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It's always Earth Day at Canary Media

We're celebrating by reporting on the global effort to decarbonize society and avoid catastrophic climate change.

Julian Spector
Julian Spector
3 min read
It's always Earth Day at Canary Media

Happy Earth Day from Canary Media. We're celebrating by reporting on the global effort to decarbonize society and avoid catastrophic climate change.

That's actually what we do every day.

President Biden reportedly is marking the occasion by ratcheting up U.S. carbon commitments, with a new target to emit 50 percent less in 2030 than we did in 2005. The logical next question is how the nation moves from this more ambitious goal to actual implementation.

If the latest Canary Media reporting is any guide, the task will get more complicated as we dig into it. You can see that dynamic play out in my latest story about corporates finally tackling supply-chain decarbonization.

The last few years have forced big business to at least talk about carbon emissions and sustainability. If they don't, they'll have to answer to sustainability-minded investors, a group that now includes financial giant BlackRock and many other institutions. It's become commonplace for a large, publicly traded company to buy clean power for its operations and message some longer-term carbon-reduction goals.

What these companies haven't talked as much about is supply-chain emissions: all the carbon that gets released in the extraction and shipping of materials that get turned into goods. Supply-chain emissions typically fall outside of the direct control of the high-profile companies that have strong carbon pledges. But these "out of sight, out of mind" emissions add up to to roughly half the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions, depending on how you count them.

In the absence of strong policy guidance, companies including Pepsi, Mars and McCormick are bringing hundreds of their suppliers in for a voluntary climate bootcamp, with rewards for those that clean up their operations.

This sort of effort is "the frontier of what it means to be a good citizen from a sustainability perspective," RMI supply chain expert Paolo Natali noted. That's a sign of how early the business world is in its climate journey, this being 2021 after all. But it also shows the impact that high-level targets can have.

First the Paris Agreement pushed corporates to set big goals. A few years later, they're realizing they need to take a hard look at previously overlooked supply-chain emissions to deliver those promises. Biden's new push could play a similar role in forcing conversations about carbon in places where they weren't happening, but where there's no time to delay.

In other news, David Roberts is back with more Battery Week!, in which he breaks down the competition among technologies to determine which will master the soon-to-be trillion-dollar market. And Jeff St. John digs into how home heating improvements could help the electric grid avoid winter shortfalls like what happened in Texas in February, while also lowering carbon emissions.

How are you planning to celebrate Earth Day this year? Tweet us @CanaryMediaInc.

Today's articles

How to reduce winter grid peaks from behind the meter

Weatherization, heat pumps and flexible loads could prevent Texas-style disasters, cutting peaker-plant and in-home carbon emissions to boot. Read more →

The many varieties of lithium-ion batteries battling for market share

Even a small niche in a trillion-dollar market is a big prize. Read more →

Pepsi and Mars want to squeeze carbon out of their supply chains

Long-overlooked supply-chain emissions are garnering more attention from the brands that depend on them. Read more →

How Canary Media will sustain and expand its reporting on the clean energy transition

We plan to deliver the journalism the world needs to combat climate change. Read more →

Thank you to our launch sponsors for their support.

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Julian Spector

Julian reports on the rise of clean energy. He worked at Greentech Media for nearly five years, and before that he reported for CityLab at The Atlantic.