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 Conduct an environmental assessment of an average household or of a small business for which you can assess basic energy  consumption. (Your parents, aunt/uncle, grandparents or friend’s household would work.) (If the household/business has already taken significant steps to lower their environmental footprint, you can assess the effectiveness and impact of these steps, comparing  the consumption situation before the steps taken with the one after investments were made.) 

1) (6 points) Establish a baseline: what is your current consumption level going into the assessment (or the one prior to significant  changes that were already made). Ideally you use real data on your energy consumption (electricity, natural gas, gasoline) based on  utility bills. Alternatively, if you have no easy access to such data, use online research to determine average household energy  consumption figures published by government agencies.  Break down energy consumption into at least its key components, such as by main activity, household (appliances, lighting,  heating/cooling), transportation (amount of driving, bus, train, air travel etc.). What are the largest sources of household energy  consumption? Your focus will be on energy, but try to say something about your waste generation and water consumption (anecdotal). Convert your energy consumption estimate into CO2 emissions, using the model calculation provided in the supporting  material on Gauchospace (or equivalent conversion tables you can find online).  What is the yearly financial cost of energy consumption for your selected entity, broken down by categories? What is the electricity  cost of your household or small business approximately? How much gasoline do you use? How many airplane trips do you take a  year? How many miles? TRY TO CALCULATE/ESTIMATE AN ANNUAL CONSUMPTION AND COST FIGURE (back of envelop). 

 2) (4 points) Identify no-cost opportunities to reduce your environmental impact. What conservation opportunities can you identify  that require no upfront financial investments: departing from your baseline assessment, how much money could you potentially  save, and how much CO2 emissions could you avoid? How easy would it be to save water and reduce your waste? 

3) (3 points) Focusing on energy, broadly discuss investment opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint? What opportunities can you identify that would require financial investments but would help you reduce CO2 over time and save money? Try to roughly  estimate the return on investment in terms of money saved and emissions avoided after 5 or 10 years using some back-of-the  envelop guestimate/model calculation (although this could be done with a spreadsheet like EXCEL, I am happy with an informed  estimate). If you use calculation models from the Internet, try to use your own baseline data! A realistic real-world calculation would  compare capital investment costs (principal and interest) and cost savings over time assuming certain energy price developments. You do NOT need to do that but try to answer the question to what extent investments into energy savings may pay off or not,  under current framework conditions (policy incentives, energy prices)?

 4) (7 points) How easy/difficult is it on the individual level to reduce your carbon footprint? Draw some societal and political  conclusions from your previous discussion. How difficult would it be for you (or the household/business you are looking at) to  reduce your direct and indirect carbon (CO2 emissions) footprint 40% or 100% over current levels? Discuss the economic and  political constraints you are facing? What political steps could help overcome these constraints? (For background: The average U.S.  citizen emits about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, Europeans roughly 8, Chinese roughly 6, and Indians less than 1  ton per year and person) 

Jan. 6, 2022

Environmental footprint and sustainability research paper (20%)

Option 1: Environmental impact or sustainability assessment Conduct an environmental assessment of an average household or of a small business for which you can assess basic energy consumption. (Your parents, aunt/uncle, grandparents or friend’s household would work.) (If the household/business has already taken significant steps to lower their environmental footprint, you can assess the effectiveness and impact of these steps, comparing the consumption situation before the steps taken with the one after investments were made.)

1) (6 points) Establish a baseline: what is your current consumption level going into the assessment (or the one prior to significant changes that were already made). Ideally you use real data on your energy consumption (electricity, natural gas, gasoline) based on utility bills. Alternatively, if you have no easy access to such data, use online research to determine average household energy consumption figures published by government agencies.

Break down energy consumption into at least its key components, such as by main activity, household (appliances, lighting, heating/cooling), transportation (amount of driving, bus, train, air travel etc.). What are the largest sources of household energy consumption? Your focus will be on energy, but try to say something about your waste generation and water consumption (anecdotal). Convert your energy consumption estimate into CO2 emissions, using the model calculation provided in the supporting material on Gauchospace (or equivalent conversion tables you can find online).

What is the yearly financial cost of energy consumption for your selected entity, broken down by categories? What is the electricity cost of your household or small business approximately? How much gasoline do you use? How many airplane trips do you take a year? How many miles? TRY TO CALCULATE/ESTIMATE AN ANNUAL CONSUMPTION AND COST FIGURE (back of envelop).

2) (4 points) Identify no-cost opportunities to reduce your environmental impact. What conservation opportunities can you identify that require no upfront financial investments: departing from your baseline assessment, how much money could you potentially save, and how much CO2 emissions could you avoid? How easy would it be to save water and reduce your waste?

3) (3 points) Focusing on energy, broadly discuss investment opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint? What opportunities can you identify that would require financial investments but would help you reduce CO2 over time and save money? Try to roughly estimate the return on investment in terms of money saved and emissions avoided after 5 or 10 years using some back-of-the envelop guestimate/model calculation (although this could be done with a spreadsheet like EXCEL, I am happy with an informed estimate). If you use calculation models from the Internet, try to use your own baseline data! A realistic real-world calculation would compare capital investment costs (principal and interest) and cost savings over time assuming certain energy price developments. You do NOT need to do that but try to answer the question to what extent investments into energy savings may pay off or not, under current framework conditions (policy incentives, energy prices)?

4) (7 points) How easy/difficult is it on the individual level to reduce your carbon footprint? Draw some societal and political conclusions from your previous discussion. How difficult would it be for you (or the household/business you are looking at) to reduce your direct and indirect carbon (CO2 emissions) footprint 40% or 100% over current levels? Discuss the economic and political constraints you are facing? What political steps could help overcome these constraints? (For background: The average U.S. citizen emits about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, Europeans roughly 8, Chinese roughly 6, and Indians less than 1 ton per year and person).

IMPORTANT: This is an exploratory back-of-the-envelope analysis. The important aspect is for you to do a comparative assessment of saving opportunities under sections 2 and 3, departing from section 1. Section 4 is a policy assessment and allows you to develop your own ideas for making steps under sections 2 and 3 more attractive to consumers.

INTERNET use: you can find many “carbon footprint” or “ecological footprint” calculators on the Internet. They are excellent starting points, but your paper must go beyond Internet calculators and be based on your own data analysis and rough calculations. This means you need to break out key elements of your environmental footprint with data estimates (see above: energy for household, major appliances, driving etc.). Do NOT submit downloadable forms as part of your paper! Discuss your findings in the form of a proper report, structured according to the four points above. Add reference material as separate page.

Paper length: 1500 to 2000 words.

References: if you use your own data, find at least 2 solid resources to back up your analysis. Government and NGO reports, Think- tank’s, academic research articles. Know that the sources are reputable, i.e. who is behind them. If you don’t use your own data, use at least 4 sources.

Citation rules: see page 3.

Jan. 6, 2022

Option 2: Assess the Sustainability Strategy of a large US company Pick a large US company (steel, cement, extraction, power, manufacturing, chemicals, agriculture, technology etc.) that has adopted and is advertising a sustainability or green strategy, and/or has pledged a net zero emissions target by 2050 (or a similar target year). IMPORTANT: the company must have a formal, published “sustainability strategy” or publicly made a net zero commitment. Sustainability strategies are often one component of a broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. Most companies that made net zero emission pledges will have a sustainability strategy but perhaps not all. When in doubt, talk to me about your idea. How to find a company: google a text string like “company name”, “sustainability report” or “net zero emissions” to see if your company has something like this. Or the link below will take you to a list of US companies who have signed up for the UN’s Global Compact, which involves meeting ten principles including on environmental sustainability. A company that is on this list, will likely publish a formal “sustainability” or “environmental responsibility” report. But many American companies that are advertising a sustainability strategy are not members of the UN Compact. https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is- gc/participants/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search%5Bkeywords%5D=&search%5Bcountries%5D%5B%5D=209&search%5Bper_page %5D=10&search%5Bsort_field%5D=country&search%5Bsort_direction%5D=desc Some useful background information if you want to do this option: https://www.consultancy.uk/news/16521/just-40-of-global-companies-reporting-on-un-sustainable-development-goals https://www.brookings.edu/research/us-global-leadership-through-an-sdg-lens/ Structure your analysis into four parts: 1) (3 points) What are the overall goals/objectives the company has set itself? How does it define sustainability for itself? 2) (4 points) Has it adopted concrete and measurable targets based on a time table in line with its stated objectives? Such as to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, natural resource consumption, waste generation, pressure on biodiversity, etc. What are the indicators it uses to measure progress (CO2 emissions per year or per unit of production, % renewable energy, amount of waste generated or avoided, contributions to nature conservation efforts, etc.) 3) (6 points) How does the company report on its achievements? Are the results reported and verified by a company-internal unit or by an independent third party (verification, certification?) 4) (7 points) Discuss the extent to which you see the voluntary sustainability strategy of your company making a real difference. Why do you think the company is doing what it is doing? Is it making a real contribution to reducing its environmental footprint or is it just window-dressing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s Sustainability Strategy? How does it measure up to what you see as needed? What do you think the political implication is of what you find? NOTE: this is a more challenging assignment than option 1. It requires more research and patience reading and understanding corporate reports. It requires a critical assessment of how the company presents itself and of what the company is reporting that it has done and supposedly accomplished. Come talk to me if you want to do this AFTER you already did a bit of research on what company you might want to look at and what material will be available to do so? Information requirements: 1) you must be able to find an official “sustainability or environmental responsibility” report that you can evaluate. If your selected company does not publish regular such reports, it is not a good target for your research, because you will not be able to fin d enough substance to satisfy the research paper requirements. 2) What do independent sources have to say about the company’s voluntary efforts. Find at least 3 additional resources of information, such as newspaper articles or academic research that directly or indirectly deal with your company’s sustainability claims. Understand who is behind the source material, avoid company-sponsored advertisement that pretends to be independent journalistic reporting, or if you use it, identify it as such. A good place to start are several NGOs like Greenpeace who have reviewed such corporate strategies for a number of companies, like for Apple, Exxon Mobil, and Amazone, etc.

Paper length: 1500 to 2000 words.

References: find at least 4 solid resources to back up your analysis. Government and NGO reports, Think-tank’s, academic research articles. Know that the sources are reputable, i.e. who is behind them.

Citation rules: see page 3.

Jan. 6, 2022

General Citing Rules:

DO NOT USE FOOTNOTES OR ENDNOTES FOR REFERENCES! Your in-text references must have an author and a year (author, year). A “direct quote” will also have a page number (author, year, pagenumber). Below is one way to properly cite source material which follows the APA (American Psychological Association) citation rules, the style most frequently used in the Social Sciences (http://www.apastyle.org) (http://www.apastyle.org/ http://www.bibme.org/citation-guide/apa/). In the text, cite your source as in the following examples: – The price signal given by a tax could affect future investment decisions (Ekins and Speck, 1998). – US climate politics is a battle between powerful interest groups (Pooley, 2010). – Ekins and Speck (1998) point out that the price signal given by a tax could affect future investment decisions. – In key aspects, China’s emissions reduction pledge lacks specificity (“Road to a Paris Climate Deal,” 2015). – Others have characterized US climate politics as “a battle between powerful interest groups where business interests have prevailed” (Pooley, 2010, p. 122). Hard copy book (or electronically published pdf version): Pooley, E. 2010. The Climate War. True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth. New York: Hyperion. Government agencies: Environmental Protection Agency EPA. (2016). Greenhousegas Emissions Inventory. Online accessed January 8, 2016. http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/inventoryexplorer/#allsectors/allgas/gas/all Think thank/NGO report: Reports published under a think tank or NGO name, can be cited either by real authors or use institution as author: Greenpeace. 2007. www.greenpeace.org/international_en/, accessed April 20, 2007. Westphal, Michael, Pascal Canfin, Athena Ballesteros, and Jennifer Morgan. (2015). 100 Billion Climate Finance Scenarios. World Resources Institute. http://www.wri.org/publication/getting-100-billion-climate-finance-scenarios-and-projections-2020 Or by institution: World Resources Institute. (2015). 100 Billion Climate Finance Scenarios. (Westphal, Michael, Pascal Canfin, Athena Ballesteros, and Jennifer Morgan.) http://www.wri.org/publication/getting-100-billion-climate-finance-scenarios-and-projections-2020 News paper articles: Road to a Paris Climate Deal. (2015, Dec. 14). New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris- climate-talks

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