When the US president, Donald Trump, announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, one might have anticipated a hearty cheer from industry around the world relieved that business as usual could continue.
Instead the opposite has happened. Across the United States, the business community is taking it upon itself to implement the measures needed to address climate change. And in Australia an increasing number of major companies are publicly stating their commitment to addressing climate change, even as the federal government drags its heels on implementing policies to address the crisis. Companies around the world – from small family-run enterprises to Fortune 500 firms – are not only calling for action on climate change but also putting their money where their mouth is.
Lou Leonard, the senior vice president of climate change and energy at WWF, says companies are coming to understand the impact of climate change on their businesses.
“If you’re a company that either grows food in the heartland of the United States or ships it down the Mississippi and out to other countries, or you’re a company that builds the components of wind turbines and solar panels, or you’re a company that has a big retail footprint all over the world, climate change has come to you already,” he says. “I think that the understanding of those impacts has led those companies to again take action to begin to green their own footprint, and their supply chains.”
This understanding has also led to initiatives such as We Are Still In, an open declaration of continued support of climate action to meet the Paris agreement. The letter has now been signed by 1,565 companies and investors, including giants such as Apple, Walmart, Microsoft, Adidas, Facebook and Google, as well as leaders from 208 cities and counties, nine US states and 309 colleges and universities.
Desalination is an important component of Singapore’s water supply – and the island country has a new desalination plant in the works decked out with green features. The large-scale facility can treat both freshwater and saltwater, and according to Today Online and other local news outlets, it’s thought to be the first one of its kind in the world.
The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant will be the first of its kind in Singapore, and some publications say in the world. It will be the country’s fourth desalination plant, but the first large-scale dual-mode one. It will treat water from the sea or the Marina Reservoir, depending on whether the weather is dry or wet. Keppel Infrastructure is constructing the plant under a 25-year Water Purchase Agreement with Singapore’s national water agency, PUB.
In a huge warehouse just outside downtown Los Angeles, a startup turns recycled shipping containers into vertical farms. A new digital tour shows what the farms, which are each equivalent in size to a four-acre outdoor field, look like inside.
Inside one 40-foot container, trays of butter lettuce glow brightly under LED lights. Another container grows baby greens. The startup, Local Roots Farms, began as a producer, selling produce to local restaurants like Tender Greens. But when others saw how the company’s custom-designed systems outperformed other shipping container farms—growing as much as five times more produce—they started getting requests to build farms as well. The empty space in the warehouse serves as a staging ground to retrofit other containers before they are shipped around the country.
Students gain access to career counseling and network of employers in sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship
This post was written by Jon Reidel, Communications Officer at the University of Vermont, and first appeared on UVM’s website
A new breed of business student – one more concerned with solving the world’s sustainability issues than just turning a profit – is showing up at MBA programs across the country. These so-called “impact students” have college career counselors reeling when it comes to finding them jobs that don’t fit within the traditional corporate mold.
That’s not the case for the University of Vermont’s one-year Sustainable Entrepreneurship program (SEMBA) in the Grossman School of Business, which is composed of nothing but impact students. Matching graduates with opportunities focused on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship has been SEMBA’s sole focus since its inception in 2014.
“Traditional MBA programs dedicate maybe one of 10 counselors to deal with these pesky impact students,” says SEMBA Co-Director Stuart Hart, who previously served on the faculties at the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina and Cornell. “This is all we do. We’ve developed a customized system and built the largest, most robust network in this space globally because we’re totally committed to it.”
Hart, a world-renowned expert on how poverty and the environment affect business strategy, and SEMBA Co-Director David Jones plan to launch a new career management system designed to propel students into careers within SEMBA’s condensed 12-month format in renewable energy, clean tech, affordable health care, inclusive business, entrepreneurship within larger companies, start-ups, and other innovative ventures.
A vast Chinese province of nearly 6 million people has generated all the power it needed for an entire week without using any fossil fuels, according to state-run Chinese media.
Qinghai, a Tibetan plateau province in the country’s northwest, derived all of its power from wind, solar, and hydro-electricity from June 17 to June 23. The experiment was part of a trial run by the government to see if the electricity grid could cope without the kind of constant, reliable energy normally provided by fossil fuels. The Chinese government claims that Qinghai’s week without fossil fuels sets a new global benchmark. In May last year, Portugal (population 10 million) ran its electricity for four consecutive days without fossil fuels.
But Qinghai had some advantages. It’s sparsely populated, compared to other Chinese provinces. As the source of China’s three mighty rivers — the Yellow, Yangtze, and Mekong — it has an unusually large number of hydroelectric facilities. Nearly 80 percent of the energy used during the test week came from hydro. But the plateau is also bathed in sun, making Qinghai a prime site for the expansion of the Chinese solar industry. China completed the world’s biggest solar farm there earlier this year.
A year ago, no one living in Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, had electricity. By the spring of 2016, the town had a brand new grid, and it will soon run completely on solar and wind energy.
“In six months, we built from scratch the entire electrical grid of a town of 5,000 people,” says Andy Bindea, founder and president of Sigora International.
By the end of 2017, the company plans to get electricity to 300,000 people in throughout Haiti. By the end of 2018, they hope to reach a million people. It’s a massive task: As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, roughly 75% of Haiti’s population is off the grid now. For those who do have power, it often only works two to six hours a day.
There are moments when, suddenly, big change looks much more possible than previously imagined.
For advocates of renewable energy, one of those moments came two years ago when executives from a few major corporations met with officials from a half-dozen utilities. It was the first meeting organized by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).
REBA — a collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, Business for Social Responsibility’s Future of Internet Power intiative, the World Resources Institute’s Charge Initiative and WWF’s Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which is also supported by WRI — had already made it easier for corporations to buy renewable power through creating a methodology for power purchase agreements with energy producers.
Now, it’s making it easier for companies to deal directly with utilities to get that power. As a result, 13 utilities operating in 10 states now offer green tariffs for procuring renewable power.
Kite Power Systems, the company developing innovative kite-powered energy generation technology in Scotland, has secured its latest round of investment funding, a £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank.
Kite Power Systems is a Scotland-based British company developing kite power technology that uses kites deployed in deep water locations to generate electricity.
The company consolidated its work in Scotland earlier this year, moving from a previous home-base in Essex, England. The move was made in part following the announcement that the company would establish a research and test facility on a Military of Defence range near Stranraer, and a £5 million investment round from E.ON, Schlumberger, and Shell Technology Ventures (STV) in December of last year.
The new round of financing announced this week — a £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise — will help the company further work on its kite power system, which is made up of two kites which fly up to an altitude of 1500 feet, and which generate electricity through a winch system.
If you live in Detroit and make only $10,000 a year, you still might be able to buy a newly constructed house. On two vacant blocks in the city’s northwest side, a new neighborhood of tiny houses was designed to help people living in poverty become homeowners.
Through a rent-to-own program, residents will pay $1 per square foot in rent each month. For a 250-square-foot house, for example, rent is $250, when a similar home in Detroit might normally cost twice as much. After a maximum of seven years, the house can be fully paid off.