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…

 

 

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

# # #

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!).

# # #

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

# # #

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.

# # #

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/

# # #

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.

# # #

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.

 

 

SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS DATA ANALYST INTERNSHIP AVAILABLE AT GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE

Opportunity:  Learn to Analyze Data and Interpret Content from Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting

Position:  Sustainability Report Data Analyst Internship Available (supporting  G&A’s GRI Data Partner Relationship)

Location: Virtual 
Work is done remotely with a flexible work schedule – at your own location.  Initial training via Web. G&A offices are located in NYC.

Time Requirements: Position requires approximately 10 hours a week and begins ASAP.  The timing of the work is flexible and can be done remotely for a majority of the time required.  The internship will take place starting in July 31, 2017 and ending February 28, 2017.

Description
Founded in 2006, Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based company that specializes in research, communications, strategies and other services focused on corporate sustainability and corporate ESG performance (“Environmental, Social, Governance”) issues.

G&A is offering the opportunity for an internship for a qualified student interested in learning more about these topics. G&A Institute interns learn important elements about the GRI Standards for Sustainability reporting as well as other common frameworks such as CDP, RobecoSAM CSA (DJSI), SASB, IIRC, SDGs, and many others that can be used in their future work situations.

This is a very fast growing area of interest to corporations and Wall Street.  The GRI reporting framework is the most widely used in the world for these types of reports.

G&A is the exclusive data partner for the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  The Global Reporting Initiative is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.

GRI provides all companies and organizations with a comprehensive set of sustainability reporting standards that are the most widely used and respected around the world.  Currently thousands of global organizations use the GRI to report on their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) strategies, impacts, opportunities and engagements (www.globalreporting.org).

As the exclusive US, UK and Ireland data partner of the GRI, Governance & Accountability Institute’s role is to collect, organize, and analyze sustainability reports that are issued by corporations, public entities, not-for-profits and other entities in the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The Intern Opportunity
In this role, the analyst will work as part of a team to analyze Sustainability reports for inclusion in the largest global database of Sustainability reports, the GRI’s Sustainability Disclosure Database (database.globalreporting.org).

Learning to read, analyze, use, and structure data from reports using the GRI Standards, GRI G4, GRI-Reference as well as NON-GRI corporate and institutional reports will comprise the majority of this assignment.  The research will also contribute to several published research reports on various trends in sustainability reporting which are widely referenced by media, academics, business, capital markets players and other important sustainability stakeholders.

The student(s) selected will have the opportunity to experience a fast-paced, highly-adaptive (and nurturing) culture in a small but growing company with a unique niche. This is a hands-on position with considerable learning opportunity for those headed for a career in corporate responsibility, sustainability, citizenship, or impact investment.

G&A interns get public recognition for their work in our published reports, on our web platform and in other ways. To see what other interns have been doing (and their backgrounds) check out the intern Honor Roll at http://www.ga-institute.com/about-the-institute/the-honor-roll.html

Requirements
Applicants should demonstrate:

  • Strong background and keen interest in ESG and Sustainability issues and topics.
  • Basic understanding of business and the capital markets.
  • Strong technical, communication, and organizational skills.
  • Research and Analysis experience, a preference if focused on sustainability topics.
  • Basic skills in Excel / Google Sheets and researching on Google are required.
  • Self-driven and Independent ability to meet expectations and deadlines.
  • Must be fluent in English, additional languages are a plus.
  • Applicants with writing and editing abilities will have preference.

Application Process
Interested students should send a resume outlining education and skill sets. As an option, a one to two page introduction essay on what you would like to learn more about (in terms of your career goals), what your interests are, and anything else you feel may be relevant to the job/our organization will also be welcomed.    Samples of writing or research on sustainability or other topics are also a plus.

Send application materials to Governance & Accountability Institute at:
lcoppola@ga-institute.com & agallagher@ga-institute.com

Are You Still In? Are You Signed on Yet? C’Mon – the Country Needs You!

by Hank Boerner, Chairman & Chief StrategistG&A Institute

Question of the Day:  Are YOU Still In?  Have you signed on?  “In” — that is, for the long haul on addressing the many challenges of climate change and related global warming issues.  And “signed on” — to the We Are Still In Movement (please see wearestillin.com for information).

Right now, there are more than 2,000 signatories to the statement that was released on June 5 (2017), right after President Donald Trump figuratively “tore up” the important, historic commitment of the United States of America to the COP 21 Paris Accord.

The new movement is a voluntary grassroots approach that includes a wide array of bold names in different sectors of the American economy (bold name highlights further down in this commentary for you).

The signatories include investors (asset owners and asset managers); mayors of cities and leaders of local municipalities; universities and colleges; state governors and state governments; and (very encouraging!) lots of American corporations.

Folks at Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and various sustainable, responsible and impact investment thought leaders are helping to get the word around. (Thank you to Anne Kelly and Jessie Arnell at Ceres and Marty Spitzer at WWF.)

The message points for signatories of all stripes are:

Despite the Trump Administration reneging on an important commitment (governmental and moral!), major players in the U.S. economy are still in — and stepping up, moving ahead on climate action.

Signatories are committing to drive down carbon pollution and address head on the challenges related to climate change (and especially the part that human activity plays in the changes taking place).  The goals put in place and the ambitious goals to come will help to ensure that the United States remains in the game and a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.

The broad-based coalition driving the We Are Still In movement
Just in the month of June, those signing on included:

  • 199 cities and counties;
  • 9 U.S. states;
  • 1,531 business leaders and investors;
  • 308 universities and colleges.

These players agree that:

  1. government alone is not driving the process;
  2. the Paris Accord represents an important blueprint for creating new jobs (think solar, wind, geothermal, energy conservation, etc);
  3. create prosperity on a broad, domestic and global basis;
  4. create stability in the world community, with developed economies assisting less-developed nations as ALL embrace the promises made in Paris (almost 200 nations are signed; notably absent now sad to say are just the USA, Nicaragua and Syria).

The We Are Still In Movement is sending clear signals to the global community in Plain English — not always present in White House’s erratic and often contradictory communications — that leaders throughout the American economic scene, in all geographies, in all sectors, are moving forward to help this nation meet the goals promised in Paris.

We will keep America Great in the global efforts to address climate change issues and provide innovative, job-creating, environmentally-friendly solutions!

ECONOMIC POWER
The signatories to date represent 124 million people in this nation (1/3 of the population!) and contributing US$6.2 trillion to the national economy.  This includes 38 Fortune 500 companies(bravo!) representing US$2.1 trillion in annual revenues and employing 4.7 million team members.

Here is the “Open Letter to the International Community” from the Movement for important background: http://wearestillin.com/

So — back to the question…are you signed on yet?  You can find more information at: www.wearestillin.com  — where you can sign up!

A Brief Selection of Bold Names for Your Reference

CORPORATE SECTOR
Bloomberg, LP; Mars Incorporated; Amazon; eBay; Google; Levi Strauss; Seagate Technology; Sealed Air Corporation; Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge; The Estee Lauder Companies; Microsoft; Apple; Nike; Campbell Soup Company; IBM: The Hartford; Starbucks; Intel; International Flavors & Fragrances; Wal-Mart Stores; Toshiba American Business Solutions; Johnson Controls.

THE INVESTMENT COMMUNITY
CalPERS; CalSTRS; New York City Office of the Comptroller; Office of the New York State Comptroller; Oregon State Treasury; Green Century Capital Management; Washington State Investment Board; Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment; Cornerstone Capital Group; Nathan Cummings Foundation; Ambata Capital; Boston Trust/Walden Asset Management; Amalgamated Bank; Moore Capital Management; Azzad Capital Management; Sustainability and Impact Investing Group of Rockefeller & Company; California Clean Energy Fund; California State Controller; Calvert Research and Management; Trillium Asset Management; Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; Clean Yield Asset Management; Rhode Island State Treasurer; Zevin Asset Management; Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds.

STATES / GOVERNORS
California; Connecticut; Hawaii; New York; North Carolina; Oregon; Rhode Island; Virginia; Washington.

MAYORS  OF CITIES
The Honorables: Bill DeBlasio (New York City), Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles); Kasim Reed (Atlanta), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago),  Hillary Schieve (Reno, NV); Bridget Donnell Newton (Rockville MD).

ACADEMIC CENTERS
University of Iowa; University of Maryland, University College; University of Massachusetts; Arizona State University; Bates College; Oregon State University; Occidental College; Northwestern University; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; State University of New York (the colleges at Albany, New Paltz, Stony Brook, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cortland, Oswego, Orange).

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS
Linton Family Foundation; Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation; Merck Family Fund.

ENTREPRENEURS/SMALL BUSINESS
Keller Estate Winery; The Junkluggers; Crystal Mountain Resort; Rune’s Furniture; Sara Danielle Designs; Eco Promotional Products; Say It Forward Productions; Mom’s Organic Market; Sons and Daughters Farm; Fetzer Vineyards; RC Flying Cameras LLC; Dallas Maids LLC; Rocca Family Vineyards; York Machine Works; Joe’s Tree Service.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES
Steve Harvey Law LLC; BCK Law PC; Christopher Intellectual Property Law PLLC; the Hvizda Team LLC/Keller Williams Realty Metro; Jim Henry, Architect; CTA Architects and Engineers; Cycle Architecture + Planning.

ASSOCIATIONS
National Ski Areas Foundation; National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association; Outdoor Industry Association; U.S. Green Building Council.

And Of Course the Usual Suspects – Pioneering Leaders in Sustainability:
Bloomberg LP; Ben & Jerry’s; Patagonia; Unilever…and more.

We have provided a brief overview here – please do check out the full roster at the WeAreStillIin.com.

And of course, Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. was an early signatory!

And the latch handle is out:  we invite you to sign on for your organization!

 

 

 

 

 

Resolved! The USA Will Move Forward Despite the Administration’s Cancellation of the Cop 21 -the Paris Accord

“Resolute!” – The root of the word comes down to us from the ancient Latin, meaning (over many centuries) to decide on and stay with a course of action.  We’re seeing that these days in the “resolve” of the US corporate community, in the resolute actions of many cities and municipalities, in the actions of a growing number of US states, and among institutional investors of all types, shapes and forms.

Their resolution?  To stay the course on addressing climate change issues as the Trump Administration swerves off the road and into the ditch with the abandonment of the COP 21 Paris Accord by the national government of the United States of America.

In our brief Top Story, we see comment highlights from an Environmental Leader conference, with experts Phil Pinson and Tim Porter.  The pair looked at White House actions and changes within US EPA and Department of Energy and observed that what actions and issues had in common now was “uncertainty” as to the future course of action.

What’s driving sustainability now without the official “push” of our national governmental infrastructure?  For companies: compliance; corporate mission; business performance; employee satisfaction; industry (peer) recognition…and this means (they said at the conference) companies are holding firm with 50% of those surveyed are showing no change in budgeting for sustainability.

At G&A Institute, we’re seeing many positive trends from 2016 and earlier holding fast even with speed bumps thrown up — like exiting the Paris Accord and being in the same category now as Syria and Nicaragua as national holdouts!

During 2016, G&A Institute Chair Hank Boerner assembled the trends that were driving Corporate Sustainability and Sustainable Investment forward — most are still powerful, positive drivers for change.  Trends Emerging! Looking Ahead of the Curve at ESG, Sustainability, CR, SRI Progressis available for you with our compliments — you can download your copy of Hank’s collected commentaries at:  http://bit.ly/TrendsConverging

Readers will continue to receive updates on the book’s content as conditions warrant — Hank shared his perspectives on the post-Paris environment with readers.

Send us your views on the post-Paris environment as the corporate, public, social and investment sectors continue to move forward.

Top Stories This Week…

Sustainability Will Endure Despite Trump’s Approach, Experts Say
(Monday – June 12, 2017)
Source: Environmental Leader – In the era of Trump, will the practice of sustainability remain a business priority? The answer is that 73% of companies expect their commitment to be the same while 21% plan to increase their involvement. Only 7.7% plan to…

Cuppa Joe? Many of us love our morning coffee (“the Joe”), but we should think more about growers at the source…

Ah, that morning coffee — so delicious for many of us.  The products of the “coffee belt,” encircling the globe just north and south of the Equator, are made from a valuable commodity — the coffee bean. Harvesting those is a US$100 billion annual commodity, writer Jodyn Cormier tells us on the Care2 web platform, second only to the value of the oil market.  And yet…she writes that the average coffee farmer gets $1,000 per season for his/her work.

That, Cormier concludes, makes coffee an industry that is inherently unbalanced and unfair.  And then the writer focuses on Vega Coffee (Nicaragua), a “subscription-based” coffee company that helps farmers pick, process, package, and ship quality beans direct to customers.  The customer gets the coffee within 5 days of roasting, “direct from farmers’ hands to theirs.”

The company’s founder explains how this differs from many parts of the traditional value chain in reaching developed nation coffee consumers:  The family farmer typically sells beans to a cooperative, which sells to another or larger cooperative, and then it’s to an exporter, then to a roaster (the importer), then to a coffee distributor, and on to a roaster wanting Nicaraguan coffee…and then through middlemen to retail outlets…to customer.

The Vega firm has a roastery in Nicaragua, and local farmers are involved in the roasting process, packaging the goods for export to the USA (every two weeks).  Farmer-to-roastery-to shipment to US customer.  And women are encouraged to get involved in the usually male-dominated cultivation activities.

And what about climate change?  The views from the coffee belt in Nicaragua are shared in the top story (below) as well as many other fascinating views.  Conclusion:  Vega believes people (read: we coffee consumers) should not have to trade quality for sustainability.  And they are showing how it can be done.

Author Jordyn Cormier is a Boston-based freelance writer and “avid outdoors woman.” The Care2 web platform is known for its “member petitions” resources, such as saving the rainforest and protesting President Trump’s offshore oil drilling agenda.

Should You Have to Choose Between Good Coffee and Sustainability?
(Monday – April 17, 2017)
Source: Care 2 – Coffee as a commodity is worth $100 billion worldwide—second only to oil. And yet, the average coffee farmer makes a paltry $1000 per season (which is about $3/day), and that’s without taking into consideration drought or disease…

In the Dark Days of White House / EPA Action on Climate Change, Here are 7 Encouraging Trends for You from Amy Augustine at Ceres

Horrible headlines now coming out on the developments at the White House regarding climate change, global warming, and related issues as campaign rhetoric is fitted, however clumsily or mean-spirited, to public governance to attempt to match ill-advised campaign promises.

The reality is that there are a number of very encouraging developments, trends that hold great promise for those of us who are not climate change deniers and think that global warming is a hoax coming from China to disadvantage American companies!

The Ceres staff members have long been engaging with, monitoring and advising (the rest of us) on critical issues in the areas of Corporate Sustainability – Responsibility – Citizenship – Environmental Management — and of course, the paths to more sustainable investing.

Amy Augustine, the senior director of corporate programs at Ceres, shares with us in our Top Story the seven trends she sees continuing to drive corporate sustainability in 2017.  Our view is that this could be a “hinge year” for the United States in terms of focus on climate change, global warming, societal issues, environmental management and host of related issues therein.  (As in. “the hinge of history” with things going this way or that, the before and after.)

Amy observes:  “Bold leadership, as well as individual collective action from influential companies and investors, is critical to ensure continued progress in achieving the ambitions of the historic Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The seven trends are encouraging: (1) U.S. corporate sector support for U.S. clean energy policy is accelerating;  (2) investor expectations continue to rise that public companies will disclose information on more climate change risks and opportunities. (Remember, the US SEC in 2010 reminded boards of companies that they have the responsibility to oversee risk, and that climate change is clearly a risk.  But that was yesterday, under the former Administration…today is the era of climate denial in the White House.)

Trend 4 is the focus on Water Risk — large-cap companies operating in water-stressed areas are not waiting for government action to conserve  protect water sources.  Amy Augustine cites the efforts of such responsible enterprises as General Mills, Gap and Pepsico engaging with policymakers in California to urge on stronger water management measures.

What about Trend 3 – and 5, 6 and 7?  The details are waiting for you in the Top Story (link below). Amy’s concluding comment is…”No doubt, company actions on all of these (7 trends fronts) will continue to evolve and hopefully accelerate; such leadership is more essential than ever.”

At G&A Institute, we’re doing our part to report on both sides of the hinge — the great things that have been accomplished in the “good days” of the past decade, and the threatening things that are proposed or (positions) adopted in these not-so-good-days at US EPA, the White House or in the Congress.  Do check out the second in the newsletter, our comments in G&A’s Sustainability-Update Blog on the latest moves by the President and EPA Administrator to attempt to roll back the rich legacy of the prior administration.  (You can sign up to receive updates as these are posted.)  Let us have your thoughts as well!

And, we invite you to download “Trends Converging,” the book prepared in 2016 by G&A Chair Hank Boerner, which sets out important information about where are as the climate change deniers/destroyers go to work in Washington DC to undo the progress made.  Click here to download the digital copy.

Top Story

7 Trends That Will Drive Corporate Sustainability in 2017
(Wednesday – March 22, 2017)
Source: Triple Pundit – As we confront a new political climate that is inspiring both uncertainty and rising citizen action, I am more convinced than ever that business must play a critical role in achieving a sustainable, equitable and clean-energy…

Climate Change Risk? Nah – The Deniers & Destroyers Are At Work – White House Attempts to Roll Back Obama Legacy

Deniers/Destroyers are at work – at US EPA — the White House — hoping/wishing for rollback of rich Obama legacy positions on climate change issues…

by Hank Boerner – Chairman, Chief Strategist – G&A Institute

March 28, 2017

In classic-CNN style we bring you !!!BREAKING NEWS!!! – the Climate Change Deniers and Environmental Regulatory Protection Destroyers are at work in Washington DC today.

You’ve heard the news by now: President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator E. Scott Pruitt are preening and pompously strutting as they announce the important beginnings of what they want (and hope!) to be the rollback of important environmental and public health protections of the Obama Administration … you know, the “job killers” that were at work putting coal miners out of business.

At least that’s some of the twisting, grasping, pretzel-elian logic that underpins the actions taken today (which in turn tells the Trump loyal voting base that yes, still another campaign promise is being carried out on their behalf).

During his early months in office, President Barack Obama signed important Executive Orders that addressed climate change issues and global warming challenges — and please here do note that these and other Presidential EOs are always based on (1) the existing statutes enacted by Congress and (2) the authority of the Office of the President.

You remember some of the key statutes involved in these issues  — The Clean Air Act (CAA); The Clean Water Act; (CWA) the foundations laid by the all-empowering National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) …and other landmark legislation sensibly reached on a bipartisan basis over the decades since American rivers burst into flames.

Today, President Donald Trump signed [a very brief] EO with a flourish — the “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” Executive Order.

The action orders the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin the [legal] process of un-doing or re-doing the nation’s Clean Power Plan, the keystone to President Obama’s actions to address global warming. (Or “climate change” if one is skittish about being on the side of the angels on this issues.)

Here is what today’s EO covers:

  • Executive (cabinet) departments and agencies will begin reviewing regulations that potentially burden the development/or use of domestic energy sources — and then suspend, revise or rescind those that “unduly burden” the development of domestic energy resources…beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest.
  • All [Federal] agencies should take appropriate actions to promote clean air (!) and clean water (!) for the American People — oh, while following the law and the role of the Congress and the States concerning these matters. (One hopes this includes Flint, Michigan residents. We can hear great, cogent arguments in the Federal courts about all of this.)
  • Costs are to be considered — regarding “environmental improvements for the American People” — as, when “necessary and appropriate” environmental regulations are to be complied with…and the benefits must be greater than the cost.

This is encouraging, if only that it is stated to provide cover for legal challenges: Environmental regulations will be developed through transparent processes that employ the best available peer-reviewed science and economics!

  • All Federal agencies are to review actions that are described in the Trump Executive Order and then submit to the [White House] staffed departments and the Vice President their plan(s) to carry out the review for their agency.

Here’s The Important Deny/Destroy Actions

By swipe of pen, the President revoked these important cornerstones of the Obama Administration climate change legacy:

  • Executive Order 13653 (November 1, 2013) – “Preparing the U.S. for the Impacts of Climate Change.”
  • President Memorandum (June 25, 2013) – “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards.”
  • Presidential Memorandum (November 3, 2015) – “Mitigating Impact on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment.”
  • Presidential Memorandum (September 21, 2016) – “Climate Change and National Security.”
  • Report of the Executive Office of the President (June 2013) – “Climate Action Plan.”
  • Report of the Executive Office of the President (March 2014) – “Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.”
  • The Council on Environmental Quality guidance (August 5, 2016) – “Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of GhGs and Effects of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews.”

And The Very Important Clean Power Plan…

  • A review of the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan,” to be suspended, revised or rescinded, or, new rules proposed following the steps necessary. This will affect:
  • The final rules of the Clean Power Plan (October 23, 2015) – “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generation Units”;
  • Final Rules (October 23, 2015) – “Standards of Performance for GhGs from New, Modified and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units;
  • Proposed Rule (October 23, 2015) – “Federal Plan Requirements for GhGs Emissions from Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed before January 8, 2015”; “Model Trading Rules: Amendments to Framework Regulations”.
  • The Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases – convened by the Council of Economic Advisors and the Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — is disbanded, and the documents that established the “social cost of carbon” no longer represent public policy.

Beyond these specifics, the EO also orders the Secretary of the Interior to review its rules, and any guidance given, and (if appropriate) suspend, revise and rescind these. Included:

  • Final Rule (March 26, 2015) – “Oil and Gas: Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands”;
  • Final Rule (November 4, 2016) – “General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights”;
  • Final Rule (November 14, 2016) – “Management of Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights”;
  • Final Rule (November 18, 2016) – “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation.”

For the record: The EO is intended to (1) promote clean and safe development of “our Nation’s vast” energy sources; (2) avoid regulatory burdens that constrain production, energy growth and job creation; (3) assure the Nation’s geo-political security.

US SIF Weighs In

The influential trade association for sustainable, responsible and impact investing swiftly responded. Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF, commented:

“On behalf of our 300 institutional members, US SIF belies the Administration should be working aggressively to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and that this Executive Order accomplishes the opposite.

“The United States is paying a high economic price from the ravages of severe drought, wildfires and storms associated with increased atmospheric levels of carbon. This is not the time to retreat from the call to protect current and succeeding generations from the catastrophic implications of further, unrestrained climate change.”

In the US SIF biennial survey of sustainable and impact investment assets, it should be noted here that U.S. money managers with US$1.42 trillion in AUM and institutional asset owners with $2.15 trillion in assets consider climate change risk in their investment analysis — that is three times the level in the prior survey in 2014.

Now — Investors – NGOs – State and local governments – social issue activists — business leaders — Federal and State courts — can push back HARD on these moves by the Trump Administration.

Otherwise, it could be drill, baby, drill — dig, baby, dig — and, hey, it’s good for us, we are assured by the Deflector-in-Chief and his merry band of wrongheaded Deniers/Destroyers in the Nation’s capital!

What do you think — what do you have to say? Weigh in our this commentary and share your thoughts – there’s space below to continue the conversation!