The companies announced their decision at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Coming a month after the COP23 in Bonn, Germany, the announcement puts the companies in a position similar to the "Powering Past Coal Alliance," a partnership of 26 nations founded in Bonn by Britain, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands.
Among the list of companies committing to the coal phase out are BT, Engie, Kering, Diageo, Marks & Spencer, Orsted and Storebrand.
The companies committed to setting targets to end the use of traditional coal from the power sector, for both consumption and electricity generation. Coal could, however, continue to be used if greenhouse emissions were captured and buried. Meanwhile, the governments in the "Power Past Coal Alliance" committed to phasing out traditional coal power by 2030 in rich nations and by 2050 in other parts of the world.
During the summit French President Macron told more than 200 global investors and 50 world leaders that the global community "is losing the battle" against climate change. "It's time to act and move faster and win this battle," Macron said.Macron's office also announced dozens of initiatives meant to stem climate change, including the World Banks's decision to stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction after 2019. Just ahead of the summit, Macron awarded 18 scientists with grants to carry out climate research in France.
As the world increasingly looks to be on track for a catastrophic 3°C of global warming, world leaders and diplomats gathered in Bonn, Germany to turn the Paris agreement into a set of rules.
In that sense the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23), which concluded on Saturday, accomplished its goal of keeping the process alive by setting up the rules that will be finalized next year in Poland. But the conference also kicked a number of issues down the road. The round of climate talks heard repeated calls for a more ambitious approach to slashing carbon emissions but did not initiate any conclusive solutions, though it should be noted that no major decisions were expected.
Under the Paris agreement, nearly 200 nations submitted pledges to slow their greenhouse-gas emissions to keep the planet well below 2°C.
"Climate change is an issue determining our destiny as mankind," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said before acknowledging that Germany was likely to miss its emissions goals due to its continued reliance on coal. Germany isn't the only country tied up in coal. Just last Monday scientists noted that greenhouse gases are likely going to rise again, in part due to the rebound of coal in China.
But coal's persistence also took a hit—more than 20 countries led by the UK and Canada launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Each country involved pledged to end its use of coal by 2030, while the UK pledged to cease burning coal by 2025. It should be noted that coal use has been declining in all of these countries. The U.S., for its part, promoted "clean coal" at the only side event it hosted at the summit.
Despite playing the role of obstructionist in the coal arena, observers noted that overall, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement had little effect on the proceeding of negotiations. The U.S. didn't block anything, insiders stated, and remained neutral, while China and India didn't use the vacuum left by the U.S. to gain advantage. Outside the spotlight, a team of career state department negotiators pressured China, India and other developing countries to practice transparency in verifying their emissions reductions. At the same time, U.S. negotiators helped reject proposals from poor countries seeking an increase in climate aid from rich countries.
Unofficially, the U.S. presence was felt as a U.S. delegation sidestepped the Trump administration's obstinance on climate change. Democratic senators, governors and mayors joined the conference. "We're here because it's in our national security interests to deal with climate change," New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
That cities and states are picking up the mantle left behind by Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement is not insignificant. Many U.S. states and even cities are larger than some European states, while urban centers are the primary producers of carbon emissions. "There is an impression by politicians here that President Trump in person is no longer the voice of the free Western world," Christian Ehler, a German lawmaker who heads the European Parliament's delegation for relations with the U.S., said to the Washington Post. "We are much more carefully looking now to the diversity of what is being discussed in the United States, and we see that California is one of the powerhouses of the world economically."
By the conclusion of COP23, very few countries announced any new initiatives to cut emissions. A hoped-for announcement from China on a cap-and-trade program was delayed and Germany announced that it would hold "tough discussions" on coal in the future.
Though many environmentalists said Bonn was a step in the right direction, major issues remain to be solved. Current pledges keep the world on track for 3°C of warming, if not more. And the road to making the necessary changes to stay below 2°C seems increasingly difficult to reach. To remain below the Paris agreement's 2°C, nearly all coal plants will need to be taken out of commission or fitted with carbon technology. The transportation sector would need to transition to largely electric-powered vehicles. World carbon emissions would likely have to peak in the next few years and then fall by half every decade all the way down to zero by midcentury. It remains to be seen whether enough political will can be drummed up for such a transition.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.