Sense and Sustainability - December 2021

WEATHERING THE ESG BACKLASH TO HAVE OURSELVES A SUSTAINABLE LITTLE CHRISTMAS

As the COP26 summit in Glasgow was predictably followed by an ESG backlash, we focused on making real progress, with President Biden ordering America’s government to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. While a paper warned that China has no intention of decarbonising, the nation had a ‘revolutionary rethink’ and is now using ‘sponge cities’ to prevent flooding. Researchers at the University of Tasmania created a black box for earth to record our climate change actions. Britain mandated the installation of electric vehicle chargers in all new houses and buildings.

 

NOT WAITING TIL THE MUSIC STOPS

Private enterprise is playing its part, with Sony, Universal and Warner pledging to lead music industry decarbonisation efforts and a Californian firm touting ‘mushroom leather’ as a ‘sustainability gamechanger’. Old oil wells could be turned into CO2 burial test sites. One Edison explainer examined hydrogen’s key role in decarbonisation the energy system, while our analysis showed how increased use of scrap steel can help reduce carbon emissions. Edison client Mytilineos’s emissions reduction targets are more aggressive than any pure-play listed aluminium producer. The Impact Taskforce published its report on how best to mobilise private capital at scale for people and the planet.

FALLING SHORT

As Citigroup said it expects clients to measure and communicate their emissions, every bank in a European Central Bank review was faulted in managing climate and environmental risk. Separately, two-thirds of investors didn’t think businesses were disclosing high-quality ESG information 11 brands were called out for greenwashing in 2021. While two out of every three net new jobs created in the EU over the last two decades went to women, nearly half of male accountants in a survey said the profession had no gender pay gap.


KEEPING UP THE NUMBERS

As we marked Wildlife Conservation Day, biodiversity initiatives emerged as part of a trend we expect to deepen in 2022, with Canada investing $200m in nature-based ‘solutions projects’, Japan highlighted as one of the world’s hotspots and a technique of using airborne DNA to detect insect species said to have ‘huge potential’. As nine more financial institutions joined a $14tn group pledging to protect biodiversity and reverse nature loss, here’s what you can do to help.

 

TIGHTENING OUR BELTS

Not all seemingly bright ideas work, with a chocolate-maker’s idea of deliberately leaving one advent calendar window empty to highlight inequality leaving children in tears. Still, Londoners could soon reduce their carbon footprints through Weight Watchers-style personalised plans. In the meantime, read about how businesses can help make Christmas more sustainable. Enjoy the festive season.

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