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Time to Pivot: Latest climate report, a conservative plan for carbon, new and various corporate commitments for clean energy

October 15, 2018

 

As the Director of Sustainability at the Smeal College of Business, it is my responsibility to keep my mind constantly steeping in a solution of:  1 part business, 1 part technology, and 1 part each of environmental and social impact, including emerging science, news and events. (Stir together and steep for years until it reaches desired level of understanding).  

 

 

In "That's News to Me" I share what I am steeping my

mind in with the growing TBL Smeal community. I recently finished the book A People's History of the United States and am now reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, a stirring and imaginative scientific exploration of our connection with the natural world.


It would be good to read my post from Oct 2017 about climate change communications with some quick advice.

 

Time to Pivot: Andrew Winston

Given the challenge thrown down by the latest IPCC report (see below), it is worth revisiting business strategies for a "hot, scarcer and more open world" (Winston, The Big Pivot)
 

Andrew Winston is a globally recognized expert on how companies can navigate and profit from humanity’s biggest challenges. His views on strategy have been sought after by many of the world’s leading companies, including Boeing, HP, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, and Unilever. 

A Conservative Climate Plan - From the NY Times Climate Fwd Newsletter  

 

"The newest financial supporter of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the biggest energy company in the world: the fossil fuel giant Exxon Mobil. The company announced that it would give $1 million over the next two years to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a group supporting legislation that would tax carbon emissions and return the money to Americans in refunds." 

New Climate Report Forces Our Hand:  Respond Like Neville or Winston?
 

Image credit: Spiegel Online

Last week's latest climate report reminds me of the words of Winston Churchill: "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."

 

When it comes to our impact on the climate, will we react like Neville Chamberlain and hope the danger goes away? The pathway of appeasement.  Or will we react like Churchill, face the difficult facts, and address it head on with all we have, promising to "never surrender"?  The pathway of resistance.

 

Key takeaways from the report...

  • The report was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies
     

  • Avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent".....the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion
     

  • The United States, it said, could lose roughly 1.2 percent of gross domestic product for every 1.8 degrees of warming
     

  • To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050
     

  • It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent
     

  • The report concludes that the world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark. Human activities have caused warming of about 1.8 degrees since about the 1850s, the beginning of large-scale industrial coal burning, the report found

 

Two major international climate meetings over the last several weeks are worth noting:  Climate Week in NYC and the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Among the commitments:

  • Nearly 400 global companies, healthcare providers, cities, states and regions set 100 percent renewable energy targets, including companies with collective annual revenues of more than $2.75 trillion.

  • 488 companies from 38 countries adopted emissions-reduction pathways in line with the science of the Paris Agreement, representing $10 trillion of the global economy, equivalent to the value of the entire NASDAQ stock exchange.

  • 23 multinationals, with revenue of more than $470 billion, committed to taking their fleets to zero emissions

  • 42 financial institutions representing more than $13 trillion in assets committed to helping cities, states and regions finance climate action, including the European Investment Bank and The World Bank.

  • 26 cities with 140 million in population committed to buy only zero-emissions buses starting in 2025 and create zero-emissions zones in their cities starting in 2030.

  • More than 100 global supply-chain actors and investors, managing more than $2.8 trillion, pledged to work to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

You can read more on the commitments made at GCAS (Global Climate Action Summit).

In closing...

 

“The private sector is taking a lot of direct action; they’re acting to reduce their emissions. On the other hand, the public sector and the activists at the ground level they know that the total of what has to happen is so significant — we need a global compact, we need national-level policies — that knitting together each of the private sector policies just isn’t enough to meet the challenge. So the corporate sector is taking their own steps, but as a citizen activist in the NGO sector, we need so much more.”

 

-Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (quotes in GreenBiz summary of Climate Week 2014)