A Green Restart for the World


Written by Alexis Leroy, CEO ALLCOT


The coronavirus pandemic has been a huge wake-up call for the world. In one short month, large swathes of the economy have either closed or been forced to scale back significantly. Air travel is virtually non-existent, private transport has shrunk to a shadow of its former self, and retail has almost entirely closed its doors.

And while we have been self-isolating at home, it’s given us all a chance to consider what we’re giving up, what choices we can’t make, and even whether we’d choose the same things again whenever restrictions are lifted. The lockdown has also turned into a fountain of ideas; ideas on how we can take this opportunity to rebuild our economies in a more sustainable way.

To be fair, some blueprints for a sustainable future are already on the table. In the US, the Green New Deal harkened back to President Roosevelt’s plan to bring the country back from the Great Depression of the 1920s. The 21st century version focused on climate change, the biggest challenge of our times, as well as social and economic inequality.

In Europe, the newly-elected Commission brought forward its own Green Deal last year, which is even more ambitious than its US counterpart. The EU plan seeks to turn the bloc’s entire economy upside down, refocusing on sustainability, climate, transitional measures to diversify and modernize the economy and offer opportunities for all. The proposals on both sides of the Atlantic are fortunate in their timing, as we grapple with “the fastest, deepest economic shock in history”. A lot of thinking has already been done.

For Asia, too, the pandemic represents an opportunity to embark upon the same shift, away from mimicking the West and towards a more sustainable, self-reliant economic model. Indeed, it may be the east’s only hope, if the kind of proposals that we read today are put into action elsewhere.

The liberal market-based economic model has been around for around 300 years. Globalization was the last great leap forward for the neoliberal interpretation, and coronavirus’ rapid expansion around the world is the warning that we cannot continue as we have done. The economy that evolved in the 18th century took the world as it saw it. It did not experience, as we do today, the immense impact of industry and business on our earth and our climate. 

Pollution and resource scarcity were not considered problems 300 years ago, and all our efforts since then have been too modest, too piecemeal, and have been largely shrugged aside by the interests of old-world business models.

Yet today, we understand how our economic model impacts our health, our well-being. We can quantify the harmful effects of air pollution, just as we can quantify the cost of natural disasters.

With all this knowledge and understanding, gained through the immense technological advances of just the last 50 years, we have an opportunity to set a new course for the coming decades.

What must be done?

At a macroeconomic level, the world needs to commit, again and with greater force, to the purpose of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. We need governments to line up behind these aims, to make pledges that are ambitious, believable and achievable, and develop the pathway towards achieving the ultimate prize.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have a simple target: “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. They consist of 17 ambitions including reducing inequality, clean water and sanitation, climate action, responsible consumption and production, and zero hunger. All of these goals can be achieved with a thoughtful approach to re-building our shared economy.

And thanks to technology and understanding, progress towards the SDGs can now be quantified. Health, education, economic opportunity, stable societies, and even gender equality can be measured and assessed. And this quantification of achievement can now be rewarded. For the first time in our economic history, intangible impacts are now becoming tangible items on balance sheets. Efforts such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure are slowly moving the needle on bringing externalities like greenhouse gases into the realm of real costs. And in the same way, improving our collective health, safety and prosperity can also be rewarded, in lower external costs (like carbon emissions and businesses losses) as well as in lower human costs.

The Paris Agreement has one, just one, simple goal: to ensure that by the middle of the century all our emissions of greenhouse gases are balanced by sinks that absorb those same gases. Again, this is a target that we can achieve if we plan carefully and put in the work, the investment, and the research to make it happen.

What will we gain? We will begin to return our climate to a state where catastrophic weather events are not “normal”, where deforestation does not rob peoples and species of their home, where water stress does not force mass migrations.

At a national or even multinational level, how can we make the changes that the future requires of us?

A Green Rebuilding

As we eventually emerge from the shadow of Covid-19, economies will need government help to re-start. Already we have seen billions of dollars, or euros, of pounds, spent to assist businesses and people to get through the lockdown. And we will see billions more spent to assist businesses to rebuild and restart their operations. We should make sure that we do not focus on short-term survival but on long term sustainability.

While we defend the independence of the private sector, when it comes to receiving publicly-financed assistance, the private sector should be required to follow public policy. Instead of spending 90% of the assistance on propping up existing business models, shouldn’t our leaders be looking at making our economy more resilient?

Financial assistance should come with conditions. Industrial companies should be required to make improvements and changes to their processes that match the SDGs. Where a factory now buys power from a gas-fired plant, any government assistance should require that it buys renewable power – a simple and achievable solution that comes at no additional cost.

Manufacturers should be required to use recyclable packaging, ensure the products are recyclable or reusable, and that their processes are as clean as possible. Regulations could be stiffened to require those producers to take legal responsibility for all lifetime waste associated with their products.

Commercial businesses should re-examine their practices and see what flexibility they can build into their operations. During the pandemic, we have seen an explosion in the use of video conferencing to maintain social links. Millions of people have been working effectively from home, rather than commuting to offices. Do we all, as employers *and* employees, need to commute to offices that use even more resources?

Instead of global supply chains, the business should be encouraged to look locally for materials and supplies, thereby reducing transportation emissions and pollution, and supporting the local community and its economy. And do we need to travel quite so much for business or for pleasure? There already is a growing awareness of the impact our travel habits have on the environment and climate, but the recovery from this global shutdown offers a real opportunity to wean ourselves off needless travel. 

Personal Greening

Lastly, how can you and I as individuals translate these goals into action on the ground? 

As consumers, we can make more responsible choices and look after our outputs. When we buy, we should buy responsibly: are products reusable, recyclable and re-purposeable? Do our products even need packaging?

When we do consume, are we consuming more than we need? Are the electricity, gas, and resources that we use going from renewable sources or are we drawing on finite resources like oil or coal? Do we need to drive all the kilometers that we do? Is our flight necessary? Are we lighting and heating our houses responsibly?

Alternative products already exist for many of us, as we all know. But, critically, alternative choices exist too. It’s time we began to exercise more robustly our power of choice and, as individuals and consumers, ramp up pressure on business, on policy-makers, and on each other to think about the impact we have on our home.

Conclusion

The free-market economic model that was born in the heart of the Industrial Revolution, and which has lasted 300 years, is not fit for the 21st Century and the challenges it presents. We must not insist on a return to business-as-usual.

We, therefore, call on business around the world to acknowledge that the rebuilding of our economies in the wake of this pandemic cannot merely return us to the way things were before. The private sector must accept its historic role in bringing us to this point, and take on both the responsibility as well as the opportunity to fix our problems, even where the government is slow to act.

ALLCOT and Conservation International Colombia, an alliance with a strong sustainable impact in benefit of the ecosystems and communities in Colombia.

Although Colombia has one of the worldwide highest indexes of biodiversity, it has decreased by 18% during the last years. The biggest threat is the natural habitat’s loss due to agriculture and cattle industries. It is our responsibility to protect the ecosystems and to fight against the climate change that affects much of the national territory, especially to the underprivileged communities.

ALLCOT, with more than 10 years of experience, develops worldwide sustainable projects providing its clients and collaborators with the knowledge and management expertise of initiatives aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to actively fight against the climate change crisis. We establish a commitment and therefore create alliances with other companies that, like us,  appreciate the environment.

Conservation International Foundation (CI) works to highlight and maintain the benefits that nature provides to humanity. From the start, CI has worked to protect more than 5 million square km (2.3 square miles) of land and ocean across more than 70 countries. Currently, it is established among 29 countries and has 2 thousand partners around the world. 

Based on a solid foundation of science, partnership, and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to take care of nature, global diversity, and humanity’s well-being in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Thanks to the common values and the interest of both in recovering and working in favor of nature, ALLCOT and Conservation International Colombia join forces with the target of executing Sustainable Socio-Environmental Projects, aligned under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of United Nations, that have a strong impact in the conservation of the environment, adaptation to the climate crisis and the communities development.

“Today more than ever it is high time to act. Act with significant actions against the imperatives of the environmental crises and consequential social impacts. Thanks to the alliance with CI, our shared values, and long-term vision, we can accomplish our goals and commitments within Colombia” said Alexis L. Leroy, ALLCOT’s CEO.

“The development of carbon market in Colombia represents a great opportunity to consolidate conservation and sustainability processes of maximizing the benefits over strategic ecosystems and its communities. The experience of CI working on socio-environmental projects in the territory, added to that of ALLCOT in the design of GHG reduction projects, will allow the development and implementation of high-quality projects” says Fabio Arjona, vice president of the Colombia Conservation International program.

ALLCOT participates in the Local Stakeholder Consultation process in Ziguinchor, Senegal


Written by Mercedes García, Climate Change and Sustainability Manager


The degradation of mangroves during the last years is alarmingly increasing. Uncontrolled deforestation is one of the main causes, but the increase of the temperature of the planet is altering the salinity of certain areas, which significantly impact on the stability of an ecosystem as fragile as mangroves are. 

Mangroves live in tropical and subtropical latitudes. To the south of Gambia, mangroves occupy Casamance estuary, where they form a long band over the northern margin of the 6 km wide river, between Ziguinchor and Tobor, in Senegal. Due to the anthropogenic pressure, linked to illegal harvest and agriculture, there are many mangroves areas in a state of maximum degradation on which we must act. 

ALLCOT, together with the Senegalese NGO OCEANIUM, is working on the developing of reforestation and conservation project for a part of this mangrove, starting in Senegal and expanding in the coming months to the Gambia and Guinea Bissau. The goal of the project, called SWAMP (Senegal and West Africa Mangrove Project) is to empower the local communities through reforestation and mangrove conservation. For this, the project will be registered in the international standard SDVista with the objective of obtain carbon credits that could be reinvested in these communities and different socio-economics activities. For that, the participation of Senegalese government and local authorities has been necessary, through various meetings held during last year.

On October 15, ALLCOT had the privilege of being one of the speakers in these meetings, held in Zinguinchor. During a complete working day, the ALLCOT team had the opportunity to share with the participants how the project is structured, the short and long term objectives, and especially the detail of the socio-economics activities to be implemented, all of them aligned with the Sustainable Developing Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. 

There was also the opportunity to discuss and share a lunch with all the mayors who have already joined the initiative and many others who are still evaluating the possibility of adhering. Ideas about initiatives of developing and their alignments with the needs of the populations were exchanged. It was a very fruitful workday, which will be a turning point in the design of the SWAMP project. 

ALLCOT has extensive wide experience in the design and structuring of the project in the field of mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Our role in the project is to improve the quality of life of the populations that live in the mangroves through the incomes from the carbon credits. To obtain the maximum benefit the project is designed to cover two main areas. In the most degraded areas, propagule plantations of Rhizophora Mangle and Avicennia sp are scheduled. In the areas, best-conserved, protection and training activities will be carried. These activities include the creation of monitoring brigades, to awareness and training in the field. In parallel, the technical team is working in different activities linked to the food security and gender equity for the communities who live in the mangrove areas. 

Due to the significant social component of the project, the standard chosen has been SDVista. Standard developed by VERRA for all those projects which mitigate the greenhouse gas emission but have a profound impact on local populations. 

One of the objectives of the standard is not only to evaluate the contribution of the projects with the SDGs, but also their quantification, monitoring, and of course the verification by an accredited entity. It is, therefore, a robust standard that aims to demonstrate in an effective and verifiable way that the projects are contributing to meet the needs of certain populations. 

During last years, in ALLCOT we have worked in each one of our projects in the alignment of all the activities with the SDSs, all channeled through the fight against climate change. 

SWAMP project is undoubtedly a clear example of the strategy of the company for the future. Empower the local communities through the fight against the current climate crisis by developing initiatives in the scope of all the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.

The benefits of recycling in the fight against the climate crisis


Written by Encarnación Hernández, Climate Change Mitigation Consultant


We are currently facing a critical global situation in terms of consumption of plastics and their subsequent recycling. It is expected that by next year, plastic production will increase to 350 million tons. If this rhythm and the current “use and discard” consumption model are maintained, this level could increase to 619 million tons in 2030.

The process of decomposing plastic material produces the emission of two greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential (methane and ethylene) and a very harmful effect on human health. For this reason, in recent years various initiatives have been developed in the field of plastic waste reduction and recycling. Their main objective is to reduce dependence on existing conventional resources. However, there are other solutions in the market contributing to the manufacture of different products from recycled plastics. This is a great innovation in the recycling market.

ALLCOT Group, a company specialized in environmental solutions in the fight against climate change, is working on an innovative project based on the construction of sustainable housing from recycled plastic.

The main objective is the recycling of plastic waste to give it a second life, improving the performance of both recycling and waste recovery. The population is involved in the collection of plastic, mainly bottles, from which blocks and bricks are manufactured and used for the construction of houses or other types of buildings. These materials are flexible and flame retardant light and they display high insulation capacity. These characteristics make them ideal to face extreme weather events that often affect vulnerable countries to the effects of the current climate crisis, such as heatwaves or deterioration caused by water on such conventional buildings.

The ongoing project will be replicated in developing countries. It has focused on vulnerability groups, including women working in the informal waste recycling sector, and therefore contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals signed in the 2030 Agenda. In addition to reducing the amount of waste destined for its final disposition and increase its recovery, the project will yield another series of economic, social and environmental benefits. These include an increase in the country’s resilience to climate change, poverty alleviation, and improvement of the well-being and health of populations by offering a new sustainable livelihood. Finally, it also contributes to greater access to drinking water and improved biodiversity protection in the area.

This project contributes to the mitigation of GHG emissions and thus tackles the current climate crisis. With the use of different internationally accepted methodologies and previous studies, the actual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can be calculated.  In fact, the secondary production of construction materials entails lower amounts of CO2 emissions compared to conventional production (from 40% to 80% depending on the type of material).

Given that fuel and electricity consumption the freest are the stages of the building process that release most CO2, the plastic brick recycling project is expected to have a high impact on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. 

Concentrating on five key areas (cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food), the project “Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change” illustrates how designing out waste, keeping materials in use, and regenerating farmland can reduce emissions by 9.3 billion tonnes. That is equivalent to eliminating current emissions from all forms of transport globally.

ALLCOT is currently developing a methodology to estimate CO2 emission reductions since there is none approved by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that directly applies to the project in question.

Once approved by the United Nations, project implementation can begin. 

We need additional efforts to decarbonize our economy while creating creative and innovative sustainable growth opportunities.

ROUND TABLE ON THE CARBON MARKET

 

 

The Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity and the General Delegation of Québec in Paris will hold a seminar called:

QUÉBEC – FRANCE: ROUND TABLE ON THE CARBON MARKET

It will take place on September 30 in Paris, France. It will feature the persistence and participation of Elisabeth Borne, Minister of the Ecological Transition and Solidarity of the French Republic and Benoit Charrette, Minister of Environment and Struggle against Quebec Climate Change.

This event will be a great opportunity to discuss carbon pricing and the fair and equitable transition to a less carbon economy.

Some of the objectives of the seminar are:

  • Present key tools and trends in carbon pricing.
  • Illustrate how carbon prices can contribute to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and support a fair and equitable transition.
  • Highlight the importance of international collaboration for success in the fight against climate change, through carbon pricing.

Delegates of ALLCOT will be present to know in depth the details of this interesting and very nutritious session, giving the company a local and international vision of the Carbon market, which will allow us, to develop new tools and improvements in our services.

You can find more information about the seminar, including its programming by clicking on this link (In French language)

UNEP report calls for more integrated approaches to sustainable infrastructure to achieve the 2030 Agenda

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report that calls for more integrated approaches to sustainable infrastructure to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The publication aims to motivate development planners to invest in governments’ technical and institutional capacity to apply integrated approaches.

The report titled, ‘Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Infrastructure,’ underscores the linkages between infrastructure and sustainable development, observing that infrastructure affects the environment-focused SDGs and underpins the socioeconomic SDGs.

According to the report, approximately 70% of greenhouse gases are linked to the construction and operation of infrastructure, and buildings alone are estimated to account for more than 30% of global resource consumption and energy end use. As a result, the achievement of environmental SDGs such as climate action (Goal 13), life below water and life on land (Goals 14 and 15, respectively) is inextricably linked to present and future infrastructure assets.

The report recommends three key actions to promote integrated approaches to infrastructure at a system scale:

-Increasing the visibility of the central role of infrastructure in the 2030 Agenda, and making integrated approaches to infrastructure a distinct item on the global policy agenda, also mobilizing the research community to demonstrate the benefits of upstream, macro-level, integrated infrastructure planning and providing data and information to support decision making;

-Identifying and addressing gaps in tools for integrated approaches, consolidating existing tools and providing guidance on the use of tools to support integrated approaches to infrastructure in different contexts; and

-Providing development planners and government officials with specialized knowledge and technical capacity to adapt and apply available tools and approaches to sustainable infrastructure in support of the 2030 Agenda.

You can download the report here

 

Combating tax evasion will help finance sustainable development in Latin America

Increasing public revenues is key to supporting the mobilization of resources with which to finance the 2030 Agenda, as indicated in the last Fiscal Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2019, carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report analyzes the evolution of fiscal policies and their challenges and stresses that, now more than ever, it is necessary to address the high level of tax non-compliance and illicit financial flows in the region.

According to the research, the regional cost of tax evasion and avoidance reached 6.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, which is equivalent to 335,000 million dollars.

Tax policy has become more relevant as a tool to drive progress towards compliance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, since it not only has an impact on the level of available resources, but on multiple dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals as inequality, poverty, and the well-being of women, the elderly, young people and other vulnerable populations.

Five instruments are proposed to expand fiscal space and enhance the 2030 Agenda:

-Reduce tax evasion and illicit financial flows

-Improve the adoption of taxes to the digital economy

-Creating environmental taxes to advance towards the decarbonization of the economy and the productive reconversion

-Revaluate tax expenditures

-Force personal income tax and property taxes

In addition, ECLAC recommends five areas of public spending and investment:

-Politics of labor and social inclusion

-Measures that promote the use of innovative technologies in energy, mobility, communication and bioeconomy

-Programs for progress towards budgetary systems that encourage priority public investment through pro-investment accounting frameworks

-The establishment of public-private agreements for infrastructure and renewable energy

-The redesign of tax incentives for industrial policies

You can download the report here

UN DESA’s World Youth Report explores the role of youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has published a report that explores the role of youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called ‘World Youth Report: Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.

“We have come here to let [world leaders] know that change is coming whether they like it or not,” was probably the most quoted sentence coming from the recent COP 24 climate conference. It was not uttered by the UN Secretary-General nor by any of the Heads of State and Government, but by a 15-year-old from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, who had sparked a powerful global movement of school strikes for climate action.

Her words are representative of the attitudes of today’s young generation. A recent study, conducted in 15 countries worldwide, found that globally, young people are more optimistic about the future than older generations. Despite facing much higher unemployment rates, more instability and lower wages than their predecessors, today’s youth are entering adulthood confident that they can build a better future for themselves and for those that follow.

Case studies from all corners of the world, gathered by the World Youth Report, seem to justify young people’s optimism. From a youth movement driving climate action across the Arab region to an organization expanding digital literacy among young people in rural Philippines.

Sadly, today’s young generation continues to be left behind when it comes to education and employment. According to the World Youth Report, one in four people of secondary-school age are not enrolled in a school and less than half of all young people are participating in the labour market. And even among those that do have a job, one in six live in extreme poverty.

These numbers are more than mere statistics – they stand for squandered potential of millions of people whose capabilities and enthusiasm could have greatly accelerated our progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ensuring access to inclusive, quality education is essential for young people’s chances of finding decent work. Quality primary and secondary education are not enough. They should be complemented by affordable technical, vocational and tertiary education that provides youth with relevant skills for employment and entrepreneurship.

You can download the report here