Newsletter #1

This time of the year is certainly an ideal moment to pause and reflect upon the achievements and difficulties of the past 12 months, but it is also a time for setting new intentions and making plans for the year to come. This is exactly what this newsletter represents for us at Green Light for Business. This first email is an occasion for us to introduce our new project which, starting from January 2019, will be sent to you monthly, but also to give you an overview of what has happened throughout 2018 both within the association and outside of it. In the future newsletters, we will send you a short summary of what we see as the most important environment-related news of the month and suggest some online material we believe to be interesting. Our hope is to provide you with a quick, compelling and efficient guide through the overwhelming ocean of environmental news out there and a way to keep updated on what happens within Green Light.
We hope you will find it a useful and thought-provoking resource!

What’s going on?

In the last few years, environmental sustainability has forcefully entered political agendas across the world. Even though a much stronger action, based on a wide consensus on the urgency of environmental degradation, would be desirable, steps are being taken to address the issue. In this section we want to provide you with an overview over what both the political side as well as individual businesses are doing to tackle sustainability issues.

Plastic Ban

2018 has seen a growing interest in the issue of plastic pollution which has reached the top of the environmental policy agenda and has spurred action both by governments and companies. In January, the European Commission launched the Plastic Strategy, a new initiative aimed at reducing plastic pollution and favor the transition of the European Union towards a circular economy. A landmark achievement of the Plastic Strategy was the approval by the European Parliament of the ban on a wide range of single-use plastic items, making up over 70% of total marine litter, which will be implemented across member states by 2021. Items for which no sustainable alternative exists will be subject to national reduction targets. Nonetheless, a recently published report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Resources Institute highlights the need for more concrete action in the development of a stringent regulatory framework against plastic pollution: in fact, even though bans on plastic bags have been implemented by 2/3 of countries, only a few have addressed other polluting substances, such as microplastics.

Global Pact for the Environment

An exciting development at the global level is represented by the approval byAn exciting development at the global level is represented by the approval by the General Assembly of the United Nation of the resolution Towards a Global Pact for the Environment” (May 2018). The resolution established a working group aimed at analyzing gaps in international environmental law. The report it produced called for the drafting and approval of a new comprehensive international instrument which should consolidate principles of environmental law which are generally recognized but often hardly implementable because of the lack of legally binding instruments or the fragmented nature of environmental legislation. We are thrilled to see the results of the substantive sessions, which will be held in the first months of 2019 in Kenya. the General Assembly of the United Nation of the resolution “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment” (May 2018). The resolution established a working group aimed at analyzing gaps in international environmental law. The report it produced called for the drafting and approval of a new comprehensive international instrument which should consolidate principles of environmental law which are generally recognized but often hardly implementable because of the lack of legally binding instruments or the fragmented nature of environmental legislation. We are thrilled to see the results of the substantive sessions, which will be held in the first months of 2019 in Kenya.

COP24

COP24, that is the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was undoubtedly the most awaited event of the year. The conference, which was held in Katowice (Poland), was particularly important because it established the rules to measure, implement and verify the targets reached in the Paris Agreement. Commentators underlined the mixed results of the summit: decisions on key issues, such as how countries will improve their emission-cutting policies and how to support poor countries in doing so, were postponed; in addition, an alliance of countries, among which the US and Saudi Arabia, prevented the united adoption of a declaration of intent to strive for a temperature rise of no more than 1.5˚C (as strongly advised by the latest IPCC report).

The state of renewables

While the European Union is on track of hitting its 2020 target of producing 20% of its total energy consumption sustainably, the new goal of 32% by 2030 lacks ambition in every way. The European Union was one of the main drivers behind the Paris Agreement but apparently not willing to take the lead in its enforcement.
Luckily some member states and companies are taking initiavtive. Germany, still being one of the largest polluters worldwide, is in the midst of its “energy transition” (Energiewende) with the major utilities E.ON and RWE now observably taking action. The two comapnies completed an major asset swap this March with RWE reabsorbing their renewables subunifollowing the example of Rome-based Enel reintegrating their Green Power unit in 2016. Enel itself provides an excellent example of how a utility shift towards green power can secure their own future. With a stock price development largely outperforming its competitors in recent years, the company just once again raised its profits targets for 2020 and 2021 at the same time increasing their already high investments in Green energy. The company is on the verge of producing half of their power from renewables with a set target of reaching 62% in 2021.

Major companies going green

At the beginning of this year both Google and Apple announced that they now power themselves with 100% sustainable energy. Four years ago we were writing about Apples plans on our blog - it is nice to see companies being true to their word. Following this “peer presssure” in August Facebook pledged to power itself 100% sustainably by 2020 - Amazon and Microsoft following not far behind. That being said, outside of Silicon Valley prestigious companies like Allianz, PwC, McKinsey, RBS stated similar ambitions. On RE100 you can find a list of 158 large worldwide enterprises committed to sustainable energy also including for example IKEA, Danone, Nike and Lego.

Inside GL4B

2018 was an exciting year for our association. Several of our four areas underwent a major restructuring. The introduction of our new logo in April followed an overhaul of our website alongside articles being published every week to a more modern design and a revived Instagram profile quickly growing to more than 500 followers. We want to use this section also to give a huge shoutout to Amy Ngyuen, Sofia di Cesare and Giulia de Gregorio for writing our three most read articles this year! Check out Giulia's Interview with UJI Sunscreen as well as Amy's and Sofia's Artciles about Fast Fashion, by fist giving an overview over the topic and then discussing their supply chains takingthe example of Zara
Both articles were written at the time of our big Green Fashion event in April.The events area remained very active afterwards and organized a stunning four events this semester, covering everything from Green Finance over Green Buildings to Smart cities and also discussed the question "How to shape a sustainable concumer?" Alongside the public events, the K&R area organized several presentations spread over the year to inform members about relevant developments in Green Businesses and Climate Change that you can soon all find in the "knowledge base" on our website. Lastly, Green Campus accompanied the long-awaited installment of more water dispensers on campus (finally also in the library and in bunker) with the order of 24bottles for the members of the association promoting the water saving and the change we can all make during our daily routine .

What’s next?

If you’re interested in the future of mobility, watch out for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that will take place from the 08th to the 12th of January. Several electric vehicles are rumored to be presented there. Talking electric vehicles, Tesla will present its Q4 numbers by the end of the Month showing whether it can stay in the profit zone.
Starting in mid January, our blog will return from its Christmas break and start publishing weekly again and on our social media you’ll find videos from Green Campus' collaboration with with B.lab - we’re planning to become a bit more active on Twitter (so make sure to follow us if you haven’t already) and improve the structure of our website. Meanwhile events area is already working on several events around the topics of circular economy, startups and sustainable development, stay tuned ;)
We wish you all merry Christmas and a happy new year!

See you then!
Marta Pinzan & Martin Geyer