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New sustainability ideas arise across the policy and business worlds

New sustainability ideas arise across the policy and business worlds
Welcome back. This week we’re guiding you through the latest issue of The Agenda, POLITICO’s home for ideas reshaping the country. Your host and reporters from across our newsroom explored how businesses, state and local policymakers and entrepreneurs are trying to advance sustainability in new ways. A Norwegian aquaculture company is building a high-tech salmon farm in Florida, while states like New Jersey and Virginia are finding ways to fund green infrastructure. We also take you inside the debate among global bankers over how to account for the risks of climate change, and the rules that readers say should be eliminated to promote a cleaner, healthier and more equitable future.

THE BIG IDEA

A HIGH-TECH FISH EXPERIMENT — The world keeps eating more seafood, but the wild catch from the oceans has been stagnant for decades. A Norwegian company, Atlantic Sapphire, believes it has a sustainable solution to that problem: land-based aquaculture. Its newly constructed indoor salmon farm sits on the tip of the Florida Peninsula, where underground aquifers can supply freshwater that mimics the river stage for young salmon, abundant salt water can mimic the estuary stage for mature salmon and a boulder zone can dispose wastewater safely, POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald reports.

The first fish will begin being delivered to American customers this summer, with the goal to grow to 220,000 annual tons — or 44 percent of U.S. consumption — each year. The so-called Bluehouse facility has a big efficiency advantage over its competitors in the race to feed a growing population with less impact on the planet. It’s on track to use just 1.05 pounds of feed for every pound of salmon filet, while cows eat more than six pounds for every pound of beef.

Compared with traditional salmon farms in coastal waters, fish from Bluehouse will have fewer middlemen and fewer miles to travel. It won’t have to move from hatcheries, to net pens, to on-shore processing plants to planes and trucks headed for grocery stores and restaurants. Atlantic Sapphire will do all that on site, then deliver it fresh anywhere in the U.S. within a day. Plus, the fish are grown without antibiotics or pesticides, and without the risk of escapes that could endanger wild fish.

There is a lot that could go wrong, however. The price tag is enormous at a cost of more than $2 billion, and the all-indoor technology has never succeeded at anywhere close to this scale. Atlantic Sapphire’s pilot in Denmark had to be shut down in 2012 to deal with a bacteria outbreak, and a more recent nitrogen mishap wiped out a quarter of production. The coronavirus has also disrupted logistics.

YOU TELL US

Welcome to The Long Game! Be sure to catch up on our last issue, about investor activism on environmental and social issues, in case you missed it. We want to know what you think and what we’re missing. We won’t take anything personally, promise. Send tips, critiques and all your sustainability questions — and answers — to cboudreau@politico.com. Find me on Twitter @ceboudreau. Did someone forward this to you? Subscribe here!

Sustainable Finance

BANKS VS. CLIMATE CHANGE  A growing number of Democrats, global bankers and regulators think that financial institutions won’t be able to weather crises driven by global warming, prompting high-level conversations about how to stress-test the sector, POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports.

Since the Great Recession, big banks have had to prove to the government that they could continue lending through economic calamities. But the rules don’t require banks to consider the risks of increasingly severe natural disasters damaging the collateral (think real estate) underlying loans, nor the potential of fossil fuels becoming “stranded assets” as the world transitions to clean energy — meaning oil and gas investments could be rendered worthless.

The debate over how to account for these risks is split between different approaches. One prevailing idea is to require more corporate reporting on exposure to climate change. Others want a stricter regulatory intervention by the Treasury and Federal Reserve, such as an overhaul of bank capital rules, to nudge financial institutions toward a greener economy.

Either way, the conversation is likely to leave a mark on the economic policies of the Democratic Party, including Joe Biden’s presidential agenda.

DATA DIVE35 of the world's biggest banks provided $2.7 trillion to fossil fuel companies over four years

35 of the world's biggest banks provided $2.7 trillion to fossil fuel companies over four years

Around the Nation

SIX STATES DOING IT RIGHT — POLITICO’s nationwide network of state-level reporters found the best examples of partnerships among private companies, public utilities, advocacy groups that advance sustainability goals. New Jersey plans to set up a taxpayer-backed green bank this year to fund infrastructure, following the footsteps of Connecticut, New York and others. Cash-strapped school systems in Virginia found a way to put 50 electric school buses on the road before years’ end, while New York City has a massive composting program in the works.

CUTTING RULES TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABILITY  Over the past several weeks, The Long Game asked POLITICO influencers and subscribers to identify rules that stand in the way of sustainability goals, as well as alternative approaches to regulation. Our aim is to provoke new conversations, and a way out of the often overly simplistic view that deregulation is at odds with a greener and more equitable future. Our readers delivered, so we compiled seven of the best ideas. Here are some highlights:

Abolish minimum parking requirements: Ever notice that the parking lots in front of strip malls are increasingly sitting empty? This is partly because many local governments require a minimum number of parking spaces to be built alongside commercial and residential buildings, Al Beatty, a transportation planner in Philadelphia, told us. Most of these mandates rely on outdated formulas that overestimate the number of spots truly needed, he said.

Rollback a FERC ruling that curbs clean energy: The Trump administration late last year expanded what is known as the Minimum Offer Price Rule, threatening state-level clean energy policy and distorting the market to the benefit of fossil fuels, says Jacob Corvidae, principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute. In December, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to impose a price floor for wind, solar and nuclear power plants that receive state subsidies in a multistate power market stretching from Illinois to Maryland. The approval will force renewable plants to bid into the market at prices higher than their costs, effectively blocking their participation and boosting coal and natural gas generators (which argue that state support for renewables artificially lowers the prices).

What We’re Reading

— Global Translations’ author Ryan Heath interviewed Jessica O. Matthews, an energy inventor and CEO of a small startup, who is challenging America to rethink its power structures — both physical and metaphorical. “You have the kind of multiplication of the fact that I’m also a woman, I’m also young. You have to wonder: When you already have a hard message that you’re trying to get people to swallow, how much harder is it for them to swallow when it’s coming from this package?” she said.

— Don’t miss POLITICO’s Zack Colman’s deep dive on a new kind of insurance local governments are considering to protect themselves from more frequent and extreme natural disasters, at a time Washington aid is often too slow or never comes in.

 

Source:  Politico

By: CATHERINE BOUDREAU 

LINK:https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-long-game/2020/07/14/new-sustainability-ideas-policy-business-world-489786?nname=the-long-game&nid=00000171-5b34-d92d-a5ff-db3ee8890000&nrid=00000159-6a2f-dbed-a75d-ea2f35740000&nlid=2672637

 

One Response to “New sustainability ideas arise across the policy and business worlds”

  1. Jurgen Pape says:

    I have always supported planting trees, but as a landscape architect, I would like more emphasis placed on zoning, especially encouraging planned unit developments or even transfer of development rights which preserve portions of sites in perpetuity. This does not take away development rights.
    Are we really gaining or losing overall tree cover? Could we not help at the local levels to preserve at no cost to anyone?

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