Top Stories

January 20, 2016


Climate change fails to top list of threats for business leaders at Davos

Despite concerns about its impact on extreme weather, such as recent flooding in the UK, climate change is not a top worry for business leaders, according to a survey of 1,400 CEOs compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and published at Davos this week. Instead, over-regulation was listed as the biggest threat to business (by 79% of CEOs), followed by geopolitical uncertainty (74%) and other key threats including cyber-attacks (61%). Climate change and environmental damage was mentioned by just 50% of CEOs. The survey contradicts results from the World Economic Forum which last week said a climate change-related disaster was the biggest threat to the global economy in 2016. PwC suggested that, contrary to its findings, CEOs were concerned about the impact of climate change. “We don’t believe a low score in one question reflects overall thinking and action on it,” a spokesperson said. “A quarter of all CEOs included ‘reduced environmental impacts’ in the three outcomes that should be joint government and business priorities… and they are showing greater understanding of environmental impacts in their business and supply chain.” (The Guardian)


Increasing number of Asian businesses linking growth with corporate responsibility

A surge in socially responsible investments to US$ 59 trillion globally over the past decade is nudging Asian firms to change management styles to one that actively addresses corporate governance concerns, reports Reuters. As earnings growth and China’s economy slow, corporate executives are becoming more receptive to the investment messages from funds committed to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. Asian firms now make up more than half of the DJSI Sustainability Emerging Markets Index, a benchmark for ESG performance. Seven of the 13 additions to the index last year were from Asia. “A company’s willingness and ability to address ESG issues relevant to its business can be a material driver of the company’s performance and valuation,” said Arthur Lau, head of Asia ex-Japan fixed income at PineBridge Investments, a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. (Reuters)

Circular Economy

Plastics industry failing to capture $120 billion re-use opportunity

By 2050 there will be more plastic waste in the ocean by weight than there are fish, based on current trends for waste disposal and over-fishing. That is the eye-catching conclusion of a major new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation unveiled at the Davos Summit yesterday. The report argues the rapid disposal of plastic packaging is resulting in economic opportunities worth between $80 billion and $120 billion a year being lost. Without the rapid rollout of circular economy models the plastics industry will continue to see 95 percent of the value of its products lost each year following a short first use. The report further emphasises that the plastics industry and policy-makers need to embrace a whole new approach to material disposal. “The public, private sector and civil society all need to mobilise to capture the opportunity of the new circular plastics economy” said Dominic Waughray, head or public-private partnership at WEF. (BusinessGreen)


Report: overfishing causing global catches to fall three times faster than previously thought

Global fish catches are falling three times faster than official UN figures suggest, according to a landmark new study, with overfishing to blame. More than 400 researchers around the world spent a decade finding data to fill the gaps in official figures, which rarely include small-scale, subsistence and illegal fishing, and do not count fish discarded at sea. Published in the journal Nature Communications, the results show that annual catches between 1950 and 2010 were much bigger than thought, but that the decline after the peak year of 1996 was much faster than official figures, as more and more fisheries were exhausted. Seafood is the critical source of protein for more than 2.5 billion people, but over-exploitation is cutting the catch by more than 1 million tonnes a year. “The fact that we catch far more than we thought is, if you like, a more positive thing,” said Prof Daniel Pauly, at the University of British Columbia. “Because if we rebuild stocks, we can rebuild to more than we thought before.” (The Guardian)


Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week keeps momentum from COP21 surging

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is the first global gathering on sustainable development after the Paris COP21 climate talks. 33,000 people are expected to gather in the capital, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The event also marks 10 years since Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the main sponsor of ADSW, was founded. Several international partnerships are expected to be announced at the event, with companies ranging from startups to energy behemoths such as BP and Total present at the event. On Tuesday, the Zayed Future Energy Prize awarded several clean-energy innovations within business, the nonprofit community and schools. Today, the Masdar-led Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) event will highlight the pivotal role of women in environmental sustainability and the challenges they face due to climate change. (Triple Pundit, Gulf News)


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