Edition for 24 April 2020

Top Stories

Could Microsoft’s climate crisis ‘moonshot’ plan really work? (Guardian)

  • The tech giant’s pledge to go carbon negative by 2030 leans heavily on nascent technology such as machines that suck carbon out of the air.
  • Microsoft drew widespread praise in January this year after Brad Smith, the company’s president, announced their climate “moonshot”.
  • While other corporate giants, such as Amazon and Walmart, were pledging to go carbon neutral, Microsoft vowed to go carbon negative by 2030, meaning they would be removing more carbon from the atmosphere than they produced.
  • Historically, Microsoft has only counted those emissions that fall within the scope of their own business operations – employee travel, company vehicles, heat and electricity in company buildings, and so on.

Impossible Pork competitor says its vegan pork could make Asia more climate-friendly (CNET)

  • One of the main goals of many alternative meat advocates is to cut down on livestock farming, which is linked to a range of environmental issues, including the production of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, water depletion and deforestation, experts say.
  • Livestock accounts for nearly 15% of yearly greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • "The primary ingredients for plant-based meat have very low greenhouse gas emissions, and additional processing accounts for only 13%–26% of plant-based meat's climate impact," according to the GFI's website.

A Long Short ETF For The Long-Term (Benzinga)

  • ESNG tracks the MSCI USA ESG Universal Top - Bottom 150/50 Return Spread Index, which “seeks to provide long exposure to companies with high environmental, social, and governance ("ESG") ratings and trend relative to their sector peers and short exposure to companies with low ESG performance relative to their sector peers as determined by MSCI,” according to Direxion.
  • That's vital at a time when more investors are allocating to ESG ETFs and more market participants are pondering if ESG funds can provide superior outcomes relative to their traditional counterparts.
  • “Flows tripled in 2019 to a record $55 billion, raising global assets in sustainable ETFs and index funds to $220 billion.”
  • The asset manager sees ESG ETFs becoming a $1.2 trillion asset class over the next decade.

Will Low Oil Prices Help or Hurt the Fight Against Climate Change? That Depends on Us (TIME)

  • For decades, the energy industry was mostly a consistent cash cow for investors, with oil companies ranked among the world’s biggest and most profitable companies.
  • Today, with much of the world locked down, consumers aren’t consuming all that much or making big choices that drive up emissions, but businesses are still making those decisions, and low oil prices reduce the incentive to change.
  • “And it’s particularly difficult when we don’t have a coherent policy on climate change.” A key concern for many climate advocates is the possibility that natural gas—which in the U.S. is often produced alongside oil and remains cheap for many of the same reasons that oil does—will further solidify its position in the mix of electricity sources.

General Mills Commits to 100% Renewable Electricity Globally by 2030 (Business Wire Retail News)

  • And we’re proud to be among those corporations that are taking the initiative to use scale for good because together, we can secure more measurable and meaningful results.” In 2015, General Mills was the first company across any sector to publish a goal approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s full value chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) by 28% by 2025.
  • Through 2019, General Mills has reduced the greenhouse gas emissions of its extended value chain by 14 percent compared to its 2010 baseline.
  • The renewable energy projects currently underway, as well as those yet to be implemented, will enable the company to reduce Scope 2 emissions in its global operating facilities.

Action looms over 'steep, unexplained' spike in power plant pollution (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • A coalition of Victorian groups, including Environmental Justice Australia and Doctors for the Environment, say Yallourn increased emissions of dangerous PM10 coarse-particle pollution by 45 per cent in the most recent reporting year, despite one of its generating units being offline for maintenance during that time.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed the Vales Point power plant had increased emissions of dangerous PM10 pollution by 121 per cent and PM2.5 pollution by 181 per cent on the previous reporting year.
  • “The steep and unexplained rise in overall particulate emissions that Yallourn and Vales Point have reported ... warrants investigation", said Nick Witherow, the principal lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia.

University of Guelph to move its investments away from fossil fuels (Global News)

  • Shauneen Bruder said the decision is part of the school’s commitment to sustainability, which ramped up in 2019 when Guelph became one of the first Canadian universities to commit to reducing the carbon footprint in its endowment portfolio.
  • According to school officials, the university has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels and plans to reduce them even further to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

New study predicts Arctic Ocean will be ‘ice free’ in summer by middle of this century (National Post)

  • Science Alert reports that the new study predicts the stunning change will have happened even before the middle of the current century, and the forecast may not alter even if the world cuts current CO2 emissions as best it can.
  • The researchers used various mocked-up situations, including some where emissions continued as they are (offering little or no protection to the climate) and some where the emissions were sharply reduced.
  • “However, the clear majority of all models, and of those models that best capture the observed evolution, project that the Arctic will become practically sea-ice free in September before the year 2050 at future anthropogenic CO2 emissions of less than 1,000 [gigatonnes of] CO2 above that of 2019 in all scenarios.” Scientists have sounded the alarm on a devastating depletion of ice in the Arctic for decades.

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