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190 Fortune 500 Companies Save $3.7 Billion a Year by Taking Climate Action

Despite efforts in Washington to sideline action on climate change, a growing number of Fortune 500 companies are taking increasingly ambitious steps to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, procure more renewable energy and reduce their energy bills through energy efficiency, according to a new report released Tuesday by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ceres, Calvert Research and Management and CDP.

Sixty-three percent of Fortune 100 companies have set one or more clean energy targets. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies—48 percent—have at least one climate or clean energy target, up five percent from an earlier 2014 report. Accompanying this growth is rising ambition, with significant numbers of companies setting 100 percent renewable energy goals and science-based GHG reduction targets that align with the global goal of limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius.

Findings from the report, Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change, are based on 2016 company disclosures to CDP, which holds the world's largest collection of self-reported corporate environmental data and other public sources.

CDP / Twitter

"American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it's smart business and it's what their customers want," said Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund's senior director of climate and renewable energy.

"Clean energy is fueling economic opportunity from coast to coast without regard for party line. Washington policies may slow this boom, but these companies are making it very clear that a transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable."

The report highlights the financial benefits companies receive from their clean energy investments: Nearly 80,000 emission-reducing projects by 190 Fortune 500 companies reporting data showed nearly $3.7 billion in savings in 2016 alone. The emission reductions from these efforts are equivalent to taking 45 coal-fired power plants offline every year. Praxair, IBM and Microsoft are among the companies saving tens of millions of dollars annually through their energy efficiency efforts.

The 240 companies with targets have set one or more of the following goals: GHG reductions, energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy sourcing. Two hundred and eleven companies have set a GHG reduction goal, making it the most common target.

"We are encouraged to see significant improvement in both the number of Fortune 500 companies setting climate and clean energy goals and the ambition of those goals—in particular commitments to setting science-based and 100 percent renewable energy targets," said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP network at Ceres.

"But in order to meet our national and global emissions goals, more companies will need to join the champions highlighted in this report, both in setting goals and in becoming vocal advocates for continued federal and state policies in support of climate and clean energy progress."

Ten percent (53) of companies have set renewable energy targets and almost half of those (23) have committed to power 100 percent of their operations with renewable energy—among those, Wal-Mart, General Motors, Bank of America, Google, Apple and Facebook. The growth in the number and ambition of renewable energy commitments is mainly the result of recent sharp declines in renewable energy costs, which saves companies money and of price certainty that comes with renewable energy.

"Corporate commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy is an accelerating trend that illustrates broader recognition within the business community of the importance of clean energy and the financial benefits it can yield," said Stu Dalheim, vice president of corporate shareholder engagement for Calvert.

"Many of the largest companies in the U.S. are achieving significant cost savings through clean energy programs and mitigating longer-term risks associated with energy price volatility."

Some of the strongest efforts are also among Fortune 100 companies, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) adopting or retaining goals. The report also shows strong improvement among the smallest 100 companies in the Fortune 500, with 44 percent setting goals in one or more categories, up 19 percentage points from the 2014 report.

The report shows a significant spread in target setting among different sectors, with consumer staples (72 percent), materials (66 percent) and utilities (65 percent) sectors leading in setting clean energy goals and the energy sector (11 percent), including oil & gas companies, significantly lagging.

"CDP and the investors we work with, representing over US$100 trillion in assets, engage thousands of the world's largest companies to measure and manage climate-related risks" said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America.

"Voluntary corporate disclosure highlights the compelling business case for corporate clean energy procurement and clearly demonstrates the transition underway in the energy markets. Companies in turn have benefited, identifying billions of dollars in savings and new opportunities through their disclosures to CDP."

The report includes key recommendations for companies, policymakers and investors to continue to scale clean energy efforts, such as:

• Companies should continue to set, implement and communicate clean energy targets, while supporting local, state and national policies that make it easier to achieve their climate and energy commitments.

• Federal and state policymakers should establish clear, long-term low-carbon polices that will help companies meet their clean energy targets while also helping the U.S. meet its carbon-reducing commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

• Investors should consider allocating their investments to companies well-positioned for the low-carbon economy. Investors should continue to file shareholder resolutions and engage in dialogues with companies to encourage them to set climate and energy efficiency targets and position themselves for a low-carbon future.

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Adidas's Parley Ultraboost.

How This Shoe Company Is Tackling the World's Ocean Plastic Crisis

Adidas is getting serious about ocean plastic, turning the pollution "from threat into thread."

The sportswear giant, along with partner Parley for the Oceans, has released three new models of its shoes made from marine debris—the Ultraboost, Ultraboost X and Ultraboost Uncaged.

According to Business Insider, each pair uses an average of 11 plastic bottles and incorporates recycled plastic into the shoe's laces, heel webbing, heel lining and sock liner covers.

The company has a goal of creating 1 million pairs of the popular running shoes from recovered ocean plastic in 2017.

"The new additions to the adidas x Parley collection are another step in our journey to creating one million pairs of Ultraboost from up-cycled marine plastic," said Mathias Amm, a product category director at adidas.

The new, ocean-inspired sneakers will be available in-store and online May 10.

Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans—a team of artists, musicians, actors, directors, fashion designers, journalists, architects, product inventors and scientists addressing major threats to the world's oceans— to develop materials made from ocean plastic waste to use in its products starting in 2016. Last November, adidas and Parley rolled out 7,000 pairs of its 3D-printed shoes made from recycled ocean plastics.

To ramp up its commitment to sustainability, adidas phased out plastic bags in its 2,900 retail stores around the world, saving 70 million plastic shopping bags by switching to paper bags in its stores.

EcoWatch has extensively covered the devastating global issue of ocean plastic, which is a major threat to marine life, marine ecosystems and our own health. A staggering 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year.

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How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet

It's a big week for me. Monday was the official publication date of Climate of Hope, my new book co-authored with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The book's premise is that climate solutions now constitute an enormous short term opportunity—healthier communities, greater prosperity, enhanced security—for both the U.S. and the world community. The key to seizing that opportunity is to understand that the climate crisis is a symptom of multiple market failures and political follies, not a single free-standing "problem;" that leadership in implementing solutions is already emerging not so much from national governments as from cities, businesses and citizen activists; and that this bottom up leadership is the key to continuing to accelerate the pace of progress and the prospects for avoiding catastrophic risks to the climate.

Climate of Hope is now out there being reviewednot always favorably—so I thought I'd use this blog to give my perspective on why Mike and I believe this approach does, in fact, offer a solid pathway out of the climate crisis.

The main criticism thus far—and I expect this to continue—is that we are wrongly arguing that national governments don't matter, and that cities and businesses alone can correct our climate follies. We don't, make that argument, and they can't do it alone. A number of our key approaches clearly require national action—like redirecting agricultural subsidies away from encouraging overproduction of cotton and corn towards supporting regenerative agriculture which can suck carbon out of the atmosphere, where it is a climate threat, and into the soil, where it becomes a fertility and water storage enhancing asset.

But others, like modernizing building codes to ensure that any house built after 2020 is hyper-efficient, powered by its own renewable generation, so its owners don't have to pay a utility bill and don't pollute the atmosphere when they turn on the lights, are intrinsically the business of local (and state) governments.

And in the U.S. political context some that sound national—like encouraging the rapid replacement of internal combustion cars with electric drive—may actually emerge from a combination of city and state action. Led by Los Angeles, a coalition of 30 U.S. cities recently announced they would jointly bid out purchase orders for up to 114,000 electric drive vehicles at a cost of $10 billion, while California and 12 partner states made clear they would move forward with their zero emission vehicle mandate. So the cities are providing electric-drive vehicles with the scale needed to bring down prices and improve performance, while the states are guaranteeing that the market for these vehicles will continue to grow far beyond what city fleets alone could guarantee.

Similarly, the center piece of the Trump administration assault on President Obama's climate legacy, the suspension of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), assumes that the future of America's electric sector depends on a top-down national mandate, because utilities will otherwise cling to their existing fossil fuel dependent facilities. But while the CPP envisaged cutting utility emissions by only 30 percent by 2025, citizen action and market forces had already slashed power plant carbon pollution by 25 percent at the end of 2016, and we are on track to cut these emissions by almost 50 percent, not 30 percent, by 2025, through market forces and public pressure.

On the other hand, cleaning up methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands, another Obama rule Trump would like to quash, can't be replaced by state and local initiatives—the federal government ultimately must become part of the solution. But just as during the Progressive era at the start of the 20th century it was cities and states and forged the new policy instruments that eventually became the New Deal, rather than waiting for Washington, just so Mike Bloomberg and I believe that political leadership on climate in the United States, and elsewhere, will come from below, not from national elites which remain in thrall to the fossil lobby and other entrenched interests. (Remember those crop subsidies? Shifting them to protect the climate would be good for farmers, but bad for pesticide and fertilizer interests.)

The essential message of Climate of Hope, however, is that every one of the separate market and political failures that threaten the climate has its own unique source and solution—each requiring a different approach and reform, all making us better off. CFC's, for example, cooling and refrigeration chemicals were deployed to replaced ozone depleting predecessors with inadequate testing. Because of their extraordinary ability to prevent solar radiation from bouncing back into space, they loomed as a huge future climate risk. But just as an international treaty—the Montreal Protocol—got rid of the risk of ozone depleting chemicals—the ozone layer is now healing—an amendment to that same treaty is now going to replace HFCs with climate safe alternatives.

Carbon emissions from deforestation mostly stem from illegal logging—so ending corruption and cracking down on the trade in contraband timber are key climate solutions. Methane emissions from rice paddies require better irrigation and cropping practices in rural areas, while methane from urban trash can be prevented by cities deciding to compost garbage instead of dumping it in landfills. Nitrous oxide emissions are soaring because nations subsidize over-fertilization instead of helping farmers figure out how much fertilizer their crops can really utilize. Black carbon from diesels will end as soon as we require all the world's fuels to be refined to eliminate sulfur contamination, something cities and ports are initiating. But black carbon from biomass cooking in developing countries demands giving poor families access to clean cooking fuels—either ethanol from crop wastes or LPG gas currently being wasted and flared.

That diversity of solutions requires a diversity of leaders—yes, presidents, prime ministers and diplomats, but also mayors, CEO's, school board members, architects, procurement officers, rural co-op directors, governors, municipal utility executives, hedge fund managers, college trustees and rear admirals. And properly chosen climate solutions will make each of those jobs easier, and enable those who hold them to deliver better results.

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Salesforce Slashes Emissions to Zero 33 Years Ahead of Schedule

U.S. cloud computing giant Salesforce announced two major sustainability milestones on Thursday.

The San Francisco-based company has achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions—fulfilling a commitment it made in 2015—and is now providing a carbon-neutral cloud for customers.

"The cloud runs on electricity, which today relies predominantly on fossil fuels, a major source of global emissions," Salesforce sustainability director Patrick Flynn wrote in a blog post. "As a cloud leader, we have a responsibility to help combat the adverse effects of climate change."

"Climate change impacts everyone—every individual, company, city and nation," Flynn wrote. "And its effects are compounded in the world's poorest regions, amplifying global inequality. Equality is a core value at Salesforce and that's why we're committed to harnessing our culture of innovation to fight climate change and drive toward equality for all."

Salesforce initially set its goal of hitting net-zero by 2050, meaning as of today the company is 33 years ahead of schedule, Cleantechnica noted.

The firm achieved this goal through two 12-year renewable energy agreements with wind farms in Texas and West Virginia, and through the purchase of "high-quality carbon offset projects."

Two of the projects are:

  • Proyecto Mirador: Replaces open, wood-burning cookstoves in Honduras with a more efficient alternative, decreasing emissions and deforestation while improving human health through better indoor air quality. Each cookstove reduces CO2 emissions by nearly 15 metric tons over its five-year life.
  • India Solar Water Heating: Provides households, small- and medium-sized businesses and institutions with a cleaner and more reliable hot water supply fueled by renewable energy rather than carbon-intensive sources.

In a blog post regarding today's announcement, Salesforce CFO Mark Hawkins explained how companies can save a lot of money by reducing emissions:

"According to a 2013 study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund and the Carbon Disclosure Project, U.S. companies, excluding utilities, could save up to $190 billion by 2020 just by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an average of three percent per year.

"Not only do these efforts positively impact the environment, they positively impact our bottom line. When we improve the efficiency of a data center, it costs less for us to operate that facility. For example, driving more efficient use of electricity in our data centers lowers our utility bills."

According to Hawkins, the company is exploring other ways to reduce carbon usage, such as reporting employee travel volume and making design changes to their offices.

For instance, the firm recently awarded a contract to a local company to supply furniture for the new Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis, he said.

"Not only did the company meet our sustainability standards for the materials it used, but by going local, we avoided the environmental impact and the fees associated with shipping and scheduling deliveries with a non-local supplier," Hawkins wrote.

A number of Silicon Valley companies are stepping up to the plate to combat climate change in the face of a presidential administration seemingly hostile towards environmental protections.

Last month, Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft filed an amicus brief to support Obama-era clean energy regulations that President Donald Trump is trying to undo.

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Survey Says: Climate Science Strong

Was this article originally posted elsewhere?: Yes

If yes, the url: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/23/1541655/-Survey-Shows-Strength-of-Climate-Science

Author: ClimateDenier Roundup

Email: pnewell@climatenexus.org

Phone: (864) 293-1102

Article:

One of the first peer-reviewed surveys of scientists used to determine the level of consensus on human-made climate change was undertaken by Dennis Bran and Hans von Storch in 1996. They used a standard survey response format known as the “Likert Scale,” where respondents answer questions based on a scale of 1 to 7 to determine, for example, how confident they are that warming is happening or that it’s human-caused.


They’ve repeated the survey a few times since 1996, and have recently released the 5th International Survey of Climate Scientists, for 2015/2016. Bart Verheggen helpfully goes over the key consensus findings as well as a couple of issues with the survey.


Because of the Likert Scale response format, though, describing the findings in numbers isn’t as effective as just looking at the graphs of responses. In many cases, the responses are so lopsided that some very clear statements can be made.


We can see that, as science has progressed, the level of risk associated with climate change has increased as has what’s at stake. In contrast to folks like Judith Curry who play up uncertainty as an excuse for inaction, the majority of scientists think that since 1996, climate science uncertainty has dropped. Meanwhile, if society were to listen to voices highlighting uncertainty, and fail to act because of them, the potential for catastrophe for some parts of the world is fairly great.


To the point of the GOP AGs suggesting that Gore and others could be held responsible for exaggerating climate risks, scientists clearly think sea level rise will be just as bad as we thought five years ago, if not worse. The same can be said for other negative impacts. Over the last five years, the urgency to act on climate change has grown.


As for the public, scientists clearly think they should be told to be worried as we are already starting to experience the impacts of climate change. For example, they agree that the frequency of extreme events is increasing, as well as the intensity of those events, and the probability that those extreme events occur. Scientists expect these extreme events to become more powerful, tropical storms to get more intense, and certainly not any less frequent. Heat waves over the last 20 years are growing more intense as well as more frequent.


Most importantly, an overwhelming majority of scientists are convinced that climate change poses a serious and dangerous threat to humanity, with only 2% responding that they’re not at all convinced. Again, with the Likert scale it’s a bit difficult to put simply. Assuming a 4 out of 7 is the midway point between “not at all” concerned and "very much" concerned, 8% of respondents fell between 1 and 3, 5.667% right in the middle at 4, and 85.74% between 5 and 7.


So, deniers claiming the science is still too uncertain to take action or that the public shouldn’t be worried need to take heed of this survey (like they have in the past, if even just to spin it) and accept that they’re a fringe minority at odds with an overwhelming consensus. That’s the facts, whether they Likert or not.

Article Images:

Photo credit: iStock

8 Critical Changes to NAFTA to Prioritize People and Planet

By Amanda Maxwell and Anthony Swift

President Trump has made renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) one of the main goals for his administration and has recently revealed the general plan to do so.

As this process moves forward, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club and our partners across a broad range of sectors are calling on the administration to include eight critical issues among their priorities in changing NAFTA, outlined below. We want to ensure that any new provisions in NAFTA result in a transparent agreement that supports—and does not undermine—a more stable climate, clean air and water, healthy communities, indigenous peoples and good jobs.

In the 23 years since NAFTA's signing, the economies of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. have become intertwined and interdependent, with $1.1 trillion in trade moving among the three countries in 2016. During those decades, too, new issues such as climate change, clean energy and sustainability, have moved to the forefront of international relations. So, while it remains unclear exactly how and to what extent the Trump administration will change this accord, there are several critical provisions that should be included to improve the lives of people living and working in all three countries and the environments they depend on.

NRDC is pleased to ally with 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Green America, Greenpeace USA, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, League of Conservation Voters, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club and U.S. Human Rights Network in calling on the Trump administration to include the following eight issues among their priorities in changing NAFTA:

1. Eliminate rules that empower corporations to attack environmental and public health protections in unaccountable tribunals. NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement system allows multinational corporations—e.g. ExxonMobil and TransCanada—to bypass our courts, go to private tribunals and demand money from taxpayers for policies that affect corporate bottom lines. Corporations have used NAFTA to challenge bans on toxic chemicals, decisions of environmental review panels and protections for our climate. They have extracted more than $370 million from governments in these cases and pending NAFTA claims total more than $50 billion. What's more, the cases are heard not by judges, but by corporate lawyers outside the normal court system.

2. Incorporate strong, enforceable environmental and labor standards into the core text of the agreement. To address environmental and labor issues, NAFTA created side agreements which are non-binding and have limitations. As a result, they have been relatively ineffective. To ensure that the new terms of a revised trilateral trade agreement create and uphold a fair playing field for environmental and labor conditions, these two areas must be included inside the core text of the agreement. That means that a country that fails to live up to its environmental obligations will be subject to trade sanctions similar to the existing provisions for violation of commercial parts of the agreement. This will also require that countries live up to existing international agreements and address environmental challenges such as critical conservation challenges related to illegal timber trade, illegal wildlife trade and fisheries management.

3. Protect energy sector reform from backward-looking rules. NAFTA's energy chapter limits Canada's ability to restrict production of climate-polluting fossil fuels such as tar sands oil. The chapter, written before awareness of climate change was widespread, must be eliminated. Other NAFTA rules allow renewable portfolio standards, low-carbon fuel standards and other climate-friendly energy regulations to be challenged for impeding business for foreign fossil fuel firms. Such rules must be narrowed to protect climate policies in each country.

4. Restrict pollution from cross-border freight vehicles. NAFTA encouraged a rise in cross-border motor carrier traffic without doing anything to mitigate the resulting increase in harmful vehicle emissions. Any deal that replaces NAFTA must require cross-border freight vehicles to reduce emissions in order for their goods to benefit from reduced tariffs. In addition, all cross-border commercial vehicles must be required to comply with all state and federal standards to limit pollution.

5. Require green government purchasing instead of restricting it. NAFTA's procurement rules limit governments' ability to use "green purchasing" requirements that ensure government contracts support renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable goods. Any changes to NAFTA must require signatory governments to include a preference for goods and services with low environmental impacts in procurement decisions.

6. Bolster climate protections by penalizing imported goods made with high climate emissions. NAFTA allows firms to shift production to a country with lower climate standards, which can spur "carbon leakage" and job offshoring. To prevent this and encourage greater climate action from high-emissions trading partners, each country should be required to impose a border fee on imported goods whose production causes significant climate pollution.

7. Require governments to prioritize policies that minimize climate pollution. While NAFTA restricts climate policies that limit trade or investment, any replacement deal must instead put climate first. This includes requiring governments to use a "climate impact test" for policymaking, in which potential climate impacts of policy proposals are reported and weighed.

8. Add a broad protection for environmental and other public interest policies. NAFTA's many overreaching rules restrict the policy tools that governments can use to protect the environment and other broadly-shared priorities. NAFTA includes no provision that effectively shields public interest policies from such rules—only a weak "exception" in Article 2101 that has consistently failed to protect challenged policies. Instead, any deal that replaces NAFTA must include a broad "carve-out" that exempts public interest policies from all of the deal's rules.

If President Trump moves forward with altering NAFTA, any renegotiations must be conducted transparently through open processes, providing the public in all three countries with the opportunity to participate. We and our partners in the environmental, labor, health, consumer, agricultural and other communities will be eager to see whether President Trumps supports a renegotiated NAFTA that supports—and does not undermine—a more stable climate, clean air and water, healthy communities, indigenous peoples and good jobs.

Amanda Maxwell is the director of the Latin America Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Anthony Swift is the director of the Canada Project and the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Photo credit: Lyon Group

World's Biggest Solar + Battery Farm Coming to Australia

A massive solar and battery farm is being built in South Australia's Riverland region.

If everything goes to plan, the plant will be running by the end of 2017 and will be the largest such system in the world, Brisbane-based renewable energy developer and investor Lyon Group announced.

The Riverland plant consists of 330MW of solar PV and a 100MW/400MWh battery storage system, or 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries.

The new project couldn't come sooner. A major gas shortage is looming and the country's decades-old coal plants are shutting down, sparking potential price hikes and putting the nation's energy security at risk.

The $1 billion (US $767 million) project was announced amid South Australia's recent spate of blackouts.

Interestingly, the ball really seemed to roll after an intriguing tweet from none other than Elon Musk.

You may recall that earlier this month the Tesla CEO offered to build a 100MW battery storage farm for the Australian state. To up the ante, he said he would provide the system for free if it was not commissioned within 100 days. Musk's audacious bet led to an eventual conversation with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Days later, the South Australian government announced an open, competitive tender for a 100MW battery storage project.

"The battery will modernize South Australia's energy grid and begin the transformation to the next generation of renewable-energy storage technologies," the government office stated.

According to Australia's ABC News, Lyon Group partner David Green said the company will build its new plant, along with a similar plant near the town of Roxby Downs, regardless of the outcome of the government's tender:

The Lyon Group has already signaled its intention to bid for a SA government tender to build a battery storage system with 100-megawatt output.

The tender arrangement would give the government the right to tap the battery storage at times of peak demand, but allow the project owner to sell energy and stability into the market at other times.

An expressions of interest process closes on Friday.

Other companies, including Carnegie, Zen Energy and Tesla, have all suggested they could be interested in bidding.

Green said the outcome of the tender would not determine whether or not Lyon's projects were built, but would influence the final storage configuration in terms of the balance between optimizing grid security and capturing trading revenue.

Green said the project was 100 percent equity financed and construction would begin within months, requiring 270 workers, ABC News reported.

"We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonize," Green added.

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Bottled Water Companies Pay Next to Nothing to Siphon Freshwater From Pristine Lake

Environmentalists in New Zealand are increasingly angered that bottled water companies are extracting and exporting the country's pristine and finite freshwater sources for private profit—and paying very little for this privilege.

As the Guardian reported, Coca-Cola, "which has an annual revenue of over $60bn, last year paid NZ$40,000 to the local council for the right to extract up to 200 cubic meters of water a day" from Blue Spring in Putaruru, which is considered a national treasure.

Additionally, the company Alpine Pure is proposing to take millions of liters of glacial water from Lake Greaney and Lake Minim Mere in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park.

Alpine Pure project summary Alpine Pure

Alpine Pure managing director Bruce Nisbet defended the proposal, telling the Guardian that the amount they want to take is "very small."

Also, Environment Minister Nick Smith says that the amount of freshwater being taken is tiny. His office notes that New Zealand's annual freshwater resource is 500 trillion liters, of which 10 trillion liters is extracted. Six trillion goes towards irrigation, two trillion for town water supplies and two trillion for industries.

But many Kiwis are unhappy. Earlier this month, a petition carrying 15,000 signatures was delivered to Parliament calling for a moratorium on bottled water exports. The petition was organized by opposition group Bung the Bore.

"In many parts of our country people are struggling to access clean safe water, yet at the same time billions of liters are being given away to private companies for nothing," Bung the Bore founder Jen Branje told Hawke's Bay Today.

According to the publication, 74 bottling plants in New Zealand have permits to take water and more permits are awaiting approval.

"These bottling companies pay as little as NZ$500 (US$350) to local councils to take billions of liters of this precious resource and consent for this exploitation is often given with no public consultation at all," Branje said.

Bottled water is a big business with more that $100 billion spent each year on bottled water around the globe. In areas of the world where clean water is not readily available and boiling water is inconvenient, bottled water is a definite solution.

However, there are many reasons why you should avoid bottled water if you can, from plastic waste to money waste. Additionally, the bottled water industry is a huge water waster. The International Bottled Water Association reported in 2013 that North American water bottling firms use 1.39 liters to make one liter of water.

Water scarcity is an issue around the world and is certainly becoming a problem in New Zealand, as contamination breaks out in wells and water bodies around the country. As environmental nonprofit Pure Advantage details:

"According to Canterbury District Health Board figures, the region now has the highest rate of campylobacter infections in the world, along with 17,000 notified cases of gastroenteritis a year and up to 34,000 cases of waterborne illness annually.

"It's clear that water quality in New Zealand is deteriorating. Increased algal blooms containing toxic levels of bacteria are polluting our waterways and 75 percent of native freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction."

Catherine Delahunty, the Green party's spokesperson for water, wrote in an editorial that it is unfair for bottled water companies to take the country's water when there is none to spare in areas struck by water contamination.

"Recently, Te Matatini kapa haka festival had to buy bottles of water for people because the drinking water supply was so polluted with e. coli bacteria, it was too dirty to drink," she wrote. "Ironically, the brand they bought was HB Water—bottled locally from an unpolluted source. Why should people have to pay for water because their water has been polluted, when a bottling company down the road can bottle and sell water for free?"

Prime Minister Bill English acknowledged the Bung the Bore petition last week, announcing that the government is asking a panel of experts to explore whether to introduce a charge for water exports.

His statement, however, reflected the government's century-old view that no one owns the water.

"On the one hand, there is real public concern about foreign companies' access to water. On the other hand, there's a long-held, deep-seated view among New Zealanders that no one owns it and it's free, so we'd want to step through any process carefully," English said.

"As we've discussed, New Zealand's long-held position has been, no one owns the water and no one pays for water—they pay for consents, they pay for infrastructure, but water in itself is free, just as it is for our electricity users and businesses who use it," he added.

In response, Delahunty wrote, "We're pleased that the Government is hinting it may look at charging for water, but whether they follow through with a plan that actually protects our water from pollution and extraction remains to be seen."

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