Edition for 21 May 2020

Top Stories

Reimagining industrial operations (McKinsey)

  • Yet even as industries grapple with structural changes, and as societies and economies pivot to the “next normal,” companies themselves have a window of opportunity to adapt their operations to help reduce the disruption that climate change will ultimately bring.
  • These range from introducing hybrid-electric equipment (a first step for some) and fully electrifying operations (a key emissions-abatement lever for oil and gas companies), to boosting efficiency through digitization, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence (practices profiled in a case study of the chemical and consumer-goods company Henkel).
  • Also on the table: business-model innovation aimed at satisfying demand for lower-carbon technologies and more sustainable products (opportunities for miners and cement makers); as well as reorienting supply chains toward more “circular” practices (which is described by apparel executives, the linear descendants of the textile innovators who started the Industrial Revolution).

Google pledges not to make custom software for oil and gas extraction (Ars Technica)

  • Climate activists argue that these contracts run counter to the tech giants' broader efforts to fight climate change.
  • All three companies have pledged to make their data centers carbon neutral in the coming decade.
  • Amazon is seeking to bring the entire company's net carbon emissions down to zero by 2040.

70% of institutional investors expect ESG integration to become standard practice: survey (Benefits Canada)

  • The vast majority (96 per cent) of institutional investors feel they have an important role to play in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change, social and economic inequality and the need for infrastructure development, according to a new survey by Natixis Investment Managers.
  • About half (48 per cent) of survey respondents said institutional investors should put capital to work to address environmental, social and governance issues.
  • Two-thirds (65 per cent) of institutional investors said they believe ESG analysis has a valid place alongside fundamental investment analysis and 54 per cent said ESG is a method for discovering alpha.

Volkswagen Settles Emissions Charges Against Two Managers (NY Times)

  • Volkswagen has agreed to pay a fine of 9 million euros ($10 million) to settle criminal charges against its two highest-ranking executives, who were accused by German prosecutors of failing to warn shareholders about a looming emissions cheating scandal, the company said Wednesday.
  • Mr. Pötsch and Mr. Diess were charged last year with stock market manipulation because, prosecutors said, they had neglected their duty to tell shareholders that the company was about to be accused of using illegal software in diesel vehicles to conceal excess emissions.
  • The suspects in the case include Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive until his resignation days after the emissions cheating came to light.

Danone to pioneer French “Entreprise à Mission” model to progress stakeholder value creation (GlobeNewswire)

  • The Board reaffirmed under these circumstances the strong commitment of Danone to the sustainable shared value creation model that has driven its vision of business since it established its dual economic and social project for the first time in 1972.
  • This will embed the legal “entreprise à mission” framework within its articles of association (including a purpose) and apply a new governance arrangement to oversee the progress of its environmental, social and societal goals.
  • "I am convinced that becoming an Entreprise à Mission will meet our objective to serve, in a fair and transparent manner, everyone in our business ecosystem, and therefore create for Danone a consistent and efficient framework for how we will create resilient, and therefore sustainable, value in this new world."

Canadian Officials Are Using Orwellian Methods to Protect Oil and Gas (Foreign Policy)

  • As its energy industry comes under threat, oil-rich Alberta is taking aim at environmental activists.
  • “Now is not the time to be further betting on the ongoing expansion of an industry that must become smaller to ensure a climate-safe future,” said Julia Levin, the climate and energy program manager for Environmental Defence, a Canadian NGO.
  • Ed Whittingham, a clean energy consultant in Canmore, Alberta, remembers being dragged into Alberta’s energy politics for the first time in 2019.

Myanmar MP Denounces Govt’s Extension of Controversial Coal Power Plant Operation (The Irrawaddy)

  • The National League for Democracy (NLD) government, with the approval of the Shan State government, gave the green light in 2019 for the plant to continue operation until May 2022.
  • “The plant generates electricity, but if it has negative health and environmental impacts on ethnic people in the region, the government needs to review its decision to extend the plant’s operation,” U Sai Tun Aye told reporters after the parliamentary session.
  • The plant was suspended in 2014 under the U Thein Sein government due to technical problems with the plant and local residents’ complaints over environmental damage, public health problems and commercial losses.

Huhtamaki and WasteAid announce global partnership to drive community-level circular economy innovation in key locations (GlobeNewswire)

  • Global sustainable food packaging leader Huhtamaki and international charity WasteAid have announced a €900,000 (£800,000) partnership to drive community-level circular economy innovation in Vietnam, India and South Africa for a two-year period.
  • To mark its 100-year anniversary, Huhtamaki is donating €3 million to global sustainability initiatives with a local impact - acting today, educating for tomorrow and funding innovation for the future, making a difference where it matters most to help address global sustainability challenges and build circular economy initiatives.
  • It will enable WasteAid to work with key stakeholders in Johannesburg (South Africa), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and Guwahati (Assam, India) to fast-track and amplify local solutions that create value and reduce waste and pollution, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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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