Fortune 500s Hit the Hill on Earth Day to Urge Congress to Take Action on Climate Change
All laudable initiatives, but with the clock ticking on our ability to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic climate change, companies need to up their game.
Today, more than a dozen iconic companies, many of them Fortune 500 firms, are hitting Capitol Hill to deliver a singular focused message to Congress: act now on climate change. Many are also backing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing global warming pollution from U.S. power plants—the nation’s largest source of carbon emissions—by 30 percent.
The companies have traveled to Washington because they believe that reaching a strong global deal on climate change in Paris this December is critical for the long-term stability of their businesses and the overall economy. They also recognize the imperative of U.S. leadership on climate change, which is why most of them signed a letter—along with more than 200 other companies—supporting EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a cornerstone of U.S. efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Many are already experiencing climate change impacts in their direct operations and supply chains—the devastating drought in the nation’s food hub, California, being just one example.
They’re also "walking the talk" on climate change by sourcing more renewable energy for their operations and creating innovative new services and products that reduce carbon pollution. But they can only go so far without strong policies.
Here’s what a few of them had to say on the topic at a recent press conference (listen here to the recording)
“Nestle’s is directly impacted by the effects of climate change. Of particular concern are changes to weather patterns, water availability and agricultural productivity that will affect our global supply chain . We support the EPA Clean Power Plan because it provides a stable policy framework that creates a level playing field and provides incentives to guide behavior to tackle climate change.” Tim Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Waters North America
“Producing innovative technologies in advanced low carbon aluminum products … is a key source of competitive advantage for our company and our customers. We strongly support the principles behind the carbon standard for existing power plants. Unless and until we commit to a low carbon future, the U.S. is not going to see the reductions we need to maintain healthy and sustainable economic growth.“ John Gardner, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Novelis, a global manufacturer of rolled aluminum, with manufacturing plants in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
“As a nation we must take action to reduce carbon and mitigate the increase in temperature that carbon causes, and the EPA plan has our support. Like many companies, we are following the lead of our consumers [who are] demanding transparency and environmental responsibility from the brands they purchase. There is very strong support within our community for the EPA Clean Power Plan.” Donna Carpenter, President and Founder of Burton Snowboards in Vermont, who calls the winter sports industry “the canary in the coal mine of climate change.”
“Buildings are responsible for up to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s why JLL supports EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which includes energy efficiency as one of the key ways power providers can reduce their carbon emissions. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and most readily available energy resource to help states cut their carbon emissions.” Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability at JLL, a global commercial real estate company, which has helped its clients cut their carbon emissions by 12 million metric tons, saving $2.5 billion in energy costs over the past seven years.”
These Clean Power Plan supporters don’t buy opponents’ ‘sky is falling’ claims that the reliability of our electric power system is at risk. Studies by the Analysis Group have repeatedly shown that electric power providers are capable of meeting the EPA requirements while keeping our lights on—just as they have met every other Clean Air Act requirement over the past 25 years.
Indeed, many of the nation’s largest power companies have indicated in comments to the EPA that the rule is achievable with some modifications. Listen, for example, to Tom King, former president of National Grid:
As the Analysis Group concludes,“In the end, because there are such fundamental shifts already underway in the electric industry, inaction is the real threat to good reliability planning.” In states like Hawaii, for example, the local utility’s failure to adapt to the rapid spread of rooftop solar is creating electric system problems.
More than ever, it’s clear that businesses and investors have accepted the science of climate change and want government leadership to deal with it. Among the signs of this growing support:
- Forty-three CEOs of global companies published an open letter last week urging governments to reach an international climate agreement that holds temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
- Leaders of the B Team have called for net zero emissions by 2050
- More than 1,350 companies have signed Ceres’ Climate Declaration.
- Last fall, nearly 350 investors managing $24 trillion in assets called on government leaders to adopt meaningful carbon pricing, an ambitious climate accord and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
It’s time for our elected officials to follow their cue and recognize the urgency and economic imperative of tackling climate change.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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