Sense and Sustainability - November 2021

PICKING UP THE PIECES AFTER THE LORD MAYOR'S SHOW

Last-minute watering down took the gloss off the Glasgow Climate Pact, changing a commitment to phase out coal to phasing it down. Yet, as we pick up the pieces after the big event, COP26 was far from the ‘monumental failure’ that some claimed. Collaboration was achieved with global pledges to cut deforestation and methane emissions by 2030, while resolving technical issues that had prevented some carbon trading and transparency aspects of the 2015 Paris climate agreement from coming into operation was hailed as a ‘significant accomplishment’. Even the weakened coal pledge marked the first time that such a resolution had been made under the UN climate process. On the crucial issue of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, we will have to wait for COP27 in Egypt next year.

GETTING OURSELVES ON TRACK

At home, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘Greening Finance’ paper provided a roadmap to sustainable investing, outlining a strategy for the implementation of mandatory Sustainability Disclosure Requirements for businesses and asset managers. EasyJet flagged ‘proof of concept’ by making all Gatwick to Glasgow flights during COP26 powered by a 30% ‘sustainable aviation fuel’. Prince William’s Earthshot finalists included a 14-year-old schoolgirl, the city of Milan and the nation of Costa Rica.

STUMPING UP

As Scottish Widows pledged to invest up to £25bn in green firms and JPMorgan said it is channelling $13bn to advance racial equality, the Ladies Finance Club and share-trading platform eToro announced a virtual investing competition with A$100,000 of play money aimed at dragging women out of perennial ‘research mode’ and into markets. Austria launched a $3.50 ‘go-anywhere’ train ticket to fight climate change. A giant ‘carbon bubble’ was installed in Trafalgar Square to vividly represent a tonne of carbon. This Edison summary suggests ways of realigning your supply chain with net-zero goals. In the US, renewable energy generation has nearly quadrupled over the past decade. The United Nations said it is setting up a ‘greenwashing’ watchdog to name and shame companies failing to deliver on net-zero commitments.

FALLING BACK

There were mis-steps, with the hasty deletion of a government research paper recommending that people ‘shift dietary habits’ towards plant-based foods and investment giant State Street denying that staff need approval to hire white men. We learned that greenhouse gas build-up reached a new high in 2020, while a study claimed that wealthy countries will be three years late in putting together a long-promised $100bn climate crisis fund for poor nations.

UTILISING OUR INGENUITY

After oil companies BP and Shell chose unfortunate timing to announce soaring profits, this Edison research points out that, no matter the outcome from COP26, the private sector will be the engine of change. This inventor is ‘drilling the sky’ for energy over Scottish islands with portable spinning kites, while this plumber has given ‘white van man’ an eco makeover. And meet Jellyfishbot, a robot that eats rubbish in the sea.

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