Home Impact producer Biden’s EV Boost, a Better Picture of Paint Water Pollution, and a Discussion of Sustainable Flowers

Biden’s EV Boost, a Better Picture of Paint Water Pollution, and a Discussion of Sustainable Flowers

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Two new reports released this week highlight the disheartening state of reducing corporate greenhouse gas emissions targets and actions. The Berlin-based New Climate Institute has published an assessment of the transparency and integrity of the climate commitments of 25 of the world’s largest companies, finding that their commitments, on average, represent only a 40% reduction in emissions, not 100%, as their “net zero” and “carbon neutral” claims suggest. One of the key weaknesses of these targets is the lack of consideration for supply chain emissions, also known as scope 3 emissions, with the majority of companies reviewed still not having detailed plans to reach them. The result comes as no surprise to CDP, an independent body that collects and scores global environmental disclosures. He estimated that the majority of big business suppliers had not set any climate targets in 2021, delaying climate action by a decade. While both studies noted an increase in company demands for supplier emissions target metrics, progress needs to happen at a much faster rate.

Other stories I highlight this week the need for the mining industry to make a more positive contribution to the green transition, President Joe Biden’s $5 billion increase to build an electric vehicle charging network across the United States. and new findings on how much paint contributes to microplastic water pollution.

In Climate Talksas Valentine’s Day marks one of the most important holidays for florists, I speak to Dr David Bek, who co-leads the Sustainable Cut Flower Project with Dr. Jill Timms, on advances in growing and selling sustainable flowers.

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Challenges

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Climate Talks

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year for florists and, by extension, the entire global flower supply chain. In recent years, initiatives have emerged to tackle various issues plaguing the industry, such as poor working conditions, but increasingly the focus is on reducing emissions of carbon.

Dr Dave Bek of Coventry University, who together with his colleague Dr Jill Timms (now at the University of Surrey) pioneered the Sustainable Cut Flower Project to promote sustainable practices in the industry, tells us a lot.

Issues that come to mind when thinking about the flower supply chain are poor working conditions, low wages and seasonal instability. But what is the impact of climate change on industry, workers and the supply chain as a whole?

Every country is experiencing climate change differently, but there is growing evidence that climate change is affecting areas that are becoming drier or experiencing heavier rains at times of the year that were not the case before. , and this also puts pressure on livelihoods.

The other way they are affected is by retailers or importers who are increasingly considering climate change management and mitigation in their supply chain operations. Over the past three years, maybe even two years, climate change has moved up the agenda with a better understanding of the issues and attempts to address them.

What kind of changes have you witnessed?

One of the significant changes has been a greater penetration of certifications and standards across the industry. There has been an evolution in the Netherlands through something called the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, which most large companies have joined, which includes a so-called basket of standards that certify that actions in chains of supply are acceptable – which may include social audit measures on a farm in Kenya and so on. A wholesaler who is part of our project changed their online store settings to show what certifications a particular shipment of flowers had received, and this shows growing awareness.At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic , we worked with a UK government initiative to fund some vulnerable supply chain facility projects, one of which was actually sea freight for shipping flowers, which could actually survive a month, after being picked, in good conditions. It started out as a response to the issues of securing air cargo during the pandemic and shipping flowers, but it ended up having an impact on carbon emissions and that’s a really good thing.

Do the certifications you mention reflect the certified supplier’s carbon emissions?

At the moment, to my knowledge, none of the standards require carbon footprint reporting. But there are initiatives through the European Commission, with the support of Dutch industry, to develop and implement environmental footprinting tools. What they’re doing is figuring out where the hot spots in the supply chain are – where energy, carbon emissions and other environmental issues are happening – so that efforts can be focused on those areas to achieve the most beneficial impact.

Heating, for example, is a big problem. It may sound counter-intuitive, but growing flowers locally in a greenhouse may be worse, carbon-wise, than flying them from Kenya, because obviously in Kenya they just grow with the sun. There is a push to reduce both of these footprints.

Once these flowers are purchased and enjoyed, what is the best way to dispose of them?

Recycling in green compost is certainly a good route, but some flowers, unless you bought them from an organic grower, can have chemical residues, which can be a problem.

These are issues that the industry could work on by educating consumers and also the horticultural sector, by lobbying governments to ensure that everyone has access — or in fact, I would say that we expect that it — composts compostable materials.

Are you optimistic about the future of the industry?

The next five years are going to be fascinating to see how the initiatives starting now will unfold. Specifically in the UK, concerted efforts are being made to focus on particular supply chain issues, such as a living wage. A retailer is actually going to launch a pilot project in stores offering a bunch of living wages. Obviously we have to keep our eyes on them to make sure that [these initiatives] are genuine and not just greenwash.

But the thing, of course, is that consumers should always have their eyes peeled and ask questions, because what will drive real change is consumer behavior.

Dr. David Bek’s responses have been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.


on the horizon

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