Edition for 08 April 2020

Top Stories

Oil Companies Are Collapsing Due to Coronavirus, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing (NY Times)

  • “Renewables are on a growth trajectory today that I think isn’t going to be set back long term,” said Dan Reicher, the founding executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University and a former assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration.
  • Gabriel Alonso, who runs 547 Energy, said his firm receives its funding from Quantum Energy Partners, which had long been an investor in oil and natural gas.
  • In difficult economic times like these, he said, private equity investors like Quantum are eager to seize on businesses that can quickly scale up and start earning money.

EU weighs new requirements for firms against biodiversity, pandemic risks (Reuters)

  • The European Commission is considering whether to impose new reporting requirements on firms to shield them from growing risks of biodiversity loss and pandemics, a draft document shows, as the EU grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Among the issues on which Commission officials are seeking advice is linking managers’ bonuses with carbon reduction results and green capital requirements.
  • Experts that it cites suggest that degraded habitats, coupled with a warming climate, may cause higher risks of disease transmission, as pathogens spread more easily to livestock and humans.

Wespath joins the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (UNEPFI)

  • The group of pension funds and insurers has pledged to decarbonize their portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050 to avoid a global temperature increase above the 1.5°C Paris target.
  • This will not be attained through divestment, but rather the Alliance will work closely with portfolio companies to change their business models, adopting climate friendly practices and setting a net-zero target based on what science tells us is necessary in order to strive for a 1.5°C world.
  • "Together, we can collectively influence the development of stable financial markets, resilient companies and a healthier world for all of us."
  • Over the coming months, Alliance members will focus on developing the reporting guidelines and targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement required to establish a course for reaching the commitment in the stated timeline.

What it means to have a year without climate diplomacy (Japan Times)

  • The two most important locations for international climate diplomacy — this year and last —have both been turned into field hospitals.
  • Until last week that venue was set to host the United Nations annual climate talks in November; the coronavirus has forced a delay of the conference, known as COP26, until 2021.
  • Things move more slowly, even by the slow standards of climate diplomacy.

EU carbon-trading market has reduced emissions despite low carbon prices (Ars Technica)

  • The EU set up one of these markets in 2005, known as the European Union Emissions Trading System, that covers emissions of industry and power plants.
  • The model-estimated emissions with the carbon market in existence match what actually happened, and this is compared to the estimate for a world where the market was never created.
  • The model isn’t simply comparing current emissions with 2005 emissions—that would be easier but much less useful.

Superfund, Meet Super Plants (NY Times)

  • But just by living and continuing to grow, the poplars, in Mountain View, Calif., can slurp up about 50 gallons of toxic water a day and break it down into innocuous byproducts such as carbon dioxide and chloride.
  • She then licensed those strains of microbes to Intrinsyx Environmental, which gave the poplars in Mountain View a boost to enable the trees to survive and even thrive in a toxic landscape.
  • The microbe-boosting method “will prove to be a very useful green biotechnology with wide application in the very near future,” said Guy Lanza, an environmental biologist at the State University of New York in Syracuse who is not involved with the companies.

Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic world (McKinsey)

  • Understanding the similarities, the differences, and the broader relationships between pandemics and climate risk is a critical first step if we are to derive practical implications that inform our actions.
  • By contrast, financial shocks—whether bank runs, bubble bursts, market crashes, sovereign defaults, or currency devaluations—are largely driven by human sentiment, most often a fear of lost value or liquidity.
  • Both are systemic, in that their direct manifestations and their knock-on effects propagate fast across an interconnected world.

A sobering report on biodiversity loss spurs big plans to save species (PRI.org)

  • As Earth experiences its sixth mass extinction and species disappear before our eyes, the United Nations and the Center for Biological Diversity have both released plans that address the extinction crisis and the closely-related problem of climate change.
  • “We want the United States government to prioritize biodiversity protection, carbon sequestration and recreation on those protected areas and to protect even more areas.” It also pushes the US to provide “actual protection” for protected public lands that are currently used for other purposes, such as fossil fuel drilling, logging and grazing, Curry said.
  • The good news, she says, is that for the most part, we know what's causing the problem: habitat destruction, exploitation, pesticides, and “the revolving door between the pesticide companies and the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • “Once we identify what's causing a problem, if we can put enough pressure on our governments, then we can address that,” Curry said.

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