Sustainability Reads: September 14- September 20

The Obama administration was on a roll this week. The first ever food waste reduction goal in the US was set by the USDA, EPA, private sector, and NGOs. The goal is to reduce overall food waste 50% by 2030. Food waste is a big issue for us here at the Sustainability Co-Op so we were happy to to see food waste finally make it up to the federal level. Additionally, an executive order recognizes the value of behavior and social sciences in order to improve federal policy, programs, and operations. This one is great too, as we are firm believers that when it comes to addressing climate change behavior change is just as important at technological innovation.

Sierra Nevada Snowpack Reached Five-Century Low This Year
Research that combines tree ring data, temperature reconstruction, and snowpack measurements shows that the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada mountains is at its lowest level in 500 years. Snow that usually melts in the spring feeding lakes and rivers was non-existent this year. Commentary to the study also warned that the warm temperatures and lack of snow may become commonplace. Study published in Nature Climate Change, article in Newsweek.

As country contributions come in, it seems unlikely that what countries are committing to reducing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions for the UN climate change talk this December in Paris is likely to ensure we do not pass the 2 degree celsius limit. Because of this, negotiators like France’s Laurence Tubiana are starting to propose that a new, long term goal be also agreed upon by the world’s countries. This would involve deep decarbonization in the long-term. In fact, the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project completed by think-tank IDDRI, was released this past week, with suggestions of how many emissions we can still cut in the long term, and avoid the 2 degree scenario. For example, the U.S. could “slash emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, costing around 1% of GDP. Petrol use would drop by 76-91% while final energy use would fall 30% – that’s around 18-22% below 2014 levels.” By Ed King at RTCC. is a new (free to the public) site that allows investors to see if major oil, coal and and gas companies make up the holdings of their mutual funds. Due to a lack of transparency and information, investors have frequently been unable to choose mutual funds that are free of fossil fuel companies, this tool is a break through tool that can finally allow you to find this information. It comes at an important moment when consumers are getting serious about where they want their money to go— the site even provides an easy-to-use tool which “screens for coal, smaller oil/gas companies, service industries, and fossil-fired utilities,” so that you can find those hidden holdings. By Stefanie Spear at EcoWatch.

On an end note, thanks for taking the time to read the Sustainability Reads of the week. We are celebrating our two-year anniversary this week and just want to say thank you to all our loyal readers! Please reach out if you ever have any questions or just want to chat about anything related to sustainability. Cheers!

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