Top Stories

April 19, 2021


Coal financing costs surge as investors opt for renewable energy

Coal financing costs have surged over the last decade as investors demand returns four times as high as the payoff required from renewable energy projects to justify the risk of investing in fossil fuels. A University of Oxford study has found that over the last decade, the cost of investing in renewable energy sources, such as windfarms and solar arrays, has tumbled as the clean energy technologies prove they can be cost-effective and lucrative investments. Investors typically require wind and solar energy projects to make returns of 10% to 11%. Contrastingly, coal investments require returns of  40% to justify the rising risk of high-polluting projects, as governments ramp up their climate action ambitions. Lower loan spreads for renewable energy projects could further accelerate the rapid decarbonisation of the energy sector. (The Guardian)


US passes ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ to eliminate gender pay gap

The US House of Representatives has passed the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’, which aims to eliminate the gender pay gap and strengthen workplace protections for women. The Act would address the wage gap by closing loopholes that have allowed employers to justify gender pay disparities, strengthening provisions for holding employers accountable for systemic pay discrimination and helping level the playing field for women and people of different race/ethnicity by making it easier for workers to challenge pay disparities as a group. The Act also intends to make it illegal for employers to ask employees about their salary history in the hiring process, protect workers from facing retaliation if they discuss their salary with co-workers, and promote pay transparency by requiring more employers to report pay data to the government. (CNBC)


Shell publishes energy transition strategy for shareholder vote

Energy company Shell has published its  plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, presenting it to shareholders for an advisory vote at its upcoming AGM. The ‘Energy Transition Strategy’ contains short-, medium-, and long-term emissions reduction goals, the company’s decarbonization strategy and milestones, and its capital allocation plans. It also contains commitments to engage with governments to support the policies and regulatory frameworks to accelerate its transition to net-zero. The strategy encompasses climate governance initiatives, including a decision by the company to increase the weight associated with GHG emissions management in determining the annual bonus levels employees and members of the Executive Committee. Shell is the first major energy company to bring its energy transition strategy to a shareholder vote. (ESGToday)


Southeast Asia to establish green investment framework, but includes natural gas

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which makes policy frameworks for a region of 650 million people, plans to introduce a set of categories and definitions to identify environmentally sustainable economic activities and investment opportunities. ASEAN, a block of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, is working to ensure its classification system for investors suits the region’s specific economic and social structures, including its reliance on coal. Singapore’s proposed rulebook currently includes fossil fuel activities such as natural gas, which is expected to continue to play a significant role in ASEAN’s energy future. While the proposed framework emphasises the need for transition away from fossil fuels, critics argue this may not be enough as investors increasingly shift their focus from big carbon emitters. (Eco-Business)


US and China pledge joint action on climate change despite strained ties 

The US and China have committed to work together to combat climate change, boosting chances of a global deal on emissions at a UN summit this summer. The countries have vowed to cooperate to tackle the climate crisis, making a commitment to “concrete actions in the 2020s” to reduce emissions in line with the aims of the 2015 Paris climate accord. The joint statement suggests progress towards a potential agreement to new emissions cuts in the near term, yet lacks specific new commitments on coal –of which China is the world’s largest consumer – although it was a key topic of discussion. The countries committed to co-operating in multilateral processes, including the upcoming COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow. (Financial Times*)

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Thursday, 6th May 2021

Worker Health & Wellbeing: A Material Sustainability Issue for Business