Month: September 2021

As the climate crisis hits home, climate and sustainability professionals need new ways to stay resilient

A copy of a report sitting on a desk

We must support each other and advance equity to advance climate action

Much has been written about the last climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As you’ve probably heard, the news is not good. The world is warming, it’s human-caused, and the effects of this change are multiplying quickly. As a professional in the climate space for the past 18 years, I’ve gotten used to receiving bad climate news on a global scale. But as the effects of climate change accelerate into the daily lives of climate and sustainability professionals, we need new ways to deal with the personal impacts, both physically and emotionally.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to stay hopeful and resilient. Yet it’s all the more important for professionals working on climate change to stay the course. We must find better and more equitable ways to care for ourselves, each other, and our community in this next phase of the climate fight. 

The climate crisis is hitting home

The effects of climate change have always been difficult to watch and hard to comprehend. Until recently, they have largely been horrors that I’ve observed at a distance.

But climate change has finally arrived on the doorsteps of folks like myself, as well as my friends, colleagues, and 3Degrees clients. Just a few examples:

Much of this summer, my colleagues in the Pacific Northwest struggled to work from home through multiple deadly, record-setting heat waves. Many of them don’t have air conditioning at home, since they had little need for it before the last few summers of escalating heat and wildfires. 

Last summer, I was one of hundreds of thousands of Californians whose homes lost power. As wildfires raged, my utility conducted another public safety power shutoff. Despite the disruption to my day, I knew I was lucky to not be evacuating, as so many are forced to do each year. 

In recent weeks, many of my colleagues in the Western U.S. sent their children back to school and got a glimpse of what school officials are dealing with in choosing the lesser of two evils: should we open windows and suffer poor air quality from wildfire smoke, or close windows and diminish airflow amid continued COVID risks? 

There are countless more stories — across our team, our industry, and the world — that are contributing to growing stress and anger about what climate change is doing to our communities. While the personal disruptions I mentioned are unsettling, I recognize that stories like this — and some that are much more wrenching — are not new. Marginalized communities are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, and are less able to adapt and recover from the devastation. Just as we need to do more faster to fight climate change, it’s critical that we make that progress with justice and equity at the forefront. 

Personal care and community to help us carry on

The climate crisis is a real threat to our mental health and resilience as climate professionals, and the personal effects of extreme weather compound the need to care for ourselves and each other to avoid burnout. It may seem counterintuitive, but this may be a “slow down to go fast” situation. So, what needs to change?

I asked the 3Degrees team to share ideas to stay connected and resilient during these difficult times. Their responses made a few things clear to me.

We need each other

Our teams are continuing to work from home where possible to stay safe as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on. Remote work can be lonely, and the hope for a “new normal” return to in-person activities has faded into a new round of pandemic-driven distancing. In our discussion, many of my colleagues expressed a desire to reconnect with each other, meet new teammates, and strengthen cross-team connections. Intentional personal connection was a priority for us when the pandemic started, but I realized that effort had fallen off recently, and it was felt among our teammates. We have such a diversity of functions within our team — and we’re lucky enough to be growing. Yet the reality of continuous change combined with physical distancing is a tough recipe for community-building. 

I know that we must recommit to connection and actively nurture community at 3Degrees, both during this pandemic, and in the recovery process to come. I think the same can be said for our broader community of climate and sustainability professionals. It takes human connection and honest conversations to keep the home fires burning. 

We need time and space to care for ourselves – and employers need to support it

As climate change intensifies and more directly impacts the daily lives of climate professionals, I think we need to reposition our thinking around personal time and work-life balance. I heard from several 3Degrees employees that it is especially hard these days to deal with the stress of managing workloads before and after paid time off, and that some feel hesitant to take time off for mental health or personal wellbeing.

While we offer unlimited paid time off to employees, it may be time to evolve from simply offering time off, to strongly suggesting it. It’s also critical for companies in the climate space to make it easy for employees to access mental health care and resources, and to balance workloads. I realized that we don’t talk regularly about our mental healthcare benefits at work, and it needs to be normalized for everyone. We must empower employees to take time regularly to recharge. 

We need new hearts and minds in the fight

As we face the future, there are more challenges to come. There will be more IPCC reports published. There will continue to be disruption in every corner of the world and in peoples’ lives as we work to draw down emissions faster and avoid the worst climate consequences. 

We need new recruits in this fight, and we need diverse perspectives to contribute and lead as we do this work. At 3Degrees, we have lots of work to do in this area. While we’ve made great progress on improving diversity in race and gender in our hiring, recent staff feedback shows we have more work to do in improving employee experience and ensuring our workplace culture is inclusive in the day-to-day. I hope many of the ideas above can contribute to that aim. And I’m thinking about how I can make more room for the emerging leaders of the climate movement as they step to the front. 

In the end, I encourage you to make space to care for yourself and your communities as you continue to pursue positive action on climate, because we must keep working to fight climate change. Our collective future depends on it. Please, take good care.

The Future of Transportation: Takeaways of ACT Expo 2021

Photo of 3Degrees members outside of the ACT Expo

What does the future of transportation look like? Since the mid-twentieth century we’ve held on to promises of flying cars, hoverboards, and civilian space travel. While one out of three ain’t bad, our perception of futuristic transport has shifted away from the spectacular toward the imperative. If we have any chance of meeting the challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, we must address transportation emissions which constitute the largest single source of emissions in the United States.

Earlier this month, I joined several of my colleagues and hundreds of executives and practitioners across the spectrum of transportation at the ACT Expo, North America’s largest clean transportation technology conference. This event brings together everyone from fleet operators, to shipping and logistics, rail, infrastructure, policy and automotive makers in Long Beach, California to explore the most pivotal trends in clean transportation.

The mere existence and swift growth of this conference is a testament to the incredible momentum building within the sector. With new state and federal transportation mandates combined with the head-spinning development and deployment of clean transportation technologies, plus the growing accessibility of market-based incentive programs, the entire sector is reaching a sort of tipping point. This all comes at a time when organizations are moving beyond addressing the emissions generated within their four walls and increasingly committing to aggressive climate targets that take into account transportation and value chain emissions. 

With hundreds of the finest minds in clean transportation in attendance, I was able to listen in on and take part in many engaging conversations about the continued evolution of the industry, the latest trends, forthcoming policies, and game-changing technologies. 

Here are a few notable takeaways from my three days at the ACT Expo:

The economics for electrification are sound

Auto manufacturers seem to be in broad agreement that the total cost of ownership (TCO) parity on the vehicle side is inching closer, if not already present in many circumstances, making the economics for electrification feasible across the board. This is different from what we heard just a year ago. Many of the largest and most well-established automotive companies are very much hedging their bets on electrification, as evidenced by GM’s launch of BrightDrop earlier this year and Ford’s recent announcement of Ford Pro Charging (powered by Electriphi). Jason Skoog, General Manager of Peterbilt Motors, a PACCAR company, shared that “the [battery electric] technology is here now. We’re building and delivering these trucks today”. Adoption is still behind, but expected to rapidly increase as several EV companies continue to ramp up deliveries over the next year. It seems clear that the EV tipping point has been reached. 

Success requires streamlined collaboration and well-planned infrastructure

Many industry experts agree that a new level of collaboration and cooperation will be required across utilities, public and private sectors in order to achieve scale in electrification. EVgo’s CEO, Cathy Zoi encouraged any fleet manager thinking about electrification at their depot to get in touch with their utility immediately, as the upgrades and lead times required represent the single biggest threat to a timely and cost effective implementation of a fleet electrification strategy.

The sessions outlined several warnings to fleets that are eager to transition to electric vehicles without the appropriate charging infrastructure onsite to support the vehicles after purchasing. This is a huge and likely ongoing pain point that will need to be addressed. Muffi Ghadiali from Ford Pro Charging went so far as to say: “The charging infrastructure is going to drive the vehicles.” 

Rakesh Aneja, Head of eMobility, Daimler Trucks North America expounded that there are essentially three factors at play: availability of vehicles, availability of energy infrastructure, and cost parity [between ICE vehicles and ZEVs]; if any of these are in question, the entire equation fails.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is gaining traction 

Although the primary focus of the conference was on battery-electric fleet technology, it was clear that the sentiment around hydrogen fuel cell technology as a viable alternative for heavy-duty fleets and challenging fleet applications is increasing. Hydrogen fuel cell trucks had their own carve out on the expo floor and in session discussion, while there was limited discussion of compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable natural gas (RNG) vehicles. This is a noticeable shift from just a few years ago. Andrew Sarantapoulas, VP of Marketing & Product Management at Linde, indicated that “There is limited supply out there of RNG. It will be harder to compete with hard to electrify industries which will need the RNG, and mobility solutions will end up needing to rely on hydrogen.”

Parting sentiments

This year’s ACT Expo was remarkable for reasons beyond the fact that it was the first opportunity many of us had to be under the same roof for a live, in-person thought-leadership event. The clean transportation sector is advancing at a rapid pace and though there are obvious challenges that lie ahead, particularly in terms of the rollout of clean charging technology and understanding the financial implications of upfront investment, we anticipate even further acceleration in the near term. 

So while I’m not holding my breath that I, or even my son for that matter, will ever experience the thrill of bombing around on a hoverboard, I am left hopeful and excited for the future of transportation. The deployment of the many advancements discussed at ACT Expo this year, will leave us strongly positioned to meet the challenge of decarbonizing the transportation sector.

Renewable Gas as a Tool to Address Scope 1 Emissions in Europe (Webinar)

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On September 8, 2021, Noah Bucon, Regulatory Affairs Manager at 3Degrees, joined Jesse Scharf, Manager at UK Green Gas Certification Scheme and Vice President of the European Renewable Gas Registry, to discuss recent developments in the European market and how companies can leverage renewable gas as an important tool in their decarbonization toolbox.

Catch up on what was discussed.

View the webinar

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The Market Leaders Shaping the Net Zero Transition (video)

Katherine Canoy, Director, Energy and Climate Practice at 3Degrees leads an engaging discussion with sustainability trailblazers Maud Texier, Head of Energy Development, Data centers at Google, Roberta Barbieri, VP, Global Sustainability at PepsiCo, and Winston Chen, Global Renewable Energy Program Manager at Mars.

Watch this video from VERGE Net Zero 2021 as these ambitious leaders share their strategies for emissions reduction and corporate collaboration on their organization’s journey to net zero emissions.

Watch the video
 

 

What are Scope 1, 2, & 3 emissions? (Infographic)

In order to take urgent action against climate change, organizations must understand both the volume and source of their greenhouse gas emissions. The source of emissions dictates the strategies and tools that can be used to address them. According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, a company’s greenhouse gas emissions can be broken down into three categories, called ‘scopes’. 

Download this infographic to learn more about the differences between the three emission scopes and the solutions available to organizations to address them.

Ready to take action? Contact us.

Blue Bottle Coffee Accelerates Efforts to Become Carbon Neutral by 2024 with Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment

The old adage states, “knowledge is power.” This is particularly true for organizations mobilizing around a plan to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. To bring about meaningful change, all organizations must fully understand their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions status quo which helps inform their strategies, centralize efforts, and identify areas to make quick progress and build momentum.

Challenge

Blue Bottle Coffee is a specialty coffee roasting company based in Oakland, CA, with more than 100 cafes in the United States and Asia. While Blue Bottle has expanded beyond its cafe walls into grocery and e-commerce, cafes still form the core of Blue Bottle’s brand by revenue. The cafes run through gallons of milk an hour, heat espresso machines and hot water towers, power dishwashers and fridges, and rely on production activities in Blue Bottle’s roasteries and commissaries. The extensive operations between green coffee arriving at import and roasted grounds breaking down in compost draw upon energy sources and involve processes that generate GHG emissions along the way. 

Blue Bottle sought to understand the GHG emissions associated with its cafes, including which areas of operations had the greatest opportunities for reduction. With a desire to prioritize high-impact actions and set an ambitious carbon neutrality target, Blue Bottle commissioned a high-level GHG emissions estimate of its cafes business.

How we helped

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Performed lifecycle emissions assessment for 100+ cafes globally

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Established GHG emissions profiles in U.S. and Asia

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Equipped Blue Bottle with information to make global carbon neutrality commitments and set long-term goals

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Performed lifecycle emissions assessment for 100+ cafes globally

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Established GHG emissions profiles in U.S. and Asia

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Equipped Blue Bottle with information to make global carbon neutrality commitments and set long-term goals

After delivering some early wins in 2020 so Blue Bottle could begin compensating for the GHG shipping emissions from its US e-commerce platform, 3Degrees helped Blue Bottle identify GHG emissions from its cafes business, both in the United States and in Asia. 3Degrees performed a high-level calculation to measure upstream GHG emissions—beginning with the moment coffee arrives in retail countries—through downstream GHG emissions across all three emissions scopes.

With the GHG profile established for the core of its brand, Blue Bottle was able to create a plan for meaningful, long-term GHG emissions reductions within its cafe operations and part of its value chain. 3Degrees helped Blue Bottle identify “hot spots” within its cafes business, uncovering the most relevant places to begin work, and helped develop a framework for larger reduction efforts. Blue Bottle has already started to implement initiatives in high-impact areas such as electricity, dairy, and waste, and is working on scaling successful pilot projects from the generated data. The data has also helped to inform growth strategies and new purchasing models. Together with an estimated carbon footprint of its coffee sourcing, Blue Bottle set a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality across the entire brand—cafes, e-commerce, consumer packaged goods, and the corporate footprint—by 2024.

Additionally, Blue Bottle worked with 3Degrees and other outside partners to purchase verified carbon credits generated from projects within the agriculture sector, as well as credits that support international renewable energy generation in regions where it operates and where resulting GHG emissions are concentrated.

Since our founding in 2002, sustainability has been a core value at Blue Bottle. Carbon neutrality by 2024 is our bold next step in reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions at scale.

— Karl Strovink, CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee

Results

  • Blue Bottle has officially announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2024. The GHG emissions data uncovered from this engagement has allowed Blue Bottle to jumpstart reductions and prioritize action in high-impact areas, accelerating its path to 2024. This high-level GHG emissions assessment is intended to serve as interim guidance ahead of a full life cycle assessment calculation and the development of a detailed GHG reduction roadmap to 2024.
  • This work provided data that helped Blue Bottle reduce electricity emissions across its core cafes business, prioritize key geographies for action, and launch pilots to test how the brand might scale the impact of operational changes across cafes in all markets, both in the United States and in Asia.

All photos courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee

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