In this month's issue of The Sustainable Business Review we report on pre-COP26 climate diplomacy, how ESG investors are turning up the heat under companies while coming under increased scrutiny themselves, and how 'water-positivity' is becoming the new net zero

This summer’s dire IPCC report, warning of the fast-closing window to avoid planetary catastrophe, came amid rapidly growing evidence that climate change is already having unpredictable and deadly impacts. The flash floods in four north-eastern U.S. states, which killed dozens, is only the latest in a series of extreme weather events of near-biblical proportions this past summer.

With November’s COP26 climate conference, where countries will be urged to sign up to rapidly reduce their emissions by 2030, just weeks away, the alarming backdrop must surely mean global leaders will strain every sinew to make the Glasgow summit a success.

But as Angeli Mehta reports in her Policy Watch column this month, Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, left empty-handed from his trip to China last week to try to persuade the most polluting nation to rein in its coal consumption and set more ambitious emissions reduction targets.

And it is not just China that is finding it hard to kick the fossil fuel habit: the US wants increased oil production to lower prices for its consumers, while COP26 host UK looks likely to give the go-ahead to a new oil and gas development west of the Shetland isles. All this flies in the face of the IEA’s recent report saying there can be no new fossil fuel development if the world is to keep on a 1.5C pathway by 2050.

Tropical Storm Ida caused flash flooding in the north-east of the U.S. (Credit: Mike Segar/Reuters)

In ESG Watch, Mike Scott reports on the response of investors to the IPCC report, and to the summer’s extreme weather. Among other developments, financial firms including Prudential, lenders Citi and HSBC and BlackRock Real Assets, backed by the Asian Development Bank, are devising plans to speed the closure of Asia's coal-fired power plants. In the U.S. Ceres has launched a new initiative focused on decarbonising six of the highest-emitting sectors in the U.S.: banking, power, food, oil and gas, steel and transportation.

He also reports that asset managers are struggling to get to grips with the EU’s new Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation, while fears of a crackdown on greenwash in the fast-growing ESG industry has been exacerbated by investigations by regulators in the U.S. and Germany into claims by a former DWS employee that it made misleading claims for its ESG products.

In Brand Watch, Oliver Balch reports on how recent natural disasters have helped prod brands to target water security as part of their climate response, with Facebook and PepsiCo the latest to commit to becoming “water-positive”. And he looks at how the pandemic has exacerbated the pay gap.

In our monthly interview slot, Oliver sits down with Alberto Carrillo Pineda, co-founder of the Science Based Targets initiative, to talk about how the SBTi is aiming to boost companies’ role in addressing the climate crisis with the planned launch of a new net-carbon standard.

I hope you enjoy this month's issue of The Sustainable Business Review.

Main picture credit: David Gray/Reuters




IPCC  COP26  John Kerry  coal  China  IEA  Ceres  decarbonisation  extreme weather  Facebook  PepsiCo  water security  SBTi 

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