1. A war for climate talent is hotting up
Financial firms are hiring experts from environmental non-profit organizations at an increasing rate, as the demand for green business knowledge grows. This is driven by the rising interest in environmental issues and new regulations to tackle climate risks. This trend is expected to continue, and younger workers are already shifting towards environmentally-friendly jobs, according to a recent KPMG survey.
Source: Financial Times
2. The Future of Fashion Grows in a Pond
There is a new trend among sustainable fashion startups to use algae as a textile material because of its various benefits, such as being fast-growing, requiring less water and pesticides, absorbing carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, being biodegradable and non-toxic. This is in contrast to synthetic textiles made from fossil fuels and cotton which require large amounts of water to grow. Companies like Elgin, Algaeing, and Vollebak are experimenting with algae-based dyes, inks, and yarns. This trend is driven by eco-conscious consumers, particularly younger ones, causing retailers like H&M to aim for using recycled or sustainable materials in all their products by 2030.
3. Profits Climate targets ‘may mean higher taxes’
Economist Lord Stern has stated that the UK may require increased taxes and investment in new technologies to achieve its net-zero carbon goal by 2050. Lord Browne, the former BP CEO, is urging the UK government to provide support for green technology through tax credits and subsidies, similar to the US. However, some UK Ministers are skeptical of these measures due to concerns over US businesses receiving an unfair advantage. Lord Stern is hopeful that artificial intelligence will play a significant role in achieving a tipping point in key green technologies.
4. Brazil’s Amazon deforestation down 61% in January
Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil decreased by 61% in January compared to the same period last year, with an area of 167 sq km destroyed. The figure is still higher than in two of the four years of Bolsonaro’s presidency, but a significant drop from last year’s 430 sq km. President Lula has made environmental protection a priority and aims to achieve zero deforestation by 2030, but the World Wildlife Fund warned that it is too early to declare a reversal of the increasing deforestation, which usually peaks in the dry season starting in June.
5. Rising tide of climate litigation sweeps up Holcim and Danone, along with Shell
ClientEarth, an environmental law group, has initiated legal actions against three companies for not adequately managing environmental risks. The first lawsuit is against Shell for not addressing the material and foreseeable risks posed by climate change. The second lawsuit targets Danone for not complying with France’s duty of vigilance law, particularly in reducing its plastic impact. The third lawsuit is against Holcim, a Swiss cement firm, for allegedly failing to reduce emissions despite having a net-zero plan. The residents of an Indonesian island where Holcim operates are seeking compensation for the impact of flooding caused by rising sea levels.
6. Germany to Ban Oil and Gas Heating for New Houses From Next Year
To meet climate targets, Germany is taking steps to phase out gas and oil heating in new or renovated buildings from next year. They plan to increase subsidies to support the transition to renewable heating sources and a new law will require new buildings to get a minimum of two-thirds of their heating from renewables. In addition, the government will provide financial support for heat pumps, which draw warmth from outside using electricity, to make them more affordable for those on lower incomes.
7. The Cheap, Powerful Climate Fix Energy Companies Are Ignoring
The IEA has reported that reducing routine methane emissions from oil and gas operations is the most important measure for countries to cut emissions. However, many companies in the sector are not taking advantage of this opportunity. The latest data shows that fossil fuel firms emitted over 120 million metric tons of methane in 2022, almost reaching the 2019 record. Large leaks detected by satellite fell by 10%, but avoidable “non-emergency” releases such as flaring resulted in an equivalent of a significant spill daily.
8. In Scramble for Clean Energy, Europe Is Turning to North Africa
Europe is turning to solar and wind farms in North Africa to fulfil its energy requirements, with proposals for large energy farms and underwater cables to provide green energy to European industrial neighbors. However, there are concerns about the negative environmental and social effects of this practice, such as damage to desert ecosystems and the taking over of grazing lands with minimal community involvement or ecological assessment. Moreover, opponents argue that Africa should focus on providing dependable power to its own people before exporting it to Europe.
9. From Lab to Market: Bio-Based Products Are Gaining Momentum
Genomatica, a San Diego-based company, is using biosynthesis to create a renewable form of nylon, replacing the traditional version made from non-renewable resources that is not biodegradable and releases microfibers. The bioeconomy movement aims to replace toxic synthetic products with eco-friendly alternatives made from plants, trees, or fungi that can decompose or be recycled. This shift is being driven by increased funding and interest, leading to new projects and facilities, as well as waste stream regulations promoting sustainability.
10. Wall Street Clashes With Green Bankers Fed Up With Oil Agenda
Several green banks are considering leaving the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) after it introduced a binding ban on fossil-fuel financing but also made concessions to keep Wall Street firms as members. The concessions, which include loosening ties with Race to Zero, a UN-backed group proposing sanctions on fossil-fuel financing, have been seen as disappointing and discouraging by some members of the NZBA, including GLS Bank and Triodos Bank. The NZBA is facing a potential backlash as some of its most climate-conscious lenders may leave the coalition if the group does not tighten its rules around fossil-fuel financing. The NZBA plans to revise its guidelines by April 2024.