Green Top 10 – February 2024

Bringing you the latest news about sustainability, green initiatives, renewable energy, conscious investments, climate actions and many more. Read the February 2024 Top 10 in Green edition.

Kardelen ÇelikContent Editor

February 26, 2024
6min read

1- EU Agrees to Regulate ESG Ratings Providers

The European Union has reached an agreement to regulate providers of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) ratings, aiming to enhance their reliability and transparency. Under the new rules, providers will need authorization from the European markets regulator ESMA and must meet strict transparency standards. This regulation addresses the growing demand for ESG considerations in investments and seeks to mitigate potential risks from the previously unregulated sector. The new framework will also accommodate smaller providers with a temporary, lighter regulatory regime. Formal adoption by the EU Council and Parliament is pending, with the rules expected to apply 18 months post-approval.

Source: ESGtoday

2- Quick Guide: Preparing for Mandatory ESG Reporting

  1. Educate Stakeholders: Inform key stakeholders about ESG goals and upcoming regulatory changes.
  2. Assess Scope: Determine if your company falls under new ESG regulations, such as the EU’s CSRD.
  3. Secure Budget: Allocate funds for necessary assessments, third-party validations, and data management tools.
  4. Conduct Materiality Assessment: Identify critical ESG issues for your business through a double materiality assessment.
  5. Gather Data & Act: Start collecting relevant ESG data and make necessary business adjustments.

With new ESG regulations on the horizon, companies need to act now to ensure compliance and sustainability.

Source: Forbes

3- Super Bowl Champions Sustainability with Renewable Energy

This year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas takes a significant leap towards sustainability, aiming to be the greenest event in NFL history by being powered entirely by renewable energy. Amid the excitement, the NFL is keen on reducing its environmental impact, with initiatives including community gardens and tree plantings to offset emissions. The Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium, a beacon of modern, eco-friendly design, operates under a commitment to use solar power and other renewables, setting a new standard for sports events. This approach not only highlights the NFL’s dedication to sustainability but also aligns with a broader movement towards greener practices in sports worldwide.

Source: Grist

4- Exposing the Plastic Recycling Myth

A recent report by the Center for Climate Integrity unveils a longstanding disinformation campaign by the oil and plastic industries regarding the efficacy of plastic recycling. Titled “The Fraud of Plastic Recycling,” it presents evidence that these sectors have been aware for over half a century that recycling does not effectively address the escalating problem of plastic waste. It points out admissions from major corporations like ExxonMobil that recycling merely delays the inevitable disposal of plastic, rather than serving as a viable long-term solution. This revelation supports the argument for legal actions against companies that have promoted recycling as a sustainable option to evade regulation and boost profits, all while contributing to the global crisis of plastic pollution. The report also emphasizes the stark reality of recycling’s ineffectiveness, with only about 5% of U.S. plastics actually being recycled as of 2022, underscoring the urgent need for genuine solutions to the pervasive issue of plastic waste and its severe environmental and health impacts, especially in under-resourced nations.

Source: Environment+Energy Leader

5- CIOs Lead the Charge in ESG Reporting

With ESG reporting becoming mandatory due to global regulations, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are now pivotal in ensuring accurate and efficient data management for these initiatives. Tasked with overcoming the complexities of ESG data, CIOs are central to adopting technologies and processes that ensure transparency and compliance, marking a significant shift in how companies approach sustainability and governance reporting.

Source: CIO

6- Shift in Corporate Discourse: Beyond the ESG Label

In recent earnings calls, S&P 500 companies have significantly reduced direct mentions of “ESG,” with only nine references compared to 156 in Q4 2021. This decline reflects a cautious approach amid a politically charged atmosphere. Companies like MSCI, NASDAQ, Cencora, and Otis Worldwide have shifted away from the term, opting for discussions on climate change and sustainability without explicitly mentioning ESG. Notable leaders, including JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and BlackRock’s Larry Fink, emphasize the importance of addressing climate change and the green economy, avoiding the ESG moniker. The trend extends to Big Tech, with Apple’s Tim Cook highlighting environmental initiatives. Alternatives like “sustainable investing” and “responsible business” are gaining traction, suggesting a strategic rebranding to navigate the polarized debate around ESG and focus on the core principles of environmental and social responsibility.

Source: Yahoo

7- Microsoft Invests in Innovative Carbon Storage Technology

Microsoft has committed to buying 27,600 tons of carbon removal from Neustark, which embeds CO2 in recycled concrete, over six years. This method permanently stores carbon, contributing to Microsoft’s carbon-negative goal by 2030. Neustark’s technology, verified by the Gold Standard, transforms demolition concrete into a carbon sink, highlighting an innovative approach to reduce emissions in the construction industry.

Source: Environment+Energy Leader

8- EU Targets Zero-Pollution with New Air Quality Standards

The EU aims for a zero-pollution environment by 2050, agreeing on stricter air quality standards that align with WHO recommendations. The deal sets tougher limits for major pollutants and allows member states to delay meeting these targets under specific conditions. It includes measures for emergency air quality improvements and requires regular reviews to ensure alignment with the latest scientific evidence and WHO guidelines.

Source: European Council

9- UK Financial Watchdog Encourages ESG Raters to Adopt New Voluntary Code

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is encouraging ESG rating agencies to adopt a new voluntary code of conduct to improve transparency and trust in the burgeoning industry of sustainability ratings. This initiative comes as the demand for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) ratings has surged, guiding significant investment flows. The code, developed by the International Capital Market Association and the International Regulatory Strategy Group at the FCA’s request, aims at enhancing the quality and reliability of ESG ratings. Unlike the European Union, which is moving towards regulatory measures for ESG raters to combat greenwashing, the UK’s approach remains voluntary for now. The code includes principles on governance, conflict of interest management, and methodological transparency, reflecting global standards by IOSCO. The UK government may soon decide whether the FCA should regulate ESG raters directly, amid concerns over the complexity and transparency of ESG rating methodologies.

Source: Reuters

10- AI Is Exploding Data Center Energy Use

Tech giants are adopting a strategy called load shifting to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers by utilizing surplus renewable energy globally. This approach, pioneered by Google, aligns data center operations with the availability of clean energy, significantly cutting emissions and costs. Despite the challenges posed by AI’s energy demands and data sovereignty policies, initiatives like Google’s aim for 24/7 carbon-free operations and Cirrus Nexus’s global search for the cleanest power illustrate the potential for substantial environmental benefits. Cooperation with energy providers and grid operators is crucial to managing demand fluctuations and achieving sustainability goals in the digital infrastructure sector.

Source: Bloomberg