Edition for 24 June 2020

Top Stories

Amazon creates a $2 billion climate fund, as it struggles to cut its own emissions (MIT Technology Review)

  • Amazon launched a $2 billion venture fund to invest in companies developing ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions, marking the latest corporate effort to allocate major resources to combating climate change.
  • In a press release, Amazon said the new fund would focus on startups that could help it and other businesses achieve "net zero" emissions by 2040.
  • But Amazon still has plenty of work to do on reducing its own emissions, which rose 15% last year to more than 50 million metric tons. 

A prescription for a post-COVID economy: a national climate bank (Grist)

  • Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzes another economic meltdown — with an unemployment rate over 13 percent — the green bank concept is making a comeback.
  • Sierra Club, for example, recently called for creating a National Climate Bank, as part of its green stimulus plan.
  • Advocates and state leaders say they’re working intentionally to ensure that green banks do more to include low- and moderate-income households and communities of color, which some state programs overlooked at first. That’s led to the new term, “climate bank,” which also reflects a more expansive view of the financial institution’s mission as one that includes restoring wetlands for climate adaptation or upgrading infrastructure that’s vulnerable to extreme weather events.

In pandemic recovery efforts, polluting industries are winning big (Yale E360)

  • While the world has been preoccupied by the Covid-19 pandemic, polluting industries have been pushing to turn the crisis to their advantage, lobbying governments — often successfully — for lucrative favors like bailout funds and the easing of costly regulations.
  • And, collectively, the moves threaten to create a dirty, high-carbon legacy that long outlasts the current crisis — one that stands in sharp contrast to the widely noted, but short-lived, dips in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution that resulted from lockdowns.
  • Oil and gas interests, which have long viewed climate and other environmental policies as a potentially existential threat, have been especially quick to adapt their expansive lobbying work to the new circumstances, says Edward Collins, director for corporate lobbying research at InfluenceMap, a London-based nonprofit that monitors corporate influence on climate policy.

PE firms reveal concerns on impact measurement, lack of standardised data, and greenwashing amid fast-rising ESG focus (Private Equity Wire)

  • The rapid acceleration of ESG as a major focus for private equity investors around the world is highlighted by the results of a new survey released this week by corporate and fund solutions provider Intertrust.
  • The study – which interviewed around 150 private equity fund managers across Europe, North America and Asia in April to identify the risks and opportunities facing the private equity industry in the coming 12-24 months – revealed that almost 90 per cent of PE investors plan to step up their efforts to manage and measure ESG performance in their portfolio companies over the next two years.
  • GPs highlighted the three biggest obstacles to implementing ESG programmes at a portfolio company level as quantifying and monitoring their impact; cost and resource constraints; and managing multiple sources of ESG data.

China and EU appetite for soy drives Brazilian deforestation, climate change: Study (Mongabay)

  • A first ever study has provided detailed estimates of greenhouse gas emissions across the entire soy producing agribusiness sector in Brazil.
  • The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that countries and companies in the European Union and China importing soy from Brazil have driven deforestation there, causing a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when the soy came from certain regions.
  • Soy is the most internationally traded agricultural commodity on earth, so analyzing data and strategies to reduce its impact on climate change is crucial for policymakers who want to preserve forests while simultaneously reducing emissions.

How EV Charging Can Clean Up China's Electricity Grid (NRDC)

  • Shanghai has just completed an historic EV-Grid Integration pilot program, the first project in China to make use of electric vehicles (EVs) as a flexible energy resource for the power grid system. 
  • Key participants in the pilot included the Shanghai Electric Company (which is part of the State Grid Company, the world’s largest utility), as well as Chinese electric car maker NIO and several charging service providers, which acted as load aggregators. 
  • In light of these developments, China is now moving ahead with new measures to support the development of EVs, which it considers crucial for meeting the country’s long-term economic modernization, energy security, and environmental goals.

Ontario Teachers’ investing in UAE-based gas pipeline infrastructure (Benefits Canada)

  • The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is joining a consortium of other institutional investors to invest in certain gas pipeline assets of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
  • The assets are valued at $20.7 billion and the other investors include Global Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, NH Investment & Securities Co Ltd. and Snam, an Italian energy infrastructure firm.
  • In response to news of the investment, advocacy group Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health stated that investments in fossil fuel infrastructure are risky given the worsening climate crisis.

How ‘Sustainable’ Web Design Can Help Fight Climate Change (Wired)

  • Van Kooten's aha moment is one being shared by web designers around the planet. They call it “sustainable” software design, and it's propelled by technologists measuring the energy budget of nearly every swipe and click in our information ecosystem. 
  • When the European Union's regulations forced US companies to remove some tracking code from their sites for European visitors, USA Today's homepage shed 90 percent of its data size and loaded 15 times faster as the designers at Mightbytes reported. 
  • The UK energy firm Ovo examined email usage and—using data from Lancaster University professor Mike Berners-Lee, who analyzes carbon footprints—they found that if every adult in the UK just sent one less “thank you” email per day, it would cut 16 tons of carbon each year, equal to 22 round-trip flights between New York and London.

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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