The businesses that are – and are not – leading on climate change

When President Trump announced his plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017, businesses spoke out en masse in opposition to this plan – conveying that long-term, global competitiveness demands climate action. Soon after, the We Are Still In Coalition was born to showcase widespread commitment to the Paris Accord.

This week, as the Trump administration cedes global leadership on climate by formally withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, We Are Still In membership now stands at more than 2,200 businesses and investors – including big names like Walmart, Hewlett Packard, Dropbox, and Apple.

Continued commitment to the Paris Accord is critical – but it’s also only one part of what is needed to fill the climate leadership void, build the clean energy economy, and remain “in.”

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The New Era of Data Driven Methane Management: Q&A with BPX Chief Innovation Officer

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.

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Buckle Up: Methane Monitoring is Going Mobile

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.

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Four frightening ways the fires in Brazil’s Amazon will impact businesses

Bolsonaro is pitting environmental protections against economic growth, but this is a false dichotomy.

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

Meet e-commerce’s sustainability problem that isn’t the cardboard box

With the click of a button, our groceries, clothes, personal care products, household items – just about anything – could arrive on our doorsteps in a neatly packaged cardboard box. It’s convenience, delivered. But at what cost?

What happens behind-the-scenes to get a package delivered to your door is taking a toll on our planet and our health. Freight is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a major source of local air pollution. The rise in e-commerce is a growing part of increased pollution and poor air quality.

The truth is, “free shipping” isn’t really free. We’re just paying for it in other ways.

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What presidential hopefuls can learn from the original “Climate Corps”

The 2020 presidential candidates are starting to introduce an array of proposals to fight climate change. Included in the mix are multiple calls for creating a “Climate Corps” – a national service initiative designed to engage America’s youth to advance climate solutions.

I’m excited by the increased attention on climate change and about the debate on how best to involve the next generation in solving the climate crisis. As candidates and public officials look to develop their policy ideas, they might look to lessons learned from the original Climate Corps – Environmental Defense Fund’s fellowship program that empowers the next generation of sustainability leaders to help major companies, organizations and industries to take action on clean energy and climate.

Here are four considerations to help inform the effective design of any national climate-related service initiative.

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Best Buy’s new Science-Based Target helps customers reduce energy use in their homes

In a world where big-box retailers are falling to online giants, Best Buy has managed to thrive.

Earlier this week, Best Buy announced a Science-Based Target (SBT) to help consumers reduce their carbon emissions by 20 percent and save $5 billion on utility costs. In its own operations, Best Buy will reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent.

To date, 567 companies have set or committed to set SBTs. But what makes Best Buy’s story unique is its strategy to make customers part of the equation: Reduce the company’s total carbon footprint by selling more energy efficient products to customers.

Here’s how this goal was set

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Can the circular economy end the era of “Throwaway Living”?

In 1955, LIFE magazine ran an ad promoting “Throwaway Living,” encouraging the use of disposable items as a way to help cut down on household chores.

We used to depend on plastic, and now, our planet is being suffocated by it. Environmental impacts are showing the need for a more circular economy, and businesses are responding by offering innovation solutions, such as new products, packaging and business models, to address resource scarcity and climate risk – not to mention unlock a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity.

I recently caught up with Brendan Edgerton, the Director of Circular Economy at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and EDF Climate Corps alum, about the progress being made toward circular models of design and production – and his love of Swiss chocolate.

Circularity refers to shifting from current linear methods of production and consumption, where products are designed without consideration for what happens after use, to adopting circular models that keep products, components and materials within the economy.

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The vanguard of corporate climate action has arrived — and the Trump administration can’t stop it

After a decade-long dry spell, Corporate America’s call for climate action is back.

Despite the Trump Administration’s continued denial, leading companies are finally giving climate change the attention it deserves and urging Congress to do the same.

Years from now, we’ll look back at May 2019 as a breakthrough moment, when business engagement in climate policy gathered strength and became an unstoppable movement.  This month alone, companies across sectors including oil and gas, electric power, consumer goods and food have joined the CEO Climate Dialogue, invested in the Americans for Carbon Dividends initiative, and advocated on the Hill to put a price on carbon.

As Axios’ Amy Harder notes, “Several years-long trends are driving corporations to ask for government policy — but it’s not really about saving the planet. It’s about investor and legal pressure, falling prices for renewable energy, new bounties of cleaner-burning natural gas and growing public concern about a warming planet’s impacts.”

Whatever the reasons companies are stepping up to the plate on climate policy advocacy, pressure from investors is one trend that is here to stay.

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Dear Companies: Your Future Customers And Employees Want Climate Action

More than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action this spring.

My 12-year-old daughter Anna has become quite the environmentalist lately. She’s even started turning out the lights while you’re in the room to save on energy! Yes, this can be annoying. But I admire her passion and enjoy watching her become more invested in our planet.

Anna and the 1.4 million kids skipping class to protest climate change this spring give me hope. I got goosebumps when I heard the charismatic 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose actions started this movement, speak. She summed it up perfectly when she said: “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have changed.”

These kids are on the front line. It’s their futures at stake. They’re scared, they’re angry and they’re energized.

And they should be on businesses’ radar.

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