New Technologies Are Allowing Business To Tackle Climate And Clean Air As One

For too long, air pollution has been an invisible problem. That is until now. New technologies are exposing the presence of air pollution and connecting it back to sources and health impacts.

For the most part, cities across the globe have led the efforts to deploy innovative solutions for tackling air pollution and climate together. But they can’t do it alone. Companies can invest in solutions that address air pollution, protect the climate, and add value to their business.

Business leaders are being called on to align climate and clean air plans. And just as we saw momentum build from the business community to set serious, science-based targets to tackle climate change, the same ambition needs to happen for measuring and monitoring air pollution. Fortunately, new innovations and technological breakthroughs are enabling companies to work with cities on scaling solutions.

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Walking the Walk: Companies Lead the Call for New Clean Truck Standards

A number of America’s most iconic brands helped pave the way for the new Clean Truck standards announced August 16th by the U.S. EPA and DOT. Nearly 400 companies, large and small, publicly urged strong, final fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks.

Through their action, these companies have reaffirmed a basic truth of business today: to be a “leader”, companies must align their sustainability goals and strategies with their external engagement on policy.

Tom Murray, VP, Corporate Partnerships Program

Tom Murray, VP, Corporate Partnerships Program

While there are many differences as to how these 400 companies intersect with heavy trucks—manufacturers make the trucks, fleet owners drive the trucks, brands hire the trucks to move their goods to market—they are all unified by one resounding theme: cleaner trucks are better for their business, better for our health and better for the planet.

Indeed, common-sense efforts to cut climate pollution have gone mainstream in business. Earlier this year Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple and others raised the bar on corporate climate leadership by standing up for the clean power plan. Colgate-Palmolive, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nike, Starbucks and over 100 other companies built on this trend by urging “the swift implementation of the Clean Power Plan and other related low-carbon policies so that we may meet or exceed our promised national commitment and increase our future ambition.”

But this corporate support of the clean truck standards goes even further: it’s another step in the evolution of corporate climate leadership. This is beyond simply supporting good policy; a number of these companies are actively shaping it to deliver significant sustainability benefits. Among the companies that distinguished themselves in this effort are:

  • PepsiCo: the largest private fleet in the U.S. led the way in demonstrating the alignment between its sustainability objectives and its policy advocacy through an op-ed, and expert testimony.
  • Walmart, the 3rd largest private fleet in the U.S., was highly proactive and constructive in its engagement on the clean truck phase two program, supporting it with public statements, and expert commentary.
  • Cummins, FedEx, Eaton, Wabash National, Conway, and Waste Management joined PepsiCo in the Heavy Duty Leadership group that urged the EPA and DOT to: “Achieve Significant Environmental, Economic and Energy Security Benefits.”
  • Honeywell, Achates Power and a number of other innovators made clear that they were ready to meet the challenge of building more fuel efficient trucks.

There were hundreds more examples like these—each one of them a proactive leadership action that demonstrates the new frontier for corporate leadership.

Securing these protections was a real team effort.  The Pew Charitable Trusts organized a letter of support for strong standards signed by IKEA, Campbell’s Soup, and many others. Ceres brought forward a strong statement from General Mills, Patagonia and more. The Union of Concerned Scientists articulated how strong rules would benefit leading fleets, including UPS, Coca-Cola and Walmart. Together, these efforts marshalled an unprecedented level of corporate support for a critical piece of climate policy.

So, if your company is among the now hundreds of companies actively advocating for strong climate protection measures, thank you. We look forward to your continued leadership and engagement on other critical advances, including implementation of the Clean Power Plan and moving forward with reductions in methane emissions. We want to work with you to shape protective policies that also make business sense.

If, however, your company is still stuck at talking the talk, it’s time to start walking the walk when it comes to supporting common sense measures like the Clean Trucks program.

You’re falling behind the leadership pack in the one of the world’s most important races.

Companies Hail Triple-Bottom-Line Benefits of Cleaner Trucks

Ben and Jerry’s became the latest corporate voice calling for strong fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks. In a Guardian op-ed, CEO Jostein Solheim made a compelling triple-bottom-line case for protective standards for new trucks.

holycowinc_2265_2844729Mr. Solheim noted that seventeen percent of the company’s carbon footprint is associated with transporting products. This includes bringing ingredients to manufacturing facilities (three percent) and moving the finished products to distribution centers (fourteen percent).

Like packaging, transportation and distribution is a consistent, significant carbon footprint component of every product: six percent of H&M clothes; twenty-five percent of the carbon budget from Mars; and thirty five percent of Philips operations, for example. And, trucks are the largest single component of distribution emissions, accounting for 57% of the collective impact. Therefore, it is in the interest of every product manufacturer and brand in the U.S. to see these trucks use less fuel.

Freight-share-GHGsThe single most impactful thing we can do today to reduce emissions from product distribution is to build more efficient trucks. We have the technical know-how to cost-effectively double the efficiency of freight trucks. We also know that having well-designed standards in place is a necessary step to bringing these solutions to market at scale. Read more

Accelerating the Shift to More Efficient Trucks

Freight transportation is the work horse of the global economy, ensuring that the products consumers want get on the shelves where and when they want them. With 70 percent of U.S. goods being moved by truck, freight is a key source of U.S. fuel consumption and corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Today, freight also offers companies a key opportunity to drive us toward a lower carbon future.

pepsico-logoIn a Wall Street Journal op-ed with EDF President Fred Krupp, Pepsico Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi voiced the company’s strong support of the new fuel efficiency and GHG standards for medium and heavy duty trucks released June 19th by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and Department of Transportation. Over the life of the program, these robust standards will cut fuel consumption in new trucks by 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce carbon emissions by one billion metric tons.

Leading companies like General Mills, Walmart and Anheuser-Busch have made reducing fuel use and emissions from freight a priority in setting their internal supply chain performance goals. But Pepsico’s willingness to step forward with this op-ed is a prime example of how companies can extend their leadership by aligning their public policy stances on with their sustainability goals – what EDF has been referring to as the business-policy nexus.

Freight affects all of us, but business is in the driver’s seat

EDF - Building better trucksFreight transportation exists to serve companies that make or sell physical goods, from brands and manufacturers using trucks to bring in supplies and ship out final products, to technology companies needing trucks to deliver the hardware that powers their online services. While medium- and heavy-duty trucks only make up 7 percent of all vehicles on the road, they consume 25 percent of the fuel used by all U.S. vehicles.

Inefficient movement of goods wastes fuel, raises costs and increases environmental impacts. For firms like Pepsico, who maintain their own fleets, as well as those that contract out for freight moves, fuel is the single largest cost of owning and operating medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Truck fuel prices have increased 58 percent since 2009, a strong incentive for increasing the efficiency of trucks that move freight. Consumers are counting on businesses to solve this problem, as those costs are passed on to consumers. Through everyday purchases, the average U.S. household spends $1,100 a year to fuel big trucks. Strong standards can cut this expense by $150 on average a year by 2030. Read more

It’s Got to Be About What You Do: KKR’s Green Portfolio Program Matures

Ken Mehlman, KKR

Ken Mehlman, Global Head of Public Affairs, KKR

Last week in Atlanta, Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts (KKR) Member and Head of Global Public Affairs Ken Mehlman summed up his approach to sustainability in a single sentence:  “it’s got to be about what you do.” The comment was in response to a panel that EDF moderated at KKR’s first annual sustainability summit, where guest panelists Jeff Foote from Coca-Cola, Mitch Jackson from FedEx, and Maury Wolfe from Intercontinental Hotels Group shared their successes and challenges in improving their organizations’ environmental performance. Ken highlighted a common theme in all three panelists’ remarks: for a company’s work on sustainability to have a real impact, it needs to be integrated into its core business model.

KKR has clearly taken the same lesson to heart. By integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into how it evaluates and manages portfolio companies, KKR has shown what that thinking can achieve for a private equity firm and its portfolio companies. Read more

Let’s Build a 21st Century Transportation Sector

By Jason Mathers l Bio l Published: June 26, 2013

President Barack Obama addressed the nation today on his environmental priorities, and I have to say, hearing the President of the United States speak so passionately about the issues that I spend my days trying to solve makes me want to wake up and come to work all over again.

In “The President’s Climate Action Plan,” Mr. Obama promises standards that not only will improve our existing transportation sector, but will also help build a better solution for tomorrow. His plan for “Building a 21st Century Transportation Sector” includes a commitment to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

As the President noted, heavy-duty vehicles are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector. More concerning still, emissions from these trucks are projected to grow faster than any other end-use source of greenhouse pollution.

So, how do we change this?  We need radically more efficient trucks, and we need companies to step up and make commitments to reduce emissions.

Trucks are expected to account for over 80 percent of the projected increase in freight greenhouse gas emissions. Successful efforts to not only slow the growth in freight emissions – but actually reduce emissions from today’s levels, must start with improved trucks first and foremost.

There is a lot than can be done to today’s trucks too to make them more efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Super Truck program challenged our nation’s truck makers to develop test trucks that achieve a 50% improvement in efficiency and we are starting to see the fruits of this labor.  Cummins and Peterbilt, for example, recently revealed a truck for the DOE Supertruck program that “averaged 9.9 miles a gallon in road tests last fall,” impressive results seeing as the current average is only around 6 miles per gallon. These gains were made by improved engine technology as well as better trailer aerodynamics and lighter weight materials that reduce the energy needed to keep the truck in motion on the highway.

More efficient tractor trailer trucks are simply good business too.  Consider that these trucks typically travel in excess of 120,000 miles a year and burn fuel at a rate of 6 miles-per-gallon.  So, for each superefficient new truck, companies will save around $40,000 a year in fuel costs. When scaled over the entire economy, these types of efforts can result in tens-of-billions per year in fuel savings. Some of these savings, of course, will be passed along to us as consumers.

Vocational, or work trucks, also have lot of interesting opportunities to improve efficiency.  EDF and FedEx demonstrated that hybrid trucks can do the job in many vocational applications while reducing emissions by 40%. Alternative power units are increasingly available in this space, which helps to reduce jobsite idling. Electric vehicles are even making inroads in lighter-delivery operations.

More robust fuel economy standards that push the established fuel-savings technologies we have today, such as hybrid work trucks and aerodynamic trailers, will be good for business and good for society.

Of course, even the most technologically advanced truck needs to be used smartly. Companies need to lead in this area. Every time a company mandates a fully loaded truck, we will see fewer trucks on the road. Using more carbon efficient modes of transportation is critical too.  Transportation by rail emits six times less carbon per ton mile than trucks.

Ultimately, there will still be a lot of trucks on the road and we need for them to be as efficient as possible. That’s why we’ve developed the EDF 5 Principles for Greener Freight. Simple operational improvements, such as moving more goods per truck and better planning and routing can make a significant difference to a company’s freight emissions.

We have the technology to build radically more efficient trucks today. We also have the know-how to use them much more productively. And now, we have a plan from The Chief. Let’s make it happen.

 

Energy star stickers can now go on buildings: CC fellows analyze data center ratings at FedEx

By Megan Chavez, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at FedEx, MBA candidate at Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Member of Net Impact and Ryan Campbell, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at FedEx, Recent Graduate from Tennessee State University

The economy of the 21st Century is built on a foundation of knowledge and information sharing.  For companies, this accumulated knowledge is stored in vast computer data centers.  Not only do these data centers store data, and network-computer and information systems, but in the case of FedEx, data centers also help manage a complex worldwide operation.  A major operational and environmental cost of running these data centers, however, is the vast amounts of energy that these centers consume. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2007, data centers accounted for approximately 1.5% of all electricity used in the United States. That number is expected to double by 2011.

As a participating host company in this year’s EDF Climate Corps program, FedEx has hired two fellows to spend the summer examining energy usage throughout FedEx data centers.  One of our projects has been to identify a certification program that would recognize the energy efficiency practices already in place at FedEx, while still helping the company set and design a strategy to meet future energy goals.  With FedEx’s rollout of the EarthSmart program in April 2010, a great opportunity to amplify the ongoing efforts of an already energy-conscious organization has arisen. One certification program that we’ve been researching is EPA’s Energy Star Program since it unveiled its initiative for data centers last month. Read more