Business and government gather at Climate Week NYC

Many publications and press statements were released to coincide with Climate Week NYC 2016, a gathering of businesses and government officials in New York City from September 19 – 26. A sampling brings some insight into business/climate thinking. For example,  General Motors  was one of several companies joining the energy campaigns of RE100 , a global initiative of companies committed to transitioning to 100% renewable power.  (A sister campaign, EP100, works with businesses committed to doubling their energy productivity) . GM’s stated goal  to  meet 100% of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2050 includes about 350 facilities in 59 countries, including both manufacturing and non-manufacturing buildings .  The CEO is quoted as saying that GM wants to contribute to cleaner air  “while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs.”  Further, in GM Details its  100% Renewable Goal  : “Renewable energy offers more stable pricing options than traditional energy sources like fossil fuel, reducing the price volatility caused by external threats like government relations and natural disasters. Wind energy is already price competitive with traditional forms of energy and we expect the price of solar power to continue to decrease as demand grows.” Related reading: GM’s 2015 Sustainability Report and its environmental blog, GM Green .

From CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) , Embedding a carbon price into business strategy  : based on responses from over 5,000 companies, the report states that 1,200 companies either plan to or currently place an internal price on carbon.  Why?  Could be the cost of capital, as signalled in the Forward: “As public pension funds, CalSTRS and AP4 have hundreds of thousands of members and stakeholders relying on the secure retirement future that we are here to provide in perpetuity—it is absolutely critical that we take action to guard against this risk [climate change]…..“As the momentum for full disclosure in this area increases, we will not only be looking at company emissions but also analyzing how climate risk mitigation is embedded within their corporate strategies. Those companies who show investors and owners that they take this issue seriously and have a plan in place to tackle it will enjoy a lower cost of capital in the future against those that don’t.”

Consultants EY and the UN Global Compact published a report, The State of Sustainable Supply Chains,    based on interviews with 70 companies.  From the introduction: “Over the past few years, sustainability has been added to the procurement and sourcing criteria for many companies. Workforce health and safety incidents, labor disputes, geopolitical conflicts, raw materials shortages, environmental disasters and new legislation in areas such as conflict minerals and modern slavery have contributed to the growing awareness of supply chain risks among customers, consumers, investors, employees and local communities.”…. Overall, the results of the study show that by improving environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance throughout their supply chains, companies can enhance processes, save costs, increase labor productivity, uncover product innovation, achieve market differentiation and have a significant impact on society.”   This report is complemented by the website:  UN Global Compact Sustainable Supply Chains: Resources and Practices .  

In October, CDP North America released a report discussing the “paradigm shift” in the importance attributed to the “total cost of ownership”, or life cycle of products.  With examples from the U.S. military and the IT industry, it concludes that “It has become a business necessity because it saves money, smooths operations, diminishes risk in supply chains and opens new business opportunities.”  See: A paradigm shift in total cost of ownership From procurement to product innovation:How companies are hardwiring sustainability across the value chain to future-proof their business.

 

The Carbon Footprint of Food Production – and How to Reduce it – with an Example from the U.S.

A report released by U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on September 10 estimated that the carbon footprint of wasted food was equivalent to 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, with a direct economic cost estimated at $750 billion U.S. In this global survey, the world is divided into 7 regions, and 8 major commodity groups. The survey considers the entire life cycle – land use, water use, transportation, storage, loss and wastage. The Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources Summary Report is at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3347e/i3347e.pdf; An accompanying document, Toolkit: Reducing the Food Wastage Footprint, is at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3342e/i3342e.pdf and urges improvement in food harvest, storage, processing, transport and retailing processes, some of which can be accomplished by better training for farmers, farmer co-operatives, infrastructure investment, and technological improvements.

In related news, the U.S. Energy Department proposed in August two major energy efficiency rules for new commercial refrigeration equipment, walk-in coolers and freezers, estimated to cut emissions by over 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 30 years. See the official Department of Energy website for the rule change at: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/rulemaking.aspx/ruleid/27, or the NRDC commentary about it at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mwaltner/more_cooling_with_less_global.html.