Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Is global warming really slowing down? Scientists are quick to disagree. While they do acknowledge the slowdown our first article looks in detail at the current slowdown and why it’s happening. A key point is heat is going deeper into oceans; in fact 93.4% of global warming is going into the Oceans along with a recent minimum of solar activity and more volcanic activity which all have an impact on the recent slowdown.

Next we look at how changes in climate conditions could be making us sicker. We often hear how can 1, 2 or 3 degrees difference in temperature really make a difference to the world we live in? Well one outcome is it allows localized bugs and diseases to expand out of the areas that they may naturally thrive in; slight changes in temperature particularly warming provide excellent conditions for these sorts of things to bloom in areas that they previously could not survive in due to cooler temperatures.

In our next two stories we look at sustainability frame works and how members of the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel were asked to rate systems they currently use. Three rose to the top, CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Index). The other key finding is there are a lot of frame works out there but only a few are broadly recognised.

All frameworks offer a foundation for future efforts, it was noted companies cannot audit and report their way to excellence but through the value of reporting changes can be made to enhance operational performance on the back of any audits and or reports.

Continuing with reporting we now look at how they can be used to benefit organisations by looking at ESG integration, embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) into an organisations business strategy. It’s not just about the bottom dollar but all aspects of how a business operates, supply chain audits, recycling right through to innovation and integrated risk management. Taking into account all processes that a business uses can only assist performance and social responsibility of any company.

Being a sustainable company not only makes a company desirable when seeking contracts, it also entices staff who have green values to be able to work for a company that has a green vision. Vancity only hires staff that “fit” and have the same values as them where as Unilever has no formal sustainability incentive towards their Sustainable Living Plan but internally ensure their staff understand how the company is striving to halve their environmental footprint. Both companies are using opposite tactics to motivate their employees into achieving the same goal of a sustainable company, the outcome is as long as there is a plan and a driving force, sustainability is achievable.

Having a sustainability plan is the first step towards a new green future; the next article looks at how to drive your employee engagement towards sustainability. This can be a daunting task with such a high rate of employees not being engaged or actively disengaged. Engaging employees has multiple benefits for companies, it can decrease costs such as reducing sick days and a lower turnover rate and can increase productivity by creating higher staff morale. Having an organization goal across all departments creates excitement and a feeling of trust within the company which benefits everyone. Having a sustainability plan isn’t just good for the environment; it is great for the staff and the company benefits financially.

Large corporations are putting pressure on their supply chains, encouraging the companies who supply them to embrace the “green agenda”. The image of being a green company is growing in importance and is being endorsed not only by legislation but by shareholders and consumers to reduce energy cost and environmental impacts. For a product to be green every step of the supply chain must be green also, if the supplier is not green then they are being given ultimatum, invest in reducing emissions or risk losing their spot in the chain.

Stepping away from large organisations we come to energy storage and microgrids. First the new wave of Energy Storage Devices that are being developed throughout the world. Storage Devices (batteries) are becoming increasing important as more and more wind and solar projects come on line. Then we have an article about Microgrids, small independent power generating and distribution networks that are used not only in developing countries but could be used for remote areas where the cost of transmission is high or where large grids are being are becoming very unreliable such as in South America. Combine both these technologies and you could get local power generation and distribution.

Let’s take a look at water, well not so much water but the value of it. The first article looks at why different types of water sources should be valued in different ways. With some sources of water taking hundreds of thousands of years to accumulate, should we treat them the same as rivers or other easily renewable sources? Then we look at the CDP (formally Carbon Disclosure Project) wanting to have water disclosed as part of the sustainability reporting.

Ending closer to home, the Marshall Islands which are a group of 29 atolls and coral islands situated between Australia and Hawaii is close to becoming uninhabitable due to rising seas and the increase of floods, droughts and storm surges all contributed to Climate change. The President of the Marshall Islands which is hosting the Pacific Island annual summit is fighting for the islands survival, he is hoping that the UN can galvanise world leadership in the stalled UN climate talks. Many of the islands look to New Zealand for financial and diplomatic assistance as New Zealand is the closest largest land mass. President Loek believes that New Zealand can and should do more.

Thank you for taking time to read our SnippEts articles! The world is rapidly changing around us but with the new technology and business sustainability plans we are looking towards a bright, green future.

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