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Private Sector Announce Future of Rainforest Conservation Will Be Determined By Finance and Regulation

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The future of sustainable development in the Asia Pacific Region is critical with respect to access to finance and the supportive legal and regulatory environment.

This was the key message taken by private sector businesses to the Asia Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) Summit as Governments, farmers, businesses, NGOs and academics met today to help realise the goal of building on the Paris Climate Change Agreement by significantly reducing emissions from the deforestation and degradation of the 740 million hectares of forest spread across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia Pacific Rainforest Recovery Plan Private Sector Roundtable is made up of businesses including Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP), Wilmar, Sime Darby, New Forests, PT Rimba Makmur Utama, Simmonds Lumber and Baker and McKenzie, amongst others.

After just 6 months of working together, the members today published details of pilot conservation projects and policy recommendations in an effort to push for new mechanisms to facilitate public private engagement on rainforest protection projects.

Amongst the projects submitted by the Private Sector Roundtable there is the the potential[1] to safeguard forests in landscapes covering approximately 500,000 hectares and to improve the livelihoods of up to the same number of people living in villages where these projects are being implemented. Preserving rainforests, especially those on peatlands, will avoid the release of 20 tons of CO2e per hectare per year, which would have been released with the conversion into short rotation crops/plantations, according to IPCC methodology. Scaling these projects up could transform sustainable economic development and green growth across the entire Asia-Pacific region, but only if further finance and support can be unlocked.

Action at scale is essential with forests playing a critical role in climate change, food security, peoples’ livelihoods and biodiversity with the UN FAO recently highlighting an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security.

“The work of the roundtable, over just a short six months of collaboration, shows that the private sector is already taking a leadership role and ready to act quickly in tackling issues around climate change and deforestation, paving the way for even greater collaboration between governments, companies and civil society, and the possibility to develop a new financing model to leverage existing efforts being undertaken by the private sector” said Australia’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg.

The pilot projects demonstrate how low carbon development can be promoted across the Asia Pacific region. Spanning a range of countries in the region, they showcase a variety of potential new business models based on a landscape approach, from biodiversity credits to smallholder certification. Finance and interested partners are urgently needed to scale these types of projects up across the region.

Sustainable landscape management does not recognise administrative boundaries.

“Forest protection, restoration and sustainable development require collaboration to innovate and create new business models and crucially, ensure that the stewards of the land – smallholders – are involved and benefit directly from these projects.” says Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability for APP and Chair of the Private Sector Roundtable.

“The members of the Private Sector Roundtable have highlighted four key challenges that we need to resolve if we want to make the Paris agreement a reality and arrest deforestation in the Asia Pacific region: How do we incentivise businesses when participation in the carbon market is voluntary and carbon prices are low. How do we monitor progress, what baseline are we working from? And most importantly, how can we leverage the role of the private sector, how can we organise finance mechanisms that actually deliver cash to the smallholders and stakeholders in the forest? These are the people at the frontline of protecting rainforests in our region.”

The private sector roundtable has taken these issues in a package of policy briefs which provide recommendations to governments, other private sector actors, and civil society. “Without a supportive regulatory environment and a clear economic return provided for taking action to undertake REDD+ or other forest protection measure , reaching the Paris goal of mobilising $100 billion by 2020, will remain a far-off dream. The private sector stands ready to step up investment and encourages further collaboration with other partners and in particular donor governments at the summit to ensure that the 450 million people in Asia and Pacific that depend on forests for their livelihood can continue to do so long into the future,” says Martijn Wilder AM of Baker and McKenzie, and Vice-Chair of the Private Sector Roundtable.

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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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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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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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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