Edition for 19 March 2020

Top Stories

BlackRock stands by climate priorities, sees tougher shareholder votes (Reuters)

  • BlackRock Inc executives who set the asset manager’s influential proxy votes on Tuesday outlined tougher priorities tied to climate change and executive pay for the upcoming corporate annual meeting season taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • BlackRock will continue to judge whether boards have made progress against goals BlackRock has touted for several years such as those tied to climate issues, Edkins said.
  • BlackRock’s comments come as investors weigh what impact the coronavirus will have on efforts to slow climate change.

Fund giant BlackRock issues stewardship playbook as a proxy-season test and SEC rulings loom (Market Watch)

  • Among other issues, environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics tend to feature in proxies.
  • Sooner rather than later, Fink said then, sustainable investments that take into account climate change and other factors will deliver better returns.
  • Among the stewardship areas in the Wednesday release are: board quality; environmental risk and opportunities; corporate strategy and capital allocation; compensation; and human-capital management.

Any airline bailout must have climate-change conditions attached, says group of Democrats (Market Watch)

  • On Wednesday, eight Senate Democrats signed a letter saying that any aid to airlines (and they included cruise ships) should come with conditions requiring them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
  • Government aid might not help “If we give the airline and cruise industries assistance without requiring them to be better environmental stewards, we would miss a major opportunity to combat climate change and ocean dumping,” said co-signer Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat of Rhode Island.
  • While aviation still accounts for less than 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, those emissions are expected to triple by 2050 as tourism and travel expand, the lawmakers noted in their letter.

California is a climate leader. But here's why it needs to move even faster (LA Times)

  • The Golden State reached its 2020 climate change goal four years early, bringing economy-wide emissions back down to 1990 levels without most Californians noticing that anything was different.
  • But the state’s next target, a 40% reduction in climate pollution by 2030, will be a much bigger lift.
  • A recent report from the research firm Energy Innovation found that the state must cut emissions nearly twice as quickly over the coming decade as it did during the last one, and that current policies won’t get the job done.

Kyoto credit use will halve cut to emissions: Climate Change Authority (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • The Morrison government's plan to use so-called Kyoto "carryover credits" towards Australia's Paris carbon emissions reduction pledge effectively halves the country's promised cut, the government's climate change agency says.
  • In its Special Review of Australia's Climate Goals, the Climate Change Authority said use of the projected surplus from the current Kyoto Protocol period would effectively slash Australia's promised 2030 emissions cut of 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels to just 14 per cent.
  • Angus Taylor has argued Australia will 'meet and beat' Paris carbon goals, but much of the reduction may come from the use of so-called Kyoto carryover credits.

Don't let coronavirus stall climate action, warns architect of Paris deal (Channel News Asia)

  • Governments must not let the coronavirus pandemic derail action on climate change, an architect of the landmark Paris agreement warned on Wednesday (Mar 18), saying the vulnerabilities laid bare by the virus could serve to spur a more concerted response.
  • "In a way, it's a lesson: viruses don't respect borders, climate change doesn't respect borders," Tubiana, who continues to closely track climate diplomacy, told an online briefing.
  • "If we do not manage the climate crisis it will be the same."

Getting the incentives right on forest protection (World Bank Blogs)

  • Dozens of movements, campaigns, and international declarations over the years have tried to underscore the critical role forests play in biodiversity conservation, water protection, climate change mitigation and local livelihoods.
  • With all the science revealing the globally significant value of forests as carbon sinks; with all the outcry and warnings from international climate change conferences—from studies on the role of indigenous territories and protected areas in the Amazon to the Greenbelt Movement in Africa—why has humankind not achieved sustainable forest management across the planet?
  • Although there is increasing awareness that deforestation and forest degradation, together with agriculture and other types of land use, are responsible for around a quarter (23%) of global greenhouse gas emissions, many forest-dependent communities simply don’t have viable livelihood alternatives to clearing trees.

Climate denial is the latest hobby horse of the German far right (Guardian)

  • The AfD are using the climate crisis strategically to distance themselves from the established parties A dead bird of prey lying in the grass near a windfarm is the stark image on the home page of a new German website.
  • “Climate change – we have got a couple of questions” is the headline that greets visitors, but the questioners already seem to know the answers to their 16 questions.
  • “Due to an alleged climate emergency, new laws are to be passed prescribing a new way of life for us, one that will have adverse environmental effects and could lead to the deindustrialisation of Germany.” Klimafragen.org is the latest attempt to question the scientific and social consensus around the climate crisis in Germany.

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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