Edition for 16 February 2020

Top Stories

The ESG premium: New perspectives on value and performance (McKinsey)

  • Most executives and the investment professionals who scrutinize their companies seem to agree that ESG programs affect performance.
  • A majority of surveyed executives and investment professionals (57 percent) agree that ESG programs create shareholder value.
  • Social and governance programs approach the same levels, with 93 percent saying social programs make a positive long-term contribution, compared with 77 percent in 2009.

Coal plants are closing across the West. Here are the companies sticking with it. (The Seattle Times)

  • Coal is being pushed off the power grid by competition from cheaper, cleaner energy sources, as well as rising public alarm about climate change and state policies meant to reduce emissions.
  • The 20 Western coal plants without retirement dates collectively generated nearly 73 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, counting a few units that have since been closed or scheduled for closure — as much climate pollution as 15 million typical passenger cars.
  • Those emissions fuel a climate crisis that is contributing to bigger wildfires, hotter heat waves and worsening droughts in California and across the West.

Angela Merkel's Germany isn't the climate leader you take it for (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Whenever she goes, a legacy on climate change is not guaranteed for the one-time scientist who dazzled Europe as a brilliant environment minister under Helmut Kohl in the 1990s and went on to be dubbed the 'Klima-kanzlerin' (climate chancellor).
  • Vaunted as a climate change leader in the international arena, Merkel has a track record at home that fails to match the hype.
  • An early leader on tackling dangerous carbon emissions, Germany has lost its way but somehow managed to escape the condemnation experienced by other countries such as Australia (which admittedly has much less ambitious climate goals).

Africa: Climate Change Opens Up 'Frontier' Farmland, but At What Cost to the Planet? (AllAfrica News)

  • Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third but would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased emissions from soils Kenya's livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan's mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily - farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.
  • Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.
  • But, they warned, opening up new "agricultural frontiers" would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils.

Climate summit calls for urgent action after Australia's fire-hit summer (Guardian)

  • Forceful declaration calls for governments to set short-term zero emissions target to avoid catastrophic warming.
  • The megafires of Australia’s summer “are a harbinger of life and death on a hotter Earth”, a climate summit has said in a forceful declaration for urgent and dramatic climate action.
  • The Climate Emergency Summit, held in Melbourne this week and of which Guardian Australia was a partner, released a declaration saying the warming world was a clear threat to Australian society and civilisation.
  • “The climate is already dangerous – in Australia and the Antarctic, in Asia and the Pacific – right around the world.

Flight of fancy? Airline industry tries to go green (Japan Times)

  • In an era when teen climate activist Greta Thunberg opts to travel on an eco-friendly boat and “flight-shaming” is all the rage in her native Sweden, air travel’s reputation has never looked as dire.
  • Aviation accounts for 3 percent of climate-damaging carbon emissions globally, according to the European Environment Agency, and the world is experiencing record heat waves, wildfires and storm surges made worse by rising seas.
  • Airlines are “working with us to find pathways to increase the availability of sustainable fuels, look at how electrification can impact them … and also looking to more and more efficient engines and airframes.” The aviation industry has pledged to reduce its net carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 compared with 2005 levels, and the British sector went further this month with a vow to achieve net zero emissions by the same date.

The Climate Sentinel is an AI-powered news assistant for ESG investors and those concerned about climate change, corporate social responsibility, and related topics. Learn more.

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