Snippets for 5 December 2019

Welcome to another issue of Snippets. Action on climate change is certainly not quietening down or going away. We cast a light on the NZ advocacy group ‘Lawyers for Climate Change’ and the US, multi-generational, star studded coalition, self-titled ‘World War Zero’.


Businesses are also reacting positively with the Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures attracting, in only fifteen months, 287 financial firms responsible for nearly US $100 trillion in assets. A separate fund for divesting out of fossil fuels and into renewables has now reached US $11 trillion, US $2 trillion alone in the last six months.


The sustainability sector in turn is reacting with calls for them to have a louder voice at the Board room table, so they can more effectively steer their organisation along the path of reducing emissions.


Also featuring in this issue is the wonderful part natural materials have to play in our climate change journey. The advantages of using timber over steel and concrete are examined, as is the role of organic materials being converted into biochar. Last up is the use of compressed air and bubbles in our waterways as a means of diverting and collecting plastic waste.


As this is likely to be our last issue before the Christmas break (we close on the 20th), we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best over the Christmas and the New Year break. Catch up with you again in 2020.

Traditionally those advocating for climate change action have been labelled as misinformed lefties, but that message has now been adopted by the establishment. Launched on the 25th November, Lawyers for Climate Action, will be advocating for legislation and policies to ensure New Zealand meets, or exceeds, its obligations under the Paris Agreement. The organisation's first policy is to include the right to a sustainable environment in the Bill of Rights Act, with more than 60 QCs already having formally given their support. Read more.....





Another climate action advocacy group that has recently been formed is the US based World War Zero - a bipartisan coalition of world leaders and Hollywood celebrities. The group includes the likes of John Kerry, former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, celebrities like Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio and tellingly Katie Eder (founder of The Future Coalition). This multi-generational group has been self-titled to evoke both the national security threats posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that is needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050. Read more.....





Corporate sustainability and accountability initiatives are growing and maturing, as there is a growing demand from shareholders for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) disclosures. With 287 financial firms responsible for assets of nearly $100 trillion, TCFD is likely to have a significant impact. Now we need people who understand both finance and sustainability to prepare corporate reports. Furthermore, actions should follow risk disclosures and should act from report to execution. Read more.....




Climate change and sustainability professionals need to evolve. Many organisations are setting lofty goals on reducing emissions, but are doing so without having the much needed resources with which these goals can be met. This article discusses how these organisations need to address this, in hiring suitably trained sustainability managers, provide them with adequate budgets and spending authority and have them elevated to sit with other senior C suite executives. Climate change is not a cost centre. Read more.....





There are significant benefits of pairing large, established corporates with small nimble start-ups. Just because corporates are large, doesn’t mean they are not innovative. Hungry for fresh, competitive ideas, a corporate will often invest in a start-up, or become an early stage customer. This article was written following a US sustainability summit called VERGE. What comes through, is that there has been a fundamental market shift in 2019 and that sustainability is very much now in vogue. Read more.....



The rolling stone (that is divesting from fossil fuels) is accelerating - while it took two years to shift the first USD $2 trillion away, the most recent USD $2 trillion has taken just under 6 months topping out at $11 trillion, and there are no signs of slowing. In fact, people power has been significantly visible lately, and a summit recently held in Cape Town was aimed at building on the current momentum around the divest-invest movement. Many large institutions have now committed to policies black-listing coal, oil and gas.Read more.....



In this article we examine engineered timber versus concrete and steel for commercial buildings. How do the costs stack up and does timber have any advantages over steel and concrete? Well, costs are competitive (just 3 to 4% more expensive) and that is in the context of a modest Carbon price of NZ $25/tonne. What is probably more important, is that timber construction offers a reduction in carbon emissions by up to 90% over comparable buildings made of concrete and steel. Read more.....


Wood is a very versatile product, with many advantages over steel. For example, a 2-MW wind turbine, equates to 260 tonnes of steel, 170 tonnes of coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore. A Swedish company Modvion is looking at using Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) instead. Not only does it avoid the carbon intensive process of making steel, but it can be assembled in sections. The end product is extremely strong and will reduce mass of a 150-metre tower by 30% and cut manufacturing costs by around 40%. Read more....






Using wood and other plant products in buildings isn’t the only way we can sequester carbon for long periods: there’s another huge potential reservoir right under our feet. The process for turning biomass into the stable form of carbon called biochar offers an energy yield that can replace some fossil fuels. We don’t need to plant millions of trees and wait for the wood, either. Carbon crops can be grown in a single season and the biochar applied directly on the farm. Read more.....







An interesting way of removing rubbish from Amsterdam’s canals is simple in its design but ultimately very effective (80% of plastic waste is diverted) - barrier made of air bubbles, which allows wildlife through, but contains and redirects rubbish to be more easily removed. A clever, yet relatively simple way to stop rubbish flowing from rivers and canals into the oceans. Read more.....










This week we have a few innovation articles that we thought you may enjoy. Read more.....




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