This week, a new investigative report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a children’s health advocacy group, revealed that there is still more work to do in eliminating contaminants of concern, including lead, arsenic, and cadmium, from infant and toddler food. As noted in the report, at least one of these toxic heavy metals was detected in 95 percent of the 168 baby food samples tested. The good news: earlier this year, leaders in the sector supported by academic, government, and NGO partners and advisors started working together on the issue via the pre-competitive Baby Food Council.
There’s no doubt that consumers are looking for safer, cleaner and more environmentally-friendly products. However, demonstrating leadership among the competition can be tricky, particularly because terms like “clean” are unregulated and lack a standard definition. One way to lead on consumer trust and gain a competitive advantage? Champion meaningful transparency – this means sharing greater ingredient information as well as how these ingredients and products are assessed. Credo Beauty, the largest clean beauty retailer in the country, is doing just that – last week they launched their leading-edge Fragrance Transparency Policy.
Virtually eliminating methane emissions is a critical complement to CO2 reductions and essential to bending the curve of greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2030. Environmental Defense Fund and BP are pursuing a three-year collaboration to advance technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions from the global oil and gas supply chain. I recently had the chance to sit down with Brian Pugh, Chief Innovation Officer BPX, to discuss technology innovation, the role of methane regulations, and creating a data-driven culture.
Q: Why is reaching near zero methane emissions an important issue for BP and its U.S. onshore upstream company BPX Energy?
A: Minimizing methane emissions is the right thing to do – for the environment and our business.
Backlash continues to grow against the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The coalition opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s rollbacks now includes major oil and gas companies¹, a midstream gas transmission operator, investors representing over $5.5 trillion in assets under management and 12 of the nation’s largest utilities.²
These utilities, who use natural gas produced by oil and gas companies for electricity generation and delivery to commercial and residential consumers, have expressed strong opposition to the proposed regulations, recognizing national standards as the “foundation” of industry efforts to reduce methane emissions.
The public comment period, which began on Sept. 24, offers downstream energy providers a key opportunity to publicly add their voice to the broad set of stakeholders supporting federal regulation of methane in the oil and gas sector.
It’s true that in many cities, air quality is better now than it was decades ago. But urban air quality is still a health risk in far too many places. Premature death from air pollution is about 50 percent more common in cities than in rural areas. On days with higher air pollution, stock returns are lower, and students perform worse on exams. Companies in highly polluted cities have to offer a form of “hazard pay.” And with about 1.5 million people relocating to urban centers every week, air quality will remain a persistent and urgent problem for city leaders around the world.
EDF has been working for over three years to demonstrate how hyperlocal air quality monitoring can help local officials better identify and address dirty air. This week, at the 2019 C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, we released a guide that captures our experiences from groundbreaking monitoring pilots, and the lessons we learned along the way: Making the Invisible Visible: A guide for mapping hyperlocal air pollution to drive clean air action.
At the behest of the American Petroleum Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to eliminate nationwide limits on methane pollution, sending America’s natural gas industry backwards to the days of uncontrolled emissions. This dangerous proposal threatens the climate, the communities living near oil and gas development and the increasingly vulnerable status of American natural gas in a transition to a net-zero carbon emission economy.
Any business depends on four fundamentals to operate successfully: demand from customers, acceptance from society at large, financial capital to invest and talent to do the work. America’s natural gas industry is no different.
Eliminating methane standards would increase risk to each part of this foundation, making this proposed rollback a prime opportunity for risk-conscious executives and investors to speak out this fall. Read more
One focus area at this week’s UN Climate Action Summit is Energy Transition, where one of the expected outcomes is bold new “commitments from the IT sector (individually or collectively) on energy efficiency and the leveraging of technology.”
I’m excited to see what new commitments and momentum arise from Climate Week because emerging technologies like sensors, analytics, and AI can play an important role in the transition to a 100% clean economy – which means that by 2050, we can’t produce any more climate pollution than we can pull out of the air. Getting there will involve shifting our entire economy – power plants, transportation, factories, and more – as well as developing and deploying new technology that can make 100% clean a reality.
The good news for businesses is that investing in and developing cutting-edge technologies also boosts the bottom line. Read more
A “better, faster, cheaper” methane leak detection solution used to be an elusive unicorn of the oil and gas industry. Yet, since EDF commenced its methane innovation work in 2014, there has been a mass proliferation of innovative methane detection companies, big and small. With new ideas and new technologies, innovators are challenging old assumptions and pushing the frontier of what is possible.
Stanford and the Environmental Defense Fund Mobile Monitoring Challenge launched in 2018 to independently and rigorously assess a selection of the most promising technologies available today to help oil and gas companies detect, pinpoint and estimate methane leaks from upstream production facilities.
The results of this challenge were published today in the journal Elementa – and the findings offer a glimpse towards a promising new era of higher frequency monitoring. Even as the Trump Administration attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s common-sense methane regulations, some companies are looking to innovative technology to go above and beyond what is currently required. The results are significant beyond U.S. borders as well. Numerous international oil companies, including the members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, will require higher frequency, accurate methane monitoring to help achieve their methane reduction commitments.
Here are the three main takeaways from the Mobile Monitoring Challenge study.
Brazil’s space research agency (INPE) detected almost 80,000 fires this year, around half in the Amazon, up 84% over last year. If unchecked, this trend would be catastrophic for the planet. Businesses will take a huge hit – but they can also be an important contributor to reversing these trends. Read more
Yesterday, some of the most powerful CEOs in corporate America declared that driving shareholder value can no longer be their sole business objective. A group of 181 CEOs representing the Business Roundtable claimed that corporations have a responsibility to balance the needs of all their stakeholders – from employees to local communities.
Several societal trends have pushed corporations to look beyond their fiduciary responsibilities and consider their impact on society, including pressure from employees.
Nearly 40% of millennials – now the largest generation in the American workforce – report choosing a job because of the employer’s approach to corporate sustainability. Five years of statistics from EDF Climate Corps reflect this trend: Demand for climate-related jobs has nearly doubled in the last five years.
Millennials are different from previous generations in their preference for purpose over paycheck. They want to bring change.
Here are three insights I’ve identified from EDF Climate Corps’ pool of graduate student applicants that should matter to any CEO seeking to recruit and retain talent. The program receives over 1,000 applications each year and has an acceptance rate of 10%.