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More Than 360 Businesses and Investors Demand US Leaders to Support Paris Agreement

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paris by moyan brenn via flickr

Over 360 businesses and investors, ranging from Fortune 500 firms to family-run businesses and from across more than 35 states, have sent a strong message to US leaders, emphasising their support for the Paris Climate Agreement the need to speed-up the low-carbon economy transition.

“Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all,” wrote the powerful business group, in a statement of support announced today at a press conference at the COP22 climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco. “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”

The full statement and list of signatories will be at www.lowcarbonusa.org


Among the diverse and iconic large and small U.S. businesses signing the statement are DuPont, Gap Inc., General Mills, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Hilton, HP Inc., Kellogg Company, Levi Strauss & Co., L’Oreal USA, NIKE, Mars Incorporated, Schneider Electric, Starbucks, VF Corporation, and Unilever.

“It is vital that the business community demonstrates its ongoing commitment to tackling climate change,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability and Health and Wellbeing Officer at Mars Incorporated. “This is an important moment in global political and economic history, and we absolutely must come together to solve the immense challenges facing the planet. Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society. It is imperative that global businesses, like Mars, do their part to face down those threats.”

“Now more than ever, Levi Strauss & Co. believes it is important to reaffirm our commitment to address climate change by supporting the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. “Building an energy-efficient economy in the U.S., powered by low-carbon energy will ensure our nation’s competitiveness and position US companies as leaders in the global market – all while doing the right thing for our planet.”

The U.S., China, India, Brazil, European Union and more than 100 other nations representing more than three-fourths of global emissions formally ratified or joined the agreement, and it entered into legal force on Nov. 4. The agreement is the first-ever global, legally binding framework to tackle climate change.


In the statement, the large and small businesses pledged to do their part, in their own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Climate Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below two-degrees Celsius.

They are calling on elected U.S. leaders to strongly support:

• Continuation of low-carbon policies in order to allow the U.S. to meet or exceed its promised national commitments.
• Investment in the low-carbon economy at home and abroad in order to give financial decision-makers clarity and boost investor confidence.
• Continued U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement in order to provide the long-term direction needed to limit global warming.

“The Paris Agreement was a vital step forward, but its power is in our collective action,” said Lara Birkes, chief sustainability officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Business and government leaders must urgently work together to drive a thriving, low-carbon economy.”

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is committed to creating a low-carbon economy and creating healthy environments for our associates, members and communities,” said Kyle Cahill, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “We strongly support continued U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement to help address climate change, one of our biggest public health threats today.”

“The enormous momentum generated by the business and investment community to address climate change cannot be reversed and cannot be ignored by the Trump administration. That train has left the station and to stand in its way is folly,” said Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management. “Nevertheless, we know that now is the time to remind the incoming administration that virtually every company in the Fortune 500 and over $100 trillion in investor assets has acknowledged the reality of climate change and the need to address in head on.”

“Elections change our leadership but they don’t change reality,” said Matthew Hamilton, Sustainability Director at Aspen Skiing Company. “Thirty more frost free days are thirty fewer days we can make snow increasing the pressure on our business. The Paris agreement is critical to our business and the 6.1 million employees of the outdoor recreation industry.”

“Delivering on the Paris Agreement is an opportunity and responsibility for all,” said Feike Sijbesma, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM. “Now is the time to future proof our economies by investing in, among other, low-carbon infrastructure. Together we can create new jobs and build our infrastructure while securing clean air and sustainable energy. This is key for people today and generations to come.”

“Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management, LLC reaffirms our support of the Paris Climate Agreement to ensure we are doing our part to get to a low carbon future,” said Maria Arabatzis, Portfolio Manager and Shareholder Engagement Manager at Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management, LLC.

“Kentucky needs to grow its clean economy more than many other states,” Zaurie Zimmerman, CEO of The Lion Company in Louisville, Kentucky. “Affirming the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement is a crucial strategy in keeping the U.S., and eventually Kentucky, truly competitive in the global economy.”

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.


Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.


The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?


A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.


“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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