The U.S. and Europe Announced New Climate Goals: Will They Be Enough?

We keep hearing about wonderful new goals for fighting climate change, but will they be enough to save us from the worst effects of global warming? The numbers, by themselves, mean little. What matters is what is behind them: Investment in “green” innovative projects and a government’s environmental regulatory framework. I explored the issue in the following article for Impakter, here is the opening:

Can the New US and EU Climate Goals Save the World?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Last week in April was marked by the announcement of new, more ambitious climate goals from two of the world’s largest polluters, the United States and Europe. Could they be a turning point in the fight against climate change? The question really is: Are the new climate goals going to be game-changers? Or are they just so much powder in the eyes of the beholders?

On 21 April, the European Parliament and Council reached an informal agreement to raise the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 55% below 1990 levels, compared with the previous 40% goal. And on 22-23 April, the U.S. announced its own ambitious goal of cutting its 2030 emissions by half. This announcement, given at the Leaders Summit on Climate convened by President Biden, was viewed by everyone as a major attempt by the U.S. to reclaim climate leadership.

Read the article on Impakter, click here: https://impakter.com/new-us-eu-climate-goals-save-world/

Let me know what you think.

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Filed under Business, climate change, Environment, European Union, politics

Seaspiracy: A Must-Watch Documentary but Don’t Believe the Message!

Recently, some of my friends called me in anger after watching Seaspiracy, one of those highly controversial documentaries streaming on Netflix. They said the documentary was spreading nonsense and hurting the work of dedicated environmental activists and that I should watch it. So I did. And yes, I found my friends were right to be angry. So I published an article about it on Impakter, here is the opening of my article:

Seaspiracy: Shocking Revelations but Wrong Data and Wrong Message

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

After the award-winning 2014 Cowspiracy documentary funded by Leonardo di Caprio and the 2017 What The Health film, now we have from the same people Seaspiracy – out on Netflix since 24 March 2021. Cowspiracy argued that animal farming is the primary source of environmental destruction, What The Health advocated for a plant-based diet. Seaspiracy,  directed by Ali Tabrizi, a British filmmaker using the same narrative framework as Cowspiracy, aims a powerful “J’accuse!” to the sustainable seafood movement and suggests that the Dolphin Safe and Marine Stewardship Council labels probably do not give the assurances consumers expect. 

George Monbiot, the noted environmentalist and Guardian columnist who was given a prominent role in the documentary as a commentator, described it on Twitter as “a brilliant exposé of the greatest threat to marine life: fishing”.

Read the rest on Impakter, click on the title or click here.

You may not agree with my conclusions – but surely it seems rather absurd to call on people to stop eating fish as a way to address the deep and complex problems of our oceans – not to mention the fact that a lot of artisanal fisheries and coastal populations live off fishing (and their type of fishing does not destroy the oceans). 

In short, to solve the problem, much more needs to be done, stopping our fish consumption is just plain silly. Do read my article and see if you agree!

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Despite Slow COVID Vaccine Rollout, Europe Exports Vaccines – Why?

When I learned about the EU exporting COVID vaccines, I got angry (I’m still waiting to be vaccinated!) and then I investigated the question: It turns out that the issue is far more complex than expected. So here is the opening of the article I wrote about it, just published on Impakter magazine: 

Why Europe Engages in COVID Vaccine Exports Despite Slow Roll-out in Vaccination

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

On 10 March, the New York Times, basing itself on “closely-held” European Commission documents they were “able to access” in Brussels, made the shocking revelations that, despite the slow roll-out of vaccination, Europe engages in COVID vaccine exports, fully 34 million doses last month. Within hours of the New York Times revelations, the European Commission, far from denying the numbers, proudly announced that the EU “continues to be the leading provider of vaccines around the world” and will be extending the measure which allows for such vaccine exports till the end of June. 

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Since the measure was introduced, shipments were authorized to more than 30 countries. This confirms that even during a very critical health situation, the EU has made a considerable effort to be a reliable and responsible trading partner.”  The statement can be viewed as a direct answer to WHO accusations in January that the EU had introduced vaccine export control measures, setting off a “worrying trend” in “vaccine nationalism”. The EU of course defends its position, pointing out that the measures simply give power to the EU to deny authorization for COVID vaccine exports if the company making them (and whose facilities are based in the EU) has not honored existing contracts with the EU.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here. And let me know what you think! Are you as angry as I am (was)?

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HOW BMW AND MERCEDES-BENZ ARE MISLEADING US: NOT AS GREEN AS THEY SAY!

 Just published on Impakter my latest in the series of the top 100 brands:

Battle of the Brands: Two Juggernauts of Luxury, BMW vs. Mercedes – How Sustainable?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Headlines trumpet the news when BMW beats Mercedes and vice-versa in the race for the world’s top luxury car – the two German carmakers tend to be first, ahead of their conational Audi. In 2020, the crown went to Mercedes on a global level but BMW won in the United States. But what about another kind of news, which one is better at going green? Which has adopted the more sustainable methods of production and is more socially responsible?  

The answer given by the Impakter Sustainability Index (developed after 2 years of hard work by a team of evaluation experts) surprised me. I bet it will surprise you too, and here is how I wrote it up in the article:

So where do BMW and Mercedes stand in the race to sustainability? 

To get an answer, I turned to the Impakter Sustainability Index, taking advantage of the deep digging the Impakter Index team did to unearth the reality of both carmakers’ claims to have green plans. And to be moving fast towards sustainability in production and social responsibility vis-a-vis all stakeholders. 

The answer may come as a surprise for some, it certainly surprised me. They are not doing as well as expected, not by a long shot. To sum up: I expected BMW, in particular, to do better than that since it’s supposed to produce the high-performance car par excellence. Could it be that it’s not “high-performance” when it comes to sustainability? 

Check out why both are doing so badly, click here.

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They are ALL lying to you: The world’s top brands are NOT going green

 This is one major article, published on Impakter, that I don’t want you, my dear readers, to miss:

For the World’s Top 100 Brands, Sustainability Is Elusive Despite Claims

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

For the 2020 Top 100 Global Brands, a list derived from Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands, the goal of sustainability continues to be out of reach, despite their many claims to the contrary. This is what the findings of a three-month analysis carried out by the Impakter Index team has just revealed (results published on 18 December 2020). 

The conclusion is clear: Most companies have a long way to go before they achieve full sustainability in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets pertaining to their area of activity – if ever. 

A high level of “greenwashing” is still prevalent among major household names. Some of them haven’t even started on the road to sustainability, others can never make it because of the very nature of their activities (based on/using fossil fuels or dangerous chemicals). Most are doing an average job though they claim otherwise, and none is one-hundred-percent sustainable. Not one. 

I know that many of my readers who’ve read my article when the Index was launched this summer (31 July), or saw Common Place editor, Quincy Childs’ endorsement, will want to go directly to the Impakter Index and check out their favorite brand (go to the Impakter home page or click here to see). You may well be surprised (or perhaps not) to find that in most cases, there is a stunning gap between what companies claim and what they actually deliver in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. 

Look at the findings, the table provides a summary view of the ratings obtained by the top 100 brands:

To find out how they are rated by the Impakter Index, go to my article, click here.

I promise you, you’ll be surprised (I know I was)!

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The World After COVID: Back to Capitalism as We Know it or Something New?

 Last week I reviewed two amazing books that propose a new world after COVID, doing away with capitalism as we know it but using radically different means to achieve this goal. Both my reviews were published on Impakter. Here’s the opening of my article:

Post-COVID: Blueprints to End Capitalism As We Know It

Capitalism as we know it is morphing into an “awful kind of techno feudalism” that only deserves to die, says Yanis Varoufakis. A radical statement but coming from the former finance minister of Greece who famously battled the European Troika for the Greek cause at the height of the debt crisis in 2015, it is no surprise.

Can activists in their battle against shareholder capitalism use financial engineering to bring Wall Street to its knees? That is the scenario Varoufakis proposes in his latest book Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (published in September 2020 by Vintage), arguing that finance is the Achilles heel of capitalism.  And here’s the other must-read book I reviewed:

How To Reform Capitalism – Mariana Mazzucato’s Moonshots

The Trojan horse comes from another economist, an Italo-American, a woman, Mariana Mazzucato who has already shaken up the academic world of economics with her bestselling The Entrepreneurial State, published in 2015 with the subtitle: “Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths”. 

Her solution for post-Covid reconstruction? Work from inside the system

Give back to the state the role it played back in the 1960s when America, engaged in a space race with the Soviet Union, unleashed the power of the Federal Government.

She lays it out in her new book, just out, January 28, 2021: Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (published by Penguin).

Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) where she is also Founder and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. And her ideas have already been adopted both by the European Commission and the Scottish government. 

Both are highly recommended reads! Curious? Take a look at my article, click here.

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Filed under Book review, climate change, Digital Revolution, Economics, Environment, non-fiction, politics, Sociology

Amazing Electric Cars Make Our Sustainable Future Look Like FUN!

You know, not everything is bad about climate change: It’s forcing the car industry to THINK DIFFERENTLY for the first time in decades and come up with exciting new electric models! I spent last Sunday researching it, and here’s the amazing stuff I found, the stuff of dreams! Check it out, here’s the opening salvo of my article published on Impakter:

Our Sustainable Future: Electric Dream Cars

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Are electric cars just the cherished dream of eco-conscious consumers or a soon-to-become reality? With the coming of Biden’s strong climate policies and the Trump administration’s odious support of the fossil fuel industry finally out of the way, the United States as a whole – and not just Tesla – is back in the electric car race. Three days ago, on 28 January, GM announced that it would go much further than simply selling hybrid cars or a few electric models: By 2035, it would sell only zero-emission vehicles

This means that GM will phase out their most successful products: Gaz-guzzling S.U.V.s and pickup trucks. Thus putting another nail in the coffin of the internal combustion engine and heralding the coming of electric cars.  

The March of Electric Cars Around the World

Since GM is America’s car behemoth, employing 1 million people, more than any other carmaker in the U.S., the news made headlines and shook up the American car industry. The expectation is that much of the American car industry has no choice but to follow GM’s example. And catch up with Tesla that in the meantime has unveiled last year its famous electric trucks, the Tesla Semi and Cybertruck. Not to mention Tesla’s future roadster that should become available in three years, an astonishing machine capable of hitting 0-100km (60 miles) in 1,9 seconds flat, with a 400 km/hour top speed and a 1000 km autonomy: a supercar by any metrics (including the price: over $200,000).

And the American industry is definitely coming up with exciting new products in an “old” established category, pickup trucks, that has long been popular in the United States: 

WATCH THE VIDEO, IT’S REALLY COOL! Go to Impakter, click here. I hope you enjoy reading it (and watching the videos) as much as I did writing it!

In the featured image: Tesla Lineup Photo by Steve Jurvetson

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Filed under politics, Tech

Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

 My latest article, just published on Impakter Magazine:

Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Stuck at home because of Covid-induced lockdowns, we all love to shop on Amazon. We love to order online and get our favorite products without having to brave Covid-infested shops. We might also hear negative stories about Amazon mistreating its employees, but we tend to dismiss them. Instead, we listen to Bezos announcing a slew of green policies. And the latest news that Amazon is the biggest corporate buyer of clean energy tends to confirm that good impression. So we ignore the complaints from Amazon workers and feel good about buying from Amazon.  But are we right? Is Amazon really as green as it claims to be? 

The Impakter Index has just given Amazon a C rating. That means Amazon is “mediocre” on the front of sustainability. Why? How did that happen?

It’s a complicated story and it’s worth telling. Because the “green” claims are strong and yet the gap with reality is a chasm.

First the facts. As a result of the pandemic, Amazon, like all online marketplaces and cloud businesses, has grown exponentially in 2020. For now, Amazon enjoys an extraordinary moment of unalloyed success with the public. As Wired recently noted in an article exploring Amazon, both consumers and employees think of Amazon highly: Forbes rated Amazon the second-best employer in the world and YouGov placed Amazon fifth among the top ten brands according to consumers:

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

And do let me know what you think!

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Exit Trump, Enter Biden: This is a Watershed Change

 Just published on Impakter Magazine:

EXIT TRUMP, ENTER BIDEN: CAN AMERICA MAKE A COMEBACK?

Can Biden mop up Trump’s disastrous legacy and enable America to make a comeback? Many see him as a savior, as coming to the rescue of a broken America. Make everything right again. A big task. As we all know, Trump skipped Biden’s inauguration, the first outgoing leader to do so since the 19th century, and in fact, the inauguration was radically different from any recent ones. The New York Times had to dig back into history to wartime stories in order to find similar crowdless, clouded inaugurations. It found three cases: in 1945, at the end of World War II,  Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration was “a spartan affair”; in 1861, on the verge of the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln was the target of an assassination plot; in 1865, coming out of the war when smallpox was raging.

This singular attempt of the NYT gives one a sense of how profoundly America feels wounded: Trump’s legacy is similar to a war. It tore apart the country and destroyed America’s image abroad. 

Unsurprisingly, Biden in his inaugural speech, noted grimly that the pandemic, notoriously mismanaged by Trump, had already killed 400,000 Americans, as many as World War II.

Read the rest of the article on Impakter, click here.

Let me know what you think!

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There is no Time to Lose: Climate Change is More than an Emergency

 My latest article on Impakter:

The World Needs to Wake Up: At Risk the Survival of Humanity

At a time when the world, battered by COVID-19, is watching with dismay the rocky transition from Trump to President-Elect Biden, a group of 17 world scientists reminds us that maybe all our worries are futile. What is at risk is something far more important: The very survival of humanity. The prognosis is dire and it comes in a just-released major perspective paper: “Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future” published in Frontiers in Conservation Science. 

On the basis of a comprehensive yet concise assessment of the state of our civilization, these scientists – experts from major institutions including Stanford University, UCLA, and Flinders University – are telling us in no uncertain terms that the very survival of all species, ours included, is threatened. 

And that the outlook is far more dire and dangerous than is generally understood.

The causes are well known: A loss of biodiversity and accelerating climate change in the coming decades coupled with ignorance regarding the state of our environment and political inaction across the planet. 

In the researchers’ view, world leaders need a ‘cold shower’ to come to their senses and plan and act in time to avoid a “ghastly future”. Professor Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University noted that no political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action:

“Stopping biodiversity loss is nowhere close to the top of any country’s priorities, trailing far behind other concerns such as employment, healthcare, economic growth, or currency stability.

While it is positive news that President-elect Biden intends to reengage the US in the Paris Climate accord within his first 100 days of office, it is a minuscule gesture given the scale of the challenge.

Humanity is running an ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for short-term economic enhancement today”.

A year ago, Paul Ehrlich was adamant that our civilization is about to collapse

Read the rest on Impakter, click here. Share the news, let me know what you think.

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