Welcome to our Snippets newsletter which as always endeavours to provide coverage of developments in energy and environmental issues, from both here in New Zealand and around the world. We hope you continue to find our fortnightly collection of articles to be of interest in what is a rapidly evolving area.
Managing supply chains is becoming increasingly important for identifying and minimising GHG emissions in an effort to mitigate global warming. A supply chain can be responsible for up to four times the greenhouse gas emissions of a company’s direct operations.
The US Government, the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, have announced they will require disclosure from their suppliers regarding their carbon emissions, and GHG reduction plans, affecting a huge number of businesses and people throughout their supply chain. A good move from them, making their suppliers realise they will also need to understand their own supply chains.
The CDP provides a mechanism for this disclosure, and, in understanding that cost can often be a major barrier to companies wanting to get started on disclosure, they are now making funding available at preferential rates. It is hoped this will incentivise many more businesses to participate, and in time realise the financial and environmental benefits of investing in low carbon options.
Nike is one such company embracing supply chain management, in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. They have recently partnered with Apollo Global Management and aims to create a new vertically integrated apparel supply chain company, committed to embedding sustainability into the business. The new company will have fewer, but better, suppliers that are closer to home, which in turn will generate better efficiencies in many areas. A good example for others to follow.
As well as having a mechanism for disclosure, there is a new sustainable procurement standard about to be published – ISO 20400, which will give clear guidelines that in turn enable organisations to purchase with sustainability forefront in their minds. Very timely, with moves to accountability so prevalent now.
An example of a company we don’t expect to be getting on the CDP bandwagon any time soon is Exxon. Their major “greenwashing” advertising campaign during the Olympics “Exxon – an alternative energy company” didn’t mention the fact that they had stopped work, in 2013, on one of the main clean energy initiatives advertised.
Ashton Hayes, England, is a village that is doing the opposite of greenwashing. They’re tackling climate change head on, and doing it without any help, or prodding from local government. They have just celebrated their 10th anniversary of the initiative, and have achieved a 24% drop in emissions. Showing unity within the village and a common understanding of the consequences of climate change, this banding together of people is a fantastic sign of a shift in peoples thinking towards climate change. 
Another place making big inroads towards sustainable living and increased quality of life is Vienna. Each year Mercer releases a Quality of Living ranking index, and for the last seven years, this city has claimed first place. The attitudes of the citizens, as well as a socially and environmentally conscious local government, have made this possible. Affordable housing and transport, green spaces and future planning are what set Vienna apart from other
cities in the index. Interestingly enough though, Auckland is ranked 3rd in the world on this index, which makes you wonder!
Vienna may be a very liveable and sustainability conscious city, but not all large cities fit this bill. Large cities occupy just 3% of land cover on earth, yet contribute up to 70% of energy consumption and GHG emissions. As a result, organisations such as World GBC and the Building Efficiency Accelerator are joining forces to try to curb the emissions of these cities, and support legislation so as to achieve their goals. The BEA has provided a roadmap containing 8 actions that can lead to more efficient and sustainable cities. These actions include all aspects of sustainable building from building efficiency codes and standards, to culture change in building owners, managers and occupants. Hopefully, this collaboration can achieve some historic results.
The move to a more urban life style, which is ever increasing, and even more so in developing areas (look to India & China and Nigeria), brings with it a number of risks. About 4 billion people, or 55% of the global population, live in what are considered urban areas. The sheer closeness in how we live increases the risk of sharing pathogens. Until about 12 months ago, who had heard of the Zika virus? Another issue is the need to ensure water is of a good quality, not just wade-able but drinkable. Quality housing and infrastructure are all the more important to combat these ‘new’ and worrying health risks.
Current water and waste infrastructure around the world could buckle under climate change. The increased number and intensity of climate events that have triggered flooding have already shown a lot of the world’s drainage and pipes aren’t fit for purpose. A knock-on effect is waste entering water supply sources when it shouldn’t. A huge investment is required just to keep on top of aging infrastructure in this area.
Without clean water we die, or become very ill, as simple as that. The trouble is the world is now more polluted than ever before, so poor water quality is an issue that many of the world’s population experiences on a daily basis. But even in areas where water quality is considered to be good, problems can and do occur. A recent event in the Hawkes Bay, where thousands of people fell ill
after drinking the water, is an example close to home. Climate events can cause pathogens to enter water that is destined for human consumption. Massive investment in water infrastructure around the world is essential.
Next, we take a look at climate change’s impact on earthquakes. As the sea water warms due to climate change, it expands; this rise in volume upsets the balance of tectonic plates, says a new study. Our warming planet is impacting in many areas, and now we can add more frequent earthquakes to the mix. An area New Zealand is already too familiar with!
We finish up with a look at using methane backpacks for catching cow’s emissions, practicable you say! Who knows, but it’s important to look at all options in this area. And if it promotes the odd smile or three, it’s got to be good.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.