Thursday, August 28, 2014

DISRUPTION: Climate. Change.

A new film on the climate change movement will be released next week.  The trailer below gives a sneak peak of what looks like a powerful telling of the story of how the demands for action on climate change have coalesced into a social movement that recognizes this is a social justice issue, not just an environmental issue.

It's timed for release before what will be the largest climate march in history -- the People's Climate March -- taking place Sunday, September 21, in New York City (at 11:30, starting at Columbus Circle).

There will be a host of events and actions taking place in late September in NYC around the UN Climate Summit, which is an attempt to focus attention and engage as part of the run up to the pivotal climate negotiations in Paris in 2015.

It will be an interesting few months in the climate action world, and I'm curious to see how it will play out with the backdrop of mid-term elections and hurricane season here in the US.



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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CARBON: New short film on pricing carbon

Here's a new short film, narrated and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio about the need to price carbon, and a run down on the national and regional efforts to do so.

It is the first in a 4-part series called Green World Rising.  Go to www.greenworldrising.org for more info, and to sign an open letter -- "Consensus for Action" -- to world leaders at the UN Climate Summit happening in September in New York to show your support for bold action on sustainability.




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Friday, August 22, 2014

Intentional Endowments

Over the past year, much of my work has focused on an emerging new project aimed at supporting colleges and universities to better-align their endowment investment practices with their mission and values. 

In April we held a summit in Boston -- the Intentionally Designed Endowment conference -- that brought together 120 leaders, including senior administrators from higher ed, endowment managers, investment firms, experts on sustainable investing and fiduciary responsibility, and non-profit executives.

The event was designed to create a highly-interactive, 'safe-space' to talk through the full range of issues and potential strategies for integrating sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into endowment investment portfolios.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has been driven in large part by student leadership on college campuses. While many colleges have resisted calls to divest, it has opened up important conversations about if and how institutional mission and values should be incorporated into endowment investing policies and practices. At the same time, as the ESG / sustainable investing space has matured, it has become more common for investors to recognize that sustainability challenges can affect the value of companies and projects, and consequently pose material risks to their portfolios.

Given these complex and rapidly changing dynamics, participants of the event expressed a clear need for more forums like it, and other ways to continue the conversation and learning on these topics.  In response, we've been developing the Intentional Endowments Network.

Our website has presentations and videos from the conference, a resource library with reports and articles on key topics, and a news feed for relevant media coverage:

www.intentionalendowments.org

We are currently in the process of developing a strategic plan for this exciting new initiative, while at the same time developing tangible actions, including webinars, another Intentionally Designed Endowments conference in the Southwest, a student-focused conference, workshops and sessions at other conferences, new resources, and strategic engagements with individual institutions.

Please visit the website and share your thoughts.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 HBCU Green Report

The second survey of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) -- the 2014 HBCU Green Report -- was recently released by the Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University.

The report finds a "green revolution" is underway at HBCUs, despite the fact that these efforts are not sufficiently covered in mainstream higher education, sustainability, or media outlets.  Forty-three institutions participated in the survey that yielded the data for the report. These institutions are active in the five focus areas covered: administration, green building, student involvement, food and recycling, and climate change and energy.

The report found that HBCUs are also recognizing that strategic sustainability plans can benefit the bottom line.  Highlighted projects include UMD Eastern Shore's solar farm - the largest concentration of PV panels on one site in Maryland, a LEED Gold renovation at Spelman College, a new Sustainability Institute at Florida A&M, the conversion of the football field to an organic farm at Paul Quinn College, and a commitment to a 20% reduction in energy use over 5 years at Clark Atlanta.

CAU President, Dr. Carlton Brown states in the report: "Long before the world fully grasped the urgent need to address climate change, Clark Atlanta University’s (CAU) Environmental Justice Resource Center provided leadership in documenting and addressing industrial pollution practices that disproportionately impacted communities of color... This work evolved into a global movement for climate justice. Climate change is one of the most critical challenges facing the global family today and special mission institutions like CAU have a unique role to play in crafting triple bottom line solutions that transform challenged under-served communities into healthy, vibrant livable neighborhoods."

The Building Green Initiative's report is a great source for learning more about how HBCUs across the country are working to do just that.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sustainability Illustrated: City of Canning sustainability video

Here's a great new video laying out the basics of strategic sustainable development.  It was created by two MSLS graduates -- Alex Magnin and Jayne Bryant -- for the City of Canning in Australia... hence the kangaroos.




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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You're already paying for carbon pollution

Below is a great video from The Climate Reality Project about the price of carbon -- explaining why we need a price on carbon.  The consensus is finally building among the economists, politicians, and the public that putting a price on carbon is the most effective and efficient way to minimize the damage of climate disruption. 

The EPA's recently announced rules limiting carbon from existing power plants (The Clean Power Plan) is an important step, and one that will help pave the way for a price on carbon.  It's design of allowing states to determine how to meet the rules is the right way to go, and I expect it will result in more states instituting a price on carbon -- either by joining RGGI, or connecting with California or the Western Climate Initiative, or instituting their own pricing schemes, like cap & trade or cap & dividend, or a simple carbon tax like British Columbia.

These state-level precedents are what we need in order to get more comprehensive federal legislation, and from there a meaningful international climate agreement, with the US leading the way.  Given the recent results of the National Climate Assessment (and many other reports and studies) this needs to happen fast enough for an agreement in Paris in 2015 that goes into effect by 2020. 

Check out the video and share.  To get this done we need as many people as possible on board and letting their elected officials know they support a more effective and efficient way of paying for carbon pollution -- through a price on carbon.  Obama made it clear in this recent interview with Tom Friedman -- we need a price on carbon, we're not going to burn all of the carbon in the ground, and to enable a smooth ramp to clean energy, we need broad public support. Quoting Lincoln, he said: ‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done.’ As this piece in the NYT today shows, leadership on climate is finally becoming a political winner, and we need to keep it that way.


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