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Big Meat pulls from Big Oil’s playbook to delay climate action

U.S.-based agro-giants have spent hundreds of millions obscuring the role meat and dairy play in climate change

Producers of meat and dairy products love to talk about their commitment to health. But whose health are they really promoting?

A new study from New York University says top international food producers are lagging behind industries that are actively trying to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Worse, the researchers say, U.S.-based agro-giants have spent hundreds of millions campaigning against climate action and obscuring the role meat and dairy play in damaging the planet.

It’s enough to make you switch to bean burgers.

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Calgary’s billion-dollar Benevity bets that good deeds are their own reward

Bono-backed tech firm says companies that engage their workers in social missions enjoy 57% lower employee turnover

What do former vice-president Al Gore, rock star and U2 frontman Bono, and Canadian-born Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, have in common?

All three have become prominent social entrepreneurs – hands-on philanthropists seeking new solutions to global ills. And all three are now invested in a Calgary company called Benevity, whose mission is to “help the world’s most iconic brands bring their purpose to life.”

Benevity began above a shawarma shop in 2008. Former CEO Bryan de Lottinville launched the firm to boost companies’ charitable contributions by helping them see social purpose as an investment, not a handout. Today, Benevity helps companies increase employee and customer engagement with a “gamified” platform that makes it easy and fun for firms, staff and clients to pursue their interests in donating to charity, volunteering, grant-making or taking positive social action. It then tracks the impact of their contributions. Benevity says companies that engage their people in social missions enjoy 57% lower employee turnover – and that saves major clients such as Microsoft, Apple, Telus, Kroger and Visa tens of millions of dollars a year.

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Corporate knights are all around us

Our 20th Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada ranking proves sustainability wins in the end

When Corporate Knights published its first list of Canada’s Best 50 Corporate Citizens in 2002, there was no Paris Agreement. There was little in the way of sustainable investing, few protocols for measuring the social and environmental impacts of businesses, no Greta Thunberg. (Literally: she was born in 2003.)

In 2002, the Republicans were running Washington and gutting the Clean Air Act. In Ottawa, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, facing his last year in office, was just starting to think environmentally. Public concern over “global warming” was boiling over – but where were the leaders?

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Voter-suppression backlash proves business must take a stand

Civil rights groups such as Black Voters Matter and the New Georgia Project push for corporations to speak out

American business leaders know how to talk the talk. But the bitter aftermath of the 2020 election is exposing their inability to walk the walk.

Democrat Joe Biden may have ejected Donald Trump from the White House, but Republicans have been emboldened to pass laws aimed at disenfranchising liberal voters in future elections. Echoing Trump’s baseless charges that the election was rigged, lawmakers in Iowa, Georgia, Florida, Texas and seven other GOP-led states pushed through rules that restrict absentee voting, tighten ID requirements and empower partisan state officials to settle disputes. Most of these measures were contrived to inconvenience Black, Brown and young voters, whose support for Biden tipped the scales in November.

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Is Bitcoin the next stranded asset?

Crypto Climate Accord may not be enough to prevent Bitcoin from becoming a stranded asset like coal mines and oil fields

“Running bitcoin,” tweeted cryptocurrency pioneer Hal Finney in January 2009. A few days later, he received the first 10 Bitcoins ever traded. Finney loved the idea of a secure, anonymous digital token free of national controls. But two weeks later he returned to Twitter to warn of a bug in the system: “Thinking about how to reduce CO2 emissions from a widespread Bitcoin implementation.”

Twelve years later, the world is coming to grips with the eco-disaster that is Bitcoin. The currency backstops an alternative global payment system, with the value of a single Bitcoin hitting $79,000 in mid-April, up from $10,000 in January 2020. But Bitcoins are intangible units of value created by networks of supercomputers, and the environmental impact of running these machines equals the carbon footprint of a mid-range industrialized country.

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The clean energy revolution is here – and the oil patch is missing it

Oil investors and governments could have done better stuffing their money in a mattress, says Carbon Tracker report

“It’s time to invest in Canada’s energy sector,” urged the headline on a recent column by Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Coming out of the pandemic, he says, global oil demand will rebound fast and then stay steady – at around 100 million barrels a day – through the year 2040. As chief shill for the fossil-fuel industry, he concludes, “Our natural gas and oil producers need government action and clear support.”

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Unilever to support “living wage” and diverse suppliers

If there’s one company that’s been the 21st century’s poster child for corporate citizenship, it’s Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever, producer of familiar consumer brands such as Hellmann’s, Dove, Breyers and Red Rose Tea. Under former CEO Paul Polman, Unilever expanded into greener brand categories and embraced a “sustainable living plan” that included climate action, eliminating food waste, and promoting human rights.

Polman took heat for making social purpose as important as profit. But in his nine years as CEO, the company’s stock price nearly tripled, so when he stepped down in 2019, he left as a visionary. He also got a say in his successor, Alan Jope, a Unilever lifer who has run the company’s operations in China, Russia and India and who shares Polman’s social concerns.

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Meet the Canadians who pulled strings to make Taylor Guitars employee-owned

How an Ontario pension and entrepreneurial not-for-profit teamed up to make the California guitar firm employee owned

It seemed like the culmination of the American dream when California-based Taylor Guitars announced it was embracing 100% employee ownership. But the big winners may eventually be Canadians.

Hippie musicians Kurt Listug and Bob Taylor were young coworkers at a small guitar shop called the American Dream when the owner quit to go backpacking (it was 1974, after all). The pair bought the store for $3,700, including machinery and parts, and renamed it. Nearly 50 years later, Taylor Guitars has 1,200 employees and factories in El Cajon, California, and Tecate, Mexico.

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GM, Volvo accelerate into EV curve

The race is on as more automakers make bold commitments and innovators rush to develop fast-charging batteries

In 2017, the Trudeau Liberals pledged to end the sale of all new petroleum-powered vehicles within 23 years. It was a bold step at the time, when electric vehicles (EVs) accounted for just 1% of auto industry sales. But thanks to new technologies, Canadians seem likely to put their old gas-guzzlers in the rearview mirror long before 2040.

In February, a KPMG study reported that 68% of Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next five years say they are likely to buy an EV. Younger drivers are more charged up than their parents: 79% of drivers aged 18 to 44 say they’re likely to buy an EV in the next five years, versus just 58% of adults over 45.

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Renewable investors lagging despite 700% higher returns than fossil fuels

International Energy Agency report says while renewable stocks surging, reforms needed to level playing field for investors

The experts say that reducing global carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 will require new investment of US$1 trillion to US$2 trillion a year to shift buildings, transportation and industry to renewable electricity sourced from wind, solar and hydro.

Fortunately, taxpayers won’t have to pick up the whole tab. The International Energy Agency, a policy think tank in Paris run by the world’s energy ministers, says the zero-carbon shift can be funded mainly by investors. A new IEA study finds that publicly traded renewable-energy companies are already outperforming fossil-fuel stocks – without exposing investors to additional risk.

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