Edition for 22 May 2020

Top Stories

Why don’t more VCs care about good tech (yet)? (TechCrunch)

  • The more VCs I speak to — so far more than 150 between Berlin and Silicon Valley — the more it becomes clear that most of them couldn’t care less about environmental, social and governance, impact, sustainability, green tech or what Nicholas Colin calls safety net 2.0.
  • What are these institutions sitting at the heart of capitalism seeing turning to ESG guidelines, screaming for more regulation and pushing to make portfolios climate-friendly?
  • Why is dumb money that sits in KKR and is only supposed to strive for the biggest available profit imposing ESG guidelines on itself while hundreds of clever VC general partners are seemingly closing their eyes and path-dependably follow their old-school patterns chasing disruption everywhere but in “the good” and “impact?” 

Uniper uses investment treaty to fight Netherlands coal phaseout (Climate Home News)

  • It forms part of a strategy to cut the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions 49% from 1990 levels by 2030.
  • The company is seeking a reported €1 billion in compensation under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a pact signed in the 1990s to boost investment flows between western and post-Soviet countries.
  • “The ECT offers foreign investors far-reaching protection [and] there are also vast amounts still invested in fossil fuels,” he told Climate Home News.

UK supermarkets have threatened to boycott Brazil over deforestation – that shows how crucial the Amazon could be to avoid future pandemics (The Independent)

  • The UK’s imported emissions are massive.
  • Between 2013 and 2019, UK banks and investors backed companies to the tune of £5bn.
  • If we want to get serious about climate breakdown, then it’s not just decarbonisation and green jobs at home that need to be on the checklist - it’s addressing the impact of the food we eat and the products we consume on huge swathes of climate-critical forests in the Amazon.

Clean energy backers' anger grows as House ignores aid plea (Politics)

  • But other clean energy backers say the House Democrats' latest $3 trillion bill blows another chance to help the ailing sector and at the same time push one of the party's top policy priorities of addressing climate change — and they're tired of waiting until next time.
  • And remember she screwed us in December too,” said Jigar Shah, president of clean energy investment firm Generate, referring to the spending deal that omitted extensions of tax incentives for renewable energy sources.
  • “Governing is about priorities, and we’ve had really really productive conversations with Congress about the opportunity for clean energy in the last year and a half … and yet we lose nearly 1 in 5 clean energy jobs in six weeks and the response is, 'Let’s wait until the end of summer.'"

Microsoft’s ambitious climate goal forgets about its oil contracts (Grist)

  • Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a bold new climate goal: By 2030, the company aims to be “carbon negative,” meaning it will be pulling more carbon dioxide out of the air than it emits.
  • Now, a report published by Greenpeace is giving us our first quantitative indication of how Microsoft’s business with the oil industry could inflate its climate impact and undermine its efforts to achieve carbon negativity.
  • “The oil and gas industry accounts for billions of dollars in profits for big tech companies, yet the carbon emissions related to these contracts are not reflected in any of the tech companies’ published footprint data,” said Elizabeth Jardim, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace and co-author of the report, in a statement.

Vogue, GQ and New Yorker publisher Condé Nast aims to be carbon-neutral by 2030 (Market Watch)

  • If the company continues to chip away at about 10% of those supply-chain emissions every year, it believes it can hit its carbon-neutral goal by 2030.
  • In addition to the 10% supply-chain pledge, the publisher has set an initial target of a 20% in corporate emissions by the end of 2021.
  • It will also work with suppliers to transition to more sustainable materials, with a commitment to use 100% sustainably-sourced paper, certified by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), by the end of 2021.

How Private-Sector Approaches Succeed (Climate Links)

  • A pivotal insight emerging from three years of co-creating climate-smart business models with companies—both investors and those seeking investment—is that there is not one private sector, but a multitude of actors with varied incentives, timelines, and decision processes.
  • We are often asked, “What do investors seek?” to which we answer, “Which ones?”
  • Commercial agriculture and forestry are responsible for at least 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Asia. With global food demand expected to increase by as much as 40 percent by 2050, investment in Asia’s agriculture and forestry companies presents high climate risk, but also promises high climate returns due to the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

How the Bank of Canada could play a role in saving oilsands companies — and the environment (Financial Post)

  • Sure, the Alberta government continues to fight the carbon tax, but the biggest oilsands companies have all pledged to lower their net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the same target that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set for the country.
  • The Bank of Canada, which last year added climate change to its research agenda, might fit the role.
  • “I don’t see the central bank as an instrument of climate policy, but one that operates within whatever climate policy that society sets out,” Stephen Poloz, Bank of Canada governor, said during a videoconference on May 21.

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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