The annual World Economic Forum kicked off Monday in Davos, Switzerland, where, for many corporate participants, environmental management is taking center stage. Here are some of the news stories from Davos we’re following:
Toyota, Honda, Shell and Total are among the 13 transportation, energy and industrial giants pledging to invest $1.5 billion a year in hydrogen and fuel cell products.
The Hydrogen Council, which met for the first time today in Davos, is “determined to position hydrogen among the key solutions of the energy transition,” according to a statement. The group says it will lobby policy makers and businesses to back hydrogen as a clean-energy source.
“The world of energy is transforming very, very fast,” Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden told Bloomberg. “Hydrogen has massive potential.”
The Hydrogen Council’s other corporate members are: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW, Daimler, ENGIE, Hyundai Motor, Kawasaki, and The Linde Group.
Toyota, which along with Air Liquide co-chairs the group, has said hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will play a major role in helping it achieve its goal to eliminate almost all of its carbon emissions — from its new vehicles, production and plants — by 2050.
Last year Toyota launched its Mirai fuel cell sedan — the first mass market fuel cell car — in Toyota City, Japan. Additionally, in partnership with Nissan and Honda, Toyota is supporting a project for the development of hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan, with the companies paying up to $90,000 per hydrogen station.
A report, How hydrogen empowers the energy transition, provides a roadmap for achieving the council’s goals.
Also at the World Economic Forum forum, Walmart, Cargill and Bunge are among the world’s largest commodity producers, traders, manufacturers, consultants and retailers that have launched a new partnership to monitor deforestation.
Globally, 366 companies worth $2.9 trillion have committed to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, but according to the World Resources Institute, which is leading the project, these companies need better information to make good on their commitments.
The partnership will focus on building a global decision-support tool to increase transparency and traceability across supply chains. Partners include: Bunge, Cargill, Carrefour, Conservation International, Daemeter, GIZ – Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Envol Vert, IOI Group, Mars, Mondelez International, IDH–The Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC/IDB), FMO–Dutch Development Bank, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Alliance, Proforest, The Nature Conservancy, Transitions and Walmart.
The tool will build on the technology and methods developed by WRI on the Global Forest Watch Commodities platform, which currently allows companies to evaluate supply chain risk through high-resolution maps of tree cover loss, near-real-time deforestation and fire alerts, and analysis of individual mills and farms.
“Walmart aspires to preserve natural resources through conservation and restoration, working with suppliers, industry forums, nonprofit organizations, farmers and governments through business and philanthropic initiatives,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “We have committed to sourcing 20 commodities more sustainably and are resolved to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 in palm, beef, soy and pulp/paper. The development of innovations and technologies like the Global Forest Watch Commodities tool can help us and others achieve such goals.”
Deforestation presents a major risk to businesses — as much as $906 billion total annual turnover, according to CDP — especially those with large agricultural supply chains, and investors are increasingly aware of risks to their portfolios. Four commodities, palm oil, wood, cattle and soy, are responsible for 40 percent of deforestation, which can present legal and reputational risks for companies if they source commodities from protected areas or land with disputed ownership.
And finally, TerraCycle, in partnership with the city of Davos, yesterday launched a city-wide collection and recycling program for cigarette butts.
In addition to cigarette butts, TerraCycle has developed recycling collection systems for more than 100 hard-to-recycle waste streams. This includes disposable items, flexible packaging, office supplies, beauty products, toothpaste tubes, and used coffee capsules.
People in Davos can recycle their cigarette butts by extinguishing and placing them in public ashtrays along the city’s main roads.