Coronavirus's Lessons, Woke Corporate CO2 Pledges & Toyota Disses EVs

A newsletter for people serious about the low carbon economy.

(source: New Republic)

The Coronavirus’s Lesson for Climate Change

What society can learn from the tragedy’s impact on carbon emissions

Analysis from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimates that government-directed quarantines and other restrictions due to the current coronavirus outbreak have temporarily reduced China’s greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter. China is currently the world’s largest emitter, even though the carbon footprints of most Chinese residents remain minuscule compared to Americans’. 

It’s no secret that certain types of misery and societal upheaval can reduce emissions—from recessions to the collapse of the Soviet Union to epidemics such as the current coronavirus. Those are hardly formulas activists should cheer, much less try to replicate going forward. But the recent statistics out of China are a reminder of the remarkable impact of working patterns on emissions levels. There is a policy that could mirror some of the emissions reductions from undesirable events such as outbreaks, while improving quality of life: a four-day work week.

Reducing hours could have significant benefits for the climate, drastically cutting the energy needed to light, heat, and cool offices—and power computers. Furthermore, eliminating one round-trip commute week after week for millions of Americans could radically reduce nationwide transportation emissions—the biggest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S.

What is your view? Read the entire proposal and tell us what you think.  LINK


Issue No. 15

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed! Last week our top two articles were Is It Time to Embrace the Anthropocene? & Did BP just pledge to become a “net-zero” company?

Seattle has become the epicenter of bold corporate climate pledges – Microsoft goes “carbon negative,” Starbucks goes “resource positive” and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos decides to “give away $10B” for climate.  Kudos to the Emerald City!

My name is Walter McLeod, and I’m glad you’ve joined our tribe. We hope to hear from you as we navigate this weekly journey through the good, bad and ugly of carbon and climate. You can ping me anytime at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com.

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Now, LET’S GET TO IT!


CORPORATE CITIZENS

(source: New York Times)

Corporations Are Waking Up to the Climate Crisis.  Is it too little, too late?

Corporations want to be the new climate saviors. The idea may seem contradictory, given that fossil fuel capitalism is largely responsible for driving the world toward this crisis. Yet in headline after headline, companies are trying to take on a more heroic role by announcing sweeping, ambitious climate plans.

More than 200 companies, including Apple and Coca-Cola, have now pledged to get all of their energy from renewables. Microsoft recently set out a plan to become carbon negative by 2030 and to remove from the atmosphere all the carbon the company has emitted since its founding by the year 2050. Oil giant BP announced plans to go net-zero by 2050, Amazon pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2040, and Goldman Sachs recently announced it would stop funding Arctic drilling.

“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects. ... I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” 
- Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO and Founder

The potential for success ― and failure ― is huge. If corporate leaders follow through on their pledges, the business community could start to reshape global markets and reduce carbon emissions dramatically worldwide.  The financial sector will play a pivotal role in the outcome.

But experts in the sustainable business world worry about just how much businesses can achieve in the absence of rigorous accountability. Added to this is the challenge of evaluating the success of vague, broad promises that lack detail about timeframes and methods of implementation. And even if businesses do succeed, corporate action alone will not be enough if governments are not also prepared to adopt strong policies to deal with the urgency and full scope of the climate crisis.  Yes, government leadership is paramount!  LINK


Who Will Be the Moody’s of ESG Investing?

(source: Getty)

THE YEAR 2020 has already seen environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing gain some high-profile converts.

In January, the head of the world’s largest investment management firm wrote an open letter to fellow CEOs. In it, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink vowed to use his firm’s $7 trillion in assets under management – and the considerable voting power that comes with such a portfolio – to encourage sustainability and fight climate change.

Making the case that climate risk was investment risk, Fink said BlackRock would use its voice to push for greater company disclosures on sustainability. In fact, the letter included a not-so-veiled threat, saying it would be “increasingly disposed” to vote against management when disclosures are wanting or the business isn’t making progress on sustainability.

It's a big moment for ESG investing.  

But two obstacles stand in the way of broad adoption: inconsistent ratings and a dearth of data.

“It’s not about more data, it’s about better data.” 
- Erika Karp, Cornerstone Capital Group CEO and Founder

If you think about credit ratings – Moody’s, S&P, Fitch – their ratings are correlated almost perfectly. But if you look at the different ESG raters, the correlations around their ratings are extremely low.

The other problem is a lack of agreed-upon standards (sets of values) that investors demand from companies.  If every public company disclosed reams of relevant, quality data, the inconsistency between ESG raters would shrink overnight.

Take a deeper dive into ESG - the corporate climate risk metric:  LINK


CLEAN TECH

(source: Teslarati)

Toyota's “Super Secret” Plan To Rule The World With Hybrid Cars. Really?

Toyota may be the largest car company on the planet, depending on how you measure such things — most cars sold, highest corporate profits, or number of executive washrooms in its corporate offices — but Toyota seems to be deliberately dismissing the electric car revolution spearhead by Elon Musk and his minions. Instead, it is focusing on hybrid powertrains and hydrogen fuel cells. Are its top executives clueless, delusional, or just plain ignorant?

Maybe all of the above.  I’m totally perplexed by Toyota’s preference for hydrogen and hybrids over electric vehicles.  No doubt there will be a role for hydrogen, but electrification is the future.  Hopefully Toyota will snap out of “denial” and get with the program – before it’s too late.  LINK


GOVERNMENTS

(source: New York Times)

Climate Change Rises as a Public Priority. But It’s More Partisan Than Ever.

Protecting the environment and tackling climate change have climbed up the list of Americans’ political priorities this year as economic concerns have faded, according to anew reportfrom Pew Research Center.

For the first time in the survey’s two-decade history, a majority of Americans said dealing with climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress. That’s a 14 percentage point rise from four years ago.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans ranked protecting the environment as a leading policy priority, which is almost as many as said economic growth should remain a primary focus.

But the surge in climate and environmental concern masks a deep partisan divide.

Read the full analysis here: LINK


RESOURCES


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Curated by Walter McLeod, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Carbon Creed and Managing Partner with Eco Capitol Energy.

mcleodwl@carboncreed.com