward with confidence knowing that you can take on climate change and make a difference. As Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Oh, and never forget about the Power of One.

 

Solutions to Climate Change: A Review of Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken

Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming, brilliantly edited by Paul Hawken, is just what we need. Its a straight forward narrative providing over 100 solutions to global warming. Simply reducing carbon emissions below an arbitrary percentage, from a randomly selected base year, is not enough to stem the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

Drawdown is the collective work of a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world. They were tasked to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change.

The title of the book is derived from an atmospheric term. According to Paul Hawken, “drawdown is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis.” Hawken’s goal of the Drawdown project was to identify, measure, and model substantive solutions to determine how much we could accomplish within three decades.

Read more: Pedaling to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Bike to Work Day

Much of the systems, knowledge and technology we need to deploy to create a meaningful drawdown of GHG (greenhouse gases) already exists. Yet, a blueprint to get them to work in unison did not. Until now. Drawdown provides such a roadmap using systems thinking. Hawken sets forth in Drawdown that “we found a plan, a blueprint that already exists in the world in the form of humanity’s collective wisdom, made manifest in applied, hand-on practices and technologies that are commonly available, economically viable and scientifically valid.”

In fact-filled, one-to-three page vignettes, Drawdown offers and ranks its solutions – most feasible today – and projects the potential impact (in gigatons) of reduced CO2 as well as global implementation costs and potential financial savings. Solutions are organized into seven sectors – Buildings and Cities, Energy, Food, Land Use, Materials, Transport and Women and Girls. The solutions presented range from afforestation, electric vehicles and food waste reduction to recycled paper, regenerative agriculture and refrigeration management.

Drawdown is a must read for business, NGO and government leaders regardless of their organization’s sustainability efforts or positioning on climate change. Each solution is described in concise, superb prose that will inspire practical application for any organization interested in reducing its impact on climate change.

What Drawdown makes clear is that no government, NGO, international conglomerate or philanthropist can solve climate change alone. It is going to require an all-of-the-above strategy with worldwide collaboration. Using Drawdown as a playbook, we have an opportunity, as Hawken states, “…to see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.”

I encourage you to buy a copy of Drawdown, read it and implement relevant suggested solutions. My hope is that, like me, you’ll come away with a sense of optimism and promise dispelling thoughts of doom that we can’t solve the climate crisis.

About Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 29 languages including four national bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Natural Capitalism, co-authored with Amory Lovins, was read by several heads of state including Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire.

His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded several companies including the first food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He has served on the board of several environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.

Want to Read More by Paul Hawken

  • The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983)
  • Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987)
  • The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993)
  • Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007)
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999)
  • Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House in 2018.

Recent Posts

News Round-Up: Making Climate Change History

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding climate change in the news over the past few weeks.  The climate change debate is not new and unfortunately is not going away anytime soon.

The climate is changing, we have known it for a long time, and we can and must take action to stem the tide.  This Round-Up covers several interesting items related to “the news” on climate change.

 

Feature Story 

 The three-minute story of 800,000 years of climate change with a sting in the tail (Phys.org)

There are those who say climate has always changed, and that CO2 levels have always fluctuated.  That’s true. But its also true that since the industrial revolution, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia. Here’s a short video to put recent climate change and CO2 emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years. (Tweet about this)

 

Highlighted Stories

  • Thomas Edison – Renewable Energy Visionary (Thought Co) – In 1931, the same year he died, Edison confided his concerns to his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, who by then were retirement neighbors in Florida, “...we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” (Tweet about this)

Additional News

Important Resources

See you next time!

Jeff Foote

 

 

World Environment Day: Connecting People to Nature

Connecting People to Nature is this year’s theme for World Environmental Day.  World Environment Day, celebrated each June 5th, was first designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972.  In 100+ countries, this day is the UN’s signature annual event for encouraging environmental stewardship. From your backyard to your favorite national park, nature is closer than you think. It’s time to get out and enjoy it.  Be a part of a world-wide event and share your photos and videos using #WorldEnvironmentDay or #WithNature.

Rocky Mtns naturewaterfall colorado nature

I frequently spend time outdoors to connect with nature.  A hike along the Chattahoochee River or a walk or swim in my neighborhood brings me closer to nature. My travels take me across this country and the globe –  to all the seven continents.

colorado rocky mtns

The Rocky Mountains: the majesty of nature

Recently, I witnessed the majesty of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  The colonies of aspens, magnificent elk, soaring golden eagles, playful prairie dogs and yes, even snakes, took my breath away.

No matter where my travels take me, I’m always amazed by nature’s grandeur, stunning beauty and the plethora of free environmental services such as clean water and oxygen to soil and pollination.  Today few organizations or individuals directly pay for the environmental services received from nature.  Compounding this free rider status, many of the related externalities (waste) of commerce based on extraction of natural resources are not accounted for on the cost ledger of our organizations. If we don’t start accounting and paying for these environmental services that we all enjoy – how will our quality of life be impacted?  What are the risks to our businesses?  At a minimum, might we all be ignoring an enormous bill that is already past due?

I would argue that the status quo is unsustainable.

As much as 80% of the environmental impact of a brand comes from the activities of our supply chains.  Businesses, NGOs and governments all have opportunities to collaborate with suppliers and partners to protect and preserve the environment.  Here are some questions to consider posing across your supply chain:

  • How can we mimic nature to improve our products and services?
  • Do you collaborate with your key suppliers to measure and set reduction targets against use of energy, water, waste and packaging?
  • What waste streams are generated along each point within your supply chain that should be reduced, eliminated or examined for potential sale or donation to other organizations?
  • Do individual departments set budgets for use of energy, water, office supply use?
  • Does your organization report greenhouse gas related emissions publicly?
  • Are water-related risks or deforestation-related risks publicly reported by your organization?
  • How do you trace the origin of ingredients, raw materials and supplies and manage the quality of your direct suppliers?
  • What benefits do or can your service or product deliver to society?
  • Do your brand managers tour and experience the entire supply chain of your business?
  • What new initiatives should you pursue to help connect with nature as a way to enhance the influence and growth or your brand, while protecting and preserving the environment?

This World Environment Day, I encourage you to take steps to connect your brand, organization and yourself more closely with nature.  If you are not routinely asking questions like those above to your suppliers, my question to you is, what do you have you to lose?

3 Things to Know About Our Partnership with Wildlife Works

We’ve been working hard since 2009 to make a positive impact on the world through innovation and sustainability. Because we want to keep driving progress, we’ve recently partnered with Wildlife Works to help preserve threatened forests. With the support of TreeZero and other sustainability-focused companies, Wildlife Works is:

  • Protecting 1.2 million acres of forest in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Preserving habitats for more than 300 wildlife species
  • Bringing sustainable development benefits to more than 200,000 locals

We are excited about this partnership and our goal is to share the benefits with you.

We’re Increasing the Sustainability of our Products

Through our partnership with Wildlife Works, our multipurpose paper is now carbon neutral. What does that mean? It means we’re cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We went back and purchased carbon offsets for every ream of paper distributed by TreeZero since the inception of the company. We’re committed to meeting the highest sustainability standards and will continue purchasing carbon offsets for future sales. 

We’re Helping the Environment

Saving the environment is no easy task and we understand people want to get involved. To continue moving the needle, our partnership with Wildlife Works is helping to provide training and employment opportunities to villagers near these forests. And by working together, Wildlife Works is helping to protect local wildlife, including elephants, giraffes and cheetahs.

 

 

We’re Advocating for Continued Change

It’s important to speak up and show the world you stand for something. We offer thanks to our customers – the thousands of companies and individuals who use TreeZero’s multipurpose paper every day. Together with Wildlife Works, we’ll continue to help preserve threatened forests and habitats.

This upcoming weekend, I’ll be at The Rethinking Animals Summit in New York speaking on the “Business for Sustainable Solutions” panel with Wildlife Works founder Mike Korchinsky. We’re sharing how businesses can be profitable while protecting the environment. We hope to inspire other businesses and more consumers to make sustainable choices – because every decision makes a difference.

Additional Resources

Now is the Time to Make Earth Day Everyday

In a recent blog post, Jason Clay of World Wildlife Fund made some interesting historical references to the conditions of our world dating back to the first Earth Day – April 22, 1970.   Since 1970 the human population doubled.   The non-human vertebrate species’ populations declined by an average of 58 percent.  The global average temperature increased by about one degree Celsius. In 1970, the US imported about $54 billion worth of goods and services.  That number rose to $2.7 trillion in 2016.

Manhattan skyline

Manhattan skyline in 1974, photographed by Alexander Hope for Documerica. Courtesy of the National Archives

By 1970 millions of Americans were fed-up with the state of the natural environment.  Civil society was ripe for activism and government solutions. They were ready for business and commerce to clean up their acts.

Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI (D)) understood this disgust along with the rising demands of citizens.  He proposed a national event to galvanize action – Earth Day.  “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.”

NYT first Earth Day

A throng of thousands along New York City’s 5th Ave., as far as the eye could see, came out for Earth Day 1970 demonstrations receiving front page coverage the next day

Clearly, we’ve made great progress since the first Earth Day. But so much still needs to be done.  I’d venture to say, focusing on just one day falls short of the vision of the father of Earth Day.

Our reliance on fossil fuels and the inefficient use of most, if not all, energy continues to make the most significant impact on the environment. Energy is the life blood of our economy.  But extraction, refining, generation and transmission of most of our energy sources creates enormous amounts of waste, emissions of particulate air pollution and heat trapping greenhouse gases.  Yet, many of these externalities are not accounted for on the cost ledger of our businesses or personal budgets.

What does the American public think?  According to a March 2017 Gallup Poll, 59% of Americans believe the environment should be prioritized over energy production.   This is not an unreasonable expectation.  Just think about the amount of solar energy hitting the earth each day. If properly collected, stored and transmitted, solar energy could provide more than is needed to meet our daily energy needs.

LED bulbs avoid the use of significant amounts of energy.  They reduce maintenance costs and eliminate mercury associated with fluorescent bulbs.

Imagine if procurement officials from colleges and universities gave preference to recycled materials and low carbon commitments in setting selection criteria for goods and services?

Would energy efficiency and use of renewable energy increase significantly if fossil fuel energy use by industry and commerce were listed on the loss side of balance sheets?

Senator Nelson said, “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity…that’s where all economic activity and jobs come from.”

This Earth Day, by all-means, plant a tree, organize a clean-up, recycle.  Better yet, organize efforts to make long-term commitments to reduce the impact of your organization.   What material impact does your company have as a result of the use of energy, water and waste generation across the entire supply chain?  Do you measure it?  Do you set expectations for your suppliers to reduce natural resource use? Can you meet and exceed the environmental expectations of your customers?

If not, I encourage you to set stretch, time-based goals. Work to make the change you want to see in your organization and the world.  Look for opportunities to embed sustainability measurements, goals and requirements across all functions of your organization and with all your suppliers and customers.

If you don’t do it.  Who will?Gaylord Nelson quote

Easy ways to “go green” at the office to celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up at the end of the month. You’re already trying to be as “green” as you can be at home, so now it’s time to make your workplace just as sustainable.  There are lots of simple changes you can make to raise awareness of environmental issues, create a sustainable workplace, and encourage your co-workers to make and participate in sustainable choices.

Here’s a few ways to make any office Earth Day-ready:

  1. Think Before You Print. Refrain from printing things that can easily be read or saved on the computer. And, if you decide to print, TreeZero encourages you to use our tree free multipurpose paper. We also suggest that you set up your printers to print two-sided, set your margins as wide and your font size as small as possible. Not only will you save paper, but you’ll think twice about what you’re sending out.recycle bins
  2. Recycle Everything You Can. Recycling is one of the easiest, least demanding and least expensive ways to go green. Strategically place recycling bins around the office to encourage people to properly dispose of paper, aluminum, plastic, glass and other items. As your office becomes more involved in the recycling, you can also set up separate bins for items such as batteries and ink cartridges.biking to work
  3. Commute Smarter. Walk or cycle to work if you can.  Take public transportation (tip: buy bulk passes to save money). As a bonus with either of these two options, you’ll get additional exercise on your way to and from work.  If you must drive, carpool or car share.  According to the EPA, ditching your car for two days per week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year.dog at work
  4. Conserve Water. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap. Don’t pour left over water down the drain.  Use it to water the plants.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to bring your dog to the office, use left over water to fill the dog’s water bowl.green team 2
  5. Start a Green Team. Get your office to create a sustainability team. Gather team members from a cross-section of the company and work together to develop and maintain green practices for your company. Keep it fun and encourage company-wide participation rewarding creative ideas.  Your new Green Team can inspire, activate, and engage employees to create meaningful changes within your company.  Otherwise, what’s the use of these tips if no one is using them?

Let us know how you’ve made your office a more sustainable place to work. Share some of your favorite sustainable ideas.  We look forward to celebrating and supporting Earth Day 2017 with all of you!

Celebrating International Day of Forests: A Special Round-Up on Deforestation

March 21 is International Day of Forests – The theme of the 2017 International Day of Forests celebration is “Forests and Energy” to increase awareness of forest-energy interconnections and strengthen engagement between forest and energy practitioners and policymakers. Individuals, groups, governments and businesses are encouraged to organize and partake in awareness raising and activities regarding the importance of preserving and protecting forests such as tree planting efforts.

Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion TreesNational Geographic’s Laura Parker reports on a teenager and his environmental group.  Starting his project as a nine-year-old, Felix Finkbeiner aims to restore the world’s forests. Finkbeiner is 19—and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees—150 for every person on the Earth.

The organization also prompted the first scientific, full-scale global tree count, which is now aiding NASA in an ongoing study of forests’ abilities to store carbon dioxide and their potential to better protect the Earth. In many ways, Finkbeiner has done more than any other activist to recruit youth to the climate change movement. Plant-for-the-Planet now has an army of 55,000 “climate justice ambassadors,” who have trained in one-day workshops to become climate activists in their home communities. Most of them are between the ages nine and 12.

The Earth Has Lungs. Watch Them Breathe – By Robert Krulwich – What a difference a leaf makes! Well, not one leaf. We have 3.1 trillion trees on our planet—that’s 422 trees per person. If we count all the leaves on all those trees and take a look at what they do collectively to the air around us, the effect—and I do not exaggerate—is stunning. I’ve got a video from NASA. When you see it, I think your jaw is going to drop—just a little. It tracks the flow of carbon dioxide across the planet over 12 months, starting in January. Most of the action takes place in the Northern Hemisphere because that’s where most of the land is, and so that’s where most of the trees are. The biggest temperate forests are in Canada, Siberia, and Scandinavia.

That’s what the NASA video shows us: We can see the Green Machine turning on, then, a few months later, turning off. When it’s on, when the leaves are out, those ugly, poisonous-looking swirls of orange and red vanish from the sky. The machine works. And this happens every year. It’s as though the Earth itself has lungs.  But for all of its lung power, CO2 concentrations keep building in our atmosphere. We’re apparently pouring so much CO2 into the sky that the trees can’t keep up. Twelve thousand years ago, the Yale study says, there were twice as many trees on Earth. Apparently, we need their help. We need more trees. We really do.

The Nearest Forest is Farther Away Than You Thought – By Kastalia Medrano – New analysis of American deforestation offers a surprising stat: The average distance to the nearest forest increased by nearly 14 percent in the last decade. To put it another way, the total forest cover lost is comparable in size to the state of Maine.  The forest cover is also vanishing at a rate more than a full order of magnitude greater than we previously thought. A pair of researchers made the discovery by analyzing forest attrition — the complete removal of forest patches, including small ones — across the continental United States.

Two Redwood Trees

Redwood Trees Providing Canopy

The western part of the country especially was shown to have vastly accelerated rates of attrition.  A study detailing the research was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE. The focus for this study was on four primary drivers: commercial logging, agriculture, urbanization pressure, and forest fires.

More Companies Reporting Progress toward Deforestation-free Supply Chains Recent years have witnessed a groundswell of private sector commitments to reducing deforestation linked to the agricultural commodities that underpin vast corporate supply chains. A growing number of companies have been sharing their progress toward those pledges, according to the latest annual report from Forest Trends’ Supply Change initiative. The report, Supply Change: Tracking Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-free Supply Chains, 2017, looks at 447 companies that have made 760 commitments to curb forest destruction in supply chains linked to the “big four” agricultural commodities: palm, soy, timber & pulp, and cattle.

“Corporate commitments to deforestation-free supply chains continue to gain momentum as stakeholders demand more sustainable businesses and products. As companies move to address these demands – and the ever-growing threats to their supply chains, including climate change – we’re learning that meeting these goals is easier said than done,” said Stephen Donofrio, Senior Advisor for Supply Change. “It requires a reformulation of an entire complex system – from suppliers to retailers, among many other non-corporate actors.” The report, which examines 718 companies that Supply Change has identified as “exposed” to the big four commodities, include:  Commitments on palm and timber & pulp continue to lead the way, thanks in large part to more well-established certification programs and scrutiny around palm oil-driven deforestation. Commitment rates remain considerably lower for soy and cattle, which is troubling given their outsized contribution to tropical forest loss.

HSBC overhauls deforestation policy after Greenpeace investigation – HSBC has launched a new zero-deforestation policy after a Greenpeace investigation found a link between the banking corporation and organizations destroying Indonesia’s forests and peatland.  The new policy requires its customers to commit to protecting natural forest and peat by 30 June 2017 by publishing their own forest protection policies. It also says the bank will no longer provide funding to companies involved in any kind of deforestation or peatland clearance, breaking its links with destructive palm oil corporations. More than 200,000 people around the world signed a petition to put pressure on HSBC thanks to a Greenpeace campaign that also encouraged people to send emails directly to the bank’s CEO and protest outside high street branches.

Prince of Wales brokers pact to end cocoa deforestation – By Terry Slavin. The world’s biggest buyers, producers and retailers in the cocoa supply chain met in London recently to sign a statement of collective intent to end deforestation in the global cocoa supply chain. The agreement, the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain, was brokered by the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and signed by 12 of the biggest companies in the supply chain, including Cargill, Olam, Ferrero, The Hershey Company; Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé. The 12 companies hope to unveil a joint framework at COP 23 in Bonn in November. Crucially, ministers and senior government representatives of the two leading cocoa producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK attended.

The Prince of Wales told participants: “It is clear that the private sector has a critically important part to play in saving our remaining forests, particularly through tackling the deforestation that has too often, alas, been associated with global commodity supply chains. The commitments made in this regard over recent years by a number of the world’s major companies, including some of those represented in this room, are hugely encouraging. But we all know that delivery on such commitments can be challenging, to put it mildly, and that the list of commodities covered remains far from complete.

And until now, one of the important omissions from that list was cocoa, which is why today’s announcement is so very heartening.” The statement commits the companies to work with public, private, and civil society partners to develop a common vision and joint framework to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa sector by 2018. Among other commitments, the companies will work with producer country governments to “professionalize and economically empower farmers and their families, and deepen support for inclusive and participatory development of cocoa-growing communities, with a strong focus on gender empowerment.”

Exclusive Look Into How Rare Elephants’ Forests Are Disappearing – By Laurel Neme – A high-stakes game playing out in a remote biodiversity hot spot pits the palm oil industry against the ecological integrity of the last place on Earth where critically endangered Sumatran elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans live side by side. At issue is destruction of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem—a UNESCO World Heritage site at the northern end of Sumatra—principally by forest clearing for oil palm plantations. Roughly the size of Massachusetts, the Leuser’s 10,000 square miles straddle two provinces, with 85 percent in Aceh and the rest in North Sumatra.

Sumatran Elephant

This little one gets a nudge as they cross a river in the Leuser Ecosystem.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL HILTON FOR RAN

The region encompasses Sumatra’s largest intact rain forest and a mix of habitats, from high alpine meadows to peat swamps. Palm oil—the basis of products such as cosmetics and shampoos, processed foods and biodiesel—is versatile and has a long shelf life.  But oil palm plantations gobble up forest—and not always legally. A new report by the NGO Rainforest Action Network details the illegal razing of lowland forest, critical habitat for 22 Sumatran elephants, by oil palm grower PT Agra Bumi Niaga (PT ABN). The clearing likely also affects tigers and orangutans that depend on this forest. The Rainforest Action Network is a San Francisco-based NGO with a 30-year history of campaigns targeting major corporate brands implicated in forest destruction, human rights abuses, and climate change pollution.

Successful Forest Protection in DRC Hinges on Community Participation – By John C. Cannon The tens of millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who depend on the forest must be considered to keep the world’s second largest rainforest intact.  The Democratic Republic of Congo’s extensive forests seem like a bright spot in an otherwise-troubled country. With forests covering an area larger than Colombia, DRC has managed to sidestep the surge in losses that forest-rich countries in South America, Southeast Asia and elsewhere in Africa have suffered. It has become an important country partner in the UN’s REDD+ program. Short for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,” REDD+ promises DRC hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental and development work, coming from the governments of Norway, Germany, France, the U.K., and the EU.

In exchange, the country’s leadership has agreed to preserve the country’s stockpile of carbon tucked away in the vegetation of its forests, estimated to be around 22 billion metric tons (48.5 trillion pounds).  The goal now is to maintain DRC’s status as a high-forest, low-deforestation country, while proving to the continent and the world that a strategy as global as REDD+ can work. REDD+ has potential to slow the emissions from forest destruction and provide poor countries with funds for development, but as research in DRC and elsewhere is proving, it will only do that if it’s implemented properly.

The solution is far from one-size-fits-all, researchers say, and it will depend on the earnest commitment of local communities. For DRC, as the light of economic and political stability flickers on the horizon, the question is more basic. The country’s forests have survived decades of dysfunction, conflict and failed governance.  Now, they stand on the leading edge of a global climate solution. They’re attracting the attention of donor countries and at the same time international corporations looking for new places to develop while also bringing the promise of economic prosperity. Will they survive this ‘success’?

Drought and forest loss cause vicious circle in the Amazon – If dry seasons intensify with man-made climate change, the risk for self-amplified forest loss increases even more and could put the Amazon rainforest further at risk, an international team of scientists found. Despite a trend of boosting forest areas around the globe, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest increased in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year.  Researchers at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) found the Amazon rainforest could be exposed to higher risks of dieback if dry seasons intensify and rainfall decreases.

This could lead to a vicious dieback circle, they said in a study published in Nature Communications. “The Amazon rainforest is one of the tipping elements in the Earth system,” said lead-author Delphine Clara Zemp, who conducted the study at PIK. “We already know that on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts,” she said. “So more droughts can lead to less forest leading to more droughts and so on.

Yet the consequences of this feedback between the plants on the ground and the atmosphere above them so far was not clear.” The researchers found the close relationship between deforestation and drought could put the Amazon further at risk. When it rains, trees absorb water through their roots and then release it back to the atmosphere. Tropical forests produce most of the water they need themselves: they pump moisture which then rains back to them.

deforestation amazan

Yet logging and warmer air – due to greenhouse gas emissions – reduce precipitations and hinder the moisture transport from one forest area to the other, affecting even remote areas. “Then happens what we call the ‘cascading forest loss,'” said co-author Anja Rammig from the Technical University of Munich, who is currently working as a guest scientist at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. A fifth of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest, says the conservation group Cool Earth.

Small farmers play big role in felling Peru rainforest: satellite maps – By Chris ArsenaultDeforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has risen this century – destroying an area of rainforest 14 times larger than Los Angeles – with small farmers behind most of the cutting, according to a new analysis of satellite maps. Small farmers account for about 80 percent of Peru’s forest loss, the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), a Washington, D.C.-based research group, said on Wednesday. “One of the big findings of this report is that deforestation is not driven by sexier issues such as large-scale oil palm (plantations) or dams, but widespread small-scale agriculture,” said Matt Finer, MAAP’s director. Small producers clearing forests for farms or cattle grazing along with logging roads and illegal gold mining have caused Peru to lose 1,800,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest since 2001 and the trend is steadily increasing, the analysis said.

Cameroon to restore 12 million hectares of Congo Basin rainforest – Cameroon has committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030 as part of the Bonn Challenge initiative, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has announced. The initiative is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares by 2020, and more than double that to 350 million by 2030. The pledge is the biggest to date in the Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rain forest, and brings the 2020 goal into range with a total of 148 million hectares pledged. Cameroon’s pledge will also contribute to the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), which aims to bring 100 million hectares under restoration by 2030 through the Bonn Challenge and concurrent programs.

Weekly Round-Up: Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

Energy efficiency and climate change are often discussed, and are important topics today.  Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are the fastest growing fuel sources.  But, the burning of fossil fuels will continue to be the largest source of energy powering the US and world economies for the foreseeable future.  The extraction of these fuels, as well as the thermodynamic forces used to convert fossil fuels into energy and mobility, also emit various emissions from particulates to methane and CO2.   Thousands of scientists have dedicated their careers studying the impact these emissions are having and could have on the world’s climate. 

Below are some recent articles regarding energy efficiency and climate change that we feel could be of use our customers and consumers.

Energy Efficiency

Office Energy Use. According to You Sustain, an average US office with 50 staff members emits around 530 tons of carbon dioxide yearly as the result of electricity and gas consumption, employees’ travel, water use and waste generation. This is equivalent to the energy use of an average American household for 41 years.

Energy Efficiency Grants and Incentives. Many cities, counties and state agencies offer rebates, grants and incentives to businesses and individuals to purchase and use energy efficient appliances and equipment. A comprehensive list (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) can be found online.

Your energy saving checklist by Dr. Paul Swift: Here’s a checklist of the top 6 things you need to do to stop wasting money on energy: 1. Check your figures – know how much you’re really using every month.  Speak to your energy supplier about getting a smart meter. Check you’re not using more than you should against sector benchmarks. 2. Take a walk around your premises – find out what equipment uses the most energy. Note the wattage of all of your equipment. 3. Get your timing right – only use energy when you need to. 4. Kit yourself out – invest in energy saving equipment. 5. Get employees on board; 6. Keep warm – stop heat escaping.

How Energy Star for Homes WorksWhat is your home telling you? Take the whole house approach to learn how the systems in your home can work together to provide the most comfortable, efficient living space.   With expert help from Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, you’ll get the home you deserve.

Climate Change

Seven Climate Change Records Broken In 2016.  1. String of Storms shatter statistical milestones. 2. Species Wiped Out – The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal wiped out by climate change. 3. Carbon Dioxide levels reach record high yearly minimum – In September, carbon dioxide in our atmosphere stayed above the 400ppm mark, and according to scientists, we may never see it dip back below this number in our lifetimes. 4. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than ever. 5. Warmest August on record. 6. 2016 Could be the warmest year ever. 7. One record to be proud of: The solar industry is soaring in 2016.

Shocking footage reveals Antarctic ice shelf crack is now wider than the Empire State Building as scientists warn it is ‘close’ to calving off and creating a giant iceberg –  Shocking new footage has revealed just how close a massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, is ‘close’ to falling off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and creating a huge iceberg. Experts are concerned the huge calving event, which would create an iceberg with an area of more than 5,000 km², roughly the size of Delaware or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable. This, they warn, could contribute dramatically to sea level rise.

iceberg calving

The massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, would create an iceberg with an area roughly the size of Delare or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable, scientists fear.