To inaugurate the New Year, CarbonFree® Business Partner Inner Ecology™ is proud to become one of the very first Benefit Corporations in the state of Illinois. Founding Director Amanda Kreiss joined thirteen pioneering business leaders to join this newly-established corporate structure to help forge a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Inner Ecology facilitates the responsible sourcing, assessing, and dispensing of East Asian traditional medicinals of whole plant, mineral and animal origin for the benefit of its customers’ environmental and economic health. Inner Ecology seeks to provide consistent leadership in forging a fresh approach to social entrepreneurship within the field of East Asian Medicine.
Three years ago, Inner Ecology augmented its environmental sustainability commitment by joining the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program in order to neutralize its annual operational carbon emissions and support carbon reduction and clean air projects around the world.
“We relish this singular opportunity to demonstrate publicly the level of our commitment to good stewardship and to be held accountable for the high standards we set”, asserted Amanda Kreiss, the Founding Director of Inner Ecology. “In the longer term, a central aim of our business is to do our part to "green" the profession of East Asian Medicine and support domestic cultivation of our medicinals.”
Benefit Incorporation revives the tradition of corporate charters from an era when states expected and demanded that corporations serve the public good. In Illinois, Benefit Corporations are now legally required to include this material positive impact on society and the environment in their articles of incorporation, and to publicly report annually on overall social and environmental performance in compliance with comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third party standards. This offers businesses more freedom in defining success and provides legal protection for those looking to pursue a corporate purpose other than simply maximizing profits.
Carbonfund.org recognizes Inner Ecology’s leadership, both in its ongoing pursuit of environmentally-responsible operations and its new focus on a broader social commitment to fully accountable reporting on all social and environmental performances.
We all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen the impact of global warming. That’s why the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball, aside from “greening” the event, has teamed up with Carbonfund.org to reduce its carbon footprint with two carbon offset projects: The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Reforestation Project and the New Bedford Landfill Gas-to-Energy Methane Project.
As a green event, we just couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to reduce the Green Ball’s climate impact, and help pave the road toward a clean energy future.
Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Reforestation
The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Reforestation Project, located in Tallulah, LA., is dedicated to restoring native bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley region of Northeastern Louisiana.
This area was once covered in dense forests, but now it supports less than 20% of its original 22 million forested acres due to decades of land conversion for agriculture. Why are forestry projects important? They help offset the effects of climate change, and help improve the quality of top soil, reduce and control erosion, protect and filter water while reducing the threat of flooding, produce oxygen and nutrients and provide habitats for wildlife.
New Bedford Landfill Gas-to-Energy Methane Project
This landfill gas-to-energy plant, located in Greater New Bedford, MA., not only produces 3.3 megawatts hours of clean electricity, but also reduces the amount of methane released into our atmosphere. Why is the destruction of methane important? It’s approximately 21 to 23 times more powerful as a greenhouse than carbon dioxide, and a major contributor to climate change. A major concern about climate change is the release of an enormous amount of methane –previously trapped in permafrost in frozen tundra areas like Siberia and Northern Canada – into our atmosphere.
Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Check out this list produced by Carbonfund.org on how you can do just that:
Haven’t purchased your 2013 Green Inaugural Ball ticket yet? Purchase them here: http://www.nwf.org/2013-green-inaugural-ball.aspx
Heading to the Green Ball? Don’t forget to tweet using the #GreenBall2013 hashtag.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed this week that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in America’s contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895. Despite this fact, news coverage of climate change actually declined in 2012. According to The Daily Climate, worldwide climate coverage decreased by two percent between 2011 and 2012, which represented the fewest number of published stories since 2009.
Last year the US was experience droughts in more than just rainfall. During the presidential election there were accusations of a “climate silence” until Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast in the days leading up to the election. In President Obama’s acceptance speech he said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
However, President Obama’s statement has not reassured everyone that he and Congress are going to make any meaningful efforts to tackle carbon pollution and climate change. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters and a coalition of 70 environmental organizations recently wrote an open letter to President Obama, which encouraged him to spotlight climate change during his second term. A quote from the letter includes, "Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership and credibility, enabling [President Obama] to create clean energy jobs in the United States while forging an effective international coalition to cut global carbon pollution."
Whether or not President Obama and Congress heed the global warming warning signs, the bright spot is that local governments are undertaking real strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change right now. ICLEI USA, a network of local governments working to address climate and sustainability challenges, recently highlighted 20 communities across the continental US that are leading the efforts to plan for the future and respond to extreme weather. Some particularly prominent examples by local governments include:
- Atlanta, GA – Urban heat island effects worsened by hotter seasons. Addressing the problem with a climate action plan, including cool roof/pavement standards and 10,000 new planted shade trees.
- Chicago, IL – Responding to extreme heat and flooding with the milestone Chicago Climate Action Plan and the most installed green roof square footage in the country.
- Eugene, OR – Ravaged by major wildfires and mega-dry conditions. Mitigating these issues by increasing water conservation, reducing hydroelectric power demand and planting drought-resistant trees.
- Miami Dade Count y, FL – Known as the most vulnerable city in the world to sea level rise as demonstrated by severe flooding. Urban planning now addresses sea level rise and disaster response, and they’re also investing millions in flood mitigation projects.
- New York, NY – Suffered $19 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Taking positive action with a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan, restoring barrier wetlands, and initiating a climate risk assessment requirement for new developments.
It’s wonderful to see these steps being taken towards a more sustainable future. It would be even better if federal leadership ensues, taking their cues from local governments. Media silence or not, climate change is here and further delayed action will only result in catastrophic results. The time is now to secure a low carbon global economy and thereby the planet for current and future generations.
2013 marks the sixth consecutive year that Flavorus, one of the world’s largest event tickets distributor, has maintained a CarbonFree® Business environment. With global awareness of the environment at critical mass, Flavorus changed every aspect of its operations to give the Earth its due TLC. First, they cleaned up their own house: reducing waste, implementing aggressive recycling efforts, replacing incandescent lighting, and a host of other modifications to its daily operational practices. Then Flavorus asked the same of their clients by promoting their paperless will-call ticket delivery and order placement. Finally, Flavorus has taken the progressive step to neutralize its remaining carbon footprint for the past six years by supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction and clean air technology projects around the world.
"Since its inception 10 years ago, Flavorus has looked for progressive business practices. We are proud to be the first in our industry to make environmental responsibility part of our identity," explains Todd Sims, CEO.
Flavorus uses a high volume “Jetstream” application that can process 150,000 tickets in 10 seconds per event. Clients also can customize their Flavorus event page to match the company’s own website and marketing style, and can embed ticket sales system directly into website with custom widgets. And Flavorus features e-ticketing, which reduces the labor, paper, mailing and costs associated with printing and mailing tickets to buyers.
“Our transformation involved three critical phases: cleaning up our operations, bringing our customers and clients on board, and partnering with a carbon offset organization to help fund environmental projects around the globe,” emphasizes Sims. “With focus and determination, every individual can make a difference and reverse the damage being done to the environment. We only have one planet, and we’re committed to keeping it green.”
Carbonfund.org is thrilled to continue our partnership with Flavorus and encourages every business to examine the steps they can take today to help protect our environment by reducing and neutralizing harmful carbon emissions.
Rare gemstones and beautiful jewelry have long captured the admiration of cultures around the world, but as is often the case, the industries behind highly-prized items such as gems and jewels require energy-intensive and environmentally damaging mining and manufacturing processes. “Rare Earth Element” mining involves an expensive and protracted process to “find and prove” the source location, develop a mine construction and operation plan, obtain funding, then pursue the permitting for the mine, which will typically require a positive environmental impact study including post-operation mine closure and environmental restoration.
While not able to solve the entire mining industry’s emissions challenges, CarbonFree® Business Partner Sastaa made a commitment six years ago to take responsibility for its own environment impact by neutralizing its operational emissions. Sastaa is a Dutch import and wholesale business specializing in rubies, sapphires and emeralds. For the past six years, Sastaa as a company and owner Dan Thu Nguyen as a private individual have mitigated annual operational carbon emissions from office energy consumption and business-related travel by supporting Carbonfund.org’s global reforestation projects.
“A carbon-free commitment is a crucial part of the total commitment to an ethical and healthy life," states Dan Thu. Sastaa’s example of forward-thinking leadership and assumption of responsibility is characteristic of the long-term CarbonFree® Business Partners we will be featuring this year. If your business has not taken steps to institute a meaningful sustainability program that includes carbon emissions mitigation, take a look at our CarbonFree® Business Partnership program for 2013 – a simple and affordable way to help fight the negative impacts of climate change and hasten the transition to a ZeroCarbon™ world.
According to a recently released report by the World Wildlife Fund, 58 of the United States’ Fortune 100 companies set goals in 2012 to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions or use more renewable energy in their operations. However, oil and gas companies are lagging far behind in this movement. Eight of 11 domestic energy companies on the Fortune 100 have not set internal energy goals.
This is in direct contrast to 68 of the planet’s 100 largest companies who recognize the impact of global warming and are making investments in greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy goals. Sadly, energy companies represent the lowest participation rate of any industry worldwide. The few exceptions are Hess and Chevron who have both set renewable energy and greenhouse gas targets, and ExxonMobil who set a greenhouse gas target.
Why have three quarters of the nation's industrial companies voluntarily set some sort of environmental target? There are a variety of potential reasons including: policy pressures, public relations or perhaps even the forward thinking that sees renewable energy’s potential to someday be less expensive than, or at least competitive with, oil and gas.
And why haven’t most oil and gas companies voluntarily set environmental targets? It may be because the very products they put on the market directly contribute to climate change. There is also a lack of urgency to act; little pressure comes from investors or policies. An example of a type of policy that was successful in the past is the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, which worked by making large companies publically accountable for which potentially toxic chemicals they use and where they are released. Then the information is posted on the EPA’s website for anyone to see.
The planet would really benefit from a similar policy focusing on oil and gas company emissions, or better yet, a broader climate change policy such as a national carbon tax or cap-and-trade program. There are other options that could pave the way towards a cleaner energy future. The federal government could require that a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable sources and offer further tax incentives for wind and solar production. Many companies are setting their own internal goals, but for others such as the majority of the oil and gas industry, they’re not going to do anything about increasing efficiency and reducing their carbon footprints until someone makes them.
This year offered several events that shone a spotlight directly on the important and urgent issue of climate change, but the question remains, “Was it enough to bring about meaningful efforts to reduce climate change?”
June of 2012 presented the United Nations Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which disappointed many as international representatives hemmed and hawed instead of establishing true endeavors to tackle global warming. Meanwhile the continental United States embarked on summer heat waves that were some of the hottest in its history.
This year also saw drought cover more than half the country; farmers suffered as their crops and animals died.
Then October of 2012 brought superstorm Sandy, this year’s biggest example of extreme weather and a deadly harbinger of the devastating effects of climate change. Can we continue to sit idly by in the face of all these signs that global warming is making broad changes to our planet? Should we leave these environmental problems for our children to face as we continue down an unsustainable path?
The close of the year is a time to reflect on the previous events of the year and make resolutions for the coming year. Let’s pledge to make 2013 the year where we confront climate change in every possible way. We can all embark on energy efficiency efforts; reducing what we can and lowering our carbon footprints. Every bit helps. Then it is a powerful combination to offset the rest of our carbon emissions. It would be a genuine shame to let the lessons of this past year slip from our consciousness while there is still time and so much that can and should be done to address climate change.
The Earth cannot use words to speak for itself, but if it could what would be on its climate wishlist this holiday season?
Environmental activists and climate scientists have done a good job of communicating the risks of climate change. Part of the issue is that it’s a delicate balance between scaring people so thoroughly that they don’t think there is anything they can do about global warming and encouraging people to make any changes that positively impact the environment, even small ones to start. Perhaps we’ve also underestimated the importance of personal experience.
The facts on climate change alone are not enough. We’ve had solid, scientific evidence for many years that global warming is man-made and happening right now. However, many people need to experience the effects for themselves in order for the light bulb to go off in their heads. Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events are helping people to connect the dots, but now that process has begun the question then becomes, “What next?”
We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. That is what the climate needs and wants this holiday season. There are two main changes that we can undertake to fulfill the planet’s climate wishlist. The first is to lower our carbon footprints. Ask yourself, do I really need to leave my lights on all day at home when I am not there? Can I combine trips in the car to drive less or take public transportation instead? What simple steps can I take to save energy and myself some money as well?
The second change is to offset the rest of your carbon footprint. There are many affordable options to make this holiday season a reality, not just for the planet, but for future generations also. Any positive steps you take are welcome and really do make a difference. Although the planet cannot use words to thank you, reducing what you can and offsetting the rest is a beautiful gift and a wonderful place to start this holiday season.