Top Stories

July 15, 2020

Corporate Reputation/ Climate Change

BlackRock punishes 53 high-emissions companies over climate inaction, puts 191 more on watch

Investing giant BlackRock has announced that it took voting action against 53 companies on climate grounds in 2020, including f ExxonMobil and Air Liquide. The asset manager provided clients with a new report on Tuesday, outlining how it is ramping up its climate-related engagements with businesses this year. According to the report, 244 of the companies in BlackRock’s portfolios are making insufficient progress integrating climate risks into their business models and/or disclosures. Of these companies, 53 were found to have repeatedly ignored the climate-related demands of investors. The likes of oil company Chevron, ExxonMobil, Air Liquide, vehicles producer Daimler and car maker Volvo are among this cohort. As such, BlackRock took voting action against them, either by calling for executive accountability or backing new shareholder proposals which would lead to stricter environmental requirements. The remaining 191 companies have been “put on watch”, meaning they face voting action in 2021 if improvements are not made. (Edie)


Floating wind set to sail to 70GW of capacity by 2040, study predicts

An estimated 70GW of floating wind turbines could be installed across the globe by 2040, according to forecasts contained in the Carbon Trust‘s new Floating Wind Joint Industry Project’s (JIP’s) second phase summary report. The nascent sector could expand rapidly to deliver £195bn worth of projects, the report adds, underscoring the “opportunity for the supply chain globally to support and invest in floating wind”. Even in the shorter term, the study predicts the sector delivering up to 10.7GW of global floating wind capacity by 2030. However, the report acknowledges that technological challenges remain across four main areas: turbine requirements and foundations scaling; heavy lift offshore operations; dynamic export cables; and monitoring and inspection. Despite such challenges, however, the report concludes there is massive growth potential for floating wind. “We expect that it will become a key sector for low carbon power generation and economic growth in geographies where deeper waters do not allow for bottom-fixed offshore wind turbines,” said Dany Kyle Spearman, manager of the Floating Wind JIP at the Carbon Trust. (BusinessGreen)


Radical zero-waste shopping scheme launches in UK

A pioneering approach to slashing packaging waste has been launched in the UK, with the shopping platform Loop in partnership with supermarket chain Tesco. Led by recycling specialists TerraCycle, Loop has brought together a host of leading consumer brands to enable consumers to order a wide range of everyday products in durable packaging that is then returned and reused rather than binned. Products including beverages, sauces, yogurt, shampoo, soaps, moisturiser, toothpaste, and washing detergent are delivered to customers in a branded tote bag, with a deposit charged on each piece of packaging. The deposit is then fully refunded on the return of the packaging, either via scheduled pick-up from home – which can be aligned with the next delivery – or via drop-off at one of 2,500 collection points across the UK. Loop first launched in Europe as a pilot project in Paris in May last year, in partnership with the retailer Carrefour and backed by leading consumer goods manufacturers including Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Mondelez. This year, more brands are being added to the service. (BusinessGreen)

Environment/ Biodiversity

Increase in invasive species poses dramatic threat to biodiversity – report

An increase in the spread of non-native plant and animal species around the world could lead to dramatic biodiversity loss causing permanent damage to ecosystems as they are pushed past biological tipping points, a new study by an international team of researchers has found. The study, published in Global Change Biology, is the result of an expert survey on how likely global trends this century will affect the variety of life on Earth and its ecosystems. Researchers found that a 20-30 per cent increase in alien species could cause massive global biodiversity loss. For example, in northern Australia, the introduction of African gamba grass by cattle farmers has caused grave concerns for bushfire management. The fires from the grass can be 12 times as intense as native species. Finally, the report found that a minority of organisms in the world, such as zebra mussels, Burmese pythons and Japanese knotweed become invasive species in their new environments by causing permanent changes to ecosystems and overwhelming native wildlife. (The Guardian)

Reporting/ Population

World Population Could Peak Decades Ahead of U.N. Forecast, Study Asserts

A new study shows that the world population may peak in 2064 at 9.7 billion people and fall to 8.8 billion by 2100. United Nations demographers have been anticipating since last year that the world’s population may stop growing by 2100 as fertility rates decline. A new study published in The Lancet on Tuesday asserted that the global population could peak at 9.7 billion by 2064 — nearly four decades earlier — and decline to 8.8 billion by 2100. Additionally, the populations of at least 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain, could shrink by more than 50 percent. The study also projected significant declines in the working-age populations of China and India, the two most populous countries, portending a weakening in their global economic power. The study also suggested that the decline could be offset by immigration, with countries that promote liberal immigration policies better able to maintain their population and support economic growth. Finally, it concluded that the backlash in the United States against immigration could threaten “the country’s potential to sustain population and economic growth.” (NYTimes)

Image source: shallow focus photography of white windmill by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash