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June 21, 2021

[MONEY] Sustainable finance is rife with greenwash. Time for more disclosure

[The Economist, 22 May 2021] Investors are all too familiar with the rise of Tesla. Shares in the electric-vehicle maker are now worth nearly nine times what they were at the start of 2019. But it is not an exception. As political leaders across the world start to send clearer signals about their willingness to tackle climate change, the private sector is getting enthused, too, and a green boom is under way.

Over 40 green firms have seen their share prices triple since the start of 2019. Six have outperformed Tesla. The beneficiaries include all manner of emission-sparing companies, from solar-panel firms to makers of hydrogen fuel cells.

Meanwhile many big companies in other industries have taken to boasting about their green credentials. Renewable-energy shares have paused in recent weeks, in part because investors worry about the prospect of higher interest rates, but other assets have taken off. In Europe the price of carbon has soared to a record high. The prices of metals, such as copper and lithium, that are used in electric cars, are spiking as well.

The boom reflects soaring demand from investors. Everyone from oil majors to day-traders on WallStreetBets is splurging on climate-friendly projects and securities. Meanwhile the asset-management industry is marketing a style of investing that purports to take into account environmental, social and governance (esg) factors. So far this year, inflows into esg funds accounted for about a quarter of the total, up from a tenth in 2018. On average, two new esg funds are launched every day.

Unfortunately the boom has been accompanied by rampant “greenwashing”. This week The Economist crunches the numbers on the world’s 20 biggest esg funds. On average, each of them holds investments in 17 fossil-fuel producers. Six have invested in ExxonMobil, America’s biggest oil firm. Two own stakes in Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer. One fund holds a Chinese coal-mining company. esg investing is hardly a champion of social virtue either. The funds we looked at invest in gambling, booze and tobacco.

Governments are starting to pay attention. Under Donald Trump, American regulators tried to hobble esg investing, which the White House saw as a left-wing conspiracy. By contrast, President Joe Biden’s administration sees it as a potentially useful weapon to fight climate change. The Securities and Exchange Commission, Wall Street’s regulator, worries that esg funds are misleading investors.

What should governments do? One possibility is to follow the European Union’s approach. Its latest Green Deal includes lots of new rules about sustainable finance. Underpinning them is an elaborate state-directed taxonomy which covers some 70 different activities and aims to tell investors what is green and what is not. Inevitably, the effort has run into trouble. Countries have been furiously lobbying the European Commission to ensure that their favoured source of energy is labelled as green. Poland and Romania, among others, want natural gas to be added to the green list, because they are planning to use it to replace coal.

Rather than the eu playing God, investors can decide for themselves what is green. But they need a big improvement in corporate disclosure. The current system of largely voluntary reporting is riddled with problems. Firms disclose reams of irrelevant puffery, while often failing to reveal the few things that matter. Ideally, an asset manager would be able to work out the carbon footprint of their portfolio and how it might change over time. But many firms fail to disclose their emissions rigorously and often the measures made public by individual firms overlap, leading to double-counting when you add them all up.

A better system would force companies to reveal their full carbon footprint, including emissions from the products they sell and the goods and services they buy. It would help if big polluters also revealed how they expect their footprint to change and the amount of capital expenditure that goes toward low-carbon investments. That way an investor could work out how much pollution their portfolio is responsible for today and how it might look tomorrow.

The results of such disclosure may come as a surprise. We estimate that listed firms that are not state-controlled account for only 14-32% of the world’s emissions—so green investing can be only part of the answer. About 5% of these firms account for over 80% of the total emissions. They are mostly oil producers, utilities, cement firms and mining companies. Better disclosure would also show that only a tiny number of firms are investing heavily in renewable energy or breakthrough technologies.

The combined effect would be to expose as bunk the idea that swathes of the corporate world and asset-management industry are planet-saving heroes. And it would help investors put their money into truly green firms, ensuring a better allocation of capital and a faster energy transition.

Learn more at The Economist.

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category : Topics

June 15, 2021

[FOOD] Fish 'not as carbon friendly' as previously thought

BBC News, 24 May 2021, By: Darin Graham

Previous research indicated that seafood has a smaller carbon footprint than other animal proteins, because fishing doesn't require farmland or the care of livestock.

But a new study claims that catching fish using heavy nets that drag across the seabed - known as bottom trawling - emits about the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) globally as the aviation industry.

Seabed sediments that act as huge carbon sinks are churned up during this kind of trawling - and this results in CO2 being released.

"The ocean is full of little creatures that we call the plankton, microscopic algae and microscopic shrimp and so forth," says Dr Sala, explorer-in-residence at National Geographic and leader of the study published in Nature.

Speaking to the BBC World Service's, The Climate Question, he says "most of these creatures, when they die, will sink to the bottom of the ocean. And over thousands and millions of years, those little organisms will accumulate first forming mud".

His paper calculates that on average, about 1Gt (gigaton) of carbon dioxide is created because of bottom-trawling activities. "That's about 2% of the global CO2 emissions," he says.

By comparison, it is estimated that aviation emits about 1.04Gt or 2.5% of global emissions each year.

Bottom trawling is one of the most common methods of fishing in the world and the government says it accounts for half of the UK's annual fish catch.

However, The Climate Question spoke to fishing experts who dispute the results of the paper and are concerned that Dr Sala has overestimated the CO2 emissions resulting from bottom trawling.

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association says that it is not yet known how much carbon in the ocean gets into the atmosphere.

Dr Sala believes, however, that this information is not as crucial as it might seem. His argument is that if too much CO2 is absorbed into the water from the seabed, then the oceans will be able to absorb less carbon from the air.

"The ocean absorbs a quarter or more a third of our CO2 emissions every year. So if we increase the CO2 in the water, that will diminish the ability of that part of the ocean to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere, " he says.

Safeguarding the ocean
Protecting parts of the ocean could be one way to stop these emissions, he argues, and many countries have created marine protected areas, or MPAs.

Nearly a quarter of the UK's waters are covered by MPAs, however, the campaign group Oceana, says that most of those areas still allow bottom-trawling.

Minna Epps, the global director of the marine and polar programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), says this is because some MPAs allow those kinds of activities to take place.

"There are six different categories which the IUCN sets, basically ranging from the absolute strict, no interference to the lowest category where you are allowed to have bottom-trawling activities within that."

The UK government says it recognises "the important role of marine habitats" and how carbon stored in the seabed supports in the fight against the climate crisis. It says it is committed to reducing the impact of the fishing industry on marine life.

"While trawling can cause carbon to be released from sediments, the processes are complex and the overall impact remains unclear," a spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Defra says the UK wants to increase the number of MPAs, and is leading calls "for a new global target to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030".

But some in the fishing industry warn against setting up too many marine protected areas - as bottom trawling might just be displaced elsewhere.

"What are the impacts of where the vessels have been moved to? Not only that, it's likely that somebody else will be fishing there, what are the knock on consequences there?" says Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organizations.

"Like the rest of the citizens of the world, we as an industry take climate change very seriously. And obviously we have to play our part in in addressing it," he says.

"We as a planet need to be able to fish for food and bottom trawling has an important role to play."

Learn more at BBC News.

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category : Topics

June 4, 2021

IGPN Webinar of Green Purchasing Network-A Landscape of Practice to Achieve SCP Held to Active Collaborations

[May 25th,2021] The IGPN webinar of Green Purchasing Network-A landscape of practice to achieve sustainable consumption and production was held in May.

More than 20 participants of IGPN members from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippine, China, China Hong Kong, and UNEP, ICLEI- Local Government for Sustainability, TCO Development attended the webinar.

The webinar was hosted by the International Green Purchasing Network-IGPN Secretariat, China Environmental United Certification Center-CEC.

Mr. Chen Yanping, Chair of IGPN,presented his speech in opening remarks, “Sustainable consumption and green procurement are important means to promote sustainable development, as well as to promote global carbon reduction and carbon neutral expect to discuss in-depth and reach consensus on the outcomes of the case series output, which bring fresh and meaningful help to members, contribute to the implementation of green procurement in various countries”. Mr. Mark Hidson, vice chair of IGPN, gave his welcome remarks, “this will be the new phase of the IGPN with more collaboration and efforts to promote the green purchasing in the day-to-day work of organizations”.

Key messages and findings of was discussed during the webinar. IGPN Members and representatives who contributed the report shared their precious cases in advocating green purchasing implementation. Meanwhile, the consensus was made that the content of report is comprehensive reflect the application of green purchasing in government, business and private sector, indicates the effective impact of green purchasing to solve the environmental problems locally, nationally, and regionally. During the discussion, Mr. Farid Yaker, programme officer, economy division of UNEP,IGPN advisory board member, made his comments, “it is interesting and valuable, especially implementation of green purchasing expands from public to business and private sector, suggest to consider the monitoring performance of green purchasing in the private sector in the future”.

“Since CEC holds the IGPN Secretariat in 2018, consistently work on institutional development and members collaboration activities”, in the summary speech of Ms. ZHANG Xiaodan, CEC general manager, IGPN advisory board member, “This case collection report is one component of the IGPN Secretariat overall work plan, which will be released with refinement afterward, next will consider the new environmental issues we face, efforts with members to promote the development of IGPN”.

IGPNwebinar%20photoes.jpg

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category : Topics

May 27, 2021

Procurement for carbon neutrality

Procurement plays a key role in Pittsburgh’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050
Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh, USA, issued a new Executive Order that builds upon Pittsburgh’s leadership in fighting climate change by committing the city to become fully carbon-neutral by 2050. Leveraging the city’s procurement is one of the cornerstones for reaching carbon neutrality.
The Order reviews concrete steps the Peduto Administration has taken the past seven years on climate change efforts and lays out the next moves City of Pittsburgh departments and authorities must make to further protect the environment.
The centre piece of the Order is Pittsburgh joining the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Network, in which communities agree to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG avoidance to a net-zero emission level at the latest by 2050.
“Climate change is a global issue but has severe local impacts on Pittsburgh residents, especially upon those in low-income communities who bear the brunt of negative impacts from rising temperatures, tainted air and water, and severe weather,” Mayor Peduto said. “The good news is we are taking serious steps to confront these issues and emerge from this crisis with a stronger economy and a better future for generations of Pittsburgh residents to come.”
One of these steps is leveraging the city’s purchasing power to reduce GHG emissions. The GLCN member has made first achievements towards building a fossil fuel-free fleet, purchasing 100% renewable electricity for major facilities in the City government or adopting a Net Zero Ready Building Ordinance to commit to constructing highly energy-efficient municipal buildings.
Going forward, the Order further requires for example that:
• All City Departments to implement climate impact scoring when crafting budgets and conduct a climate risk assessment for infrastructure investments and municipal operations
• The Department of Public Works to issue a Request for Proposals to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve energy efficiency in all City facilities
• The Department of Mobility to issue a Request for Proposals to transition the City’s streetlights to LED and take into account Equity Indicators throughout the conversion project
• The Departments of Public Works and Mobility and Infrastructure and the Office of Management and Budget or their designees to take necessary steps in collaboration with the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh to leverage public assets to provide additional electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure that can be utilized by residents and visitors
• Taking necessary actions to, whenever possible, replace retiring municipal vehicles with electric or other alternative fuel equivalents and procure renewable sources of fuel, in collaboration with the Equipment Leasing Authority and the Interdepartmental Electric Vehicle Task Force
• Establishing an Energy Planning Delivery Unit to create and publicize guidelines for developers and builders to advance equity-focused greenhouse gas reduction and climate preparedness strategies in their projects.
Mayor Peduto has been one of Pittsburgh’s leading environmental voices across three decades in local government. He is the North American representative to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and in February joined international leaders including Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions Mike Bloomberg to celebrate the United States rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, among other accomplishments.

Learn more at One Planet Network News Center

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category : Topics

May 27, 2021

[SCP] Re-thinking nature-based solutions: seeking transformative change through culture and rights: A briefing for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

The term ‘nature-based solutions’ is both widely used and controversial. It remains ill-defined, despite some high-profile efforts to clarify it, and some of its most enthusiastic supporters include industries and governments responsible for much of the historical and ongoing damage to the planet and communities worldwide.

This briefing looks at key areas in which nature-based solutions need more clarity and rigour if they are to play an effective and transformational role in driving financial and technical support where it is needed most to tackle the global environmental crisis, to uphold human rights and to enable a transition to sustainable economies and societies. The briefing also makes a series of recommendations for the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Learn more at forestpeoples newscenter

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category : Topics

May 17, 2021

The key resource for a climate revolution: citizens

Communities or individuals producing, using and selling their own renewable energy could provide up to 89 percent of the electricity demanded in the residential sector by 2050. Research has found that, in the coming years, governments have a unique chance to support ‘prosumerism’ and, in doing so, shepherd in an effective and socially just energy transition.

Learn more at the ICLEI News Center

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category : Topics

May 8, 2021

EU publishes rulebook to classify ‘green’ investments

[Reuters, 21 April 2021] By: Kate Abnett
The European Commission on Wednesday published its long-awaited system to classify "green" investments in sectors from industry to transport, but delayed vexed decisions on whether to label nuclear energy and power plants fuelled by natural gas as green.
By making green investments more visible to investors, Brussels hopes to help steer huge sums of private capital into activities that support EU climate goals. The rules also aim to stamp out "greenwashing", where organisations overstate their environmental credentials.
"Too much money is going into the wrong areas, areas which are damaging the climate. We can harness that money," EU financial services chief Mairead McGuinness told Reuters.
"We talk a lot about sustainability and how to achieve targets. In a very granular way we now have, by sector, how that is to be done," she said.
The EU's new rules, known as the "sustainable finance taxonomy", are a list of economic activities and the rules they must meet to be deemed green. Starting next year, they will decide which activities can be labelled as a sustainable investment in the EU. “
The Commission published climate-related criteria for green investments ranging from building renovations to the manufacture of cement, steel and batteries, reflecting draft plans previously reported by Reuters.
The Commission said it will address natural gas in a second set of criteria due later this year. Nuclear power is also being reviewed separately.
The rules on those issues have faced months of fierce lobbying from governments and industry. The EU's expert advisers and typically wealthier western and Nordic EU states say it is not credible to label gas, a fossil fuel, as green. Central and eastern states say it should be promoted to help them quit higher polluting coal.
Some EU advisers and green groups said the sections on forestry, bioenergy and shipping were unacceptably lax. Representatives from five NGOs and consumer groups advising the Commission said they would stop doing so in protest.
"Environmentalists will not come back to the process until the Commission comes back to science," said Luca Bonaccorsi, director of sustainable finance at NGO Transport & Environment.
The rules will apply unless blocked by a majority of EU countries or by the European Parliament - considered unlikely.
To earn a sustainable label, an activity must make substantial contribution to one of six environmental aims and not impede the other five. The rules published on Wednesday cover two of those six aims - fighting climate change and adapting to its impacts.

Lear more at here.

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category : Topics

April 27, 2021

How to finance a nature-positive economy

The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) has released the fourth episode of their monthly podcast, the Green Renaissance. This episode explores the role of sustainable finance in creating a nature-positive economy as part of a green recovery.
COVID-19 is the product of a biodiversity crisis, and has shown the devastating and immediate impacts that nature can have on society. How do we redirect finance flows to create a more a nature-positive economy tomorrow?
The next episode, centred around circular economy, will be released at the end of the month.
Learn more at the PAGE news center.

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category : Topics

April 20, 2021

Release of global factsheets exploring how procurement can tackle the climate crisis

The Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement has published a set of factsheets exploring the links between procurement and the climate crisis. These factsheets provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the transport and mobility sectors as well as the construction sector in the context of the global climate emergency.
The factsheets explore some innovative actions cities have taken to address the climate crisis locally through public procurement and to drive sustainable change in these sectors.

Learn more at One Planet Network News Center

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category : Topics

April 9, 2021

Alibaba’s Ant Group pledges to be carbon neutral by 2030

In September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed that China would reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, which has inspired more Chinese enterprises to contribute to higher emission reduction targets.

On March 12nd, 2021, as Alibaba’s financial affiliate, Ant Group announced that it will aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and that it plans to leverage tech innovations to reduce emissions for example by using blockchain to track progress in carbon reduction, joining the urgent global efforts to tackle climate change and its devastating effects.

Ant Group pioneers its action towards carbon neutrality and detailed a path to achieve the aim, including neutralize carbon emissions associated with direct and indirect energy consumption since 2021 (Scope 1 and Scope 2), regularly disclose progress on its carbon neutrality aim, fully cancel out carbon emissions generated by sources it does not own or control by 2030, covering areas such as supply chain and business travel (Scope 3). In its comprehensive roadmap, Ant Group emphasizes to take concrete actions to reduce GHG emissions rather than purchasing credit to offset. Relevant direct activities include energy-efficiency and emission-reduction renovation of existing office parks; design, construction and operation of new office parks in line with green building standards; incentivizing low carbon office behavior; and promoting green investment. In addition, Ant Group will take innovative measures to improve the energy efficiency of its data centers and develop green procurement mechanism to promote emissions reduction of its supply chain.

To ensure the pledge and path credible and transparent, Ant Group commissioned China Environmental United Certification Center (CEC), an independent certification body with CDM/CCER DOE qualification, to provide the scientific demonstration for its target. Meanwhile, Ant Group will cooperate with CEC to launch a carbon neutrality implementation guide for the fintech industry, leading low carbon actions for digital finance companies.

Learn more at One Planetwork Newsroom and CEC News Room

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