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Between COP27 and the US elections, it’s been a big news week. No doubt you’ve seen at least a few dire headlines warning of the immense work still needed to slow climate change. While the UN conference has certainly shone a light on the challenges that lie ahead, we’ve also come across several reasons to remain hopeful about our collective future.

That starts with a recent Bloomberg News analysis finding that 87 countries have passed a tipping point of drawing at least 5% of their electricity from wind and solar. The rapid expansion of the renewables industry, combined with the growing adoption of electric vehicles, are driving forces behind another piece of good news: global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion will grow by less than 1% this year, according to the IEA.

Other positives that we wanted to highlight to offset the (often justified) climate doom: Scientists are calling Brazil’s recent election a win for the Amazon rainforest, as the newly elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has pledged to reduce deforestation. Also, we’ll soon have greater public transparency on who is polluting and where, thanks to Wednesday’s launch of Climate TRACE, a new global database of emissions data created by a non-profit coalition of academics, tech companies, and environmental scientists. You know how we love transparency, data and a good map! 

We continue to see growing momentum among corporations, entrepreneurs and other innovators who are enacting positive change for the climate, social justice, and more. Our newsletter this month spotlights a few that are giving us plenty of reasons for optimism.


In the midst of the racial justice protests of 2020, Aurora James went viral with a simple idea: the Black population comprises about 15% of the United States and should be equally represented on retailers’ shelf space. Her now infamous Instagram post captured the attention of major brands, leading her to found the nonprofit, the Fifteen Percent Pledge. In the two years since, the organization has helped 600 Black brands make it onto retail shelves in North America and the United Kingdom, shifting more than $10 billion of revenue to Black-owned businesses.

As noted in a recent Town and Country profile, James figured out a formula for actionable philanthropy that delivers a return on investment. Through the Fifteen Percent Pledge, major brands receive guidance on how to scale Buy Black initiatives and better serve customers of color, while Black entrepreneurs get access to new sales channels.

James knows a few things about being an entrepreneur. In 2013 she founded Brother Vellies, a shoe and accessories brand that celebrates traditional African design practices while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. That experience gives her a unique window into what’s needed to support entrepreneurs of color. In her speech at the recent Glamour Women of the Year Awards, James highlighted the importance of opening doors for other people. When we do that, she said, “we can solve so much more than we even realize.”

Investors Push for Greener Eggs and Ham
The food and agriculture sector accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to a range of other impacts, from biodiversity loss and water pollution to deforestation and overuse of antibiotics. Those issues are now top of mind for investors, who are putting pressure on food companies to prioritize ESG. The Financial Times reports that shareholder activism is now prompting action from companies. For example, several big food companies are partnering with farmers on “regenerative agriculture,” as NPR recently reported. We’re also seeing more innovative solutions emerge, such as hybrid meat and greenhouse-grown “teen” lettuce.
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Investors Divided on ESG Initiatives

Stanford University study sheds new light on how age and wealth shape investor attitudes about ESG initiatives. For example, investors 58 years old and over were the least likely to support ESG objectives in general. Meanwhile, young investors claim to be willing to concede between 6 and 10 percent of their retirement savings to support ESG causes.
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Entrepreneurs Driving Sustainable Urbanization

Nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, which will introduce new socioeconomic and sustainability challenges, according to a new report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Luckily, a cadre of urban entrepreneurs (aka, urbanpreneurs) is stepping up with innovative solutions to tackle those challenges. The UNCTAD report highlights how small and medium-sized businesses are boosting innovation and creating jobs in fields such as urban farming, financial inclusion, digitization, and more.
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Brands that Make a Difference

What do a sustainable mattress company, a Black-owned fintech startup, and a bamboo-based toilet paper maker have in common? They’re all elevating everyday tasks to be less tedious, more inclusive, and more sustainable — and that’s why they made it onto Fast Company’s list of Brands that Matter. The list of 144 companies is a remarkable testament to what brands can achieve when they prioritize social action, sustainability, inclusivity, and fun.

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Silver Lining of Climate Change: More Rainbows

It’s hard not to feel a burst of joy when you spot a rainbow in the sky, and we may get to experience those moments of beauty more frequently under certain climate change scenarios. A new study finds that rainbows could occur 4 to 5 percent more often by 2100.
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