Last month there was a question as to whether or not Ford lobbied Congress on the Keystone XL Pipeline.  However, publically the automakers’ sustainability marketing promises to help achieve "climate stabilization".  In the US, companies have to disclose the subject of their lobbying, but do not have to disclose the position for which they are lobbying.  This incomplete reporting raises consumer and investor concerns.  Smart businesses are beginning to embrace transparency on climate change policies.

Take Ikea Group, for example.  The company recently released this infographic to transparently share their position on climate change.  In it, IKEA explained why climate change is relevant to its business interests.  And they not only made it clear where they stand on the issue and which policy actions they support, they also communicated the message directly to European policymakers.   IKEA is lobbying for ambitious, legally-binding 2030 targets for carbon dioxide emissions, renewable power and energy efficiency.

Not all companies take a black or white stance on global warming.  Some are merely silent on the issue.  There are a multitude of reasons including fear of publically taking a position on a political topic that might push away customers.  Some businesses are grappling internally with climate change’s risks and opportunities, putting out consistent messaging, and trying to find the capacity to publically engage on the issue.  Whatever the reason, it is certainly delaying much needed political breakthroughs on climate change.

Although businesses fall different places on the continuum of how to publically address climate change, there are resources available to help them engage responsibly with the issue.  Take this guide that is a baseline for action and transparent reporting from the World Resources Institute, which was informed by the United Nations and business leaders, policymakers, and investors.

With the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, companies can expect more scrutiny from customers, shareholders and stakeholders regarding their position on global warming.  Businesses can make a positive impact on the issue and the time to start acting is now.

Published in carbonfree blog

Carbonfund.org and National Geographic Society (NGS) have been partners in the fight against global climate change since 2009. Our relationship with NGS is managed by Mr. Hans Wegner, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Society whose leadership in the sustainability realm has been an inspiration to everyone at our Foundation.

In 2011, Han’s leadership with the NGS “Green Team” led to his team receiving our For People and Planet award in the “Media” category for their efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions.

These efforts included reducing emissions from their operations by 80% with an additional goal of reducing emissions from their magazine paper and printing materials supply chain by 10% by 2015. The team has succeeded at numerous other efforts from obtaining Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Gold Status for their headquarters building to compost and recycling programs in their cafeteria.

Since the origin of our relationship, with NGS, the Society has been a key supporter of several of our projects including the Purus REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Project in Acre, Brazil, and the Native Species Reforestation Project in Panama to offset the Society’s respective travel and office emissions.

We had the opportunity to speak with Hans on his impressive 41 years at the National Geographic Society and his broader work in the sustainability realm.


1.      Please describe your current role as Chief Sustainability Officer at NGS and what lead you to that position?

 I came to the Society in 1973, with a background in commercial printing. I came here to work in one of the photographic labs, compiling film for wall maps for 1.5 years and subsequently became responsible for the production and then the manufacturing of the Magazine. During that time I also handled all paper purchasing for the Society so I became very conversant with the issues related to paper manufacturing and the paper market. I took particular interest in learning all I could about the environmental impacts of all aspects of paper making; from seedling in the ground to recycling of old paper products. I took great pride in working with our paper suppliers to make sure they abide by or exceeded all applicable environmental regulations.

In 2006 I headed up a group of concerned NGS employees who felt we as an organization could do more to reduce the impact our operations had on climate change and to raise our collective awareness of our responsibility to conduct our business sustainably. Our groups focused on measuring the carbon emissions that we as a company were responsible for, including those emitted on our behalf by our suppliers. We knew we had to know our corporate carbon footprint, not only in the aggregate, but by product line or service sector so we could have a roadmap for the remedial actions we wanted to take. On the basis of this information, we made our buildings carbon neutral, achieved LEED-EB Gold status for our complex, and certified our campus as Energy Star rated and implemented many energy saving features.

On the basis of our success, I was designated Chief Sustainability Officer in 2009.

2.      How did you get started in sustainability work? Who or what inspired you to go into a career in sustainability?

I have always had an inclination to try to be environmentally responsible and I like to think of myself as acting on what I know to be true. This is what led me to set environmental policy for our paper suppliers when I was handling paper purchasing for the Society, implementing a requirement to use best forest management practices, to exceed the guidelines of the Clean Air and Water Acts. In the mid 1990's I became increasingly convinced of not only the fact of climate change, but the reality that it was human activity that was causing this phenomenon. Additionally human activity was consuming finite natural resources at obviously unsustainable rates. I was of course aware that the Society was publishing or producing related stories in our Magazine and TV productions on these subjects so the problem was not a lack of public awareness of the issues but rather a problem of failing to act on what we know. I felt compelled to make a difference and to act, so I began talking to people and knew there was a critical mass of my colleagues who felt strongly, wanted to help, and were willing to volunteer their time to make a difference. That led to the formation of the GoGreen Committee (Now Green Team) which has been meeting monthly since late 2006 and is leading the sustainability initiative at the Society.

3.      What personal accomplishments in the sustainability realm are you most proud of? 

I would have to say being instrumental in starting the sustainability initiative at the Society and thereby creating an awareness that we as an organization and as individuals could and needed to do more than we were. 

As to specifics: 1) Focusing our efforts on knowing our carbon footprint and focusing our efforts at reducing that that footprint by eliminating waste where we found it and thereby eliminating the cost of that waste. 2) Setting and then achieving the goal of becoming a carbon neutral facility and qualifying our Buildings for LEED-EB Gold certification. 3) Doing the most comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) ever done on a Magazine in cooperation with our paper and printing suppliers. This was completed in 2009. 4) Convincing the Society to become a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) driven company in 2012. 5) Committing the Society to the idea of offsetting our scope III carbon (all indirect emissions except for purchased electricity, heat and steam). To date, we have reduced our scope III by over 20% since 2008.

4.      What are you currently working on in the sustainability realm?

We are working with our suppliers of printing and digital media storage to document their emissions on our behalf and to look into renewable energy for those emissions. We are working to achieve carbon neutral status for everything we do, and to send zero waste to landfill. My goal is to have sustainability become part of the culture of the Society.

5.      What is your personal biggest sustainability challenge?

Changing behavior at our company and getting more companies to start addressing climate change. Behavior changes are hard. Energy has always been cheap in the US, and the challenge is to change that perception and get people to change their behavior and use less. The other challenge is for all of us to personalize climate change and take responsibility for that change. At the end of the day each of us must make a commitment to change if we are to solve this problem. We all have the tendency to wait for someone else to start. Don't wait for someone else. You do it. Each of us can start today by: not leaving lights on, shortening the showers we take, using mass transit, recycling everything we can, etc.

6.      What is going to be the biggest challenge for sustainability in the next 20 years?

Complacency on the part of most of us. Dependence on someone else to do the job for us. Ignoring the noise from the fossil fuel industry to say everything is OK when it is clearly not. A Congress that is divided to the point of dysfunction, so no federal leadership is possible. The naysayers that persist in trying to say that this is not a problem, and it is bad for the economy to address this issue. The fear mongers who wish to use this issue to divide us rather than to say here is a challenge we can unite on and fix.

7.      For the next generation of environmental professionals, what advice would you give?

You do not have to be an expert. Read and act on what you know. Make the business case that waiting is paramount to throwing money away and that America cannot compete with clean economies around the world. Make the business case that inaction, or little action, is far, far more expensive and costly to jobs and prosperity than the most drastic actions we take today.

8.  How did Carbonfund.org help you achieve your sustainability goals?

Carbonfund.org has been able to find projects for us to help us offset our use of natural gas to heat our buildings and use in our cafeteria. It has also helped us find projects that offset our business travel. My question to any offset provider has always been: Can you get me a two 'fer or three 'fer? By which I mean I am looking for projects that not only reduce carbon buildup in the atmosphere by adding sequestration capacity, but does doing so expand the habitat for an endangered species (either flora or fauna) in an area, thereby enhancing the possibility of that species' survival? So I am always interested in finding projects that have multiple benefits with the primary one being carbon emissions reductions. So far, Carbonfund.org has done a really good job finding such projects for us.

9. Why did you choose to work with Carbonfund.org?

In keeping with the idea of sourcing locally, I liked that Carbonfund.org is in fact local to Washington DC metro area. I also like the fact of Carbonfund.org being a not-for-profit, as I believe that addressing climate change should not be a profit driven undertaking. That is not to say that we should not do business with for profit entities, it is just that if not-for-profit is an option; that is my preference so we can put more dollars into emissions reductions.

Published in carbonfree blog

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, on Monday that says climate change's effects are already happening across the globe.  No continent, country or ocean is immune.  Unfortunately, in many cases, the world is not prepared for risks from a changing climate.  The report determines there are opportunities to respond to such risks but the risks become difficult to manage the more global warming there is.

"With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits," said Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II.  Field added: "Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming. We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond."

The report outlines climate change impacts experienced thus far, future risks from global warming and opportunities to reduce risks.  Some of the impacts of climate change that have already happened affect: agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people's livelihoods.  Climate change doesn't care whether your country is rich or poor, whether you're located in the tropics or the South Pole, on a small island or land-locked on a large continent.  It is affecting everyone on the planet and we must prepare now or pay a higher price later.  The scary thing is that there are limits, even on the price we can pay.

"We live in an era of man-made climate change," said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II.  "In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future."

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: "The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change.  Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions."

The Working Group I report was released in September 2013 and the Working Group III report will be released in April 2014.  The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle ends with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014. 

The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) is available at www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5 and www.ipcc.ch.

Published in carbonfree blog

According to the "Climate Change in the American Mind" report, 33 percent of Americans said they believed there was widespread disagreement among scientists and four percent said that "most scientists think global warming is not happening." Less than half (42 percent) of Americans knew that "most scientists think global warming is happening."

The fossil fuel industry is waging a successful disinformation campaign.  They took their strategy straight from Big Tobacco, who successfully bred doubt for many years that health experts were undecided on whether or not smoking cigarettes negatively impacted health.  The idea seems laughable now, but we need to address the serious situation of the ailing health of our planet.

In fact, 97 percent of experts agree climate change is happening and it is human-caused.  A new report was released this week from the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  The report entitled, "What We Know" doesn’t presume to tell Americans what to think about global warming.  Instead it says in the introduction that, "we consider it to be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action."

Honestly, the first step of admitting that climate change is happening and that humans are the cause is less about blame and more about recognizing that there is a problem before we can take the logical next step to solve it.

I hope we can see the misinformation about climate change for what it is and start making changes before things look like this Isaac Cordal sculpture depicting politicians discussing global warming.

Published in carbonfree blog

2014 is shaping up to be another strong year for continued environmental leadership by Carbonfund.org’s business partners.  These companies understand the value in maintaining effective sustainability programs that demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility.  

Entering its fifth year as a Carbonfree® Business Partner, Software for Good is a design-driven software engineering team producing complete digital solutions for companies doing great things.   

“We are thrilled to be part of the Carbonfree® Business Partnership,” states Casey Helbling, founder and CEO of Software for Good.  “By calculating, reducing, and offsetting our carbon footprint, we are helping to change the status quo and redefine what it means to be a responsible business.” 

To date, Software for Good’s carbon emissions offset donations have supported Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction projects, neutralizing the same quantity of emissions as are created by a standard passenger car driving almost 600,000 miles. 

Software for Good team members and clients share a vision for what a healthy and sustainable community can be.  They follow the triple bottom line business model, investing equally in people, planet, and profit.  

A great example of Software for Good’s work can be seen in the rebuild for RE-AMP’s website.   The organization is composed of over 150 non-profits and foundations across the US Midwest focused on climate change and energy policy.  The new website focuses on user engagement and easy ongoing site maintenance, so that the various groups can work collaboratively to create a healthier, more sustainable world. 

Software for Good demonstrates its environmental stewardship through the work it performs for its clients and in its continuing commitment to carbon-neutral operations through the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program.

Published in carbonfree blog

It’s still early in this new year, and with Earth Day approaching next month, it’s a great time to look for ways to improve, expand and enrich your commitments to protecting and preserving our environment. 

During 2013, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery of St. Helena, CA augmented their organic agricultural practices and environmental sustainability initiatives by offsetting business flight emissions through Carbonfud.org.  This year, Spottswoode took the additional step to allocate a larger portion of its 1% for the Planet pledge to join the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program, thus neutralizing all of their annual operational emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon reduction and clean air projects around the world.    

“Climate Change is the defining issue of our time, and we feel strongly that we must be a part of the solution to this global crisis,” explains Beth Novak Milliken, President and CEO of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery.  “We take our commitment to the environment seriously, and through our actions, we hope to inspire others to care for and respect our natural resources as well.” 

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery is a family-owned vineyard and winery renowned for producing classic and refined wines that honor their vineyard origins. The balance, grace, and integrity reflected in their wines also drive a commitment to organic farming and stewardship of the winery’s gardens, historic building, and local watershed. 

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery has farmed organically since 1985 and became a California Certified Organic Farmer in 1992.  In addition, Spottswoode is certified Napa Green by the Napa Valley Vintners, uses solar power in their vineyard and winery, maintains insectaries and bird boxes in the vineyard, runs tractors on biodiesel and works to conserve water.  The winery spearheaded the restoration of Spring Creek, which defines the southern boundary of their vineyard and is shared with many residential neighbors.  The expansion of the winery’s environmental responsibility to mitigate all operational carbon emissions through the Carbonfree® Business Partnership demonstrates an ongoing dedication to the health of land and air upon which Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery depends.  

Published in carbonfree blog
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 14:43

Dine Free and Love the Earth on Valentine's Day

Greetings,

How do you show your love to your sweetie on Valentine's Day?  Perhaps you give them flowers, chocolate, dinner at a restaurant or even all three?  Well, here's your chance to show them you care about them and the planet this Friday.  Carbonfund.org offers a truly innovative way to help the environment and take your loved one out to dinner with our Plant a Tree – Dine for Free program.

You receive a dining rewards eGift card through Restaurant.com, which is good on over 50,000 deals nationwide and never expires.  Select from three simple tree-planting options:

So go ahead and plant some trees now.  You'll get a reward for doing your part to fight climate change, and the planet would kiss you to thank you if it could.  Heck, it won't even ask you for jewelry on Valentine's Day!

Thank you for including Earth on a day when we express love,

Eric, Suzie, Brian, Jarett, Jessie and Linda

Published in carbonfree blog

66 percent of U.S. adults say they want to live environmentally responsibly, but fail to do so. Carbonfund.org Foundation aims to change that.

This holiday season, the Carbonfund.org Foundation is offering our Plant a Tree – Dine for Free campaign, a cost-effective and fun way for anyone to help the environment by planting trees­ around the world while receiving up to $500 in eGift Cards from Restaurant.com. The campaign is a great way for individuals or businesses to meet their sustainability goals and holiday gift giving in one fell swoop.

The Plant a Tree – Dine for Free campaign is simple. Just select from one of three options:

  • Plant 50 Trees for $50 – Receive a $100 Restaurant.com eGift Card
  • Plant 75 Trees for $75 – Receive a $200 Restaurant.com eGift Card
  • Plant 100 Trees for $100 – Receive a $500 Restaurant.com eGift Card

Restaurant.com offers over 50,000 dining rewards nationwide and they have no expiration.

Planting trees around the world cleans the air and water, reduces pollution, creates jobs and local economic benefits, and lowers carbon dioxide emissions, among other tree-planting benefits. Carbonfund.org will plant trees in countries including the United States, Haiti, Brazil, India and China.

“This is an absolutely stunning holiday offer that any environmentalist or foodie can get behind,” exclaimed Carbonfund.org president Eric Carlson. “Our goal has always been to make environmental protection simple and affordable to engage millions of people to do their part. The Plant a Tree-Dine for Free campaign is a winner on so many levels. And no wrapping paper or shipping!”

Begin living environmentally responsibly today by planting trees.  Together we can meet our goal of planting 50 million trees!

Published in carbonfree blog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Jessie Pulsipher
Carbonfund.org Foundation
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
240.821.6640

66 percent of U.S. adults say they want to live environmentally responsibly, but fail to do so. Carbonfund.org Foundation aims to change that.

(Bethesda, MD - November 12, 2013)

This holiday season, the Carbonfund.org Foundation is offering our Plant a Tree – Dine for Free campaign, a cost-effective and fun way for anyone to help the environment by planting trees­ around the world while receiving up to $500 in eGift Cards from Restaurant.com. The campaign is a great way for individuals or businesses to meet their sustainability goals and holiday gift giving in one fell swoop.

The Plant a Tree – Dine for Free campaign is simple. Just select from one of three options:

  • Plant 50 Trees for $50 – Receive a $100 Restaurant.com eGift Card
  • Plant 75 Trees for $75 – Receive a $200 Restaurant.com eGift Card
  • Plant 100 Trees for $100 – Receive a $500 Restaurant.com eGift Card

Restaurant.com offers over 50,000 dining rewards nationwide and they have no expiration.

Planting trees around the world cleans the air and water, reduces pollution, creates jobs and local economic benefits, and lowers carbon dioxide emissions, among other tree-planting benefits. Carbonfund.org will plant trees in countries including the United States, Haiti, Brazil, India and China.

“This is an absolutely stunning holiday offer that any environmentalist or foodie can get behind,” exclaimed Carbonfund.org president Eric Carlson. “Our goal has always been to make environmental protection simple and affordable to engage millions of people to do their part. The Plant a Tree-Dine for Free campaign is a winner on so many levels. And no wrapping paper or shipping!”

Begin living environmentally responsibly today by planting trees.  Together we can meet our goal of planting 50 million trees! 

 #  #  #

About the Carbonfund.org Foundation

The Carbonfund.org Foundation is leading the fight against global warming, making it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a low-carbon future.  Carbonfund.org achieves its goals through climate change education, carbon reduction projects, and public outreach.

Published in press releases

Scientists predict that in 50 years we’ll have lost almost 70% of our natural reefs.  “Which is quite a heavy statistic,” says environmentally inspired artist, Jason deCaires Taylor.  He is the focus of a documentary named, Angel Azul, exploring the weaving of art with an important environmental solution; the creation of artificial coral reefs.

You may be asking yourself why coral reefs are important to humans.  The fact is that they’re important for several reasons.  The first is that they provide us with resources and services worth many billions of dollars each year; namely through food, protection and jobs.  Coral reef ecosystems support commercial and recreational fisheries and are tourism-related destinations that inject billions of dollars to local economies.  Furthermore, healthy coral reefs are a natural shoreline buffer helping to protect us from waves, storms and floods.  Lastly, coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, heart disease, viruses and other diseases.

"As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is … on the threshold of a new regime, with dire consequences for reef ecosystems unless we get control of climate change," said Richard Aronson, a biology professor at Florida Institute of Technology.  He continues to add, "Local issues like pollution and overfishing are major destructive forces and they need to be stopped, but they are trumped by climate change, which right now is the greatest threat to coral reefs."

Taylor founded the Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA) in Cancun, Mexico, installing 400 life-like cement statues made from plaster molds of a diverse selection of human models.  The documentary is named for a sculpture of an angel with outstretched arms and Gorgonian coral wings that gently flutter with the tide.  The hope is that the Angel Azul will symbolize a guardian of the reef, protecting and nourishing the aquatic life around her.  This kinetic sculpture is the first to be installed underwater.

Angel Azul the movie also features Paul Sánchez-Navarro, Director of The Ecological Center in Akumal, Mexico explaining the fragile state of the Yucatán's coral reefs and proposing solutions for their survival. The documentary’s narration is provided by actor, writer and social activist, Peter Coyote.

“Obviously this type of work is quite different from normal art projects. Because the main objective of it is about conservation; making an artificial reef, increasing the biomass underwater, creating habitat areas, aggregating fish” says Taylor. 

Coral reefs are resilient.  They can recover and re-grow, but only if climate change can be mitigated or reversed.  We need to examine our lifestyles and find ways to reduce energy use.  It will help our wallets and the environment.

Published in carbonfree blog
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