PricewaterhouseCoopers Predicts Climate Catastrophe Within 20 Years

Failure To Act Compounding Global Warming

With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

carbon emissions and global warming
Failure to curb our carbon emissions is making global warming worse every day.

The report highlights an “unmistakable trend”: The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.

To curtail climate change, individual countries have made a variety of pledges to reduce their share of emissions, but taken together, those promises simply aren’t enough.

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.” The report adds that at current rates, we’re headed towards 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century—twice the agreed upon rate. Here’s a breakdown of the paper’s major findings.

The study compares our current efforts to cut “carbon intensity”—measured by calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per million dollars of economic activity—with what’s actually needed to rein in climate change. According to the report, the global economy needs to “decarbonize” by 6.2 percent every year until the end of the century to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But carbon intensity fell by only 1.2 percent in 2013.

The report also found that the world is going to blow a hole in its carbon budget—the amount we can burn to keep the world from overheating beyond 3.6 degrees.

The report singles out countries that have done better than others when it comes to cutting carbon intensity. Australia, for example, tops the list of countries that have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP, mainly due to lower energy demands in a growing economy. But huge countries like the United States, Germany, and India are still adding carbon intensity, year-on-year.

Overall, PricewaterhouseCoopers paints a bleak picture of a world that’s rapidly running out of time; the required effort to curb global emissions will continue to grow each year. “The timeline is also unforgiving. The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and others have estimated that global emissions will need to peak around 2020 to meet a 2°C [3.6 degrees F] budget,” the report says. “This means that emissions from the developed economies need to be consistently falling, and emissions from major developing countries will also have to start declining from 2020 onwards.” G20 nations, for example, will need to cut their annual energy-related emissions by one-third by 2030, and by just over half by 2050. The pressure will be on the world’s governments to come up with a solution to this enormous challenge at the much-anticipated climate talks in Paris next year.


California Launches World’s Largest Solar Power Generator

PGE Helps Make California Greener

Earlier in February, the state of California got a whole lot greener with the opening of Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal energy plant. The plant generates clean energy through a system that focuses solar energy to create steam for powering turbines.

The gigantic solar array, which sits on 2,400 acres of land in Arizona, has achieved “substantial completion” and is cranking up to speed according to the Energy Department.  When at peak capacity it will crank out enough electricity for 230,000 homes.

Agua Caliente received a $967 million Energy Department loan guarantee. The DOE dished out another $1.6 billion to the new Ivanpah concentrating solar power plant (also the largest of its kind in the world). 

agua caliente PGE
PGE’s landmark solar project is located in Arizona.

The world’s largest fully-operational solar power plant has recently finished construction. With a maximum capacity of 290 megawatts, the Agua Caliente power plant will generate renewable energy for 230,000 homes back in California. That’s roughly the energy output generated by dirty coal-fired power plants. San Francisco’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will harness that power to help make the Golden State a little greener.

Each year, the massive solar field will prevent around 324,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere — that’s the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off of the road. Special thin solar panels developed by First Solar were used for the project, which was funded in part by a federal loan, and named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World. From a bird’s eye view, the arrangement of solar panels appears as a grid of extra large mirrors. We just hope the birds flying over Agua Caliente won’t face the same fate as those at Ivanpah.


General Electric To Invest $1 Billion A Year In Renewable Energy Projects

More Solar, Wind In Pipeline

General Electric Co.’s Energy Financial Services has invested about $10 billion in 17 gigawatts of renewable power since 2006, when the unit was formed. Now, GE has announced the unit plans to invest more than $1 billion a year in clean energy projects, such as wind and solar.

EFS Chief Executive Officer David Nason told Bloomberg News that renewable power is EFS’s fastest-growing energy market. “We see renewable energy providing very significant returns going forward,” Nason said. “We have a robust pipeline in the U.S. for the next couple of years.”

General Electric renewable energy
GE is making a major investment in renewable energy projects.

While GE’s core business is oil and gas infrastructure, the company is looking to invest in solar and wind because these forms of energy employ GE equipment such as wind turbines and power inverters. GE owns part of the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar farm, which is being built using GE power inverters. Wind farms under construction or completed across the U.S. and in other countries like Ireland use more than 4,400 GE wind turbines.

About $8 billion of GE’s $10 billion in renewable energy investments to date are in 12 gigawatts of wind farms, with most of the rest of the $2 billion going towards 1 gigawatt of solar power projects. These investments span 16 countries and 28 states.

And on Friday, GE announced it will expand its renewable energy horizon by making its first investment in a solar power project in India — $24 million in a 151 megawatt solar array built by Welspun Renewables Energy Pvt. Ltd (WREPL).

“The combination of our renewable project development expertise and GE’s financial strength and risk management will help achieve the ambitious goals set by the government to expand the use of renewable energy in India,” said Vineet Mittal, vice chairman at WREPL.

General Electric Co. executives recently announced they expect annual profit from energy investments to double to nearly $800 million by 2020, with CEO Jeff Immelt having made the area a key part of his desire to bring the company back to its manufacturing origins.


Sustainable City Strategists To Meet In Detroit

Meeting Of The Minds Tackles Sustainability Issues, Opportunities

Meeting Of The Minds has become a premier global leadership summit focused on creating smarter and more sustainable cities. They will gather again next fall.

From September 30-October 2, it will convene a select group of 375 leaders from 20 countries in Detroit. Each of the invited leaders is working at the cutting edge of urban sustainability, seeking out breakthrough innovations, and utilizing connected technologies.
sustainable resilient cities
Can sustainable, resilient cities serve all residents equally?
“For two-and-a-half days, we’ll gather to dive into the most critical challenges facing our communities,” said founder Gordon Feller, Director of Urban Innovations, Cisco Systems
Co-founder, Meeting of the Minds. “Each year we accomplish a few key goals: build a stronger network of leaders, identify partners to scale solutions beyond the confines of our own organizations, and learn from innovators who are transforming their cities.”

Detroit provides Meeting of the Minds 2014 with an ideal platform to understand which key ingredients make it possible to build alternative and positive urban futures. Meeting of the Minds 2014 will highlight a select list of solutions and strategies from around the world. Each of these will be featured on stage and in workshop tours throughout the city. They have been chosen because they move one or more of the key actors: investors and lenders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, innovators, designers, technologists, managers, policy-advisors, policy-makers, and citizens. Among the questions under the spotlight include:

  *   How well are some cities doing as they seek to redefine themselves?
*   Which cities are seeing success on the road to creating cleaner and smarter industry clusters?
*   Why do some cities succeed in the competitive race to attract and retain talent?
*   How do we fairly serve all the city’s residents?
*   What enabling technologies and policies help cities to become greener, safer and more livable?
*   Are there scalable solutions which are also replicable and transferable from one city to another?
*   How are urban leaders building cross-sector bridges?
*   What are specific and practical innovations that city leaders – from the private, public and independent sectors – are now implementing to accelerate the transition?

Detroit’s facing some huge challenges, especially as it emerges from bankruptcy. Fortunately, this is a city which is now home to a cluster of outstanding urban innovators, many of whom are working to solve problems that are immediately relevant to many other cities on all continents. Our newly designed 3-hour workshop tours will enable you to see and experience these innovations first-hand. You’ll meet some remarkable front-line pioneers. In smaller groups you’ll discuss how these themes are playing out in your city.

A sampling of some of the sites and projects highlighted in our workshop tours:

  *   First-time look at smart city demos developed for this Meeting by DTE Energy Co., Itron Corp., and Cisco Systems
*   Exclusive access to Rock Ventures’ real-time monitoring of 40 downtown buildings
*   Qualcomm’s next-gen connected vehicle
*   Detroit’s brand new innovation district
*   Tech incubators + commercialization spaces
*   Cleantech energy and mobility projects sponsored by the US Dept. of Defense and the US Dept. of Energy
*   Southwest Detroit’s small-scale revitalization and urban interventions

These workshop tours are only one part of an engaging program which includes a rich variety of plenary sessions, Big Innovation Talks, networking, cocktail receptions and locally-sourced meals.

Please visit for more event information.

The World’s Most Sustainable Companies Of 2014

Sustainability Leaders Driven By Efficiency, Responsibility

Australian corporation Westpac Banking is the most sustainable company on earth this year, according to a new ranking from Corporate Knights. But what does sustainability mean, exactly? Doug Morrow, vice president of research at Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media company, says it’s a multifaceted concept.

sustainable corporations

“On the one hand, it means doing more with less; squeezing more output out of every capital input, including financial, human and natural capital,” he explains. “But the hallmark of a sustainable enterprise is not just efficiency, but also mechanisms to encourage meritocracy, diversity, innovation and long-term planning. Management teams at sustainable corporations are afforded room to think and plan beyond the next financial quarter.”

Sustainability in a corporate context is essentially recognizing that a corporation’s long-term interests are intellectually and financially consistent with resource efficiency, proactive health and safety practices, and responsible leadership, he says.

Toby Heaps, editor-in-chief of Corporate Knights, says sustainability is when what is good for a company is also good for the planet, and vice-versa. “It means creating more wealth than we destroy. It means that a company is on balance increasing our overall stock of wealth, grounded in human, produced, financial, natural, and social capital. Sustainable firms are those doing the best job at creating net wealth–economic, social, and ecological–as compared to their peers.”

Corporate Knights announced its tenth-annual list of the world’s most sustainable companies, also known as the Global 100, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday. “It’s important to celebrate the most sustainable companies for two key reasons,” Heaps says. “One, it drives corporate disclosure of core social and environmental metrics, which matters because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. And from an accountability perspective, sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he says. “Two, because the Global 100′s clearly defined methodology is well respected and watched closely during the World Economic Forum in Davos, it pushes companies to compete to see who can best harness their business model to make the world a better place.”

He says leading by example is powerful. “The Global 100 make it clear that not only is it possible to lead on resource productivity and respect for the social contract, but that it is possible to do this and outperform the benchmark on financial returns.”

To determine the 2014 ranking, Corporate Knights trimmed down an initial list of 4,000 publicly traded companies to 350, based on financial performance, sustainability disclosure practices, and other criteria.

They evaluated the remaining 350 companies using key environmental, social, and governance performance indicators, including waste productivity, CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio, leadership diversity, and employee turnover. The companies were then scored, relative to their same-sector peers. (A different set of performance indicators was used for companies in each industry, depending on recent reporting trends in each industry group.)

Corporate Knights collected data for the project primarily from Bloomberg and through direct engagement with the 350 companies.

Morrow says no corporate sustainability assessment is perfect; each has its own strengths and weaknesses, “but in terms of what matters most–transparency, rules-based, and sophistication–we feel the Global 100 is the most complete sustainability ranking in the world.”

Leading the pack this year is Westpac Banking Corporation, an Australian bank and financial services firm headquartered in Sydney. Last year Westpac ranked tenth, but thanks largely to its diverse leadership and resource productivity performance, it now holds the No. 1 spot.

“Westpac is a very strong across-the-board sustainability performer,” Morrow says. “It was the first bank to join the Australian government’s Greenhouse Challenge Plus and the first financial institution in Australia to create a matching donation program. In the Global 100 methodology, it scored in the top quartile on all four resource productivity indicators (Energy, Carbon, Water and Waste Productivity), and on Leadership Diversity, which looks at gender diversity in management and on the board of directors. Westpac is Australia’s oldest banking institution, with annual revenues of $38 billion (USD) and over 36,000 employees.”

In the No. 2 spot is U.S.-based pharmaceuticals and biotech firm Biogen Idec.

Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company—and like Westpac, it is a strong sustainability performer overall, Morrow says. “The company achieved a top quartile score on Energy Productivity, Water Productivity, Pension Fund Status and Innovation Capacity, which measures the amount of money companies channel to R&D relative to revenue–a particularly important metric for biotech firms.”

Rounding out the top three is Outotec OYJ, a Finnish minerals and metals processing technology company.

Outotec has a strong energy and carbon management program, with top quartile performance on Energy and Carbon Productivity, Morrow explains. “Relative to its industry peers the company also scored well on the CEO-to-Average-Worker Pay Ratio indicator, which is a measure of enterprise-wide pay equity.”

Last year’s top-ranked company, Umicore, fell to the No. 9 spot this year. The Belgian multinational materials technology group’s fall from the top position was “a combination of Umicore’s performance trailing off on some indicators and companies in other sectors making rapid leaps forward,” Morrow explains. But the Brussels-based firm still came out as the top-ranked Materials company this year, he says.

Overall there were 31 newcomers to the list, including Samsung Electronics, Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson and Nissan, and 31 departures, including Intel, LVMH, Royal Bank of Canada and Clorox.

Which countries did best overall? The United States and Canada. The U.S. had 18 companies appear on the 2014 list, while Canada had 13. Britain and France tied for third, with eight firms each.

“A major surprise was the strong showing of U.S. firms, which took 18 of 100 spots in the ranking,” Morrow says. “This reflects the growing focus of U.S. companies on improving sustainability performance and the general diverse nature of the economy, with representatives in 9 of the 10 GICS Sectors.”

Generally speaking, U.S. firms tend to score well on the innovation capacity indicator, which measures a company’s research and development expenses as a percentage of their revenue, Morrow adds. “One weakness of U.S. firms is the CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio indicator.  Relative to their global peers, U.S. firms are notably opaque on this issue. While they tend to disclose CEO compensation, they generally do not disclose total employee compensation, which is inconsistent with global best practice.”

Heaps says the majority of large companies around the globe now report on their sustainability to some degree, and about a quarter of large companies link executive remuneration to relevant sustainability performance indicators such as energy intensity or the safety record. “This is good news, but the majority of companies still have a ways to go when it comes to really managing their businesses for the long-term including staying on top of their key sustainability value drivers. This is driven largely by the short-term demands of investors. The next wave of progress could come from long-term oriented investors taking strategic stakes in long-term oriented companies to put in place the incentives that create the most long-term value for everyone,” he concludes.

The World’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, 2014:

Rank Company name Country Headquarters GICS Sector Overall Score
1 Westpac Banking Corporation Australia Financials 76.5%
2 Biogen Idec Inc United States Health Care 75.3%
3 Outotec OYJ Finland Industrials 74.2%
4 Statoil ASA Norway Energy 74.0%
5 Dassault Systemes SA France Information Technology 74.0%
6 Neste Oil OYJ Finland Energy 69.2%
7 Novo Nordisk A/S Denmark Health Care 68.8%
8 Adidas AG Germany Consumer Discretionary 68.0%
9 Umicore SA Belgium Materials 67.8%
10 Schneider Electric SA France Industrials 66.5%
11 Cisco Systems Inc United States Information Technology 66.2%
12 BASF SE Germany Materials 66.2%
13 Bayerische Motoren Werke AG Germany Consumer Discretionary 65.9%
14 Aeroports de Paris France Industrials 65.8%
15 ASML Holding NV Netherlands Information Technology 65.4%
16 The Sage Group PLC Britain Information Technology 65.3%
17 Keppel Land Limited Singapore Financials 65.1%
18 UCB SA Belgium Health Care 65.1%
19 Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Limited Australia Financials 64.9%
20 Sigma-Aldrich Corporation United States Materials 64.7%
21 Life Technologies Corporation United States Health Care 64.2%
22 Tim Hortons Inc Canada Consumer Discretionary 63.6%
23 Natura Cosmeticos SA Brazil Consumer Staples 63.3%
24 Bombardier Inc Canada Industrials 63.0%
25 Commonwealth Bank of Australia Australia Financials 62.4%
26 Centrica PLC Britain Utilities 62.2%
27 Siemens AG Germany Industrials 61.9%
28 Croda International PLC Britain Materials 61.9%
29 StarHub Ltd Singapore Telecommunication Services 61.6%
30 Shinhan Financial Group Co Ltd South Korea Financials 60.8%
31 Hang Seng Bank Ltd Hong Kong Financials 60.4%
32 Stockland Australia Financials 60.2%
33 Banco Espirito Santo SA Portugal Financials 60.2%
34 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd South Korea Information Technology 60.1%
35 Wolters Kluwer NV Netherlands Consumer Discretionary 60.0%
36 Geberit AG Switzerland Industrials 59.9%
37 Monsanto Company United States Materials 59.2%
38 Scania AB Sweden Industrials 58.9%
39 City Developments Ltd Singapore Financials 58.6%
40 Vivendi SA France Telecommunication Services 58.5%
41 Teck Resources Limited Canada Materials 58.3%
42 Swiss Re AG Switzerland Financials 58.2%
43 Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc United States Consumer Staples 57.3%
44 SAP AG Germany Information Technology 57.1%
45 L’Oreal SA France Consumer Staples 57.1%
46 Atlas Copco AB Sweden Industrials 55.9%
47 Duke Energy Corporation United States Utilities 55.8%
48 Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV Netherlands Industrials 55.7%
49 Bank of Montreal Canada Financials 55.6%
50 Motorola Solutions Inc United States Information Technology 55.4%
51 Royal Dutch Shell PLC Netherlands Energy 55.2%
52 Cenovus Energy Inc Canada Energy 55.1%
53 Suncor Energy Inc Canada Energy 54.9%
54 Prologis Inc United States Financials 54.9%
55 Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Sweden Information Technology 54.8%
56 Galp Energia SGPS SA Portugal Energy 54.6%
57 Johnson & Johnson United States Health Care 54.6%
58 CapitaLand Limited Singapore Financials 54.3%
59 General Electric Company United States Industrials 54.3%
60 Daimler AG Germany Consumer Discretionary 54.2%
61 Agilent Technologies Inc United States Health Care 54.1%
62 Acciona SA Spain Utilities 54.0%
63 Electrocomponents PLC Britain Information Technology 54.0%
64 H&M Hennes & Mauritz Sweden Consumer Discretionary 54.0%
65 Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd Japan Financials 54.0%
66 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd Japan Industrials 53.4%
67 Intact Financial Corporation Canada Financials 53.4%
68 Weyerhaeuser Company United States Financials 53.0%
69 Eisai Co Ltd Japan Health Care 52.8%
70 TELUS Corporation Canada Telecommunication Services 52.5%
71 BG Group PLC Britain Energy 52.5%
72 Staples Inc United States Consumer Discretionary 52.3%
73 BCE Inc Canada Telecommunication Services 52.1%
74 Nissan Motor Co Ltd Japan Consumer Discretionary 51.6%
75 Enbridge Inc Canada Energy 51.1%
76 Encana Corporation Canada Energy 50.9%
77 Ricoh Co Ltd Japan Information Technology 50.5%
78 EMC Corporation United States Information Technology 50.5%
79 Sun Life Financial Inc Canada Financials 50.3%
80 Storebrand ASA Norway Financials 50.3%
81 London Stock Exchange Group PLC Britain Financials 50.2%
82 LG Electronics Inc South Korea Consumer Discretionary 49.9%
83 Husqvarna AB Sweden Consumer Discretionary 49.8%
84 Johnson Controls Inc United States Consumer Discretionary 49.6%
85 British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC Britain Consumer Discretionary 49.5%
86 Nestle SA Switzerland Consumer Staples 49.2%
87 Alcatel-Lucent France Information Technology 49.1%
88 Hess Corporation United States Energy 48.9%
89 Muenchener Rueckversicherungs AG Germany Financials 48.2%
90 The Toronto-Dominion Bank Canada Financials 47.9%
91 Intesa Sanpaolo SpA Italy Financials 47.8%
92 Wesfarmers Ltd Australia Consumer Staples 47.2%
93 Unilever PLC Britain Consumer Staples 47.1%
94 Roche Holding AG Switzerland Health Care 46.9%
95 BRF – Brasil Foods SA Brazil Consumer Staples 46.6%
96 Campbell Soup Company United States Consumer Staples 46.5%
97 Danone SA France Consumer Staples 45.7%
98 Kesko OYJ Finland Consumer Staples 45.7%
99 Novartis AG Switzerland Health Care 45.4%
100 Essilor International, Compagnie Générale d’Optique France Health Care 42.4%

Source: Corporate Knights


Schneider Electric Holds “Smart City” Event In Dubai

Green Infrastructure Showcased

The annual Power to the Cloud conference and exhibition under the theme “Building Next-Generation Mission Critical IT Infrastructure” was inaugurated on Monday at Atlantis, Dubai by Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy and Managing Director and CEO of DEWA.

green infrastructure
Sustainable cities are resilient cities.

The two-day event held by Schneider Electric gathered thousands of global experts in smart cities and data center, IT decision makers and key influencers from Middle East & Africa across verticals under one roof.

The conference demonstrates the company’s leadership in Smart Cities and examines solutions in power and energy management, as well as water use and reduction in travel time and traffic delays.

Power to the Cloud 2013 is focusing on the looming imperative of energy consumption doubling in the next 40 years. The experts are also looking at the urgency to mitigate CO2 emissions by nearly half their current levels and increase energy efficiencies four times higher.

After inaugurating the event, Al Tayer told attendees that modern technology has virtually transferred people’s lives to various means, saying “we have witnessed the outcome of the next generation services by smart homes, smart grid, smart phones and smart governments.”

He said further innovation, engineering excellence, information technology, smart grid components and related technology build future smart cities and sustainability, “ the first step in building a smart city begins with smart grids for water, power, telecommunication and IT infrastructure,” he noted.

He lauded the wise vision of Dubai’s ruler to transfer Dubai into a smart city.

The conference is also looking to deliberate on the enhanced role of data centers in building a world of more efficient cities. As a pioneer in providing solutions for effective datacenter management, Schneider Electric is committed to promoting smart integration through data centers for achieving tangible goals in smart energy, smart mobility, smart public services and smart buildings and homes.

“The IT growth and the urbanization, industrialization and digitization of our economies are driving high energy consumption today and this growth will continue as global economies strive to develop further,” said Thierry Chamayou, Vice President – Middle East & Africa IT Business, Schneider Electric.

As an example, in 2010 nearly 12.5 billion devices were connected through the Internet; this is set to grow to to 25 billion by 2015 against the global population of 7.2 billion in the same year. Dubai is at the heart of this growth in the Middle East. The city’s aspiration of a smart city coupled with the planned hi-tech infrastructure will make it an exemplary new age sustainable destination.

“The solution for sustainable energies is a combination of cleaner generation, greater efficiency and a smarter grid. According to International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report in 2013, Japan and countries in Europe have introduced energy efficiency improvements in buildings. In the US this year, a MoU sets forth an agreement for the states to work together to help automakers sell at least 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) – plug-in electric, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles – by 2025. Closer to home, in the Middle East too, the mandate of mitigating energy consumption is being addressed with utmost seriousness.”

Speakers at the conference include executives from IBM, Intel, HP, Dell, Cisco and a host of regional and international customers. One of the early outcomes of the conference is a concurrence of opinion among the participating experts that energy efficient economies can be shaped through the convergence of IT for achieving smart city solutions.

Chamayou added: “The efficiency economy is born from the convergence of the worlds of IT and energy to link and manage all elements of the smart grid, delivering the greenest energy at the cheapest price and the desired time. At Schneider Electric, we believe it’s time to save, integrate facilities and use decentralized generations to reduce the energy consumed, the cost per kWh and operating expenditure, and drive a self-sufficient, net-positive mindset. It is also a time to connect by accessing smart, real time data and information, optimize and deliver across integrated systems through open platforms. Schneider Electric plays an important role in connecting people, points and devices to enable insight and action for a sustainable future.”

The exhibition held alongside the conference spans 1,400 square meters and showcases simulated environments of a hotel, telco, bank, hospital, university, EV station and datacenter.


Microsoft To Collaborate With India On Sustainable Cities

Green Giants Tackle Sustainability In India

Microsoft India has announced the launch of Microsoft CityNext in the country. CityNext is an initiative to enable city residents and city leaders to use technology to build a foundation for sustainable city growth and prosperity.

sustainable India
India’s booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.

Microsoft has identified more than 40 solution areas across eight city domains that help address 90 percent of the challenges cities faces today:

  1. Energy and water
  2. Buildings; infrastructure and planning
  3. Transportation
  4. Public safety and justice
  5. Tourism, recreation, and culture
  6. Education
  7. Health and
  8. Social services and Government administration

CityNext addresses these areas through the vast and diverse Microsoft Partner Network of more than 430,000 technology experts across the globe. In India, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro are working with Microsoft for this initiative, with other leading system integrators also joining the CityNext ecosystem.

CityNext helps city administrators create a comprehensive and robust technology framework by integrating existing citizen centric solutions and providing access to them via the cloud, social and mobile. It also allows city administrators to monitor the key metrics of their city through customized analytics and dashboards. CityNext empowers people in government, businesses and the community to build more sustainable cities across economic, environmental and social spheres, said a Microsoft release.

Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman – Microsoft India said, “By 2030, India will have more than 69 cities with a population of more than one million. In fact, an estimated 590 million people will be living in cities. As India prepares to modernize old infrastructure, city leaders have to meet these growing demands with tight budgets and greater citizen expectations.”

“Microsoft’s CityNext puts people first and builds on a new infrastructure of collaborative technology to engage citizens, businesses and Government leaders to do ‘new with less’. We are excited about the possibilities this opens up to help enable cities compete effectively on a global scale and foster economic, social and environmental sustainability,” Pramanik added.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Vice President and Head of Government Business, TCS commented, “Today, the cities which are on a journey towards modernization face many challenges. Our work with Microsoft can help these cities find the right combination of investments, solutions, partnerships and social programs. This will enable them to attract business, build more vibrant city landscapes and competitive economies.”

Commenting on the launch, Partha Sarathi Guha Patra, Vice President & Head Corporate Affairs, Wipro Limited said, “Indian city leaders are increasingly looking at how they can drive cohesive and uniform city-wide development. Microsoft’s CityNext is an important initiative that Governments and Public enterprises can leverage to achieve this objective.”

Microsoft and its partner ecosystem is anchored around three key pillars: transforming operations and infrastructure; engaging citizens and businesses; and accelerating innovation and opportunity, the release added.


Ericsson Announces Collaboration With UN Habitat To Improve Cities

Sustainable Cities More Livable

At the close of its second think-tank event called the Networked Society Forum (NEST), Ericsson announced its commitment to promoting industry-wide collaboration to improve city life.

Sustainable resilient cities
Sustainable cities are essential to a sustainable future. Our new network will help connect them for greater sharing and learning.


The theme of NEST was “Reinventing Urban Life,” and for two days, a range of leaders from government, planning, public opinion, and telecommunication, including Don Tapscott, Steven Levitt, Jimmy Wales and more, joined Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg and one hundred ICT industry leaders to consider how the combination of mobility, broadband and cloud could offer solutions in aspects of urbanization.

“With one million people moving into cities every week, urban life represents some of the world’s greatest challenges and opportunities. ICT is an integral and natural part of everything we do in this urbanized world, and Ericsson has once again gathered a leading group of thinkers and doers to help point the way forward for our industry,” Vestberg said.

Ericsson released its 2013 Networked Society City Index report, which looks at how cities benefit from ICT in order to achieve sustainable progress. The report ranks Stockholm, London and Singapore as top three cities, all showing high ICT maturity and good triple bottom line performance. At NEST, Ericsson invited city officials including planners and politicians as well as leaders in the business world to join the City Index endeavor, hoping to spread the study base from 31 cities to the 450 cities of the world that host populations of one million or more.

“To solve systemic issues of traffic congestion, CO2 emissions, trash collection, residential crowding, and more, collaboration is the only way we will bring workable solutions to cities,” said Vestberg. “ICT cannot solve anything by itself. If we can bring together representatives from public and private domains, we will surely find unexpected, innovative ways to have a positive impact on city life.”

Another initiative announced at the event was a planned three-year partnership with UN-Habitat, the agency mandated by the United Nations to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. For the next three years, Ericsson and UN-Habitat will embark on collaborative research and specific initiatives which aim to provide valuable insights for city leaders and policymakers.

“Ericsson’s role will be to contribute with technology and to be the ICT advisor. We expect to gather case studies on improving living standards, incorporate a big data element to track urban trends, and improve public awareness of the post-2015 sustainable development goals[1]. We also hope to engage other thought leaders in the industry in this work going forward,” said Vestberg.

Dr. Joan Clos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, said: “Over the next thirty years, the urban population of the world will increase by at least 2.5 billion people. How we plan and manage our towns and cities will have an economic, social and political impact and will be directly connected with reduction of poverty and the increase of equity. We need key partners to bring innovation to solving the world’s urban challenges, and welcome this future partnership with Ericsson as a concrete step in that direction.”

mexico city

In vast research including some reports from Ericsson ConsumerLab, traffic and transportation are regularly cited by residents as the most challenging issues in a big, growing city. EU research estimates that about 1% of GDP annually is lost on traffic congestion. A study from the US calculates that 70 million hours per year are spent finding a parking space. And globally, inadequate road safety is estimated to cost USD 518 billion, the equivalent of 1-2% of an average nation’s annual GDP. Traffic accidents kill nearly 1.3 million people each year and an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.

Dr Catherine Mulligan, Research fellow at Imperial College Business School, explained: “There is growing evidence that digital and energy infrastructures are needed for intelligent transportation systems, enabled by common connectivity, device and service enablers.”

To create a concerted effort to enable creation of safe, sustainable and efficient transport systems in the market, Ericsson is launching an Intelligent Transport Initiative. The intent is to reach stakeholders from road authorities, research institutes, public transport operators, logistics providers, and service providers to analyze connected transport from several aspects.

“Mobile communication is expected to reach 9 billion subscriptions by 2019. This would never happen without unity and collaboration across the entire ecosystem. We need a similar drive now that we will see industries such as transport take advantage of mobility, broadband, and cloud. We’ve seen wonderful innovations by leading companies but in order for these ideas to scale across the globe, we need to collaborate,” said Vestberg.

Some of the major trends in transport are autonomous driving (driverless vehicles) and the uptake of electric vehicles. During 2014, Ericsson will lead a study across several disciplines to increase understanding of how an intelligent transportation system can best be provided. This work will look at aspects like innovation, safety, quality of service, business models and value chains, and standardization will be analyzed. Ericsson will hold a series of subject-focused roundtables throughout the year. The expected result aims to propose actions to stimulate progress, eliminate barriers and generate new business.

“Together with global experts and industry leaders, we aim to inspire, develop and create actionable ideas that can expand opportunities for our industry, at the same time making a tangible contribution to society at large,” Vestberg said.


John Chambers Says Sustainability Revolution Imperative For India

India Could Become Green Giant

By Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers (as it appeared in the Business Standard this week).

In a fast-urbanizing world, India is setting the pace. Over the next ten years, more than one hundred million Indians will move from villages to cities, seeking schools for their children, health care for their families, and jobs for themselves. With more than 833 million people still living in the country’s 640,000 villages, this unprecedented exodus will only accelerate.

India's booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.
India’s booming economy and population must address sustainability issues immediately.

“Mass urbanization” is an abstract concept, but one piece of data may help illustrate the enormity of changes ahead: India today has only 20 per cent of the total floor space it will need by 2030 to accommodate the millions expected to migrate to its cities. Put another way, India must build a staggering 900 million square meters of new urban residential space in less than twenty years. Without radical innovation, expansion on such scale will place an unsustainable strain on the environment.

I visit India regularly and always return with deep admiration for its people’s optimism and work ethic. In the world’s largest democracy, change often happens slowly, and it can seem messy and chaotic. But I have no doubt change will come to India. Its people will face up to their problems and get the solutions right.

As India devises those solutions, however, it would do well to embrace some basic principles of successful development. The first is open standards. Imagine the savings in energy costs, carbon emissions, and water that could be realized by adopting global open standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). At our offices in India, we’ve already implemented LEED standards at their highest levels, dramatically reducing energy usage compared to our buildings in the United States.

Microsoft sees a window of opportunity in the sustainable city movement.

Another challenge is traffic. By 2020, motor vehicle traffic in India is expected to increase fivefold – and yet, over that same period, the nation’s highway network is projected to grow by only 4 per cent per year. At Cisco we like to say, “Don’t commute to compute.” We have launched a number of initiatives around the world to make it easier for people to get work done without having to move around and consume energy resources. South Korea, for example, has adopted a plan to create 450 “smart work centers” by 2015. Based on open platforms, these centers will result in $1.3 billion savings in transit expenses with a reduction of 1.1 million tons in carbon emissions. Telecommuting can save money and reduce traffic, but only if the digital and energy infrastructure is reliable.

As the country develops, it must employ smart planning techniques and make targeted investments in its cities. To date, in post-independence India, the only major cities created are the capital cities of Chandigarh and Gandhinagar. Indian planners are looking to change the economic face of the nation through the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). As part of this $90 billion undertaking, the world’s largest infrastructure project, India will build twenty-four new cities across fifteen hundred kilometers, improving the living standards of 180 million people. When completed, DMIC will create a center of global manufacturing and trade supported by world-class infrastructure. Cisco is working with DMIC to provide master planning and information and communications technology, as well as offering citizen services including education, transportation, and public safety and security, all while creating and supplying a new digital urban infrastructure from the ground up.

DMIC will reduce the time it takes to ship goods between Delhi and Mumbai from fourteen days to a single day, allowing the government to work toward its goal of increasing the share of India’s GDP created through manufacturing from 15 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022. DMIC, which aims to generate one hundred million new manufacturing jobs, is a powerful example of how visionary leadership can transform communities and cities. India needs more such examples.

Unfortunately, technology is often an afterthought for city planners and real estate developers. When cities were built in the United States, gas and water were cheaply available and cities were designed mainly for cars, not people. Today, it is possible to create smart cities with intelligent networks that manage basic citizen services and replace sprawling concrete jungles fit only for cars with spaces that are walkable, bikeable, and livable. By embracing smart regulation, India can leapfrog less productive traditional stages of development and benefit from best practices employed all over the world. Smart regulation, exemplified by the potential of India’s Unique Identification project, can accelerate how technology at scale enables sustainable growth.

Public-private partnerships should also play a critical role in providing the talent to build and run these new cities-and they are not as complex as many think. At Cisco, we call our Networking Academy program “the world’s largest classroom” because we have trained more than 4.25 million students worldwide. In India alone, we have 197 academies that provide training and certifications to thousands of students.

More is needed. In 2010, India had 500,000 civil engineers and 45,000 architects. That sounds like a lot until you measure it against what’s needed to match projected growth: 4 million civil engineers and 366,000 architects. Millions of young Indians must be trained and jobs created to address this skill shortage. Although India has a National Skill Development Fund to help train workers over the next decade, the gap cannot be closed unless industry, academia, and the government work together. India’s IT industry offers grounds for optimism, having addressed its own challenges by training its workforce in creative ways and completely changing the labor ecosystem.

Urbanization will drive India’s return to the center of the world stage. But to realize that potential, its cities cannot grow in the unplanned way they traditionally have. Instead, India must foster urban spaces that are sustainable economically, socially, and environmentally. The essential building blocks are visionary leadership buttressed by global open standards, smart regulation, and public private partnerships – all underpinned by technology. As it creates these new cities, India has a chance to be the model for twenty-first-century civilization.


Business Must Collaborate With Local Government To Expedite Sustainability

 Bottom-Line Partnerships Critical To Success

Many cities have a vision for what a sustainable and resilient urban environment and community look like, but openly acknowledge shortages of capital, employee bandwidth and political cover to pull it off alone. 

“What unites us on an urban level is more unifying than divisive,” – Paul Hawken.

If you were to judge solely by the plenary sessions at VERGE, a conference uniting the sustainability and tech communities in San Francisco last week, you would be hard-pressed not to be hopeful that we are turning a corner on the greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st Century because of, not in spite of, business. The intersection points between business and society’s agendas are undoubtedly growing and this overlap is nowhere more apparent than in cities.The future health of our urban environments increasingly represents the future health of our planet. I won’t bore you with a bunch of figures, but one illustrates the stakes: 70%. Let me explain:

  • 70% is the global GDP that cities account for today.
  • 70% is the population that will reside in cities by 2050.
  • 70% (ok, actually 75%) is the share of all the world’s resources consumed by cities.
  • And just under 70% is the share of all the world’s energy consumed by cities.

To wit, many large metropolitan areas, in the US and elsewhere, are attempting to rise to the occasion, acting as ‘first responders’ to system-level challenges colliding on their doorsteps, from escalating consumer waste to water scarcity; from “food deserts” and de-carbonization of the electricity grid to how to re-envision and repurpose land.

“The “urban century” will only be considered a positive sustainability catalyst if cities and companies can understand, engage and leverage the best of each other to address resource shortages, social equity, and a broad and diverse economic base collaboratively.”

For a conference that was set, rather appropriately, amidst the backdrop of a US government shutdown, the excitement that government leadership not only exists, but is thriving on a local level can make a Pollyanna out of almost anyone.

Maybe I’m overly optimistic too—as my colleague Chris Guenther and I wrote in our Citystates research last year, “Sustainability needs cities as much as cities need sustainability.” While there is risk of hyperbole and rhetoric outpacing results, I do believe much of the hype is well-earned, with one important caveat: The “urban century” will only be considered a positive sustainability catalyst if cities and companies can understand, engage and leverage the best of each other to address resource shortages, social equity, and a broad and diverse economic base collaboratively.

BeFunky_green citypeople.jpg

How close is that to a reality? Here’s what I heard:

Cities can’t do it alone. Many cities have a vision for what a sustainable and resilient urban environment and community look like, but openly acknowledge shortages of capital, employee bandwidth and (depending on the city) political cover to pull it off by themselves.

Corporates want to be relevant urban players. Companies, large and small, read the tea leaves too—they know cities are the economic engines of the 21st century. They also are increasingly buying into the hype that mayors rule the world and that the preferred PPP (public-private partnership) of the future is one with actors that show vision, demonstrate decisiveness, and have a willingness to collaborate across the spectrum of urgent sustainability issues in more pragmatic, less idealistic ways. In a time of rising expectations for the private sector to contribute solutions to complex, interconnected and transborder issues, companies need serious and able partners too.

To recap, cities have vision and are demonstrating results on a host of sustainability issues (especially as they relate to resource challenges), but need more capital and manpower to extend progress.

Corporates, recognizing cities as loci of not only growing consumer markets, but the homes of their employee bases and even extensions of their supply chains, face increasing expectations to contribute solutions to these same resource issues, and have financial and human resources to boot.

So what’s missing and how can we connect the dots? This was the conversation occurring between plenary talks at VERGE and within the hallways of the conference venue, and it will be the subject of my next blog.

The emerging answers, nascent and diverse, speak to the difficulty (perhaps even foolishness) of generalizing across cities within the US, and especially across urban areas in developing/developed countries. The same goes for businesses, as the motives, capabilities and adaptability companies can bring to bear in partnership with cities can differ substantially depending on whether you’re an “incumbent” or “insurgent.” Reservations aside, the disconnect identified by both businesses and cities represented at VERGE speak to the importance of translation, a role SustainAbility will undertake by, learning from and working with business, cities and other urban stakeholders to help answer more “missed connections.”

Source: This post originally appeared in edited form on the website. Based in Washington DC, Mohammed Al-Shawaf works at SustainAbility, particularly for clients in the automotive, energy, technology and food & beverage sectors.