Deforestation can pose significant operational and reputational risks to companies, and we at EDF are seeing companies start to take action in their supply chains. Deforestation accounts for an estimated 12% of overall GHG emissions worldwide–as much global warming pollution to the atmosphere as all the cars and trucks in the world. In addition, deforestation wipes out biodiversity and ravages the livelihoods of people who live in and depend on the forest for survival.
Tropical deforestation in Mato Grosso do Sul, Pantanal, Brazil (Source: BMJ via Shutterstock)
Unfortunately, it’s a hugely complex issue to address. Agricultural commodities like beef, soy, palm oil, paper and pulp—ingredients used in a wide variety of consumer products—drive over 85% of global deforestation. Companies struggle to understand both their role in deforestation, and how to operationalize changes that will have substantive impacts.
When the drivers of deforestation are buried deep in the supply chain, innovative and collaborative solutions are required. In the past several years, we have seen many in this space make big commitments toward solving the problem, but gaining transparency into tracking against these commitments has been almost as difficult as gaining transparency into the supply chains themselves. For many companies, the hope for making good on their promises may come in the form of powerful partnerships.
by Alex Duff, Corporate Affairs Manager, Kingfisher – Net Positive
Can you tell a story about climate change that’s as memorable as Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies, Titanic or Avatar? James Cameron, the acclaimed director of all of those blockbusters, clearly thinks it’s worth a shot given his involvement in a nine part docu-series that had its premier screening in London this week. He’s not alone – a long list of movie stars, movie makers and many others have joined him in creating "Years of Living Dangerously" which has already been launched to critical acclaim in the USA.
Whilst we weren’t at the Leicester Square Odeon, there was no red carpet and not a Hollywood movie star in sight, for those of us in sustainability more familiar with finding our stories knee-deep in a peat bog or skip-diving, the London premier held at the Soho Hotel certainly provided more than a glimpse of Hollywood glamour. Perhaps more importantly though, it served as a powerful reminder of how clever interventions and effective storytelling can reach an audience beyond (excuse the pun) "The Usual Suspects."
By: Christina Wolfe, Ports and Transportation Analyst
Day-to-day operations at ports are often associated with negative impacts on public health. For example, heavy-duty equipment and on road trucks play a critical role in the movement of cargo around the globe, but they also emit diesel exhaust, a known carcinogen. There is certainly room for improvement, and some ports are making efforts to be good neighbors by increasing transparency with respect to their environmental performance.
I had an opportunity to learn about these leading ports at the Green Marine GreenTech 2014 conference, held in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. The purpose of Green Marine’s conference is to share both environmental successes and challenges, as well as to recognize participants (ship owners, ports, terminals, and shipyards in the US and Canada) for their leadership in the voluntary Green Marine environmental program. This program provides a framework for participants to identify specific environmental goals, establish baseline environmental metric values, self-report progress that is verified by a third-party, and earn recognition for their efforts. I wanted to share two notable examples of how some ports are opening their lines of communication and sharing their environmental performance.
As July 4th fades away, grills cool down and the remains of fireworks are swept away, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. In my case, I’m preparing for a webinar Ceres’ Carol Lee Rawn and I are holding this Wednesday, sharing the findings of our recent report on how strong medium- and heavy-duty truck standards would cut freight costs and emissions.
It’s a topic we’re both passionate about – and think you should be too — and with good reason: U.S. businesses spend $650 billion a year on freight trucking services, which account for over half a billion tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year, the fastest growing single source of GHG emissions. Fuel is the single largest cost of owning and operating a heavy-truck, accounting for 39% of total costs.
Our report finds that new, bold fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks could end up reducing the cost of moving freight by 7% and owners of tractor-trailer units could save $0.21/mile, an annual savings potential in excess of $25 billion given that class 8 trucks in the US logged 120 billion miles in 2013.
The Obama Administration is in the process of developing new fuel economy and GHG standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and its determination will affect both your company’s freight costs and GHG emissions. Join us on July 9th for this webinar, where we’ll walk through the savings associated with strong standards and how you can help ensure that stringent standards are adopted.
Register now for the webinar!
At EDF, all our advocacy and education around climate change aims to change behaviors — of individuals, corporations, utilities, governments and communities. But in order to change behavior, we must first change their belief systems.
That point was made eloquently in last month's final episode of Years of Living Dangerously, the Showtime documentary series about the human impact of climate change. The episode featured a conversation with President Barack Obama, a report on the impact of accelerated glacier melt in the Andes and the far-reaching effects of human-induced ecosystem changes in Bangladesh on the economy and society.
For me the takeaways were:
- It's vividly clear that climate change is an issue of national security in poor countries, where extreme weather creates huge groups of impoverished, resource-strapped people who easily end up in slums and ghettos, often refugees in countries far from their homes. For instance, the incursion of ocean water in Bangladesh is disrupting rice farming.
- Abrupt climate events can destroy overnight the societies and self-sustaining lifestyles that agrarian communities have built up over many generations.
- The United States is responsible for a tremendous amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and it's only a matter of time before we become a target of worldwide anger for the damage climate change is wrecking on our planet.
- We must guard against cynicism, especially among the youth. Obama's recently released energy plan paints an optimistic vision of an achievable future with reduced dependence on foreign oil, affordable clean energy technologies and improved energy efficiency.
- Putting a price on carbon is one way to change mindsets, by forcing people to recognize the true cost of a resource differently.
Environmental concerns about methane emissions continue to grow as more people understand the negative climate implications of this incredibly potent greenhouse gas. Now the financial community is taking note of not only the environmental risks but the impact of methane emissions on the oil and gas industry’s bottom line. Methane leaks not only pollute the atmosphere, but every thousand cubic feet lost represents actual dollars being leaked into thin air—bad business any way you look at it.
Source: Ash Waechter
Last week the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)—a collaborative effort aimed at improving corporate performance on environmental, social and government issues—released their provisional accounting standards for the non-renewable resources sector, which includes oil and gas production.
These accounting standards guide companies on how to measure and disclose environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks that impact a company’s financial performance. Their work highlights the growing demand amongst investors and stakeholders for companies to report information beyond mere financial metrics in order to provide a more holistic view of a company’s position.
Nestle. Unilever. Walmart. Kellogg’s. Colgate-Palmolive. What do these companies have in common? They’re just a few of the global companies that have committed publicly over the last few years to work towards ridding their supply chains of raw agricultural commodities that directly cause deforestation.
Global deforestation is responsible for roughly 12 percent of world-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (IPCC)—more than double those generated by the entire U.S. electricity sector (EIA). In addition, deforestation is the greatest driver of biodiversity loss in the world, displaces indigenous populations and can drive major regional changes in weather patterns. Agricultural production drives 85 percent of global deforestation (Union of Concerned Scientists).
You may be thinking, “Why should that concern my company? We aren’t in a sector tied to agriculture or buy, sell or use commodities from countries engaged in deforestation.” That may be true if you only consider your company’s direct operations. If your company, however, produces or sells personal care or food products, or uses paper packaging, chances are high that deforestation causing commodities like soy, palm oil, timber, cattle, or derivative products of them are part of your supply chain.
As I write this blog, it’s hot outside. I mean really hot. At 97 degrees today here in the North Carolina Piedmont – with a heat index of 100 degrees – it’s thirteen degrees above the average high for June.
Summers have been getting hotter here, as they have in most parts of the world, since I moved to the South from my native Michigan fifteen years ago. And the weather has gotten weirder. Way weirder. Too much rain at times, not enough at others. Hot when it should be cold, cold when it should be hot. Bigger storms. You get the picture… you’re experiencing it too.
Yet, somehow, I’m hopeful.
New, bold fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks could end up reducing the cost of moving freight by 7% and owners of tractor-trailer units could save $0.21/mile. These are among the key findings of a new report from EDF and Ceres.
The report, which is based on analysis by MJ Bradley and Associates, examines one potential technology pathway to achieve the stringency target of 40% over 2010 set forth by our groups and other advocates.
Fuel is the single largest cost of owning and operating a heavy-truck, accounts for 39% of total costs. Strong fuel efficiency standards will target these costs largely by requiring the use of cost-effective, fuel saving technologies. As the new analysis demonstrates, fuel savings will be significantly greater than increases in equipment costs.
A $0.21 per mile savings, for example, has an annual savings potential in excess of $25 billion given that class 8 trucks in the US logged 120 billion miles in 2013.
Our finding of significant financial benefits of strong fuel efficiency and GHG standards is consistent in magnitude with previous analysis. A recent report by the Consumer Federation of America looked at similar Phase 2 standards and found net savings of $250 to consumers, rising to $400 per household in 2035 as fuel prices and transportation services increase.
Adding to the drumbeat for action on the supercharged climate pollutant methane, Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously” series recently spotlighted methane emissions leaking from America’s oil and natural gas infrastructure.
One theme of the May 19 episode hinged on a numbers question: Just how much methane is getting out? This question, a common one in the methane arena, refers to the national methane leakage rate for the entire oil and gas supply chain.
Various numbers, as low as 1 percent, were suggested for the national average with 4 percent, 11 percent and even 17 percent reported by scientific studies in some oil-and-gas producing regions. The problem is, it’s the wrong question.
We should stop fixating the debate on just how bad the problem is, when we know there is a problem and we can address it with confidence today.