We are happy to share more signs of momentum and urgency building for action on the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2050 carbon neutrality target. Here is news from two auto makers – Ford Motor Company and General Motors.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company outlines how it “intends to achieve carbon neutrality globally by 2050,”…. “doing its part to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and working with California for stronger greenhouse gas standards”.
From the Ford corporate website https://ford.to/3lwCwBZ, we learn:
“To achieve its goal, Ford will focus on three areas that account for about 95 percent of its CO2 emissions – vehicle use, supply base and company’s facilities. To date, Ford is investing more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles through 2022, including forthcoming zero-emission Mustang Mach-E, Transit Commercial and fully electric F-150. The company is on track to power all its manufacturing plants with 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy by 2035”
Here’s a sound bite and good example that the way forward can embrace win-win thinking, rather than either-or visions of a livable future –“We can develop and make great vehicles, sustain and grow a strong business and protect our planet at the same time – in fact, those ideals complement each other,” said Bob Holycross, vice president, chief sustainability, environment and safety officer.” (https://ford.to/3lwCwBZ)
And, how about that cool job title for a senior executive of an auto manufacturing company – VP, Chief Sustainability, Environment and Safety Officer? (More on emerging careers for the future later in this Blog post.)
Related news from the investment section of the Globe and Mail reporting on Ford Motor Company’s new membership in IRMA. https://bit.ly/3eJtwrS
From the IRMA website we learn that, “The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is the answer to a global demand for more socially and environmentally responsible mining. IRMA offers true independent third-party verification and certification against a comprehensive standard for all mined materials that provides ‘one-stop coverage’ of the full range of issues related to the impacts of industrial-scale mines.”
“IRMA brings together downstream purchasers of mined materials with industrial scale mines of all types and sizes working towards responsible practices. These companies are leading the way in driving shared value for responsible mining globally.”
To access Ford Motor Company’s 54-page Sustainability Report 2020 – https://ford.to/3ln5CUr
What is the Mining-Automaking Connection?
In the Globe and Mail investment piece, “Ford states: ‘The (IRMA) membership is another step towards the company’s human rights aspiration to responsibly source all raw materials used within vehicles globally – a journey Ford has been taking steps toward for over 20 years.’ Ford noted this initiative will increase the company’s reliance on mined material, particularly related to production of electric vehicle batteries.” (https://bit.ly/3eJtwrS)
Clean Economy & Electric Vehicle Batteries
This CBC opinion piece by Helen Mountford and Richard Florizone, offers insight into the strategic importance of electric vehicle batteries, including whether Canada will be able to keep pace with the US on national domestic climate policy, given the author’s view that the “Biden-Harris administration’s proposed climate investments could dwarf Canada’s actions at home and abroad”.
“In addition to more aggressive targets on emissions, the roadmap calls for the two countries to align efforts to create jobs in the clean economy, including measures aimed at taking global leadership in battery development and production.”
“Other opportunities waiting to be seized include:
- Boosting Canada’s clean energy sector, which grew 25 per cent faster than the broader energy sector from 2007-2017 and is a major job creator;
- Modernizing and enhancing the productivity of key industries, such as steel and cement, to remain globally competitive;
- Pivoting to new products, as Canada’s auto manufacturing sector is doing for ZEVs, and capitalizing on the country’s mineral resources in new ways.”
- To read the opinion piece in full, https://bit.ly/2Nomxcy.
General Motors – 2040 Carbon Neutral Commitment
Setting an even more aggressive timeline than Ford Motor Company, we learn in this recent Globe and Mail article that General Motors, “the Largest US Automaker, Plans to be Carbon Neutral by 2040 in its global products and operations.” Like Ford Motor Company, the GM plan also links its actions directly to the Paris Climate Agreement (goals for 1.5C), in stating that:
- “GM aspires to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035
- GM has committed to the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C” (a call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders)
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
To read the article in full,https://tgam.ca/2OEhpSi.
Career Planning Anyone?
TED COUNTDOWN offers some positive news for young career planners –
“As more nations pledge to eliminate their carbon emissions, green jobs are projected to grow significantly.”
In this TED Countdown piece https://bit.ly/3rW93ni, it profiles “eight green jobs that can help us achieve a zero-carbon future.”
We will start by listing the eight here, elaborate a bit on each from TED COUNTDOWN, and return for more in-depth examinations of some in future Blog posts.
- Wind Turbine Technicians
- Solar Panel Installers
- Electric Vehicle Workers
- New Plastics Designers and Engineers
- Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists
- Urban Farmers
- Green Building Retrofitters
Wind Turbine Technicians
“Wind projects will need to increase almost 10-fold globally by 2050 to stay within the Paris goal, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.”
Solar Panel Installers
“Hydropower is currently the largest source of renewable energy, but solar is expected to be the main driver of renewable energy growth through 2040 if the world complies with the Paris Agreement, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). ‘Solar [photovoltaics] is consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen,’ according to IEA’s 2020 World Energy Outlook Report.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
We find this last statement to be really exciting!
As the saying goes, “money talks”. Momentum for a significant shift toward clean energy sources just got a super-charged boost, in our view. It seems just a matter of time for the business case to prevail when clean energy is now “the lowest cost electricity” option of all. Awesome news.
Electric Vehicle Workers
“Transportation creates more than 15 percent of global emissions. In some major economies, the sector’s emissions exceed those of electricity generation, says Energy Innovation.”
“To meet the Paris goal, electric vehicle (EV) use would need to increase rapidly, from fewer than 10 million EVs today to more than 1.5 billion by 2050, according to an analysis of global climate policies by Morgan Bazilian and Dolf Gielen in The Conversation.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
Let’s pause for a moment to think about the implications of that staggering rate of growth – from 10 million to over 1.5 billion electric vehicles by 2050. Wow!
Hopefully consumers will benefit in multiple ways, including clean air and transportation, and lower price points for EVs given those production volumes….
New Plastics Designers and Engineers
“Our plastics obsession is exacerbating the climate crisis. Annual emissions from plastic production and incineration could exceed 2.75 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, according to the Center for International Environmental Law.”
“To combat this, we need to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic as we can, and completely rethink the plastic products that we still need, according to the New Plastics Economy project, a collaboration between more than a 1,000 governments, NGOs, universities and businesses.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists
“In order to meet the Paris Agreement goals, we don’t only need to transition to clean energy, we also have to limit other sources of Earth-warming emissions. In the last 40 years, the wildfire season has lengthened across more than a quarter of the world. In some regions such as California, wildfires now occur nearly year-round.”
“In addition to ravaging homes and releasing toxic air pollution, wildfires release greenhouse gases into the air. That’s because trees and vegetation store carbon from the atmosphere, and when they burn, CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are released.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
“At least 55 percent of the world’s population already lives in cities and 80 percent of all food produced globally is destined for urban consumption. Urban farms — whether on roofs, empty lots or in warehouses — can help reduce emissions with locally grown produce, while increasing food security and nutrition in the neediest areas. They also convert CO2 where people live, reduce ambient temperature and improve livability. In addition, green roofs can provide insulation and manage storm runoff.”
“Innovative vertical farms are needed to grow plants in a controlled environment in cities while using fewer resources. In Copenhagen’s new 14-story Nordic Harvest vertical farm, organic herbs, lettuces and kale are being grown in water under LED lighting backed by 100 percent wind power. The farm uses 95 percent less water and 100 times less space than if the plants were grown in fields, according to the project start-up.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
Closer to home, here is a link to a 14-minute TVO video interview with Chelmsford, Ontario vertical farmer and owner Stephane Lanteigne – https://bit.ly/3tAKWLD
Green Building Retrofitters
“Globally, the buildings and construction sector released 39 percent of CO2 emissions in 2018. In some dense cities such as New York, existing buildings account for 70 percent of emissions because of heating, cooling and electricity use. To meet the Paris Agreement goals, climate emissions from buildings must be eliminated by 2040, according to the sustainability think tank, Architecture 2030.”
“Retrofitting old leaky buildings will be key, with some two-thirds of the buildings that have currently been constructed still existing in 2050. Green retrofitters improve buildings in many ways — such as by adding insulation or making the best use of natural light — and will be in high demand. In New York City alone, a 2019 law to cut carbon emissions in big buildings is expected to create 26,700 green jobs by 2030.”
“Green retrofitters might be experienced contractors, or qualified independent professionals. In the UK, such qualified professionals are known as retrofit coordinators and are architects, building asset managers, building services engineers, building surveyors, construction managers, energy assessors and consultants or site supervisors — all with extra training.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)
Readers may be interested in a related past Blog post on, “Buildings: Retrofits and Innovations (July 30, 2020)” — https://bit.ly/30OpbLM.
More to come on green building retrofitting and urban farming in next week’s Blog.
Monty Don and Gardeners’ World
Thank you to Leslie for putting this piece in the New York Times on “How a British Gardening Show Got People Through the Pandemic,” about BBC’s Gardeners’ World show on our radar.
How have we not known about it for 53 seasons (running since 1968) ?! Well, never too late to begin, as they say, and now we know just in time to catch the first episode of a new season on Friday March 19th.
A reminder, just one month to go until Earth Day 2021 – April 22nd.
This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth” (https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/).