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Paris Agreement Top Priority at Business and Climate Summit



Businesses and politicians from across the world are coming together today for the Business & Climate Summit. The second annual Summit is dedicated to tackling climate change. The event specifically focuses on how businesses should address the Paris Agreement, which was signed back in April 2016.

With the Paris Agreement now in place, attention must turn to the practical implementation of the commitments made last year. Investment decisions and business strategies must have decarbonisation and the path to a net zero carbon economy over the next half century at their heart.

The first day of the Summit will explore this implementation across themes including business, energy, transport, forestry, agriculture and the built environment.

Ségolène Royal, Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea, in charge of International Climate Relations, Government of France, and President of COP21, will reaffirm her view on the need for wide-scale use of carbon pricing for global emissions reduction in an opening Keynote address at the Summit, stating: “Businesses are key for the implementation of the Paris agreement. Many advocate carbon pricing in order to give the right signal to investors and drive the transition towards a low carbon economy, which is very encouraging. As president of COP21, I aim to promote a carbon price that is high, stable and coordinated.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will address the Summit’s opening session in her last major international speech in her current role. Ms Figueres joined and transformed the UN Climate Change body shortly after the failed Copenhagen Summit in 2009, where she has helped firmly embed the crucial role of the business voice. In her speech she will say: In the run up to COP21 in Paris an extraordinary alliance of business and investors committed to ambitious actions via the dedicated NAZCA portal. I believe that you can truly say— ‘We’re Accelerating Climate Action’. But a universal climate agreement of nations also needs universal support from the private sector beyond Europe and North America. I would urge committed business to reach out to peers in Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to further seed, catalyse and build action everywhere and in support of COP22 in Marrakech.”

Momentum from business has continued to accelerate since COP21. In addition to the increasing numbers of companies setting bold targets – from sourcing 100% clean energy to transforming entire value chains with science-based guidance – forward-thinking companies are already taking concrete actions to deliver climate solutions that drive value for their business. The Summit will explore how businesses can continue to take this leadership forward at the speed and scale that is urgently needed to accelerate the transition to the low carbon economy.

Since Paris, there has been a determined effort to turn the conversation into actionable collaboration. The private sector is an effective and efficient actor of change. But a sound and effective international framework is needed from governments to address the urgency of global climate risk.

In reaction to this, a new report, ‘The Business End of Climate Change’, produced by the We Mean Business coalition in partnership with CDP and analysis from the New Climate Institute, will be launched during the Summit.

The report will outline what climate action business is already committed to, and what impact that will have on greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It will also demonstrate what more could be achieved with business and governments working together to achieve the right policy environment for enhanced climate action. Businesses have committed to reducing emissions by 3.7 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year by 2030. With the right policy enabling environment, the reductions could be as high as 10 billion.

During the launch of the report, Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group, will say: “Our report shows that business will be a key driver of climate action to reduce global CO2 equivalent emissions by 2030. But it can, and should, go further still. Government and business must continue to work together to create the right policy framework for enhanced climate action to make this happen.”

The Paris Agreement is also impacting the finance sector, which is seeing an increased interest in green finance and the emergence of clean investment themes that support robust flows of funds.

Michel Madelain, Vice Chairman of Moody Investors Service, will also address the Summit on the opening morning, saying: “The Paris Agreement was a defining moment for policymakers around the world. It has galvanized many actors and organisations into action, including my own, to start placing climate risk at the forefront of their thinking.”

Addressing the Summit in a pre-recorded video message, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon echoed this collective action from businesses, saying: “It’s time to turn our aspirations into urgent implementation. I have called on all nations to ratify the Paris Agreement for a rapid entry into force before the end of this year…to meet our goals we need 100% participation from businesses around the world.”

The second day of the event, tomorrow Wednesday, June 29, will focus on the finance, innovation and policy needed for the low carbon transition. A full agenda for the Summit can be found online here.

In addition to those already mentioned, the Summit will be addressed by a stellar cast of global CEOs and international policymakers including: Stuart Gulliver, CEO, HSBC; Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; Rana Kapoor, Founder, Managing Director and CEO, Yes Bank; Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP; Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman, Paris EUROPLACE, Chairman, ENGIE; Sir Roger Gifford, Chairman, City of London’s Green Finance Initiative; Roberto Azevêdo, World Trade Organization Director-General; Mahendra Singhi, CEO and Whole Time Director, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited; and Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO, Michelin.

Media registration has now closed. However, the Summit is being live-streamed, and can be watched here.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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