Documenting change and progress

Turning ambition into action: One month left to register for edie Live 2019

Collaborative workshops, a dedicated Plastics Hub and a Future Systems Hackathon are just some of the exciting new features that will be available at the UK's largest sustainability and energy exhibition, edie Live, returns to the NEC Birmingham next month. Read more

Remembering Forgotten Climate Solutions this Earth Day

22 April 2019 | Movements like Extinction Rebellion have ignited a global passion for reducing greenhouse gasses, but this passion will come to nothing if we don’t harness the energy to implement viable solutions that work. Here’s a quick look at some of the tools we can’t forget this Earth Day:

The Paris Climate Agreement

It may seem odd to list the Paris Climate Agreement as a “forgotten solution”, but this groundbreaking achievement is still given short shrift in mainstream media because it doesn’t provide a top-down, one-size-fits-all emission-reduction target. That’s by design, because such targets are meaningless without agreement on more mundane issues such as what constitutes an emission, what constitutes an emission-reduction, and how to account for them.

The Paris Agreement provides near-universal agreement on these and other critical issues while letting each country create its own “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC) to the climate challenge. It also calls for increased ambition every five years – beginning in 2020.

That’s where groups like Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal become so critical: they create the momentum to ratchet up ambition, while the Paris Agreement provides a framework within which those ambitions can be realized.

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Natural Climate Solutions

Even if we eliminated fossil fuels tomorrow, the forests, farms, and fields of the world would continue to generate greenhouse-gas emissions – in part because of unsustainable agriculture practices, but also because climate change has already destabilized our living ecosystems to such a degree that they are in danger of emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gas as they decay.

Analysis from 2017 shows that natural climate solutions, such as agroforestry, permaculture, and sustainable forest management, can get us 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Agreement’s two-degree Celsius (3.7 ºF) target, and at a very low cost. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that we must increase natural carbon sinks if we’re to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5ºC (2.7ºF) above pre-industrial levels.

Despite this, natural climate solutions get just 3 percent of global climate finance and 1 percent of media coverage. They are, in other words, the ultimate forgotten solution.

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Supply Chain Transparency

Deforestation generates between 10 percent and 18 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, depending on the year, and most of that deforestation comes to make way for farms to feed our ravenous appetites for soy, beef, and other deforestation commodities.

Over the past decade, hundreds of leading companies have pledged to reduce their emissions by reducing their impact on forests, but such voluntary won’t solve the problem.

They have, however, led to a complete restructuring of the world’s supply chains, which are now more transparent than ever. This transparency provides an entry point for prudent regulations and government licensing programs that truly can end deforestation once and for all.

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A Price on Carbon

Governments around the world are implementing a price on carbon, and Article 6 of the Paris Agreement provides rules for transferring emission-reductions internationally. Such international transfers can’t be used to meet existing NDCs, but they can be used to drive emissions even deeper.

Negotiators, however, still need to finalize that article, and they’re scheduled to do so at year-end climate talks in Argentina. The ultimate aim is to create a “Paris Rule Book” for implementing the Paris Agreement from 2020 onward – a critical task, because even if every country completely implemented its current NDC, global temperatures would still rise more than 3.7 degrees Celsius, which is deep into the danger zone, according to global scientific consensus as articulated through the IPCC.

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The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by all 193 countries of the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, on the eve of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Taken by themselves, the SDGs are easy to dismiss as mere words, but they don’t exist by themselves: they’re woven into the Paris Agreement and into the lending guidelines of development banks around the world.

There are 17 of them, and they include things like ending poverty, ensuring a good education, and building pipes, bridges, roads, and flood-plains that will work in a changing climate.

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Another issue is how emissions from international flights are handled. Because such emissions are generated between countries, they were not included in the Paris Agreement, but instead come under the prevue of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is the UN body charged with overseeing international air travel.

ICAO members have agreed to cap greenhouse-gas emissions from international flights at 2020 levels from the year 2021 onward, and airlines that can’t reduce their emissions internally can offset them through a program called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

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Farmers and Indigenous People Ascendant

Finally, perhaps the most obvious sign of the growing emphasis on natural climate solutions is the growing profile of indigenous people and farmers in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In 2017, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture formalized the role of farmers, and in 2018 the Platform for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities formalized the role of indigenous people. It’s difficult to imagine two constituencies more critical to implementing natural climate solutions than these two.

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Coalition of central banks urge finance sector to ‘raise the bar’ on climate action

A coalition of 36 central banks and regulators, including the Bank of England and the World Bank, have issued a rallying cry urging all stakeholders across the global sector to address climate challenges by "greening" the financial system. Read more

Forget Brexit and focus on climate change, Greta Thunberg tells EU

The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has chided EU leaders for holding three emergency summits on Brexit and none on the threat posed by climate change. Read more

Extinction Rebellion: Role of business in society is being defined by climate change

As thousands of climate protestors continue to blockade key London landmarks as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests, businesses have been warned that action or inaction to combat climate change will define their role in future societies. Read more

Finnish businesses set up ‘world’s first’ marketplace for carbon removal certificates

A group of Finnish businesses have partnered with global financial solutions firm South Pole and Swedish bank SEB to launch a new marketplace for science-based CO2 removal certificates, in a bid to scale methods that can capture and remove carbon globally. Read more

Mark Carney tells global banks they cannot ignore climate change dangers

The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the Bank of England and France's central bank have warned, writing in the Guardian. Read more

Microsoft targets ‘zero-carbon’ status for US headquarters through hydropower deal

Technology giant Microsoft is set to achieve carbon-neutral status for its global headquarters in Puget Sound, Washington, after inking a multi-year deal to source clean energy from local hydropower facilities. Read more

From Brexit to behaviour change: edie launches quarterly ‘Business Barometer’ for energy managers

edie is calling on all UK-based energy managers and practitioners to take a new industry survey which will help to inform an exclusive 'Business Barometer' being developed to identify key energy trends and opportunities. Read more

Philip Hammond joins finance coalition to spur climate action

Chancellor Philip Hammond has called on global financial leaders to place climate adaptation and mitigation at the heart of future economic policies and planning, after joining a new global coalition to drive action on climate change. Read more

Carbon Markets Back in Limelight as US Finally Joins the Global Climate Effort

15 April 2019 | Every few years, New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity surveys economists who have expertise on climate change, and it always finds overwhelming support for putting a price on carbon to drive down emissions — support that ideologues on the right routinely dismiss, usually on unfounded “economic” grounds, while those on the left decry the folly of letting emitters “buy their way out” of their commitments.

As the US House of Representatives moves forward with legislation following in the wake of the Green New Deal (which isn’t dead, by the way), here is a look at some interesting findings from our 2017 report: Unlocking Potential/State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets: Buyers’ Analysis. In this survey, we looked at companies that buy carbon offsets voluntarily, because that’s where much of the US action has been these past few years.

In cap-and-trade systems like the US has in California and the Northeast, companies buy offsets to comply with the law, which is how true carbon pricing drives emissions lower. The drivers may be different, but the mechanisms are the same.

MYTH 1: Companies that buy offsets are just buying their way out of their obligations.

Our research shows the opposite: namely, companies are purchasing offsets as one of many ways to fulfill their carbon reduction obligations. Those companies that do buy offsets are doing so as part of an overall carbon management strategy and they mostly use offsets to tackle emissions they can’t eliminate internally. Some companies, like Disney and Microsoft, have created an internal “price on carbon,” where the company charges itself for every ton of carbon it produces and uses that income to purchase offsets. The idea is that incorporating carbon into the company’s bottom line will focus attention on emissions and accelerate reductions.


MYTH 2: Offsets don’t represent real reductions.

In the early days of carbon markets in the early 2000’s, voluntary offset quality was a mixed bag—some projects were well-planned and some were not. A few unscrupulous “carbon cowboys” made headlines after their offsets were found to be double-counted or illegitimate. But carbon markets have come a long way since then. Carbon standards require developers to demonstrate that their emissions are:


MYTH 3: Offsetting barely makes a dent—it’s not sufficient for the large-scale change we need.

This one might be sort of true, but that’s because offsets are designed to be part of an overall reduction strategy and not a substitute for one. Companies surveyed in the report typically offset less than 2% of their total emissions, usually because they’re using offsets to compensate for just one segment of that total, like employee travel or the carbon footprint of a single product. Even the small percentage, however, represents a tangible impact on the climate. As more companies sign on to initiatives like the Science Based Targets or the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the percentage of emissions they offset may go up.


MYTH 4: Offsetting is niche or arcane.

A lot of prominent brands use offsetting, including household names like General Motors, Delta Air Lines, and Microsoft, all of whom were among the top five buyers on the voluntary market in 2014.

Of the nearly 2,000 companies who publicly disclosed emissions data to CDP in 2014, 248 (17%) invested in projects to reduce carbon emissions outside of their immediate operations.

Of the 140 MtCO2e in offsets reported to the CDP, companies purchased nearly 40 MtCO2e (with the remaining companies either producing offsets for sale externally or offsetting internally within their suppy chain). This is equal to the carbon sequestered by 1 billion tree seedlings grown over 10 years.



The post Carbon Markets Back in Limelight as US Finally Joins the Global Climate Effort appeared first on Ecosystem Marketplace.

JLL ‘on track’ for 100% renewables target by 2020

Real estate giant JLL's electricity mix consists of 90% renewables, putting the firm on track to power its direct UK operations solely with renewable sources by 2020. Read more

The World Bank accused of dodging ‘no-coal’ pledge by funnelling billions of dollars into fossil fuels

A large-scale study on hundreds of active energy projects commissioned by The World Bank Group has concluded that the body is currently financing $21bn of fossil fuel projects, compared to $7bn in the renewables sector. Read more

Calls for sustainable business action mount amid school climate strikes

The global business sector is facing a new wave of calls to bolster its low-carbon and resource efficiency agendas, with the school strike climate movement now uniting staff, students, consumers and policymakers alike in climate activism. Read more

UK forecast to miss fourth and fifth carbon budgets

The UK is on course to breach its fourth and fifth carbon budgets by 139 and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) respectively, according to the latest forecast from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Read more

Apple to exceed 4GW renewable energy goal for supply chain

Apple has almost doubled the number of suppliers that have committed to 100% clean energy, as part of a wider goal to deliver 4GW of renewable energy into its supply chain by 2020. Read more

Extreme weather events cost Scottish farmers £161m in 2018, WWF finds

Extreme weather events such as heatwaves and the so-called 'Beast from the East' contributed to £161m in losses for farmers across Scotland during the 2017-18 financial year, new research from WWF Scotland has found. Read more

Ikea’s new Greenwich store receives highest BREEAM sustainability rating

Home improvement retailer Ikea's Greenwich store has achieved sustainable construction certification BREEAM's 'Outstanding' status, just over two months after it opened. Read more

Marston’s to power rapid EV chargers with 100% renewable electricity

Pub chain and brewer Marston's has inked a deal which will see it power the 400 electric vehicle (EV) chargers it is installing across its UK estate with 100% renewable energy. Read more

UK emissions linked to annual Arctic ice loss larger than four cities

WWF has measured the impact of the UK's carbon emissions on ice loss in the Arctic for the first time, concluding that the nation's 2018 emissions caused the loss of more than 1000km2 of Arctic sea ice. Read more