Sustainable Business Summit | New York
April 27, 2022
By Bloomberg Live
Climate solution leaders gathered to talk about urgency and hope, what’s being done now and actions still needed to take our planet safely into the future. Coinciding with Earth Month, the Bloomberg Green Summit was an inspiring look at the crossroads of sustainability, design, culture, food, technology, science, politics and entertainment.
- Halide Alagöz, Chief Product & Sustainability Officer, Executive Sponsor of North Carolina D&I Team, Ralph Lauren
- Alex Anaviapik, Elementary School Counselor, Pond Inlet, Nunavut
- Andrew Arreak, Regional Operations Lead, Qikiqtaaluk Region – Pond Inlet SmartICE
- Hina Baloch, Executive Director, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Sustainability, Data Analytics & STEM Education Communications, General Motors
- Greg Bolino, Global Head of Sustainability Strategy & Asset Consulting, JLL
- Kyle Clark, Founder, BETA Technologies
- Vaitea Cowan, Co-Founder, Enapter
- Danny Cullenward, Policy Director, CarbonPlan
- Rachel Drori, CEO, Daily Harvest
- Shelly Elverum, Fellow, Ashoka Canada
- Mario Greco, Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Company
- Rita Hite, President & CEO, American Forest Foundation
- Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer & Head of Sustainable Impact, HP
- Jan Jenisch, CEO, Holcim
- Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, The White House
- Nan Ransohoff, Head of Climate, Stripe
- Peter Reinhardt, CEO & Co-Founder, Charm Industrial
- Ricky Silver, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Daily Harvest
- Sebastião Salgado, Photographer & Founder, Instituto Terra
- Armando Senra, Head of iShares Americas, BlackRock
- Jagdeep Singh, Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman, QuantumScape
- David Sirota, Award-Winning Journalist & Bestselling Author
- Tensie Whelan, Clinical Professor for Business and Society; Founder & Director, NYU Stern School of Business’s Center for Sustainable Business
- Cathy Zoi, CEO, EVgo
- Javier Blas, Energy & Commodities Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion
- Danielle Bochove, Toronto Bureau Chief, Bloomberg News
- Leslie Kaufman, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Jason Kelly, Chief Correspondent, Bloomberg Quicktake
- Lauren Kiel, General Manager, Bloomberg Green
- Amanda Kolson Hurley, Editor, Bloomberg Green
- Francine Lacqua, Editor-At-Large & Anchor, Bloomberg TV
- Carol Massar, Anchor, Bloomberg Businessweek TV & Radio
- Akshat Rathi, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Eric Roston, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Kyle Stock, Senior Correspondent, Bloomberg Green
Zurich Sponsor Spotlight: The Sum of All Actions
It’s about individual efforts adding up to something much bigger, Mario Greco, Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Company said of working against climate change.. “Companies like us have to act. We have to do real things.” They are doing it “tree by tree,” giving one to each of their employees as a call to action. In Brazil, their Zurich Forest Program is a partnership with Sebastião Salgado, Photographer & Founder, Instituto Terra, aimed at reversing decades of damage from logging and cattle farming, to bring forests back to their natural states.
Zurich Insurance’s new Switzerland headquarters is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world, their operations have been carbon-neutral since 2014, they are underwriting conservation efforts and prove their commitment everyday, with initiatives like no plastics and going totally EV with their fleet.
Leaders with Lacqua Goes Green: Gina McCarthy
A clean energy future is the answer, no matter the question, for Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, The White House. It’s the way to meet challenges, such as oil price increases, presented by the war in Ukraine. “I don’t think we should use this situation as anything more than a wakeup call,” she said. McCarthy spoke to the new focus on liquid natural gas in Europe and “serious efforts” to pave the way for permits and leases for wind and solar.
Asked about the impact of upping domestic oil production, she noted the $1.2 trillion invested in wind, solar and battery storage last year.
President Biden is all-in on climate measures, according to McCarthy, and they are still making “huge progress,” despite the $550 billion stalled Build Back Better bill. “We need more from Congress. We need investment in tax credits, investments in consumers buying EVs, in good homes and clean cities.”
Forging a Regenerative Food System
It takes a lot of hubris for humans to think they can grow better than Mother Nature through the use of fertilizers and pesticides, said Rachel Drori, CEO, Daily Harvest. She revealed the subject of a big launch planned for the following day, of plant-based meat grown in the ground, not in a lab, calling the latter, “modern margarine.” “We’re not redoing that,” When asked what government can do, she said that the problems have to be solved at corporate and research levels.
Ricky Silver, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Daily Harvest said the government isn’t even stepping up and doing the fundamentals, citing a backlog of recommendations and oversight on issues like organic and regenerative farming.
They spoke about going up against “Big Ag,” the 10 or so companies that supply about 95% of our food, with partnerships with suppliers on the ground. “Just screaming there’s a better way without anything to back it up doesn’t get you very far,” Silver said, speaking to their “if you build it, they will come” approach.
Electrifying Ithaca: Accelerating Urban Decarbonization
Great enthusiasm was evident even as this “dream team” described a monumental challenge. Luis Aguirre-Torres, Director of Sustainability, City of Ithaca, NY, outlined a commitment to electrify and decarbonize all of the city’s 6,000 buildings by 2030. It is the first in the U.S. to move so boldly beyond talking the talk. It’s one thing to build new, sustainable buildings, “but existing homes and businesses are a big challenge,” he said, alluding to an uphill road ahead.
While the ideology in Ithaca is strong, it’s going to take lots of data, innovative technology and private capital. “It’s a unique opportunity to build a blueprint,” said Tommy Freeman, Strategic Partnerships, Alturus. A global effort would cost an estimated $100 billion. “We can’t put that burden on every business and homeowner.”
Demonstrating the value will be vital. Taylor Rowe, Director of Customer & Capital Partnerships, The Clean Fight, said they will use technology from three international companies to start with an historic, 24,000 square foot building in downtown Ithaca. “It’s a mixed-use, with offices and residences,” she said, which will tick a lot of boxes.
The value proposition might be found in health aspects. “The entire country is now aware of the importance of clean air,” said Donnel Baird, CEO, BlocPower. He spoke about a just-released report from Stanford University that cites gas used in homes as the “new lead.” Data will be key as they assess and approach property owners. “We can prioritize what buildings are most likely to be completed, and start with those, and where people don’t know what they need to do. For example, in buildings where a furnace is about to fail, we can encourage owners to get on top of it.”
The eventual understanding of equipment and technology needs will become planning tools they will share for free with building owners around the world, Baird said, adding that this effort can only happen in New York state, where leadership supports it.
“It’s a demonstration project for the entire planet,” said Aguirre-Torres. “It’s truly a city of the future.”
JLL Partner Spotlight: Return on Sustainability
The biggest challenge in decarbonization? There’s a long list, but nothing will get done without talent, said Greg Bolino, Global Head of Sustainability Strategy & Asset Consulting, JLL. “We are hiring like it’s 1999.”
He talked about investors following the effort, protecting versus improving the value of a portfolio, and out-of-the-box initiatives to put decarbonization into relatable terms, such as JLL’s creation of a platform, Carbon Pathfinder, that determines the cost of replacing lighting, fabric, ventilation and more, and the return on investment. His hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan is setting up its own electric utility to meet a very ambitious 2028 net zero goal.
The green lease trend is growing, Bolino said, and the auto industry needs to protect its big gamble with EV commitments by investing in the charging station infrastructure.That said, the biggest emissions savings right now is available in short-haul trucking. “We need to use EVs and have charging capabilities where they are, for a fast turnaround.”.
Green Eyes in the Skies: Accelerating Climate Action
Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Outreach spoke to accelerating climate action with green eyes in the sky. “Planetary tipping points are already happening,” she said, noting the recent dramatic switch of rain forests to being net emitters of carbon. “Maps are an incredibly powerful tool for informing, for decision-making and driving advocacy.”
Archives of satellite imagery, starting with the Landsat Program, continuous since 1972, are vital in telling a story and making predictions, Moore said. Add to that Google’s decade-old Earth Engine, with its multi-petabyte catalog and evolution into an “ecosystem of experts on the ground.” It’s being used to manage about 500 million acres of public lands, and by companies, like Unilever, which is using it to eliminate palm oil deforestation from the supply chain. Cities are using Google’s modeling to determine the best opportunities for solar installations, tree planting and eliminating power usage, for optimizing transportation and charting building emissions.
Changemaker Conversation: Quantumscape
Jagdeep Singh, Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman, QuantumScape, recalled starting his company in 2010, when he was driving a Tesla. “It was fast. It was green. But in some ways, it was really a prototype.” He saw its potential to become a mainstream car, simply with a better battery. Ironically, battery development is a long road. “Computing has increased at a rate of something like doubling every two years. Batteries take about 20 years to double energy density.”
China and southeast Asian countries have cornered the market on batteries. QuantumScape leveled the playing field by optimizing their well-documented learning curve, creating an opportunity to build a new, economical product in the U.S. They now have 16-layer cells – “in the same ballpark as cells used in Teslas” – and innovated a scalable approach that allows for economical customization.
General Motors Partner Spotlight: The All-Electric Future Must Also Be All-Inclusive
At GM, the focus is on an affordable, all-electric future, said Hina Baloch, Executive Director, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Sustainability, Data Analytics & STEM Education Communications, General Motors. She listed big investments in factories, as well as in transitioning their workforce and partnering with Honda, all moving at a rapid pace.
She is optimistic for the future, because we are finally seeing the truth. “For the first time in my lifetime, we are stepping away from adaptation theory and realizing there are limitations on how much humans and the planet can adapt to change.”
Changemaker Conversation: EVgo
Cathy Zoi, CEO, EVgo was the main architect behind the revolutionary Energy Star System, and is clearly inspired by her work with the largest public charging station provider in the U.S. While expanded choice in vehicle types is a boon for the industry, charging infrastructure is pacing consumer decisions about transitioning to EVs.
On batteries and the supply chain, Zoi said, “Every car company is thinking about lithium and going upstream. All are thinking about raw materials, and making investments accordingly.”
EVgo is focused on a full network build-out, so that EVs can be sold and used across the country. That’s where the hard work comes in. Installation takes four to eight weeks, but “all the extra pieces around it,” the easements, permitting, zoning and power company coordination, takes an average of 18 months. “We’re working to get that down to six months,”
The Paper and Packaging Board Breakout Briefing Session: Sustainable Forests for a Sustainable Future
Forests are crucial to battling climate change. “We have to think about who owns them and how to motivate them,” said Rita Hite, President & CEO, American Forest Foundation. About 40% of them are owned by families and individuals, she said. Many want to protect them, but don’t have the resources or knowledge.
For companies, “absolute carbon reduction has to be a priority,” said Tensie Whelan, Clinical Professor for Business and Society; Founder & Director, NYU Stern School of Business’s Center for Sustainable Business. A big issue, she noted, is the conversion of forests to farming of things like palm oil and soy.
Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer & Head of Sustainable Impact, HP said they achieved a goal for HP-branded paper to be made without forest impacts. But, with HP paper only about one-percent of all paper sent through printers, “Now, our goal is to transform the industry, so the other 99% is produced in a regenerative manner.”
Jackowski also spoke about the good and bad when it comes to carbon credits. “It’s important who you are partnering with.” Hite noted the foundation only works with corporations that have already done everything they can prior to considering carbon credits.
How Quickly Can Renewable Energy Power the World?
“It’s Debatable” was launched by Bloomberg Green, giving two of its journalists a chance to square off, the inaugural issue being; How long will the transition to net zero take?
Javier Blas, Energy & Commodities Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion and Akshat Rathi, Reporter, Bloomberg Green agreed and disagreed, and offered plenty of food for thought.
Looking at statistics, Blas offered a firm “No” to seeing it in his lifetime. “Global oil demand dropped only about 20% during March and April of 2020, when hundreds of millions of people were staying home.” Rathi sees a 50-year path to net zero as being on track.
They debated renewable energy investment levels and the war in Ukraine’s global impacts, including countries splitting on policy and supply chain security becoming government priority. Blas said he has been advocating for nuclear power. “The war may have given it a second chance.”
The audience had questions on various energy sources. Rathi said the comparison to rising oil prices makes hydrogen affordable, “but we won’t see an impact for a few years.”
iShares Sponsor Spotlight: The Next Generation of Investment Trends: We’ve Only Scratched the Surface
Armando Senra, Head of iShares Americas, BlackRock, said a new report shows a “tremendous”
change over the last two years in investor need to understand what’s permanent. BlackRock has identified them as the industrial renaissance, healthcare, and its real potential to cure about 10,000 different diseases, and the power of the “new consumer.” “All are connected, emerging together and feeding off of each other,” he said. The portfolio for the future considers the global value chain behind innovations. “The things that will have long-term impact on our lives.”
The Next Era of Carbon Removal
Promising, new technology exists in the carbon removal space, but it’s so new, “We’re not even fluent in the terminology,” noted Nan Ransohoff, Head of Climate, Stripe. They were asked to share their “wacky” ideas, because, while science-based, they agreed that carbon capture feels surreal.
It may be enough that Stripe, a payment processing company, is investing in carbon capture. But, beyond the responsibility aspect, Ransohoff said the new technology will be part of future portfolios. Their platform allows users to donate small portions of transactions to the cause, adding exponentially to their $1 million investment.
Danny Cullenward, Policy Director, CarbonPlan said removal is imperative during the transition to net zero because of the tremendous amount of emissions that remain. “For example, in the ag sector, nitrogen-based fertilizer alone gets us to a scale of gigaton removal.”
Peter Reinhardt, CEO & Co-Founder, Charm Industrial described their process of bio-oil sequestration, basically taking waste cellulose that has already captured CO2, cooking it into a liquid and injecting it deep underground into old oil and gas reservoirs. In the last two years, they sequestered about 5,400 tons of CO2-equivalent. “A very small number in the scheme of things, but about 90% of all permanent carbon removals delivered that year.”
How I Got That Story
Bloomberg Green Reporter Danielle Bochove shared a behind the scenes look at her story on how the Inuit are reshaping arctic climate science. She talked about why she went to remote Pond Island, Nunavut in the arctic, 2,000 miles north of Toronto, about how the polar ice cap and permafrost are vital to the rest of the planet, and how the Inuit’s inherent knowledge and firsthand experiences offer the best chance forward.
“Climate change needs answers quickly. It needs to be co-produced with science and local knowledge, according to Shelly Elverum, Fellow, Ashoka Canada, who said decision-makers chose instead to bring in high-priced consultants. As an anthropologist, she sees the cultural threat to the people there, “culture being a reflection of the environment.”
From a sociological perspective, Alex Anaviapik, Elementary School Counselor, Pond Inlet, Nunavut, said change emcompasses so much for people who live off the land and without a lot of resources. It adds a lot of planning ahead just to be able to survive, as well as “another layer of worry for the children.”
Andrew Arreak, Regional Operations Lead, Qikiqtaaluk Region – Pond Inlet SmartICE sees discernable change every year, including ice breaking up and the loss of vital ice roads. He talked about the Inuit being adaptable people who are capable of doing their own research.
Holcim Partner Spotlight: Circular Cities for Climate Action
Jan Jenisch, CEO, Holcim was excited to talk about that day’s launch of the Circular Cities Barometer; a collaboration between Holcim and Bloomberg to identify and celebrate best practices around the world. “It gives unique insights into what cities around the world are doing to facilitate the shift to sustainability. It’s also an open invitation for other cities to join.” The barometer looks at smart buildings, recycling hubs, shared services, looped supply chains, and much more, Jenisch said. He described some of their innovations, like tackling rising urban temperatures with water-permeable cement.
Changemaker Conversation: Jim Coulter
Jim Coulter, Founder Partner & Executive Chairman, TPG said “Capital has finally woken up to figure out it needs to play an active role in the ecosystem. There’s an emerging ecosystem around this effort, from government to entrepreneurs to scientists.” He spoke about climate issues needing deployment of tens of trillions of dollars and markets being behind on that.
TPG is building a climate investment team, something that has not been done before. Coulter offered this advice for investors, as tech innovations escalate; “You want to get in the way of the biggest wave.”.
The Earthshot Prize’s Winning Climate Fix
Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020, the prestigious Earthshot Prize is designed to incentivize change and help repair our planet over the next ten years. Vaitea Cowan, Co-Founder, Enapter, won the 2021 “Fix Our Climate” category. She offered a diagrammed look at the startup’s green hydrogen AEM Electrolyser technology.
For industry applications,Cowan used steel-making as an example, as one of the highest producers of carbon emissions. “We can change the process to green hydrogen steel production, and reduce emissions by about 95%.”
The current effort is toward speed, scale and cost. “Electrolyzers need to be really, really cheap, and become a standardized, mass-produced commodity,” Cowan said, “if we want this to be impactful around the world.”
Ralph Lauren Sponsor Spotlight: The Timelessness of Circular Design
The purpose has always been about inspiring a better life, through style, and timelessness, said Halide Alagöz, Chief Product and Sustainability Officer, Executive Sponsor of North Carolina D&I Team, Ralph Lauren. And that thinking now sounds exactly like sustainability.
“Our design team has always thought about timelessness, and now they think through the lens of circularity,” she said. “The materials, the process, the supply chain to how a product can be reused.”
“Design the Change” is what they call their sustainability strategy. it includes a continued relationship with consumers to assure the recycling process.
Prepare for Takeoff: The Electric Aviation Era
Kyle Clark, Founder, BETA Technologies dispelled the thinking that electrical aviation is still in the future. They have already completed a mission (a legal, non-profit package delivery) that puts them a big step closer to solving a big climate issue. In place is a network of aircraft chargers, both at airports and off-site, that can also charge large trucks. With the online buying trend not slowing down, Clark said it turns out their focus is “not such a small sliver.”
Common sense and technology can be the savior here. BETA’s small planes can fly 250 nautical miles on a charge, carrying passengers, three shipping pallets of cargo. It changes the thinking of route planning. “If we’re smart about the way it’s used, that short trip can replace a jet flying a package 1,200 miles,” Clark said, of the typical trip for a delivery.
The Power of Storytelling
A perfect metaphor for climate change. Not all viewers got that, according to feedback about the film ‘Don’t Look Up,’ but David Sirota, Award-Winning Journalist & Bestselling Author, nominated for an Oscar for writing and producing the film, is okay with that. The idea was to provoke thought.
It’s seed was in a comment he made to director and screenwriter Adam McKay, during a discussion about the lack of attention to the climate crisis. “I said, ‘What if an asteroid was heading to earth and no one cared?’”
He knew the film would be controversial. That was the goal; to illustrate the irresponsible and erratic response to climate change. “I look at the general joke as a way to acknowledge that we are all in this bubble, not that the public is stupid.”
Sirota revealed what was left on the cutting room floor, so to speak, and what he wanted to add. “I would have liked to have seen more about what the feckless response from Congress would have been, reflecting real life when it comes to the climate crisis.”
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