Good News

Power One runs on Women's Power

Swedish Power One develops renewable energy solutions in Africa and through has initiated a collaboration to electrify previously un-electrified areas with the help of women.

 

Power One has developed an energy solution together with L3, consisting of a smaller solar power plant that stores the energy in a number of batteries, which are then distributed by women to the connected homes. With this method, Power One can also offer electrification of areas where an electricity grid becomes too expensive due to distance.

- By distributing the energy with portable batteries instead of a costly grid, we save on grid costs and can instead provide cheap energy and jobs for the population of women in these areas. In this way, we can offer electrification to populations whose ability to pay would otherwise not cover the costs of an electricity grid. A pure win-win arrangement, says Peter Rinaldo, CEO of Power One.

Today's portable batteries are based on lithium, but organic alternatives have already been developed. As these are cheaper and easier to recycle, Power One will switch to organic batteries as soon as they are released on the market. However, the revolution with Power One's solution lies in the method of using women power as distribution instead of expensive electricity grids. It is a great opportunity for these areas to get started with electrification at a lower initial cost.

- Women's power as a distribution method is an organisational model based on a very practical reality analysis, namely that women generally focus more on long-term survival than men do", says Séraphine Barigenera, COO Power One Burundi.

 

Long-term thinking is crucial not only for the climate, but also for the survival on this planet. Therefore, it is also a base criteria for the economy. Power One has therefore designed an organisation that utilises the wisdoms of African women.

- By utilizing the power of vAfrican women, we create a business model that is both transparent, predictable and reliable - and which provides a safe investment for our investors, concludes Séraphine Barigenera, COO Power One Burundi.

Science based companies dedicated 18 billion on climate spending

The impact of the Science-Based Target initiative launched in 2015 reveals wide-ranging action from large companies to become climate neutral.

 

Today corporates striving to become sustainable have tough criteria to gain approval from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). Those companies which have succeeded to improve their climate imprint  according ti the Science-Based Targets criteria, will now drive $18bn of investment in climate change mitigation measures, boosting renewable electricity generation by up to 90TWh a year in the process, according to a new analysis of corporate climate action from the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi).

The SBTi was launched in 2015, providing an independent mechanism to validate whether companies emissions reduction targets were in line with the Paris Agreement goal to keep global temperature rises to 'well below' 2C. Targets are assessed by an independent panel of experts to ensure they are ambitious enough. 

The SBTi tightened its rules in line with the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the risks of exceeding 1.5C of warming so that all companies with new targets validated under the scheme must now publish goals in line with a 1.5C trajectory. 

According to the report out today, 285 companies now have their targets approved by the SBTi, including 76 with goals deemed to be compatible with less than 1.5C of warming. Together they account for emissions totalling 752 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent - greater than the carbon output of France and Spain combined.

If all the approved companies meet their targets, 265 million metric tonnes of emissions would be eliminated, equivalent to closing 68 coal-fired power plants, the report calculated.

More than 90 per cent of the companies have also set emissions reduction targets for their supply chains, SBTi added. 

The combination of emissions goals for suppliers and multi-billion dollar investment programmes in support of the approved targets suggests the initiative is delivering on its aim of catalysing the development of low carbon technologies and business models.

The report also found that more than 20 per cent of large companies in fashion, biotechnology, food and beverage, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications have set Science-Based Targets, indicating that they are becoming standard business practice in some sectors of the economy.

Power One AB takes the fight against global warming

Power One does not consider that it is right to buy itself free of CO2 emissions and the company is now launching Ceeotoo Token.

 

Ceeotoo is an upcoming cryptocurrency where the value of each token corresponds to 1 ton reduction of carbon dioxide. Following the implementation of the ICO calculated on February 3, 2020, Ceeotoo will distribute the equivalent of $ 100 per ton of carbon dioxide saved. This means that a company institutions and private individuals should be able to apply for a distribution of Ceeotoo Tokens when showing saved CO2. In the long term this model can make a significant difference to our hard-pressed climate.

Ceeotoo also intends to acquire unexploited crude oil and keep it unexploited in the ground and also in this way prevent emissions. In addition, 5% of all income from the coming ICO will be used to plant trees and thus store CO2.

Power One has full confidence that interest in this model will be considerable.

Europe's new Green Deal hit the target

The European Union is about to implement the most ambitious push against climate change in the world, with a radical overhaul of its economy.

 

At a summit in Brussels next week, EU leaders will commit to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050, according to a draft of their joint statement for the Dec. 12-13 meeting. To enable this the European Union will encourage more green investment and adjust all of its policies accordingly.

“If our common goal is to be a climate-neutral continent in 2050, we have to act now,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told a United Nations climate conference on Monday. “It’s a generational transition we have to go through.”

The commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, will have the job of drafting the rules that would transform the European economy once national leaders have signed off on the climate goals for 2050.

The main topics in the planned commitment:

  • Easing restrictions on state aid for companies
  • Changing public procurement rules
  • Considering more ambitious targets for 2030 emissions cuts
  • Penalizing imports from countries with looser emissions controls
  • European Investment Bank to mobilize 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) in climate financing over the next decade

The plan is set to be approved at the United Nations summit in Madrid, and would put the EU ahead of other major emitters. Countries including China, India and Japan have yet to translate voluntary pledges under the 2015 Paris climate accord into binding national measures and current U.S. President Donald Trump has said he’ll pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.

Measuring Success by Human Well-Being Instead of Growth

When countries want to measure the success of their economies, they should assess human well-being instead of gross domestic product (GDP), New Zealand's finance minister, Grant Robertson, said at a World Bank’s Meeting in Washington, DC.

 

Robertson said that the only way to ensure a country's long-term economic growth is through investments in essential services and basic necessities like education, health care, skills training, and overall levels of happiness. And these investments are only becoming more vital as the world undergoes rapid technological change, he stressed.

“We don’t know what jobs will be there in 20 years time,” he said. “But the knowledge and learning happening now will drive success then.”

Robertson said that New Zealand's general public was the driving force behind this change in perspective.

Although the country has had strong levels of GDP growth for years, everyday people regularly point to its high levels of homelessness, childhood poverty, and polluted rivers as signs that New Zealand is failing to live up to its potential.

This public sentiment led to a shift in the government's perspective and government agencies are now expected to take human welfare into consideration when developing budgets.

“We have an economic and social case for investing in human capital,” he said, during a panel called "The Economic and Social Case for Human Capital Investments," which focused on the World Bank’s new Human Capital Project.

“If you want to build a sustainable economy, you have to take into account all of the dimensions of that," he added. “If we’re not investing in education, intergenerational skills, well-being — it will undermine your economy.”

As part of its new project, the World Bank created the Human Capital Index to measure whether or not children are reaching their full potential in countries around the world. The index takes into account a range of factors including how likely a child is to make it to age 5, how many years of schooling they complete, the efficacy of their learning environments, and rates of childhood stunting.

Global business dismiss the "shareholder first" mantra

Global collective problems need global collective solutions. This is what is now driving large firms to move beyond the "shareholder first" mantra.

By last month, 183 corporate CEOs signed on to a statement affirming their commitment to move beyond the “shareholder first” mantra to account for the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. The statement by the US Business Roundtable recognize the fierce headwinds businesses are facing – and their proven capacity for adaptation.

Since the advent of the modern firm, businesses have had to contend with a fundamental paradox: society needs large organizations to solve complex collective problems, but also fears centralized authority and decision-making.

Yet public opinion surveys rank large companies among the least trusted institutions (above only television news and the US Congress), with small businesses among the most trusted.

If the beginning of the twentieth century was shaped by the modern multiunit enterprise, the century’s latter half was all about the multinational. The shift began after World War I and picked up steam after the end of the Cold War, when the integration of markets and the vast expansion of corporate bureaucracies enabled companies to take advantage of global economies of scale.

The so-called Davos Manifesto was born in 1973 at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, when WEF founder Klaus Schwab asserted that “the purpose of professional management” is to serve all stakeholders, and to harmonize their different interests.

At the same meeting corporate focus was also urged to shift to a more responsible “corporate citizenship” – the idea that a corporation, like any citizen, had to align its self-interest with the shared interests of society. But, though participants at that year’s WEF meeting unanimously endorsed the manifesto, corporate citizenship has remained a radical idea – one that is only now, nearly a half-century later, becoming mainstream.

Today the catalyst of corporate change is Global Warming and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by business expansion into the domain of data and algorithms. In a sense, smaller firms may lead this new phase of business activity. As Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, told Davos attendees this year, “In the last 20 years, globalization was controlled by 60,000 companies worldwide. Imagine if we could expand that to 60 million businesses.”

But this would not be a return to the past, with individual small and medium-size enterprises driving the economy. In fact, Ma was touting a platform he has built to allow SMEs to build globalized businesses.

Therein lies the fundamental difference between modern markets and those Adam Smith envisioned back in 1776: to compete today, SMEs need to be able to store, process, and analyze massive amounts of data – capabilities that are provided by giants like Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Similarly, while the rise of the “gig economy” means that more people are operating as one-person firms, these workers rely on multinational platforms to get “gigs.” It is this tension between unprecedented bigness – Apple and Amazon recently became the first privately owned trillion-dollar companies – and pre-industrial smallness that lies at the heart of the trust paradox today.

As a result, large corporations are more than stakeholders; they often govern the platforms upon which all stakeholders intersect. To avoid another public backlash, they must make these platforms serve us not only as consumers, but also as entrepreneurs, workers, and citizens.

At a time of unprecedented global challenges – including climate change and high levels of inequality – this must include using the unprecedented power of platform leadership to catalyze global-scale solutions.

This is propelling the latest transition in corporate stakeholdership, focused not just on scaling more wisely, but also on becoming wiser about what to scale. Business leaders know what happens when the tide of public opinion turns against them, and therefore they now shift focus of their leadership from “shareholders first” to a more responsible “corporate citizenship”.

EU parliament declares climate emergency

The European parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency” as it urged all EU countries to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Intended to demonstrate Europe’s green credentials days before a crucial UN climate conference in Madrid, the vote also ratchets up pressure on the incoming president of the European commission, who declared this week that the EU would lead the fight against “the existential threat” of the climate crisis.

The vote came as scientists warned that the world may have already crossed a series of climate tipping points, resulting in “a state of planetary emergency”.

The decision passed with a comfortable majority, with 429 votes in favour, 225 votes against and 19 abstentions – MEPs across the political spectrum warned against making symbolic gestures.

Pascal Canfin, the French liberal MEP who drafted the climate emergency resolution, said: “The fact that Europes the first continent to declare climate and environmental emergency, just before COP25, when the new commission takes office, and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement, is a strong message sent to citizens and the rest of the world.”

French insurance giant phase-out coal

Just like their banking colleagues at BNP Paribas, AXA is also to phase out coal from business activities by 2030 in OECD states and by 2040 around the world, the insurance giant announced yesterday.

 

AXA is a French multinational insurance firm  that engages in global insuranceinvestment management, and other financial services, and their new climate strategy is launched as a 'new global benchmark for best practice'

The AXA Group operates primarily in Western Europe, North America, the Asia Pacific region, and the Middle East, with a presence also in Africa. 

In a move hailed by climate campaigners as setting "a new global benchmark for best practice", AXA said it will encourage coal companies to produce a coal phase-out plan by 2021 and use its position as a shareholder to accelerate the shutdown of existing coal plants. 

It also promised to stop selling insurance contracts - bar those covering employee benefits - to clients developing new coal projects larger than 300MW.

The moves are all part of AXA's plan to align its business with a 1.5C warming trajectory, the stretch target in the Paris Agreement.

AXA said its current investments have 3.1C of 'warming potential', well above its target of 1.5C by 2050 which would put it in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement.

As such it yesterday promised to double its green investments to €24bn by 2023 in an effort to accelerate the decarbonisation of its portfolio.

"Today we are launching a new phase in our climate strategy to accelerate our contribution to the transition towards a low-carbon and resilient economy, notably by focusing our sustainable finance efforts towards the energy transition of major industries," said CEO Thomas Buberl. "We are convinced that it is an absolute priority if we want to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement."

French bank will end all coal investments worldwide by 2040

French banking giant to end coal financing in Europe by 2030 and sets new renewable energy investment target of €18bn by 2021

 

BNP Paribas has pledged to cease all financing related to the European thermal coal sector by 2030, before then halting all coal investment globally by 2040.

BNP Paribas claims that the new commitments will help it meet its goal of reducing the CO2 intensity of its global electricity mix by 85% between 2014 and 2040, thereby complying with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The French banking group has also announced a new financing target of €18bn by 2021 in order to increase its support for the development of renewable energies.

Amid concerns over the climate emergency, BNP Paribas said that it intends to encourage the transition of electricity producers to a production model with the lowest possible emissions of CO2

BNP Paribas director and CEO Jean Laurent Bonnafé said: “Like all players in the economy and society whose objective is to contribute to the necessary transition to a lower carbon economic model, BNP Paribas has a role to play. As a bank, we have the opportunity, and the will, to participate in the acceleration of the energy transition by supporting our customers in this necessary transformation".

Addressing the weakness of blockchain

BLOCKCHAIN is touted as the next step in the digital revolution, a technology that will change every industry from music to waste. There are many versions of public blockchains in existence, but the majority of them share a basic premise: they offer a secure, decentralised infrastructure to maintain a "single version of the truth", recording all changes made on the blockchain database since its formation.

 

A lot of banks and fintechs started experimenting with blockchain in 2015, trying to capitalise on the speed and transparency it offers. But four years later, the idea that blockchain will remove banks as intermediaries in our payments system still seems a long way off. That's because there are five basic challenges that the technology has to overcome if it is to be accepted as part of the financial system.

1. STANDARDS

Different blockchains organise information in a plethora of ways. This means feeding information from one to another is not always easy.

There is no agreed universal layout of the transaction data structure. In a financial payment, a block will hold the person or company's name, account information, payment, location address and any other relevant factors. But crypto currencies all do this differently, so it would be difficult to move from one currency to another. They need to create standards for the information they contain and how it is systematically laid out.

2. LIABILITY

There is no liability for the platforms when things go wrong at the moment. For instance, in 2017, Canadian digital currency exchange QuadrigaCX announced that a computer error had led to losses of ether worth US$14 million. Surely, liability will need to be cleared up before the public can trust blockchains with their money. For this, we need more regulation in the space of crypto and blockchain in general.

3. SCALABILITY

Blockchain is still at a very small scale compared to everyday electronic payments. Bitcoin's blockchain does 2,000 transactions every 10 minutes, whereas Visa handles more than 65,000 transaction messages every second; Swift, the global messaging system used by banks and financial institutions to transfer payments, deals with 24 million messages a day.

The "block size debate" over how many transactions each block of a blockchain should handle has raged since the early days of bitcoin in 2009. This must be resolved for blockchain platforms to grow big enough to become part of the world's financial plumbing.

4. GOVERNANCE

Blockchain's strength is it has no central authority, but this is also its weakness. Who makes the decisions about how the technology works or when it needs updating?

Public blockchains operate more like communities. There is no systematic way to decide on updates or improvements. Sometimes this can result in a split.

Blockchains haven't figured out how to effectively govern yet. Often, simple majority voting mechanisms are used to make decisions, which means issues are vulnerable to lobbyists or active contributors seizing control.

5. TRANSPARENCY AND IDENTITY

Blockchain payments mean all users can see all the transactions, making them easy to audit and trace. Users are pseudo-anonymous, in that they are not obliged to identify themselves in any way, but they can still be traced through their alphanumeric address and use of tokens on the network. This transparency is part of the blockchain's strength. It means other users can see the amount of bitcoins going from one address to another, but no name is linked to that address. This can be regarded as both a strength and a weakness, and has to be adressed.

 

Eventually, blockchain's lack of an identification framework will be problematic for many users and investors, as it is a fundamental premise on which the financial system is built.

But when these issues are addressed, it is almost inevitable that blockchains become the new foundation of our financial system.

 

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