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Cut global emissions by 7.6% every year for next decade to meet 1.5°C Paris target, says UN report
This is the start of a new decade, a decade in which, if we are to avoid the worst of climate breakdown, the global economy must be absolutely transformed and set on a clear path towards very deep decarbonisation, as former UNFCCC Christiana Figueres and the UN Environment Programme have made clear (article in Nature. Perhaps you too think this is impossible. Perhaps you can’t imagine it happening. But we have to get it done.
- Investors must move capital out of fossil fuels as fast as possible and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable reinvestment
- Investors must become public advocates of enhanced action by government to increase ambition, set aside all new investment in fossil fuels, and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
- Investee companies must adopt transition plans for decarbonisation of ~50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
South African academics have done an extensive analysis of responsible investment practice in South Africa, concluding that it is ‘mostly superficial’. The study reveals the cynicism of many fund managers about ESG in practice. We believe, however, that there are enough fund managers who would like to do the right thing and invest for a safer planet. But they’re too swamped with short-term signals to understand the full implications of the climate and related crises, and doing too little to persuade asset owners that they can confidently adopt a new way of doing things.
Why is the world not acting faster on climate change? One key reason is of course the systematic obstructionism of the fossil fuel industry, at last showing signs of crumbling. But another is misguided under-estimates of the likely damage done by climate change, not least by supposedly expert economists. Here are some articles outlining how and why they dangerously under-estimate climate damage:
- New York Times: ‘Climate change will cost us even more than we think’
- London School of Economics/Grantham Institute: Researchers warn that world leaders are being misled by economic assessments of future climate change impacts
- New Republic: ‘The Planet Is Screwed, Says Bank That Screwed the Planet’
Progress and solutions
- Paris taught me how to do what is necessary to combat climate change, writes Christiana Figueres
- Repsol: A fossil fuel company commits to net zero emissions by 2050.
- The Conversation: ‘South Africa has huge “green fuels” potential. But it needs to act now.’
- The Guardian: ‘Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet’
Australia burns. Zambia starves. SA dehydrates.
- BBC: ‘Climate change has brought parts of Zambia to the brink of famine’
- IMF: ‘Climate crisis threatens global economic recovery’
- New York Times: ‘Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide’
- New Climate: ‘2019 Climate change performance index (SA ranked ‘low’)’
Divestment and ESG
SA philanthropies and universities must now take the lead in fostering a new responsible investment asset class in South Africa.
- Philanthropies must declare a climate emergency
- Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment
- Fossil fuel companies claim they’re helping fight climate change. The reality is different.
- Focusing on how individuals can stop climate change is very convenient for corporations
- WSJ: Should Fossil-Fuel Companies Bear Responsibility for the Damage Their Products Do to the Environment?
- As top foundations resist divesting from fossil fuels, what might change their minds?
- Divestment is one of six ‘nudges’ that could help tilt civilisation towards rapid decarbonisation
Fossil fuel industry
- The Guardian: ‘Europe’s fossil fuel lobbyists continue to target climate regulation’
- The Guardian: ‘Methane leaks from oil and gas industry far worse than thought’
- Bloomberg: ‘The oil industry talent pipeline slows to a trickle’ (deterring young people from working in this industry has been one of the goals of the divestment movement)
- Oil and gas sector ‘losing its social licence to operate’, UK boss warns, calling for sector to embrace net zero target.
- Australian miners hit by biggest thermal coal price drop in more than a decade
- Startling visual evidence showing why gas is not a climate solution
- ‘Leading coal, oil and gas CEOs and some industry lobbyists are ponying up millions of dollars to help Trump win in 2020’
- Full impact of eating meat: ‘FAO estimated all direct and indirect emissions from livestock (cattle, buffaloes, goat, sheep, pigs and poultry) at 7.1 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year, or 14.5% of all anthropogenic emissions reported by the IPCC.’
Selected sustainability crisis indicators
- Atmospheric CO2: 413 ppm . 133 ppm above pre-industrial, still accelerating. | Source
- Inequality: Top 10% of South Africans get 63% of national income, 16% more than in US. | Source | How this is linked to climate
- Corporate leadership: SA companies with science-based emissions reduction targets: 10 | Source
- Rate of decarbonisation required to meet 1.5C global warming target: 7.8% a year | Source
- SA universities actively divesting from fossil fuels: 0
- SA foundations actively divesting from fossil fuels: 0
- SA religious bodies actively divesting from fossil fuels: 0
- SA fossil-free investment funds: 0
- Global fossil fuel divestment commitments: 1184 institutions, AUM worth $14 trillion | Source