Seven Important Trends From Textile Exchange Conference Summed Up: The Industry Gets It on Sustainability

“Sustainability is front and center in the apparel sector” — so writes Tara Donaldson in the November 5th feature story in the Sourcing Journal in covering the Textile Sustainability Conference in October. Seven major trends were discussed at the meeting of industry execs.

Considering such things as reducing microfibers polluting our oceans or using more materials with less environmental impact or other factors, the industry focus on sustainability is creating a new vision for the apparel industry, including for brands that had not yet been on board.  Because: the consumer and industry now demand this.

And there are seven trends that illustrate the paradigm shift in the industry, with details set out by the Journal for each:

Embrace of Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) – more companies are taking a close look at how their businesses align with these, and the October conference in Washington, DC focused on exploring what SDGs mean to the apparel sector. The SDGs provide a common vocabulary for the industry.  And the manufacturing centers are taking a closer look — like China, India, Bangladesh and El Salvador.

Better raw materials in products – slowly but steadily, brands are building products with sustainable materials; the trend is up for the year, according to the 2017 Preferred Fiber & Materials Report.

Circularity/Circularity/Circularity – companies are gearing up for more circularity (circular value chains that is!), with about one-quarter of firms developing such a strategy and more than half with a strategy being implemented.  For example, making a silk-like fiber out of orange peels.

Actions on Climate – for many firms, climate change is a major issue and more than 200 companies have set carbon reduction targets. Luxury products marketer Kering Group plans to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020, for example.

Leveraging Technology for Sustainability – DNA tech is one of the “big things” with the ability to provide greater transparency and traceability for fiber (the technique is using DNA-based tags embedded in raw materials such as organic cotton).

Water — Being Better Stewards – apparel companies are “water guzzlers,” with 14-plus liters to make one cotton suit (as example).  Companies are figuring out how to go “waterless” or really cut their water usage over time in the production of apparel.

Investors and Long-Term Viability – and yes, the industry leaders acknowledge that investors “are paying heed” to sustainability and long-term business viability. A Bloomberg LP analyst laid out the importance of sustainability to the conference attendees.

There’s more for you in the Top Story on the above seven major trends.  And we include in our wrap up this week another report — about investors now paying greater attention to sustainability efforts in the apparel industry.

Note:  for the Sourcing Journal – a subscription is required — a “Free” registration will allow you access to this story, with a limit of 5 articles per month.

Top Stories This Week…

The Top 7 Sustainability Trends Coming Out of Textile Exchange
(Monday – November 06, 2017) Source: Sourcing Journal – Whether it’s circularity, reducing microfibers polluting the world’s oceans or using more materials with less environmental impact, sustainability is front and center in the apparel sector, and brands that hadn’t been on board…

SEC Proposes Important Amendments to Corporate Disclosure & Reporting – Changes Are in the Wind — But Corporate ESG Disclosure Is Not Addressed in the SEC Proposals …

October 12 2017 – by Hank Boerner – Chair, G&A Institute

On October 11, 2017 important news was coming from the Securities Exchange Commission (in Washington DC) for corporate leaders and investment professionals: a comprehensive package of proposed changes (amendments) to existing rules for corporate disclosure and reporting was released for public examination and comment.

There are more than 250 pages of proposed changes and adjustments released for your reading (the document will be published now in the Federal Register for broad communication to stakeholders).

You’ll remember the April 2016 activities as SEC released a 200-plus page Concept Release that addressed a range of issues that could result in revamping the overarching parts of Regulation S-K and parts of Regulation Fair Disclosure (“Reg FD“) and other corporate disclosures required by Federal statutes.

We told you about this in our post of May 13, 2016.
Link: http://ga-institute.com/Sustainability-Update/tag/sec-concept-release/

We said then: Maybe…U.S. Companies will be required…or strongly advised…to disclose ESG Data and related business information…

There were great hopes raised when the Commission in circulating the Concept Release document devoted more than a dozen pages to discussion about ESG, sustainable investing, the possibility of “guidance” or perhaps amending rules to meet investors’ expectations that public companies would begin, expand, improve on, ESG disclosure.

Numerous investor interests provided comments to the SEC in support of the possibilities raised by SEC in the dozen pages of the Concept Release devoted to ESG et al.

The US SIF — the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing, a very influential trade association of asset owners and managers — provided important input, as did the CFA Institute (the U.S.-based, global certification organization for financial analysts and portfolio managers worldwide).

Disclosure of material ESG issues was a key concern of the numerous responders in the public comment period.

This week’s development: The SEC Commission proposed amendments to existing regulations that are part of the “Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K,” citing a different package of legislation. (The FAST Act Modernization, which in part will the sponsors said will attempt to “prune the regulatory orchard” — this is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or “FAST”.)

The Commission referred to the proposals as an important step “…to modernize and simplify disclosure requirements for public companies, investment advisors and mutual fund (investment) companies under the FAST Act…”

This, said recently-appointed SEC Chair Jay Clayton, “…is the most effective way to update SEC rules, simplify forms and utilize technology to make disclosure more accessible…”

The proposed amendments were characterized as part of the overall, long-term review of the SEC’s disclosure system. Thus, the SEC said the proposed amendments reflect “perspectives developed during the staff’s broader review…including public input on the prior Concept Release.

The details are available for you in a new 253-page document, at: https://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2017/33-10425.pdf

You have 60 days of open comment period ahead during which to express your views on the proposals.

The proposed amendments mostly address corporate governance (G”) issues that if adopted would:

• Change such items as Description of Property**; the MD&A; Directors, Executive Officers, Promoters and Control Persons; Compliance with Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act; Outside Cover Page of the Prospectus.

• Revise rules and forms to update, streamline and improve the SEC disclosure framework by eliminating risk factor examples listed in the disclosure requirement and revising the description of “the property requirement” to emphasize the materiality threshold**”.

Note that while “property” is usually a facility, this does not always apply to the service sectors.

• Update rules as needed to reflect changes since the rules were first adopted or last amended. (Including, “corporate governance” items, such as for Board Auditing, Compensation Committee operations.)

• Simplify the overall disclosure process, including treatment of confidential information; also, changes would be made to the MD&A to allow for “flexibility in discussing historical periods”. (The discussion on confidential info runs for pages – important to read for corporate managers involved in disclosure.)

• Treatment of subsidiaries.

• Incorporate technology to improve access to information requiring data tagging (XBRL) for items on the cover page and use of hyperlinks (HTML) by reference and in the EDGAR system.

Again – the public now has 60 days to submit comments on the proposed amendments (to such statutory authority as the Securities Act of 1933; Securities Exchange Act of 1934; Investment Company Act of 1940; and, regulations under these landmark securities protection laws of the land).

There are numerous sections within the proposed amendment document where the Commission is inviting public comment. To submit your comments, see: http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed.shtml — file#S7-08-17

Disappointing News: There is no mention that we could find in the proposal document that addressed the many comments that were directed to the SEC staff in response to the earlier Concept Release by sustainable & responsible investor interests. And, in many investor conversations with SEC staff that acknowledged the growing importance of disclosure regarding corporate sustainability and ESG performance.

No mention of: Climate Change. ESG. Responsible Investment.

This is very troubling — no doubt members of the investment community and corporate leaders well along on their sustainability journey will be providing their perspectives to SEC — and the media, and elected officials — on this important oversight.

SEC guidance for corporate reporters regarding their ESG, sustainability, responsibility, citizenship, etc disclosures and reporting activities would be very helpful – right?  Of course, we are in a new political environment now, and perhaps that is helping to shape the agenda at the Commission as “reforms” are drafted and distributed for public consumption.

There is much more news to come when the response to the announcement begins. Stay Tuned!

P.S. – if you/your organization responds to the draft proposals, please do let G&A know so we can publicize your perspectives.

The National Geographic Can Have A Major Influence On Its Global Audience With Coverage Like This: Climate Change’s Hidden Costs

The National Geographic Society made its debut as a publishing force in 1888, introducing the natural world and faraway places to generation-after-generation, at first through the familiar yellow cover magazine (the “journal”), then on through broadcast and cable television programming, a web site, and movies.  (Remember “March of the Penguins”?)

And always, through the decades, the NG staff and contributors have kept up-to-date with world and domestic “happenings,” including wonderful places to visit and introductions to far-off cultures, explanations of geography and natural science, archeology and history — as well as reportage on serious storms, wars, civil unrest, droughts, famines, and other important touchstones of shared content to expand our personal knowledge.

NG through its communication channels reaches tens of millions of people worldwide.  And today the NG is focused on another hot topic:  climate change, and the costs (which run into the hundreds of billions of US dollars, according a report by the Universal Ecological Fund — “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States.”

Key assertion of the study:  Extreme weather has cost the U.S. economy at least US$240 billion a year over the past 10 years!

The study authors point out that big storms lower the long-run growth rate of the U.S. economy and that economic and human impacts ripple through the country for us for decades. (New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is an example they shared.)  Crop yields are down US$56 billion since 2012 due to climate-related losses (drought).

NG shares a compelling chart showing numerous “billion dollar” weather disasters that have been increasing in recent years (due to drought, heat wave, wildfire, flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, etc).  There’s an accompanying video featuring Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”.  NG provides links to other articles, photos of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, and a video, “Climate 101 – Renewable Energy.”

A number of experts contributed to the NG presentation, including report co-authors Sir Robert Watson, director of the UK’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, and Ryan Wiser, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Amir Jina, University of Chicago; John Tomanio and Riley D. Champine, NG staff members; Adam Smith, National Climatic Data Center and colleague Jeff Masters, Weather Underground, at the Center.  The article author is Stephen Leahy.

Our Top Story makes a compelling case for action now! on climate change challenges and will be an oft-quoted source (we believe) for pushing back on climate change deniers.

Top Stories This Week…

Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year
(Friday – September 29, 2017)
Source: National Geographic – A new report warns of a high price tag on the impacts of global warming, from storm damage to health costs. But solutions can provide better value, the authors say.

Sustainability Pays, Says Wal-Mart & Some Of Its Suppliers in PBS NewsHour Interviews

As part of the PBS series, “Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change,” the network’s NewsHour reported on how a few large U.S. companies are doing their part to meet climate change challenges…and prospering…even as the Trump White House continues to move toward withdrawal from the historic Paris Agreement (COP 21).

The efforts of the giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores are highlighted in the broadcast.  Wal-Mart stresses that it is striving to be recognized as a corporate leader in the “fight against climate change.”  Kathleen McLaughlin, the company’s chief sustainability officer, is interviewed in the program by PBS correspondent Stephanie Sy.

Says the Wal-Mart CSO:  “…sustainability is core to our mission.  It’s critical for business.  It’s important for customers and communities…”
The company’s sustainability journey was launched in 2005 by then-CEO Lee Scott.  He pledged to curb the company’s GhG emissions by the use of clean power sources, aiming for 100% renewables over time. As part of the effort, Wal-Mart saves energy — and money! — in store operations by demanding more efficient equipment from vendors (for HVAC, lighting, refrigeration).  There are solar installations on 364 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores now — this makes the company the second largest commercial solar power generator.

Wal-Mart plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 2025 by 18% from its 2015 levels, even as it ambitiously expands its retail footprint.  With 99% of the company’s GHG impact coming from its supply chain, Wal-Mart points out that at its encouragement, dozens of its major suppliers have signed on to Project Gigaton (the effort to cut emissions).

One of the company’s key suppliers — candy maker Mars, makers of M&Ms — itself set an aggressive target of “zero carbon” in its operations by 2040, working to achieve zero GHG emissions by that date.  The company’s “vast solar farm” in rural New Jersey is featured in the PBS broadcast.  Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer of Mars, Inc. is interviewed about the company’s efforts.

Key to the sustainability efforts:  Wal-Mart’s model, the way stores are managed, the work done with the massive supply chain partners…all of this “optimizes and lowers the footprint to deliver the same amount of product to people,” explains company CSO Kathleen McLaughlin.  And, she adds, “if you look at the scale and ambition of the efforts and what we’ve actually achieved, I’m actually quite excited about it.”

The company has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) for guidance in achieving its climate change goals.  Responding to the question about is “Wal-Mart doing enough?,” Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund in the interview said:  “The scale of Wal-Mart is hard to wrap your head around.  They can always do more.  What they have shown so far is a serious commitment, and the journey is an ongoing one of improvement.”

Making this story come alive for you:  There is a videotape of the program and the various interviews posted in the print version of the program script in our Top Story that you can view.  You’ll also want to read the various viewer/reader responses to see the perspectives shared by viewers…many opinions were shared, both positive and negative.

“Peril and Promise” is an ongoing PBS series on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change.”  FYI, PBS is the largest non-commercial television network in the U.S.A., with more than 350 local stations broadcasting PBS and their own programming; combined, these reach more than 100 million households. Major stations are located in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Detroit, and many more cities in the 50 states.

Top Stories This Week…

Large companies see payoffs in sustainability
(Monday – September 18, 2017)
Source: PBS NewsHour – This summer, when President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate accord — a voluntary pact to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming — some opposition came from what is perhaps a surprising place: big…

This Is Hurricane Season in the Americas — And Climate Change Discussions Will Accompany News Reports About the Super-Storms Coming Ashore

All news/all the time — that was the American television viewer’s diet of content during the week long siege, with Hurricane Harvey sweeping ashore along the Gulf of Mexico areas of the State of Texas.  And the plight of the people of the Houston region, in particular, was on everyone’s mind as we watched the struggles of the residents there to stay safe and help their neighbors.

As we watched, many of us from afar, this was the American Spirit at its very best, in such terrible times for Texans to remind us all of the traditions of neighbor-helping-neighbor.

The public debate about the issues surrounding climate change (is it happening/what is the cause/what can be done) goes on, folks on both sides of the issue were cautious and sensitive about bringing the subject up in the midst of the suffering in Texas.  But gradually, the debate centered on Harvey’s effects came around to the point.

And Florida, another U.S. state, was brought into focus by writers at The Guardian as writer Richard Luscombe (a free lancer based in Miami) reminded readers of perhaps one of the early canaries-in-the-coal-mine — Hurricane Andrew almost 25 years ago to the day that the giant storm tore through Miami-Dade County — and causing US$15 billion in insured losses.

Professor Hugh Gladwin in the piece wondered:  Will people base their real estate decisions on climate change futures? He sees higher-standing areas of booming Miami becoming gentrified as a result of sea level rise…and coastal areas threatened by flooding and storm surge will decrease in value.

Writer Luscombe tells us that residents of South Florida are already buying houses in North Carolina and Tennessee — to have a safe place to go as the seas rise in the Sunshine State!

Climate Corporation (San Francisco) says that it will only take a few climatic events in a row for a collapse in regional/local real property values to fall.  That could make the housing crisis of 2008 “look small.”

Luscombe writes that properties in Norfolk, Virginia; Annapolis, Maryland; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Savannah and Charleston, Georgia; and Miami Beach, Florida — all have areas now where fish swim in driveways and people drive through salt water streets.

As we’ve reported for you recently, the nation’s urban leaders (the mayors of cities large and small) are already addressing the challenges of climate change and making their cities more resilient.  As the TV coverage of Hurricane Harvey slows and we move on to the next news cycle, no doubt climate change discussions will increase in tempo.  This is hurricane season, after all, and there is already a Category Five storm approaching the American coastlines.

We can debate “when” it is appropriate to raise the issues surrounding climate change, and what to do about it.  But we think it is a conversation that is necessary — so in the end we should do our best to protect all of the U.S.A.’s coastal areas, where 2/3 of the American population reside.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends and colleagues in Houston and the Texas and Louisiana coastal region.  We should all pitch in to help — neighbor-to-neighbor — in any way that we can.

What are your thoughts on all of this?

Top Stories This Week…

How climate change could turn US real estate prices upside down
(Wednesday – August 30, 2017)
Source: The Guardian – Floridians have long recognized climate’s threat to their homes. Amid the disaster wrought by Harvey, home buyers may look to higher ground

Of Prime Concern to Many Companies: Water! Will Corporate Advertising Claims “Around” The Water Issue Click With Customers?

California….Water:  The place name and the liquid substance are interconnected in the minds of sustaianbility professionals thinking about climate change and the effects that we are already seeing in the American landscape.

The chronic drought in the Golden State has brought the water shortage issue in sharp relief, especially since California is for many crops the “breadbasket” of America, and sufficient water for irrigation and food processing is a critical need.

Water crises in the American West in general are now being seen as possible marketing opportunities by companies in the beverage, clothing and water-dependent products, at least in the claims being made about “sustainable products” to offer to consumers.  Matt Weiser, Contributing Editor, Water Deeply — brings us news about this in a commentary that is our Top Story.

The growing scarcity of water in the west and especially in California is prompting companies to broadcast water use reduction (such as in beverage manufacturing), or using recycled waste water in their apparel manufacturing.

Matt interviewed Kellen Klein, a senior manager at Fortune 500, a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit that “works to find common ground between corporations and environmental groups to help solve global problems.”

A number of companies see water as critical to their brand, says Kellen Klein; this is in many ways the social license to operate, at least in certain geographies.  Coca Cola Company is an example that he advances (he has worked on KO projects); the company has adopted a goal of replenishing water that goes into their products (which are sold in every country but a handful of nations around the world).

Levi’s (California-based for more than a century) sells cotton jeans, which requires water to grow (the crop) and more water for washing.  The company started an education program — “Water-Less” to encourage consumers to use cold water settings and wash their Levi products less often (to conserve energy for hot water production and to conserve water).

Have you heard of Bonnesville Environmental Foundation?  Coca Cola and other companies partner with this NGO in the “Change the Course” program, which has the aim of encouraging consumers to use less water. Consumers sign a pledge; money is then invested in projects to restore 1,000 gallons to critical watersheds.

‘ In the Top Story there is also news along these lines about Cerveza Imperial, the Costa Rican beer company; Fiji Water; Stone Brewing and an Arizona project.

Water, water, water – it’s like location, location, location to Realtors for many companies. The challenge for many companies that depend on water as the basic resource for their products and services.There’s interesting details for you in the Top Story about water and the corporate sector meeting the challenges.

Top Stories This Week…

How Water Became the New Focus of Corporate Sustainability
(Friday – August 04, 2017)
Source: News Deeply – Water crises in the West have pushed some companies to apply sustainability labels to their beverages, clothes and other water-dependent products. Kellen Klein, a senior manager at Future 500, helps sort through the claims.

The Cities & States of the USA Move Ahead on Climate Change — Mayors & Governors, Leaders in Addressing Challenges & Providing Solutions

We’ve been sharing news and perspectives on recent developments in l’affaires climate change, with the US government [at the Federal level] abandoning the landmark Paris Agreement (the COP 21 accomplishments, with almost 200 nations participating).

The mayors and governors and other leaders at the city/municipal and state governments around the United States are individually and collectively committing to continuing to meet what the US government agreed to do…and what the Trump administration has now “dis-agreed” with moving forward.  There’s good news elsewhere in the public sector, though.

The US Conference of Mayors met in Miami Beach recently to address a number of issues that leaders of municipalities are concerned with — and to develop solutions to address.  Often, it is worth noting, the solutions are reached in partnership with the business community.  That collaboration — and innovation — spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for both public and private sectors.

The respective mayors at the conference put climate change high on the agenda and passed a powerful resolution demonstrating their commitment to the nation’s commitment in Paris to rigorous address climate change challenges.  (A link to the resolution is in the post below.)

Good news out of the conference:  Cities are purchasing renewable electric energy.  69% of respondents to the Conference survey — 22% are considering doing so.  Green vehicles?  63% of mayoral respondents are doing that for their municipal fleets; 30% more are considering hybrids, electrics, natural gas, biodiesel.

In a commentary in G&A Institute’s Sustainability-Update blog, Chair Hank Boerner shares more information about the good news from the Conference and goings-on at the city and state level — in “US Cities Showing the Way on Climate Change Solutions.”

This is not just about US cities — the movement is global as noted in the column.  It is incredible to think that more than half of the world’s population now live in cities, and many of the world’s urban centers are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change (rising seas, drought, severe storms, heat waves, and more).

And so — City Fathers and Mothers are awake to the threats and doing something about climate change.  There’s the Compact of Mayors, with 652 cities in the effort, led by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  There’s the CDP Cities Initiative, with more than 500 cities now disclosing their climate change initiatives.  There’s America’s Pledge, an effort by 227 US cities and counties, 9 US states and 1,650 businesses and investors…a pledge to uphold the US government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.  Read the full text of Hank Boerner’s commentary here: http://ga-institute.com/Sustainability-Update/2017/07/15/u-s-global-cities-showing-the-way-on-climate-change-solutions/

And for additional information about climate change action at the municipal level, read about the good work going on in Hollywood, Florida; Bozeman, Montana; Loveland, Colorado; Redmond, Washington.  These stories and more in the informative American City & County news story — it’s about how cities are enticing their citizens to pitch in and help to create a more sustainable city.  There’s info here on the National League of Cities’ “Sustainable Cities Institute.”

Incentivizing sustainability
(Thursday – July 13, 2017)
Source: American City & County – Cities are financially enticing citizens to take more environmentally friendly actions — and they’re seeing results…

 

 

The Cities & States of the USA Move Ahead on Climate Change — Mayors & Governors, Leaders in Addressing Challenges & Providing Solutions

We’ve been sharing news and perspectives on recent developments in l’affaires climate change, with the US government [at the Federal level] abandoning the landmark Paris Agreement (the COP 21 accomplishments, with almost 200 nations participating).

The mayors and governors and other leaders at the city/municipal and state governments around the United States are individually and collectively committing to continuing to meet what the US government agreed to do…and what the Trump administration has now “dis-agreed” with moving forward.  There’s good news elsewhere in the public sector, though.

The US Conference of Mayors met in Miami Beach recently to address a number of issues that leaders of municipalities are concerned with — and to develop solutions to address.  Often, it is worth noting, the solutions are reached in partnership with the business community.  That collaboration — and innovation — spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for both public and private sectors.

The respective mayors at the conference put climate change high on the agenda and passed a powerful resolution demonstrating their commitment to the nation’s commitment in Paris to rigorous address climate change challenges.  (A link to the resolution is in the post below.)

Good news out of the conference:  Cities are purchasing renewable electric energy.  69% of respondents to the Conference survey — 22% are considering doing so.  Green vehicles?  63% of mayoral respondents are doing that for their municipal fleets; 30% more are considering hybrids, electrics, natural gas, biodiesel.

In a commentary in G&A Institute’s Sustainability-Update blog, Chair Hank Boerner shares more information about the good news from the Conference and goings-on at the city and state level — in “US Cities Showing the Way on Climate Change Solutions.”

This is not just about US cities — the movement is global as noted in the column.  It is incredible to think that more than half of the world’s population now live in cities, and many of the world’s urban centers are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change (rising seas, drought, severe storms, heat waves, and more).

And so — City Fathers and Mothers are awake to the threats and doing something about climate change.  There’s the Compact of Mayors, with 652 cities in the effort, led by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  There’s the CDP Cities Initiative, with more than 500 cities now disclosing their climate change initiatives.  There’s America’s Pledge, an effort by 227 US cities and counties, 9 US states and 1,650 businesses and investors…a pledge to uphold the US government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.  Read the full text of Hank Boerner’s commentary here: http://ga-institute.com/Sustainability-Update/2017/07/15/u-s-global-cities-showing-the-way-on-climate-change-solutions/

And for additional information about climate change action at the municipal level, read about the good work going on in Hollywood, Florida; Bozeman, Montana; Loveland, Colorado; Redmond, Washington.  These stories and more in the informative American City & County news story — it’s about how cities are enticing their citizens to pitch in and help to create a more sustainable city.  There’s info here on the National League of Cities’ “Sustainable Cities Institute.”

Incentivizing sustainability
(Thursday – July 13, 2017)
Source: American City & County – Cities are financially enticing citizens to take more environmentally friendly actions — and they’re seeing results

And in our Top Story, we bring you news about how a US and Swedish private sector leader in sustainability and corporate responsibility is embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reduce risk and balance economic values and social values.  It’s an interview by Chris Skroupa, Forbes columnist and CEO of Skytop Strategies (the global conference organizers) with Elaine Weidman-Grunewald of Ericsson (she’s a member of the Global Leadership Team and Group Crisis Management Council).  She makes the business case for sustainability in this conversation.

Sustainable Development Goals–Room For Companies To Lead
(Wednesday – July 12, 2017)
Source: Forbes – The sustainability area is about balancing the need for social, economic development with the impact on the environment and the nexus between different areas such as energy, water and agriculture or access to electricity and…

Where Are We Now With Climate Change Solutions After the G20 Meeting and the Trump White House Abandonment of COP 21/Paris Agreement?

All eyes were on Hamburg, Germany last week as the leaders of the “G20″ nations** gathered. High on the agenda was climate change and sustainable development.  Mixed messages came out of the gathering, but as Jens-Peter Saul explains in our first Top story, even if governments can’t agree in such gatherings, private industry is moving forward in providing climate change solutions.

These include solar and wind power, which investors are finding attractive these days. Low-carbon organizations and networks are attracting new members and partners.  Where? — in the USA, North Africa, Europe, China and elsewhere.  So, says the author of the HuffPo piece, while having visionary political leaders is important, response companies with strong commitment to clients and the society can also boost the sustainability agenda and provide solutions to address climate change challenges.

Author JP Saul is CEO of the Ramboll Group, a leading engineering and design firm based in Denmark. The company’s global work is across Buildings, Transport, Urban Design, Water, Environmental, and Health.  Ramboll Group helps to create more resilient cities, it says, helping municipalities to adopt to climate change.

At the end of the G20 meeting, the media were reporting…”G20 Ends on Anxious Note as World Leaders Remark on Trump’s Climate Defiance…”
There’s more on this for you in Top Story #2 — G&A Institute Chair and Chief Strategist Hank Boerner is interviewed by Forbes columnist Chris Skroupa on the stance of the Federal government regarding the progress made at COP 21 in Paris and now the way forward for the United States as the Trump White House abandons the Paris Agreement.

There is great hope for the USA to continue making progress toward the 2-degree goals of COP 21 thanks to the efforts of the public sector (states, cities, municipalities); large and small corporations; trade associations; and especially investors.

Top Stories This Week…

Boosting global sustainability is not dependent on G20
(Wednesday – July 05, 2017)
Source: Huff Post – Germany’s plan to boost climate and sustainable development at the G20 summit in Hamburg next weekend is arguably crumbling. But that does not mean that the climate and sustainability agendas are crumbling.

Climate Change — What Now With The White House Abandoning The Paris Agreement?
(June 10, 2017)
Source: Christopher P. Skroupa, Forbes – 
Hank Boerner: In the Paris meetings, the United States voluntarily agreed to cut Greenhouse Gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels and to commit up to $3 billion in various aid to poor countries by 2020. A small amount of money overall, we could say, and thanks to many actions already taken, we are cutting our greenhouse gas (GhGs) emissions as a nation.

U.S. / Global Cities Showing the Way on Climate Change Solutions

Sustainability — Forward Momentum!

By Hank Boerner – Chairman & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute

U.S. / Global Cities Are Showing the Way on Climate Change Solutions — consider:  more than half of the world’s population (now at 7 billion) now live in cities. Many cities are vulnerable to the effects of climate change — rising seas; drought; severe storms; heat waves; winter blizzards…vicious storms of all types…and more.

City Fathers and Mothers are awake to the threats — and doing something about climate change!

While at the Federal level the public sector of the United States of America has abandoned the field to other nations to now lead on addressing climate change challenges, at the city/municipality level, there is a lot going on that is positive and encouraging.

Here’s a brief collection of recent events that spell out o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y at the domestic and global urban level.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors
At the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami Beach (the 85th annual for the association), climate change issues were high on the agenda. Of course — many U.S. cities are at water level, on oceans-rivers-bays. New York; Miami; Baltimore; Philadelphia: Boston; San Francisco; Chicago; Cleveland; New Orleans; St Louis — need we go on?

At the annual conference there were plenaries, workshops, committee meetings, task force meetings, and more. The headlines coming out of the Conference of Mayors:

A survey of the members found many U.S. mayors are taking action on climate protection and planning even more steps in the future.

City governments are focusing on:

  • Purchase of renewable energy electricity (69% of respondents already generate or purchase and 22% are considering doing so);
  • utilization of low-carbon transport (63% buy green vehicles for municipal fleets; 30% are considering; this includes hybrids, electric, natural gas, biodiesel);
  • striving for greater energy efficiency, especially for new municipal buildings 71%; 65% for existing buildings — this includes new policies put in place;
  • the association has teamed with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)**, to promote renew these programmatic approaches; this creates a framework for mayor and business leaders to collaborate to develop approaches to reduce carbon emissions, speed deployment of new technology, implement sustainable development strategies, and respond to the growing impacts of climate change.

Survey respondents were from 66 cities with populations ranging from 8.5 million to 21,000 across 30 of the U.S. states. These cities invest more than US$1.2 billion annually in electricity — a significant buying power to help create the changes needed in the municipal electricity market.

Collaboration — the survey demonstrated that cities are working with each other (90%) and with the private sector (87%) to accelerate action on climate change issues. This is important when considering the recent White House abandonment of the Paris Agreement.

Opportunity Spelled Out:

  • Half of responding cities are incentivizing energy efficiency in both new and existing commercial and residential buildings. There is significant room for growth here. And lots of opportunity for public-private sector collaboration.
  • Less than half of the cities have policies / programs to help businesses and their citizens choose renewable energy — more room for growth and opportunities for partnering.
  • 66% of the cities responding have put in place public charging stations; 36% are in the process of doing so with private sector partners (for electric vehicle charging).

Says Conference of Mayors CEO Tom Cochran: “The nation’s mayors are poised to take an even greater leadership role in fighting climate change and protecting cities from its negative impacts. Working together with the business community, we can achieve deeper results more quickly and broadly.”

While much progress is being made, the mayors collectively are striving to do more.

Notes Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, Alliance Co-Chair : “We need to create a baseline so we can measure our ongoing progress. Sustainability is a smart strategy for the future, and cities and companies need to learn from one another.”

One of the positive actions taken at the conference was adoption of a resolution — “Supporting a Cities-Driven Plan to Reverse Climate Change” — which notes that cities comprise 91% of the U.S. GDP, placing mayors at the center of marrying environmental protection with economic growth; and, it calls on the Trump Administration and the U.S. Congress to support the fight against climate change by fully committing to the Paris Climate Accord; the Obama Clean Power Plan; the Clean Energy Incentive Program; and other efforts to provide U.S. cities with the tools needed to combat climate change. (You can read the full text at: http://legacy.usmayors.org/resolutions/85th_Conference/proposedcommittee.asp?committee=Environment

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There’s much more encouraging news from the municipal government level.

The Compact of Mayors (“C40”) is the world’s largest cooperative effort among mayors and city leadership working together to reduce GhG emissions and address climate risk in the world’s cities. The effort was launched by the United Nations General Secretary in June 2016. And in the year since:

652 cities have joined the effort;
— representing almost 500 million people residing in the urban centers;
— which is about 7% of the global population today.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (now returned to chair the eponymous Bloomberg LP organization after 12 years in office) is serving as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and spearheads the Compact of Mayors initiative.

Ambitious plans: commitments to the Compact of Mayors are set to deliver half of the global urban potential GhG emissions reductions by 2020. But, there is still much more to do, the Compact notes, on the part of the nations in which the cities are located. (Like the USA!).

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And…CDP’s Cities Initiative reports that more than 500 cities are now disclosing their initiatives related to climate change. More than US$26 billion in climate-related projects are underway or targeted.

CDP is providing a global platform for cities to measure, manage and disclose their environmental data on an annual basis. This is intended to help local governments manage emissions, build greater resilience and protect against the growing impacts of climate change. So far, cities are disclosing almost 5,000 climate actions.

And be sure to note this: there has been a 70% increase in cities’ sustainability-related disclosure since the Paris Agreement was adopted; 1,000-plus economic opportunities have been identified by almost 400 cities; and, 56% of cities identified opportunities to develop new businesses or industries linked to climate change.

More information for you at: https://www.cdp.net/en/cities

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Then there is “America’s Pledge” — an effort involving 227 cities and counties, 9 states and 1,650 businesses and investors that have pledged to uphold the U.S.A. commitment to the Paris Agreement! (Reducing our country’s GhG emissions by 26% to 38% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.) The group is led by California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg.

As The New York Times reported on July 11, 2017 (“US Cities, States and Business Pledge to Measure Emissions”):

Former Mayor/Bloomberg LP Chair Michael Bloomberg:
“The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American Society remains committed. We will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals.

California Governor Jerry Brown:
“Were sending a clear message to the world that America’s states, cities and businesses are moving forward with our country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, with or without Washington DC.”

The new group will measure the effect (by 2025) of new climate actions by cities, states, business, universities, that sign on for the effort. The analysis will be performed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rocky Mountain Institute.

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Bloomberg Philanthropies
All of these efforts of course takes money!  Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic arm – Bloomberg Philanthropies – has a cities-focused initiative: What Works Cities Initiative.

This is one of the largest efforts to help cities use data for making local decisions, and get technical assistance from experts through the  Bloomberg organization.

Four more cities just joined up: Arlington, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Collins, Colorado; Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That makes 85 U.S. cities in 37 states are now participating.

Cities commit to a “WWC” Standard, using data to improve performance and results that make their residents’ lives better. More info at: https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/cities/

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Why Is City-Level Action on Climate Change So Critical?

The total population of urban areas (486 areas) in the United States of America was 80.7% of the country’s total population in 2010, according to  an analysis by Reuters News.

More Americans are moving to urban areas, according to the 2010 census. (As reported by Reuters in March 2012.) The nation’s total population growth was 9.7% from 2000 to 2010; urban growth was 12.1%. In some places the growth was 50% — like Charlotte, North Carolina (64.%).

The most urbanized state in America is California — where 95% of the total population live in urban areas (35.4 million people).

Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim is the nation’s second largest city (at 12,1 million residents); New York/Newark NJ is #1 (18.4 million); Chicago is #3, noted Reuters in the story.

So — we are keeping close watch on the significant efforts at the city/municipal level efforts in the United States of America with regard to developing climate change solutions.  Cities and states are showing the way for this nation, as the Federal government at least for now has abandoned climate change leadership.

Summing up:  With literally thousands of  local government units developing partnerships with the private sector, and with NGOs and other stakeholders, and looking to the U.S. capital markets to help fund infrastructure and other initiatives — a climate change economic boom is underway!  Are you part of it?  We see great o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y spelled out at the American municipal level.

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Notes:

**Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Link: www.c2es.org.