Category Archives: Uncategorized

Top tips to leave a smaller carbon footprint this summer

We’ve teamed up with ClimateCare to deliver an online carbon calculator and to encourage everyone to leave a smaller carbon footprint this summer. 

flight

‘Take only photographs, leave only footprints’ – a sentiment long associated with the idea of responsible travel, but whilst there’s no harm in leaving your footprints in the sand, leaving a carbon footprint is not harmless.

Travel and tourism accounts for 5% of global CO2 emissions. 75% of these emissions are associated with transport[1]. As we start the peak holiday season here’s a reminder of ways you can minimise the environmental impact of your holiday travel and protect the very places you want to visit.

And, once you’ve done everything you can to reduce your footprint, you can use our calculator to measure and offset what’s left.

FLYING

If you fly to your holiday destination, the emissions from those flights will make up a significant proportion of your annual personal carbon footprint. Here are some things you can do to minimise that impact

  • Many short haul flights can be replaced by other forms of public transport such as trains or buses. If you are feeling really adventurous there are even many options for travelling long haul without flying, making the journey a core part of your trip.
  • Stay longer at your destination: Choosing one two-week holiday rather than two one-week holidays will reduce your travel impact.
    Consider flying direct if you can, aeroplanes use a lot of fuel taking off and landing.
  • Fly Economy: Flying business or first class means more emissions – both because of the space you take up and the bigger seats and extra kit carried.

When you do fly, measure and offset your emissions using our carbon calculator under the ‘FLIGHT’ tab.

DRIVING TIPS

Travelling by train, bus or bike is much better for the planet, but if you need to use a car, here are some tips to reduce its greenhouse emissions – and save you some money in fuel at the same time.

  • If you’re hiring a vehicle, ask your supplier for one with the best fuel economy (you’ll save yourself money too). Consider an electric vehicle or a hybrid with the lowest gCO2/km (grams of CO2 per km travelled).
  • Avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking saves fuel and reduces accident rates.
    The most efficient speed depends on your car but is typically around 55 – 65mph. Faster speed will greatly increase your fuel consumption.
  • Check your tyre pressure – under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
  • If you’re stuck in a jam, switch the engine off if you expect to be there for more than a minute or two. Cutting the engine will save fuel and reduce emissions.
  • For short journeys think about cycling or walking. A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective.
  • Accessories such as roof racks, bike carriers, and roof boxes significantly affect your car’s aerodynamics and reduce fuel efficiency, so remember to remove them when not in use. A boot full of equipment you’re not using also wastes fuel.
  • Air-conditioning increases fuel consumption at low speeds, but at higher speeds the effects are less noticeable. The AA recommend opening your windows around town and saving the air conditioning for high speed driving. See more of their driving tips.

Measure and offset your driving emissions using our carbon calculator– under the ‘CAR’ tab.

ACCOMMODATION

Your choice of accommodation will affect your impact on the climate and on the local community.

  • Choose a hotel with a clear environmental policy and help them act on it. For example washing and pressing towels and sheets every day uses a lot of energy.
  • Use locally filtered rather than bottled water.
  • Find out how the hotel engages with the local community – does it provide fairly paid local employment, source locally produced goods and support local community projects.

accommodation_4(1)

Measure and offset your hotel stays using our carbon calculator – under the ‘EVENT’ tab.

YOUR STAY

  • Read up on these tips to make your holiday greener by the Travel Foundation.
  • Use water and other scarce resources sparingly.
    Get to know the local community and environment during your stay –awareness of local issues can help you make a positive impact.
  • Buy local, ethically produced gifts to support the local economy and environment.

Your Tips

Please share your top tips to leave a smaller carbon footprint. Tweet us (@co2analytics) and ClimateCare (@ClimateCare) using #carboncutting. If your tip gets selected in our top five favourites, you’ll win a 50% voucher against your next offset!

All tips shared on the ClimateCare website via the form or on Twitter including #carboncutting are valid entries. The ClimateCare team will pick their five favourite tips on Thursday 4th of August. Winners will be contacted on Twitter or by email if the tip was submitted through the website form by Thursday 11th of August. If winners can’t be contacted after two attempts another winner will be selected. Each winner will receive one 50 percent off voucher for their next offset with ClimateCare. ClimateCare will share and publish tips as part of its promotion to reduce the impact of holiday travel. ClimateCare reserves the right to remove tips that are not valid or positive and constructive.

Share our top tips on social media

You can download and share our top tips high-res images – access them here.

[1] http://sdt.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/ccoxford.pdf

A New Way to Measure and Offset Carbon Emissions

PRESS RELEASE: A NEW WAY TO MEASURE AND OFFSET CARBON EMISSIONS

27 June 2016

B Corporations ClimateCare and Carbon Analytics have pooled their expertise to develop a new Carbon Calculator.

The online calculator is powered by measurement experts Carbon Analytics and provides users with a tool to calculate their carbon emissions. Users can then immediately offset these carbon emissions through ClimateCare’s award winning portfolio of climate and sustainable development projects.

The calculator helps you measure the impact of specific activities like travel, attending an event, or energy use. For example, the image below shows a calculation of the carbon impact of a return economy flight from London Heathrow to New York – a distance of over 6800 miles. It shows that each passenger is responsible for 1.54 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and gives the opportunity to offset this for £11.53.

flight

After purchase users receive an email confirmation which includes a certificate detailing the amount of carbon offset, information about the projects they have supported and guidance on how to reduce their carbon footprint further. There is even the opportunity to purchase offsets as a gift.Everyone who measures and offsets emississions through the calculator will support projects that both cut global carbon emissions and make a real difference to people’s lives, including the award winning LifeStraw Carbon for Water project – that provides safe drinking water to 4 million people in Western Kenya – and the Gyapa Project, which provides clean efficient cookstoves to families in Ghana.“Every organisation and every household has a climate impact. Most of us are aware of the issue, but while calculating your exact carbon footprint and taking steps to address it can seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be,” explains ClimateCare’s Head of Corporate Partnerships, Rob Stevens.”With our Carbon Calculator we want to help people take action. We hope that our simple, positive process will help everyone understand and take responsibility for their carbon emissions – both by identifying opportunities to reduce their footprint and offsetting what remains.”But it doesn’t stop there. For organisations further along their carbon management journey, there is the opportunity to use the business tab to delve into the detail and carry out in depth measurements of business, supply chain and product impacts.And, once people are engaged, ClimateCare and Carbon Analytics are committed to supporting them on a journey towards carbon neutrality – or even beyond, to becoming carbon positive.
“Most people and businesses want to reduce their direct energy emissions (what we call Scope 1 emissions) but they often underestimate their indirect emissions, which include the source of their electricity and transportation (Scopes 2 and 3 emissions). The good news is that there are ways to see, understand and reduce all your energy consumption and emissions,” says Michael Thornton, co-founder and CEO of Carbon Analytics.The calculator is freely available for anyone to embed in their own website and ClimateCare is encouraging people to do so, saying: “It will allow more people to understand their carbon impact and can be used by anyone to encourage their online visitors, staff, suppliers and even customers to take action, without leaving their own web pages.”See the ClimateCare Calculator here: http://climatecare.org/calculator/

To request a copy of the ClimateCare Carbon Calculator to embed in your own website simply email business@climatecare.org or call the team on +44(0)1865 591000.

INFORMATION FOR EDITORS

ClimateCare

ClimateCare is a certified B Corporation. We believe that climate change, poverty and sustainable development cannot be tackled in isolation. And that we cannot rely solely on aid. Governments and businesses must work together to deliver the speed and scale of change required to secure a sustainable future.

That’s why, for the past 19 years, we have mobilised the power and scale of both private and public finance for integrated Climate+Care programmes, which deliver positive environmental and social impacts around the world.

We combine the vision of a social enterprise and the commercial experience of an investment bank. Leveraging mainstream funding, we profitably deliver some of the largest, most successful sustainability initatives around the world. To date we have worked with hundreds of partners to cut over 20.6 million tonnes of CO2 and at the sime time improved the lives of 16.5 million people.

Find out more at www.climatecare.org

Follow ClimateCare on Twitter: @ClimateCare

Carbon Analytics

Carbon Analytics is an award-winning environmental impact assessment firm whose mission is to bring environment impact data and analysis quickly and accurately to businesses.

Our unique platform and algorithm allow businesses to assess their environmental impacts across their entire supply chain and can be used as a tool for businesses to engage their suppliers in lowering their carbon emissions. We provide a certification scheme to guide businesses on the path to sustainability, from “Carbon Aware” to “carbon Advocate”. Our secure online platform is free for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Find out more at www.co2analytics.com

Follow Carbon Analytics on Twitter: @co2analytics

About carbon offsetting

Find out more about carbon offsetting on the ClimateCare website – http://climatecare.org/carbon-offsetting/

Press enquiries and image requests

Please contact: Rhiannon Szmigielski, ClimateCare

Tel: +44(0)1865 591000

Email: rhiannon.szmigielski@climatecare.org

climatecare logo

Understanding and Protecting Our Coral Ecosystems

Climate change is one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems — corals die as temperatures rise and cause mass bleaching and outbreaks of infectious disease.

Already, almost 30% of the world’s reefs have been destroyed. The time to act is NOW. Check out this gorgeous infographic shared by Fix about corals and coral bleaching!


Source: Fix.com Blog

WHAT’S THE COST OF SURFING THE INTERNET? ‘EARTH MODE’ BROWSER PLUG-IN HELPS USERS UNDERSTAND THEIR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Issued on behalf of Johnnie Walker

WHAT’S THE COST OF SURFING THE INTERNET? ‘EARTH MODE’ BROWSER PLUG-IN HELPS USERS UNDERSTAND THEIR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Johnnie Walker® partners with Earth Day Network to plant trees to offset users’ carbon footprint

18 April 2016: You might not realise it but the amount of time you spend and what you do online takes its toll on the environment.

Research* suggests that the average online user consumes 130 kgs of carbon a year – the equivalent to driving 740 km in a car – which could be offset by planting four trees.

A new plug-in for Google’s Chrome browser launched ahead of Earth Day on Friday (22 April) will help educate people about how much energy they consume online by calculating their digital carbon footprint and, as a result, inspire them to think about their everyday energy efficiency.

The new Chrome plug-in comes from Johnnie Walker®, makers of the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky, who are partnering with Earth Day Network to urge people to take a small but progressive step towards helping the environment.

Earth Day Network is a global movement that aims to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to take action on environmental issues.

By measuring online usage over four weeks, the plug-in calculates the user’s annual consumption of energy. To offset it, Johnnie Walker will plant up to 75,000 trees as part of Earth Day Network’s Canopy Project, which has planted more than three million trees since 2011 in areas in need of reforestation in East Africa.

Michael Thornton, Chief Executive of Carbon Analytics, which helps businesses manage their environmental impact, has worked with Johnnie Walker on the development of Earth Mode and says it is sometimes difficult for people to understand how using the internet creates a carbon footprint.

He said: “Each time that you use a website or search the internet it requires a lot of energy to provide the data. Cumulatively across the world, this creates a large carbon footprint. The Earth Mode plug-in is an easy-to-use calculator that is a helpful tool for understanding that footprint. Individuals will be able to see their carbon usage displayed as the equivalent of everyday activities such as using a microwave, driving a car or taking a flight.”

Guy Escolme, Johnnie Walker global brand director, said: “We believe that everyone wants their tomorrow to be better than today and Earth Mode gives people the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment. It is just one environmentally-friendly act but we hope it will educate and inspire users around the world to take other small actions to help Earth Day achieve its goal of reaching three billion ‘Acts of Green’.

Johnnie Walker is proud that our parent company Diageo has reduced its carbon emissions by 33% over eight years and one of the ways they have done that is to make its 35,000 employees across the world aware of the energy they use every day and through.”

Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network said: “Carbon footprints seem like a foreign concept to far too many of us, perhaps especially those of us in urban environments or not living along a coastline. But we should all be aware of what our energy needs and consumption are doing to our shared global environment.”

“The more readily-available the information on our carbon footprint becomes, the more in contact with it in real-time we are, the more of an impact it will have. No more out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Now, like tracking the battery life on our cell phones, we will know what our computer usage is costing. And it will be eye-opening.”

The Johnnie Walker Earth Mode plug-in is available from the Chrome Store for PC and laptop users. Once installed, users click on the Johnnie Walker ‘Striding Man’ icon to reveal a drop-down window that displays real-time online energy usage, and shows how many trees will be planted to offset their annual carbon footprint.

To download the plug-in, visit: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/apps

For more information on using the plug-in visit: https://youtu.be/9f3Da6WJuKI

www.facebook.com/JohnnieWalker
@Johnniewalker_
#earthmode #billionactsofgreen

Enjoy Johnnie Walker responsibly.

Ends

For more information, please contact:

Selina Wallace, Smarts Communicate
E: Selina.Wallace@smartscommunicate.com / jwmediateam@smartscommunicate.com
T: 0044 2890 39 55 00
M: 0044 7724 477 087

Carol McAllister, Smarts Communicate
E: Carol.Mcallister@smartscommunicate.com
T: 0044 2890 39 55 00
M: 0044 7967 758 491

Notes to Editors
*Research conducted by Carbon Analytics concludes that an average internet user consumes 130kgs of carbon a year. Using sources provided by Earth Day Network, we estimated that the average tree consumes 34kgs of carbon a year, therefore requiring the planting of four trees per person to offset their annual online carbon consumption average of 130kg.

About Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker is the world’s number one Scotch whisky brand, enjoyed by people in over 180 countries around the world. Since the time of its founder, John Walker, those who blend its whiskies have pursued flavour and quality above else.

Six generations of skilled Master Blenders have pioneered and crafted bold new flavours that have transformed a small Scottish grocery store business, founded in 1820, into an international whisky business selling stylish, authentic, and iconic blends.

Today’s range of award-winning whiskies includes Johnnie Walker Red Label®, Black Label®, Double Black™, Green Label™, Gold Label Reserve™, Platinum Label™ and Blue Label™. Together they account for nearly 19 million cases sold annually (IWSR, 2014), making Johnnie Walker the most popular Scotch whisky in the world.

About Diageo
Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and our products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world. For more information about Diageo, our people, our brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com. Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource, www.DRINKiQ.com, for information, initiatives, and ways to share best practice.

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere.

The Johnnie Walker, Keep Walking, Red Label, Black Label, Double Black, Green Label, Gold Label Reserve, Platinum Label and Blue Label words and associated logos are trademarks © John Walker & Sons 2016.

About Earth Day Network:

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. For more information, visit www.earthday.org.

About Earth Mode:

Earth Mode is a new plug-in for Google’s Chrome browser which is available to PC and laptop users only. It is available for download from Monday 18 April – 16 May 2016.

Earth Mode Calculation Approach:

Carbon Analytics arrived at an algorithm for converting online energy usage into carbon by taking a cross section of measurable variances into consideration: country power mix, browsing device, local network use and data throughput.
First they estimated the energy impact of a users’ activity by:

  • User device and network time of use
  • Data usage and processing throughput

Then they took the overall energy used and looked at the location of the user to calculate their carbon footprint. Location is one of the key factors because where you live affects how much energy is required to provide the online data.
So essentially the formula is based on:

  • Energy impact = time of use + data throughput
  • Carbon footprint = energy x location factors

About Michael Thornton:

Michael Thornton is Founder and CEO of Carbon Analytics, an award-winning London based environmental impact assessment firm whose mission is to bring environmental impact data quickly, affordably and accurately to the world’s businesses. Carbon Analytics is committed to removing the barriers to environmental management, and to guide as many companies as possible on their journey to building great, sustainable businesses.

Catching up to COP: Where’s everyone with their commitments?

Now in our fifth month after COP21, we thought we’d take a tour around the world to see where the biggest emitters are with their climate change commitments.

China and the USA

Exactly two weeks from today (April 22), the USA and China will sign the Paris Agreement they agreed to sign at the COP21. The hope is that this will compel other countries to formally join the agreement they agreed to join at the Paris COP and to start taking steps to cut carbon emissions.

So what does the agreement contain? There’s no way of being sure yet. In the joint Presidents’ announcement, they mention supporting an “HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway and on a global market-based measure for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly”. We’re curious to see what the agreement will mean for the heavily subsidised Chinese production of solar power products that have so far threatened American industry.

There is also some trepidation, as the US and China were frequently blamed for the lack of progress at the UN climate talks, arguing that limiting their emissions would jeopardize economic growth. While the USA was reluctant to set targets unlesss major competing economies such as China did the same, China, India, and other nations argued that the richest nations, which have historically released the most carbon, should be the first to commit to stricter standards.

Photo of Obama and Xinping from .

Photo of Obama and Xinping from USCNPM .

Now that there is increasing proof that carbon emissions can be de-coupled from economic growth, there are fewer and fewer reasons why China and the United States cannot take strong action on climate change. In the USA, plans to limit carbon emissions from power plants have been stalled by a Supreme Court review of the Clean Power Plan — see our post from last week.

UK

David Cameron has no new plans to appoint a climate change envoy, a role created in the run-up to the Paris talks.

EU

The EU’s renewable energy targets may actually have increased GHG emissions because the dirtiest biofuels–especially those made from palm oil–produce three times the emissions of diesel.An analysis of the EU Emissions Trading System for 2015 showed little change, despite efficiency gains and plant closures. A draft UN plan to offset the aviation industry’s emissions (one of two sectors NOT covered by the Paris agreement) has been met with a lot of criticism.

Australia

Australia has also pledged to sign the Paris agreement this month.

Canada

Canada and the USA have been developing a relationship grounded in cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by up to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. Canada will also be hosting a climate change symposium–Adaptation Canada–in a few days in Ottawa.

president_barack_obama_talks_with_prime_minister_justin_trudeau_of_canada_and_president_enrique_pena_nieto_of_mexico_prior_to_the_2015_apec_summit

Obama and Trudeau comparing increases in commitments to renewable energy. Photo in public domain, by Pete Souza.

India

India will be signing the Paris accord later this month, but coal will remain a major source of power in the years to come, according to the country’s environment minister Prakash Javedekar, in order to bring power to the 300 million Indians without electricity by 2019. NASA and India’s space agency ISRO are also working on launching a satellite to monitor climate change. The EU has recently pledged to help develop India’s electricity grid with large solar parks, to support the development of smart grids, and to help plan India’s first offshore wind array.

Brazil

Brazil, along with South Africa, India, and China–the “BASIC” countries–asked for developed nations to “scale up” their level of financial support and “honour” their obligations to provide $100 billion per year in support for climate change actions by 2020.

The shortest explanation of the USA’s Clean Power Plan you are ever likely to see

The Clean Power Plan proposed by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been floating in the news, but it’s a pretty big document to digest all at once. Here we’ll share what it aims to do and how, and what stage it is at right now.

The goals of the Clean Power Plan are to:

  • Protect the health of American families by preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths, preventing 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and preventing 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays. These deaths and illnesses are largely attributable to climate- and pollution-related threats.

  • Save American families money (nearly $85 a year in 2030).

  • Boost renewable energy generation by making up to 30% more renewable energy generation in 2030, lowering the costs of renewable energy, and creating jobs.

  • Provide benefits to low-income, minority, and tribal communities.

  • Mitigate the significant costs it expects to incur when faced with “unchecked” climate change.

So why is this plan needed? It addresses carbon pollution, which is the biggest driver of climate change. Electricity and transportation are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

What does the plan intend to do?

While the EPA sets the goals, each state, tribe, and territory makes its own final plan and that it consults with a reliability or planning agency when it does so.

The plan was announced in August 2015. So where is the plan at now? In February, 2016, the Supreme Court decided that the Clean Power Plan is pending judicial review. The decision on the case can be made as early as July 2016 and no later than February 2017.

There are several legal issues with the Clean Power Plan that merit review. Some of them are:

  • Violation of the 10th Amendment. The Clean Power Plan “tramples” on States’ rights.

  • Violation of the 5th Amendment. The Clean Power Plan confiscates property without due process or just compensation.

Opposition came from states West Virginia — a major coal producer — and Texas –a major oil producer –as well as from various business groups (e.g. U.S.Chamber of Commerce) and utilities (e.g. American Electric Power Co., Southern Co., Peabody Energy Corp.).

Because the Clean Power Plan is a deeply partisan issue, it is likely that its approval will be decided after the presidential election, when a new Justice will be selected (following the death of Scalia). On the one hand, some groups point out that many states have already begun a shift toward renewable energy and that they do not need the plan to do so. On the other hand, a rejection of this plan indicates a lack of responsibility for climate change and carbon emissions — a continuation of Kyoto-era affairs. The EPA, at least, would like the USA to lead on the issue of climate change, in contrast to its past. “The Clean Power Plan is changing the international dynamic, and leveraging international action because when the U.S. [sic] leads, other nations follow. U.S. [sic] action has helped spur announcements from China, Brazil, and Mexico to limit their emissions or increase RE deployment.

US Presidential Elections 101: Everything You Need to Know About Their Environment Policies

The USA presidential race is heating up! And there are a lot of issues to keep track of. But as environmental issues are falling off the news cycle post-COP, we’d like to make sure that they’re on the agenda. In this post, we see where the major candidates stand on climate change and the environment.

The players

In the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders agree on several things:

  • Humans are responsible for climate change.
  • Climate change is a pressing problem.
  • Climate change can be addressed in the form of (a) clean energy tax breaks, (b) rejecting drilling in the Arctic and offshore, and (c) rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • The transition to renewable energy must keep in mind the livelihoods of those involved in the fossil fuel energy sector.

But before we get to how they differ, let’s take a quick look at the Republican Party.

We have Ted Cruz, who will seize every chance he can to flatly deny climate change. Donald Trump has only recently decided that “a lot of [climate change] is hoax”–we’re guessing that is the bit manufactured by China. John Kasich is moderate as far as the Republican Party goes — meaning that he’s believed climate change is real since 2012most of the time, anyway. However, he doesn’t believe that humans are the primary cause of it.

Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Modified from NewsNinja.

Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Modified from NewsNinja.

No further analysis of the Republicans needed. Let’s jump to the Democrats! Ding ding ding! Hillary vs Bernie, issue by issue.

Carbon tax

While Bernie supports legislation to impose a carbon tax, Hillary does not (in contrast to her previous presidential run).

Public lands

Hillary’s September 2015 plans for public lands were somewhat conservative. At that point, she was open to the the additional leasing of these lands to fossil fuel companies; climatologist and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, Michael Mann, pointed out that, given the cheap nature of those leases, this acts, in effect, as a subsidy to fossil fuel interests. In February 2016, when asked whether she supports banning fossil fuel extraction on public lands, she stated “It’s a done deal… No future extraction. I agree with that.” However, she has not changed her policy to specify how far in the future she is talking about, and her past is mixed on this issue.

Check out the video: Hillary Clinton Thinks Banning Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Lands is a “Done Deal”

In the fall of 2015, Bernie Sanders co-sponsored the Keep It in the Ground Act to ban all fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Energy infrastructure

In September 2015, Hillary unveiled her agenda for US energy infrastructure that seeks to transform the country into “the clean energy superpower of the 21st century”. This followed support for renewable energy with a focus on solar in the summer. Her plan incentivizes clean energy, prices carbon emissions, and aims to work with Canada and Mexico in a coordinated effort to lower carbon emissions. It notes the pollution and oil consumption that need to be addressed as a consequence of oil spills, chronic methane leaks, disrepair, and explosions. It also builds upon the Obama administration’s new EPA rules to reduce GHG emissions under the clean power plan. While her plan identified issues of grid security, rail safety, and modernizing the pipeline system, Bernie’s identified issues with the fuel economy standard, mountaintop removal coal mining, and pollution.

Bernie’s goal for clean energy use is  more ambitious than Hillary’s. While he wants to create a 100% clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation, Hillary’s goal is to create a system which generates enough clean renewable energy to power every home within 10 years of her taking office (not taking into account transportation). Bernie’s plan has a few more details on how to transform the transportation system (e.g. building electric vehicle charging stations, high speed trains) while Hillary’s remains vague.

Offshore drilling

Bernie wants to ban offshore drilling altogether.

Hillary, on the other hand, supported offshore drilling in 2006 (voting in favour of a bill opening new Gulf Coast areas to oil drilling).  But in December 2015 she expressed her full opposition to offshore drilling, stating that there was “so little to gain and so much to lose” with Obama’s Department of Interior’s draft plan to allow drilling in areas off the east coast.

Fossil fuel subsidies

Bernie is in favor of repealing fossil fuel subsidies. In 2015, he proposed the End Polluter Welfare Act to that effect. Hillary’s plan is also against fossil fuel subsidies, but check out the “Public lands” section (above) to see in what ways her policies could indirectly be subsidizing fossil fuel companies. She has also voted yes on removing oil and gas exploration subsidies in the past.

Fracking

Hillary’s views on fracking are tempered; not wholly for it, but advocating being “smart”, putting in place the “right safeguards”, and recognizing that “natural gas is no long-term answer”, and with various other conditions. This view has remained stable over the past few years.

Bernie is firmly against fracking, and he has made this a major issue with which to draw the line between himself and Hillary.

Support from grassroots environmental groups

When the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) endorsed Hilary in November 2015, headlines boomed that she had widespread environmentalist support. But despite the backing of this particular environmental group, Hillary generally does not have the support of grassroots environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth and 350.org. However, the LCV does have ties to the Clintons, and their support was more indicative of hedging political bets rather than disagreement with Bernie. (Bernie’s LCV “scorecard” has a higher score than Hillary’s!)

There are many reasons for widespread disapproval of Clinton by grassroots environmental groups. One is her longtime silence and “waffling” on the Keystone XL pipeline; although she finally stated she is against it, she did so after it had already been rejected. Her calling it “a distraction” from more broad climate change policy also alienated her from many grassroots groups who considered the issue emblematic and representative of American climate change policy, rather than a specific issue. Her statement that the Copenhagen 2009 [climate] talks were a victory also indicated her being out of touch with the reality of grassroots environmental groups, which considered those talks a massive failure. Even at last year’s COP21 in Paris, the failures of Copenhagen loomed large.

Bernie, like many grassroots environmental supporters, not only found Copenhagen to be a failure but was critical of COP21 as well. In proposing a worldwide climate summit involving engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities, his plan states: “The [UN] Paris climate talks in December are an important milestone toward solving climate change, but even optimistic outcomes of these talks will not put the world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think beyond Paris.” This not only agrees with grassroots environmental group assessment of the talks, but mirrors their language (many groups talked of “planning through Paris”).

Tweets from Mother Jones.

Tweets from Mother Jones.

Hillary also became known for her “flip-flopping” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her mixed support for other free trade partnerships (including CAFTA and NAFTA); most grassroots environmental groups are firmly against free trade agreements.

Bernie has a good record of pro-environmental policies and proposals that further indicate he is well attuned to the needs of grassroots environmental movements. His “Keep It in the Ground Act”, mentioned above, is a direct reference to a particularly large and loud one. His climate plan also differs significantly from that of Hillary’s in that it directly and heavily focuses on the impact of the fossil fuel lobby on politics.

Another reason Bernie is favoured by grassroots environmental groups is that he is known for (and still actively advertises) his having “the courage to stand up to big oil, because he won’t take their money”. Meanwhile, Hillary’s ties to the fossil fuel industry are well documented–see this, this, this, and this article. What’s made it arguably worse is her denial of knowledge and distancing herself from these donations.

Environmental justice

Bernie has been responsive to addressing issues that tie together race, class, and gender, and has further attempted to address issues of environmental justice that are widespread in the United States. Sanders has offered an environmental-justice amendment to legislation. This legislation  calls on Congress to affirm a wide array of statistics that point to the public health risks faced by minorities in the United States as a result of air pollution, and pushes for the creation of “a national environmental and climate justice climate change plan” intended to address “the disproportionate impacts of air pollution to low-income and minority communities”.

Hillary has connected climate change to women’s rights in her advocacy for clean cookstoves and her launching the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves for the UN. However, she has not had a history of “connecting the dots” in the United States.

The verdict

There are many issues to consider when evaluating a political candidate–environmental ones are a subset of these, but not more or less important than others!

Hillary’s plans are likely to be appealing to those who see climate change as a technical problem that can be changed by modifying a few rules, and slowly. They are also likely to appeal to those who see social and environmental problems as separate from each other. She finds the politics of climate change very daunting, and only takes a position on them when she feels politically safe doing so. She is a highly strategic and tactical politician, often fond of waiting for a decision to be made before she publicly expresses her opinion of it. While this can be frustrating–Anderson Cooper put it best: “Will you say anything to get elected?”–it is part of her package of her highly polished diplomatic and political skills and a large reason for her success.

Bernie’s plans tend to appeal to those who see climate change as a problem that cannot be distinguished from wider social issues, and to those who want to see a lot of things done differently and quickly. Bernie has shown great consistency in understanding, representing, responding to, and defending environmental groups. He appeals to many environmentalists because he is known for his “straight talk” and “what you see is what you get” persona. As far as environmental issues go, that is rare and thirsted for–more than any other set of issues, except perhaps foreign policy, they are obtuse and filled with rhetoric that often obscures intended action. For many an environmentalist, Bernie is a dream candidate. But his style of politicking may not be as well suited to other realms.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Photo modified from PopSugar.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Photo modified from PopSugar.

The majority of Carbon Analytics is not eligible to vote for this election. At any rate, we wish the United States a President who not only sees climate change as a pressing problem but can help the country become a world leader in addressing it!

The world’s going nuts! For reducing food waste, that is.

It’s looking like this year’s sustainability theme will be the elimination of food waste from supermarkets — and Carbon Analytics is going bananas over the news! This week alone, Italy announced it is poised on becoming the second country to pass a law making supermarkets donate unbought food; and Tesco, the UK’s biggest grocery chain, committed to sending no surplus food to waste from its stores by the end of 2017.

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Tesco’s programme to eliminate food waste is launching in 15 cities and regions in the UK this week, including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, and Portsmouth. In tandem with this, it will be launching “Perfectly Imperfect” produce–AKA its “wonky veg” range–in 200 stores, and extending its partnership with Fareshare, the food redistribution charity. Photo by Jitze Couperus.

These announcements come only about a month after France became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, requiring them to donate it to charities and food banks.

Food waste has long been a hot potato in the Global North. A House of Lords inquiry in 2015 estimated that 89m tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU, and it expected that figure to rise to around 126m tonnes by 2020 if no action is taken! In the United States, well over a quarter of food that is grown, processed, and transported is never consumed, and most food waste ends up in a landfill.

Campaigners have been in a stew over a number of aspects of this problem, including households tending to overbuy and then throw away food, and supermarkets throwing away and actively destroying (e.g. bleaching) food that is perfectly edible. While environmental concerns have underpinned these campaigns, the issue came to boil in the past few years as the injustice of throwing away good food as levels of poverty and homelessness have risen. The world produces more than enough food to feed its entire population–and yet the vast majority of it suffers starvation and malnutrition.

The issue of food waste is also tied to climate change. Producing all the excess food that will never be used is an incredibly energy- and water-intensive process that generates greenhouse gas emissions and depletes resources that are becoming scarcer and scarcer as climate change accelerates. Landfills are a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions–particularly methane, a gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. A fifth of Canada’s methane emissions, for example, are attributable to landfills. And landfills is where most food waste ends up (and not just in Canada). WRI estimates that if food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter–surpassed only by China and the United States. It also estimates that food loss and waste generate more than four times as much annual greenhouse gas emissions as aviation and is comparable to emissions from road transport.

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Image from WRI.

In supermarkets, key reasons for food waste are unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, promotional offers (e.g. buy-one-get-one-free), demand for nice-looking vegetables, and poor storage.

While these reductions in food waste by supermarkets are very welcome and should become normal in every country, there is much room for “closing the loops” in food waste beyond supermarkets. In the EU, for example, by percentage of weight of food lost, the retail and wholesale sectors are responsible for only 5%, while households, food/drink manufacturing, and food service/hospitality are responsible for a lot more.

Graph from the Guardian (2015), but data from 2010 EU research

There are many ways we can close the loops on food waste:

  • Restaurants can pay more attention to the “fork” part of the “farm to fork” equation. While many restaurants pride themselves on using local suppliers who provide better-tasting and more “sustainable” food products (check out, for example, the Sustainable Restaurant Association), many still throw away perfectly good food. Instead, this people can be given away to the homeless nearby or to organisations that redistribute food. One of the cream of the London-based startup crop, bio-bean, collects waste coffee grounds from coffee shops and then recycles them into advanced biofuels and biochemicals, which can be then used to heat buildings or power buses. McDonald’s makes and uses biodiesel to power its fleet out of used cooking oil.
  • Food and drink manufacturers should reuse their waste. Similarly to bio-bean and McDonald’s, food and drink manufacturers can reuse the waste they create in processing and manufacturing products. Although there are some efforts to reduce packaging waste, to make use of anaerobic digestors, and to reuse solid waste as fertilizer, there is still a great deal to be done! We’d like to egg on manufacturers to not package up so many fruits and vegetables for sale in supermarkets when they can be bought by weight.
  • Supermarkets can pay more attention to the “farm” part of the “farm to fork” equation. Supermarkets can get produce from local sources, rather than be sourced by huge industrial farms. This saves costs on transporting, supports local businesses and farmers, and makes it more likely that the food will be healthier, tastier, and less harmful to the environment. All that’s needed is a little creativity in coordinating!
  • Households need to reduce their waste. Households can dramatically reduce their food waste by participating in composting or anaerobic digestor programmes and by planning their meals. Buy less! Online tips and tools such as the “Food Waste Assistant” abound.

While a huge difference can be made by individuals, we think that there are huge opportunities by having country-wide or industry-wide initiatives to encourage both businesses and individuals to close these loops. The EU has taken on food waste in its Circular Economy Package; hopefully it will cut the mustard in being a creative and unifying effort that closes as many loops as possible, rather than limiting itself to defining tools for measurement and redefining “best before” labeling.

Help us generate some food for thought! Tell us how you plan to reduce food waste this year, at home or in your business.

3 Reasons Caring for the Environment IS Good Business Sense

Let’s face it: businesses that don’t have the express speciality of being or marketing themselves as “sustainable”, “green”, or “environmentally friendly”, don’t often have those issues on their radar. But there are reasons that environmental sustainability is good business.

Renewable energy is cheaper than other forms of energy

Renewable energy is not only becoming mainstream, but is becoming cheaper and cheaper. This is true whether you choose to plug into a grid that is supplied by a solar or wind farm, or whether you choose to put solar panels on your roof.

Saving on resources saves money

Simply put, using less of anything costs you less as a business. Keeping track of how resources are spent can also help point out inefficiencies in how a particular aspect of a business is run.

Being sustainable is important for branding

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of the companies they support. They not only want big companies to take responsibility for environmental problems they may have caused (on the scale of mass air pollution, oil spills, etc), but they expect small, medium, and large companies to be proactive about inherently being less wasteful and environmentally conscious. Consumers are also becoming more exacting on the issue of “greenwash”, and want companies to not just talk the talk of sustainability, but walk the walk.