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Climate Week NYC:
3M, HP Among Brands Using Their Might, Science to Protect Precious Resources

New partnerships for forest and clean-air restoration, science-based emissions-reduction targets by over 50 companies and 6 countries, lead us into a week full of business and government sustainability commitments for Climate Week 2019.

3M, Clean Air Asia partner to improve air quality in two at-risk Asian cities

New Delhi, India | Image credit: alvpics/Pixabay

Coinciding with its participation in Climate Week and the UN General Assembly, 3M has partnered with international NGO Clean Air Asia on science-based air quality solutions for New Delhi, India and Metro Manila, Philippines; ultimately advancing the organization’s mission to create healthier, more livable cities in Asia. 

To move toward this goal, 3M will spend the next five years assisting Clean Air Asia in its efforts to assess baseline air quality conditions, design capacity-building programs for air quality management, implement awareness and education campaigns, develop Clean Air Action Plans with selected city and district governments, and measure the resulting impact on air pollution levels.

Poor air quality is a worldwide health issue, but the majority of people living in urban areas in Asia are exposed to levels of pollution that pose significant health risks. Of the almost five million premature deaths estimated to be attributable to air pollution (ambient PM2.5, household, and ozone) across the globe in 2017, about 70 percent occurred in Asia; and only 2 percent of 420 cities surveyed in Asia met the PM2.5 World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guideline (annual average), based on Clean Air Asia’s 2018 analysis of ambient air quality in Asia.

In Metro Manila, PM2.5 levels in four of five cities with monitoring data in 2017 exceeded both the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Value and WHO Air Quality Guideline. India is also struggling with poor air quality nationwide. According to the WHO in 2016, 14 of the 20 most-polluted cities in the world were in India, and 900,000 premature deaths were attributed to poor air quality. New Delhi’s sources of air pollution include industrial facilities, vehicles, road dust and domestic cooking.

“Solutions are at hand to address this severe health threat in Asia, although there are challenges due in part to a lack of institutional resources, technology solutions and financial support,” says Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen. “This new collaboration with 3M will support our work to bridge these gaps and implement science-based policies and programs to improve lives in New Delhi and Metro Manila.”

3M has accelerated its long-standing commitment to sustainability over the past year — in both strategy and action. It announced bold new commitments to renewable energy, advancing a circular economy, and embedding sustainability in all new products.

HP, WWF partner to launch HP Sustainable Forests Cooperative

Today, at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit — also taking place in New York City this week — HP Inc. announced its next steps in creating a forest-positive future for printing with longstanding partner and conservation leader World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

With the help of WWF, HP is committing to the restoration, protection and conservation of 200,000 acres of forest, an area equal to the size of NYC. As part of the 5-year agreement, HP will also support WWF’s efforts in developing science-based targets for forests, estimating carbon and nature co-benefits of forest restoration and improved forest management. Beginning this November, the new initiative — led by WWF — will consist of two major forest restoration and management projects, the first within HP’s Sustainable Forests Cooperative.

HP is investing in the conservation of the world’s forests and committing to meaningful action towards its vision for sustainable printing. Its Sustainable Forests Cooperative is designed to drive action now and inspire others to preserve and improve forest ecosystems for future generations. The company’s goal is that printing with HP will directly increase responsible, FSC-certified and recycled fiber sourcing, while contributing to the restoration, protection and improved management of the world’s forests for future generations.

“HP has long envisioned a future bettered by technology and the power it has to create a more sustainable future,” explains Tuan Tran, HP’s president of global imaging and printing solutions. “That’s why we’ve teamed up with World Wildlife Fund, FSC and others to create a forest positive future for printing by restoring and protecting the world’s forests for our industry, our customers and our communities.”

A forest-positive future

Over the 5-year agreement, HP will contribute $11 million for WWF to restore part of Brazil's threatened Atlantic Forest and increase sustainable management of state-owned farms and forest plantations in China — ultimately protecting a combined area of 200,000 acres.  

HP will also contribute toward WWF’s development of science-based targets for forests. The partnership will provide much-needed guidance on the quantity and quality of forests needed in key regions, to restore and protect forest that provide for people, plants and animals. HP will support the development of external tools to help companies estimate the climate, water and biodiversity benefits associated with various conservation efforts.

“The decline of forests around the world increasingly destabilizes our climate and threatens the rich biodiversity that sustains billions of lives and livelihoods,” explains WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts. “To reverse the global loss and degradation of forests, companies need to look beyond their own supply chains and implement bold strategies to protect and restore these critical ecosystems. HP’s new project has the potential to deliver meaningful and lasting change and spur other industry leaders to action.”

A call to action

With resource-rich forests such as the Amazon being destroyed at the pace of 27 soccer fields per minute, HP believes the time for better business models, greater collaboration and swift action is now. In response, HP is working with the world’s largest paper manufacturers — including International Paper, whose tonnage of responsibly sourced fiber is more than 7 million tons a year.

Furthermore, International Paper and WWF have collaborated on ambitious goals for the sustainable sourcing of fiber, and the two are establishing the first-ever science-based targets for forest conservation. HP will amplify the conservation efforts already underway with WWF and International Paper. As a longtime Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stakeholder and certificate holder, International Paper is committed to sustainable forest management, conservation and restoration efforts both within its supply chain and outside the company.

“We are thrilled that HP has decided to join us in our ambition to advance conservation and restoration actions in forest ecosystems beyond our existing fiber supply chains,” said Tom Cleves, International Paper’s VP of global citizenship. “We applaud HP for holding all its suppliers accountable for responsible sourcing and ensuring consumers know that the paper they buy comes from renewable, sustainably managed forests.”

Looking forward

Having achieved its zero-deforestation goals with HP-branded paper, and in addition to the projects announced today, HP intends to increase awareness about the importance of responsibly managed forests, generating further demand for FSC-certified and forest-friendly products.

“As the world’s most trusted forest certification, FSC-certified, responsibly managed forests are critical for biodiversity, clean water and carbon storage, as well as for wood and fiber,” states FSC US president Corey Brinkema. “HP’s new initiative represents the type of business leadership needed to protect forests for current and future generations, and fight climate change, even as we use forest products to meet our daily needs.

HP says it will also continue its efforts in reducing carbon emissions and energy use, while increasing the use of recycled materials and ocean-bound plastics in its products — such as in its just-released Elite Dragonfly laptop. The company is on track to achieve zero deforestation goals for packaging by 2020 and has committed to increasing the use of post-consumer recycled plastics to 30 percent across its personal systems and print product portfolio by 2025.

South Pole to make New York City climate neutral for 1 hour during Climate Week

Image credit: Eepeng Cheong/Unsplash

Carbon finance consultancy South Pole is celebrating the opening of its NYC office by expanding its global movement for more climate action: On Tuesday, the company will make the city climate neutral for one hour, proving that available climate solutions can start creating measurable, positive impacts for people and planet today.

“While the damages from extreme storm events continue to grow, affecting communities and companies alike, we are also seeing businesses committing to action — setting aggressive emission-reduction targets, and encouraging their employees to take a stand for the climate,” says South Pole CEO and co-founder Renat Heuberger.

Public awareness and the number of demonstrations around the climate crisis — exemplified by Friday’s massive Global Climate Strike — have been rising along with the mercury, urging governments and businesses for more ambitious action. Working together with established partners and networks, South Pole is empowering corporate champions such as McKinsey & Co, ALDO Group, and the New York Yankees to seamlessly realign their decision-making processes with the global climate agenda, reach corporate sustainability commitments, and successfully build resilience in their supply chains and investment portfolios.

“Out of our 14 successful years of operation, nearly half have been spent working with corporate and public leaders in the US. We are incredibly excited to have finally opened a permanent office in the center of New York, and we will continue investing in the American market providing local solutions for a global problem,” said John Davis, Commercial Director at South Pole. “Our team of American climate experts has been growing to meet the sustainability demands and concerns from leading companies across the US.”

A leader in environmental markets and carbon and renewable energy project development for the 9th year running, South Pole’s portfolio currently counts 700 climate-protection projects; for Tuesday’s climate-neutral hour, South Pole compensated the carbon emissions of New York City by investing in a community-based forest protection project in Zimbabwe.

Costa Rica rallies global coalition of countries to protect biodiversity

Image credit: Alex Ip/Unsplash

Meanwhile, on Sunday, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica called for the formation of a High Ambition Coalition of nations to push for a Deal for Nature that will protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030. The goal will be to finalize the deal at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China in 2020.

The governments of the Seychelles, the UAEMonacoGabon and Mozambique have joined the initiative, which proposes science-based target to protect 30 percent of planet’s biodiversity by 2030. 

This urgent push stems from an accelerating awareness that the climate emergency and the extinction crisis are interconnected, and that protecting more nature could be our best chance to both sequester carbon and save threatened species. Scientists have concluded that at least one third of climate solutions lie in protecting and restoring our natural world.

"The fires, floods and ice melts are planetary alarm bells for us humans to act,” Alvarado said. “Costa Rica has heard these wake up calls loud and clear and wants all nations to join us in launching a High Ambition Coalition at the UNFCCC Pre Cop In San Jose, committing to protect 30 percent of our planet by 2030. If we urgently unite now, we can restore and conserve nature, feed our people, and build thriving economies."

His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: "We must open our eyes to the cruel fact that climate change is progressing faster than we are, and we need to pick up the pace to win this fight. We realize the gravity of the task at hand, but are confident that together we can build the necessary global momentum to save the natural world we value and on which we depend so much. We are proud to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. We share the coalition's vision to chart an ambitious path toward protecting nature worldwide."

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' (IPBES) Global Assessment found 1 million species are threatened with extinction and called for 'Transformative changes' to protect nature. At the same time, top scientists published A Global Deal for Nature as a "companion pact to the Paris Agreement," stating that 30 percent of Earth needs to be formally protected and an additional 20 percent designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030, to stay below 1.5°C.

Costa Rica’s proposal is a science-based target that seeks to protect 30 percent of the planet in key biodiversity areas. 90 countries have already protected more than 17 percent of their land, 27 have protected more than 30 percent, and a few are close to or even past protecting half of their land. The protected marine surface area has jumped from 0.7 percent of the total ocean in 2000 to about seven percent today — a near ten-fold increase.

Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence at National Geographic and one of the authors, said: "We ought to stop the unplugging of our life support system. Without a healthy natural world, the future of humanity will be grim. The good news is that we know what to do, and visionary countries are leading the way by committing to protect 30 percent of our planet by 2030."

87 major companies commit to 1.5°C future at UN Climate Action Summit

Image credit: Rachel Cooper/Unsplash

Also on Sunday, 87 major companies — with a combined market capitalization of over US$2.3 trillion and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants — announced action to align their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

Responding to a call-to-action issued in June by a group of business, civil society and UN leaders, the companies collectively represent over 4.2 million employees from 28 sectors and are headquartered in 27 countries. They have committed to set climate targets across their operations and value chains aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Since the first 28 companies committed to 1.5°C were announced in July, the number has more than tripled. The latest cohort of companies include ADEC Innovations; América Móvil; ASICS Corporation; Atlassian Corporation; Bharti Airtel Limited; Burberry; City Developments Limited; The Co-operative Group; Croda International; Cybercom Group; Danone; Deutsche Telekom; Dexus; EDP - Energias de Portugal; Electrolux; Elopak; En+ Group; Ericsson Group; Firmenich; Glovo; Grupo Malwee; Guess; Ingka Group; Inter IKEA Group; International Flavors & Fragrances; Intuit; Klabin; L'Oréal; MARUI GROUP; Nestlé; Nokia; Novo Nordisk; NRG Energy; Orange Group; Ørsted; PensionDanmark; Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited; Saint-Gobain;; Scania; Schneider Electric; Seventh Generation; SkyPower; Sodexo; SUEZ; Swiss Reinsurance; TDC; Viña Concha y Toro; and Wipro, among others.

“These bold companies are leading the way towards a positive tipping point where 1.5°C-aligned corporate strategies are the new normal for businesses and their supply chains around the world,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “This is the type of transformative change we need to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for both people and planet.”

The news comes as world leaders gather in New York for a milestone Climate Action Summit hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The Summit provides an opportunity for governments, businesses and other stakeholders to present clear plans of action aligned with the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned of catastrophic consequences should global warming exceed 1.5°C. The news also comes just before the opening of Climate Week NYC.

Guterres has challenged governments to come to the Summit prepared to announce revamped national climate action plans and long-term net-zero targets. Demonstrating the private sector’s support for these efforts, companies are now leading the way in creating a positive feedback loop known as an “ambition loop” — with government policies and private sector leadership reinforcing each other, and together taking climate action to the next level.

The companies are committed to setting science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which independently assesses corporate emissions reduction targets in line with what climate scientists say is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Of the 87 companies, the following already have verified 1.5°C-aligned reduction targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from their operations: AstraZeneca, BT, Burberry Limited, Deutsche Telekom AG, Dexus, Elopak, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intuit, Levi Strauss & Co., SAP, Signify, The Co-operative Group and Unilever. All campaign signatories have taken this ambition a step further by extending their commitments to apply to their entire value chains, which on average account for 5.5 times higher emissions than operations, according to CDP.

“Warming beyond 1.5°C is a calamity we simply must not risk,” said Andrew Steer, SBTi Board Member, and President and CEO of World Resources Institute. “Science-based targets provide a blueprint for companies to make a clear contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, but we need all hands on deck. There is not a minute to lose.”