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COP23: Forward-Thinking Companies Are Shifting Markets and Driving the Clean Energy Transition
By Mike Peirce
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is a place for policy and a place for deals. But the COP is also a moment in time—a chance for the wider climate community to reflect on progress towards a clean energy transition, to challenge the terms of the debate, and to put forward ideas, money and commitments to action.
For those not spending the time marching the kilometer or more between the negotiators' Bula Zone and the Bonn Zone—stopping off at the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion on the way—you can still feel the surge in interest: a flurry of state-of-the-world journalism, the publication of academic and practitioner research, and pronouncements from political leaders and campaigners.
The Climate Group's work takes place at this spot on the border of the negotiations. We know from our work with business leaders and policymakers that climate action is happening outside of the negotiating room as much as in it, with leading sub-national governments and major companies accelerating the transition to a zero-emissions economy.
At the close of last week and through the weekend, the Bonn conference hosted a succession of debates, structured thematically as Energy Day, Transport Day and Industry Day. Over these three days, the COP crowd heard a series of new commitments and statements of progress across three areas of action that we believe define 21st century business leadership—renewables, energy productivity, and electric mobility.
The Climate Group's business programs—RE100 (renewables), EP100 (energy productivity) and EV100 (electric vehicles)—are focused on these three key areas. By bringing together leading businesses making the highest levels of commitments, they are designed to create demand signals that can shift markets in favor of clean technologies, as well as influence the wider policy landscape.
Why are these campaigns needed? The simple answer is that large companies are major consumers of energy; they are vehicle fleet owners and bulk purchasers; and they are landlords and owners of much of the urban built environment. Through their procurement and management decisions, these businesses—collectively—can quickly shape and re-configure markets. Our campaigns seek to harness this power to help accelerate the clean energy transition by getting corporates to make ambitious commitments.
EV100 provides a platform for companies to showcase their electric vehicle leadership, enabling them to reduce investment costs through best practice sharing, and engage in dialogue with governments and other stakeholders to collaboratively address the remaining barriers. And on Energy Day, four businesses from New Zealand, Japan and the Netherlands committed to transition to electric vehicles by 2030, joining the ten companies that formed the launch group for the campaign in September.
On the same day, RE100 announced a new joiner, the international consultancy and construction company Mace, which strives to create more sustainable cities and communities. This UK-based company is committed to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity globally by 2022. More significantly, as the 115th member of RE100, the company joins a group which now generates demand for more than 153TWh of renewable electricity annually—more than it takes to power Poland.
The contribution of EVs to the energy transition is of course highly dependent on the supply of renewable energy. Equally, the role of renewables is maximized when companies are able to radically reduce the consumption of energy for every unit of output or value created. This ambition to enhance the productivity of energy is at the heart of the EP100 campaign. And Energy Day also heard from one of India's leading cement producers, Dalmia Cement, who announced that the company is already almost halfway towards its goal of doubling its energy productivity by 2030. The company has one of the lowest carbon footprints of cement production globally.
In the next few days, we will wait to hear the impact of these and other announcements on the COP negotiations. The continued momentum we're seeing should provide the spark and reassurance needed to drive greater ambition among policymakers But the most distinctive message is that the action is continuing apace in any case. Why? Because it makes business sense. Forward-thinking companies are acting now to ready their operations for the future, while responding to consumer demand. With the backing of policymakers at COP23, they will be inspired to move even faster.
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By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated: