Edition for 23 March 2020

Top Stories

Embracing the New Age of Materiality: Harnessing the Pace of Change in ESG (WEF)

  • Investors are increasingly developing cutting‑edge tools and capabilities to enable them to create sustainable investing strategies, spurred by the growing risks and opportunities that sustainability trends present to companies’ long‑term value.
  • To win in the coming decade, investors and companies must equip themselves with forward‑looking and proactive approaches to materiality.
  • This paper offers a framework that provides investors with guidance on the signals to look for to better identify dynamic ESG issues and to incorporate them into the process of portfolio construction, security selection and stewardship.

As they race to boost the economy, lawmakers encounter push for a greener stimulus (Washington Post)

  • As Congress and the White House struggle to adopt legislation to limit the economic carnage from the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers have been urged to reshape the economy toward lower carbon emissions that scientists say are critical if the world is going to effectively combat climate change.
  • Environmental groups, climate scientists, solar and wind and battery industries, and others are saying that this moment, catastrophic as it appears to be for the economy, could offer a chance to incentivize fundamental shifts through a combination of direct spending, new tax credits for renewable energy, electric vehicles or appliances, and tough conditions for reviving fossil fuel firms or fuel-gobbling airlines.

Water saving an important but ignored weapon in solving climate crisis, says UN (Guardian)

  • "So without a willingness to pay on the part of users, it falls on governments to foot the bill, and since they do not recognise the economic value of wastewater treatment – which is perceived as more of an environmental issue - the political will behind such spending is low."
  • Yet improving access to water and sanitation has clear benefits – in the coronavirus crisis, and beyond.
  • Water use has increased sixfold in the past century and is rising by about 1% a year owing to rising populations and increasing demand, while climate breakdown means that more areas of the world will see stress on their water supplies, including regions where supplies were previously abundant, such as many parts of Europe, Asia and north America.
  • One possible source for renewed investment in water is through a better understanding of the links between water issues and water infrastructure and the climate crisis, the UN report suggests.

Wheat in Whitehorse: how climate change helps feed Canada's remote regions (Independent.ie)

  • But a warming climate makes crops possible in far-flung, isolated places.
  • "Climate change will have a very negative climatic, social and economic impact on the province but there still may be some small offset gains by producing food," said Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne in an interview.
  • Climate change has made Canada's food prices "way more volatile" during the past five years, said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Air quality is improving in countries under coronavirus quarantine (France24)

  • Images by the US space agency NASA are clear, in February the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) fell dramatically in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, passing from an indicator that was red/orange to blue.
  • NO2 is mainly produced by vehicles, industrial sites and thermal power stations.
  • The concentration of so-called PM2.5 and PM10 particles and carbon monoxide (CO) are "also expected to be reducing over time," Peuch said.

House Democrat trying to enlist Trudeau in fight to save boundary waters (Politico)

  • “Canada is concerned about the potential for increased mining activity within the basin which could contaminate boundary waters if not properly assessed and managed, putting Canadian water quality and ecosystems at risk,” Global Affairs Canada wrote in January 2019 to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of the public comment process for the agency’s draft environmental assessment of renewing the mineral leases.
  • The Trump administration has moved to speed up environmental reviews and permitting processes for certain projects, but state regulators are conducting a separate review.
  • The International Joint Commission, a binational agency borne out of the 1909 treaty, is advising both governments on environmental issues tied to mining activity through the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board.

Great Barrier Reef watchers anxiously await evidence of coral bleaching from aerial surveys (Guardian)

  • He said: “Let’s cross our fingers that the corals were not as susceptible as they were in the past.”
  • Wachenfeld told Guardian Australia that whatever the final assessment was “these are still significant events that are sounding a very loud alarm bell about what’s happening to the reef in the face of climate change.” He said there had been reports of “at least moderate bleaching” from Magnetic Island, near Townsville, and Heron Island, off Gladstone.

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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