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Report Report

Report Report: Blockchain, ESG, Circularity and Electrification

A monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology reports you need to know.

Building Blockchains for a Better Planet (World Economic Forum and PwC) highlights more than 65 existing and emerging use cases that demonstrate how blockchain technology can be applied to the world’s most-pressing environmental challenges. The report also identifies eight blockchain "game changers" that have the potential to drive progress on transparent supply chains, sustainable financing, decentralized energy, circular economy and more.

Charting a Sustainable Advantage: 2018 Responsible Investing Survey (RBC Global Asset Management) concludes that responsible investing is going mainstream. Key findings:

  • 90 percent of respondents believe ESG integrated portfolios are likely to perform as well or better than non-ESG integrated portfolios.
  • 72 percent are using ESG to make investment decisions.
  • 50 percent say they consider incorporating ESG factors into their investment approach to be part of their fiduciary duty (versus 25 percent last year).
  • 42 percent support shareholder proposals as an effective means to achieve gender diversity on boards.

The Circular Economy Opportunity for Urban and Industrial Innovation in China (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) finds that applying circular economy principles at scale in China could save businesses and households about $5.1 trillion in 2030 and $11.2 trillion in 2040. The report identifies opportunities across five focus areas: built environment; mobility; nutrition; textiles; and electronics.

Corporate Renewable Procurement and Transmission Planning: Communicating Demand to RTOs May Yield More Low-cost Options (Wind Solar Alliance) offers recommendations to help corporate renewable energy purchasers better understand how to engage with Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs). The report outlines actions that companies can take to increase access to renewable energy in the United States, including joining an RTO, paying a utility a "green tariff" and collaborating with a utility to develop a needed transmission line.

Curve Ahead: The Future of Commercial Fleet Electrification (UPS and GreenBiz Group) provides an overview of the current state of vehicle technology and charging infrastructure and outlines barriers, motivators and strategies for accelerating the transition toward commercial fleet electrification.

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: Impact Investing in Action (Global Impact Investing Network) features case studies that showcase how impact investors are raising and directing capital to help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The case studies feature the following investors: Blue like an Orange Capital; Incofin Investment Management; The Mirova Land Degradation Neutrality Fund project; PGGM; and Partners Group.

Financing our Future (Accounting for Sustainability and Aviva Investors) provides five recommendations on how actors across the global investment chain can help build a sustainable financial system capable of supporting the actions needed to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. The recommendations include: building a compelling evidence base and motivating people to act; developing consistent terminology; allocating funds to sustainable outcomes; adopting reporting standards; and pricing externalities.

Global Insights Report 2018: The Rise of ESG Regulations (Datamaran) analyzes the growth of ESG regulations dating from 2012 in the financial services, utilities and healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The report points to an evolving regulatory landscape that increasingly favors more non-financial information from public companies.

The Low Carbon Economy Index 2018 (PwC) tracks the progress G20 countries have made against their national decarbonization targets. The report finds that the United Kingdom achieved the fastest transition to a low carbon economy since 2000 among G20 nations. The report also finds that China achieved the highest overall reduction in carbon intensity in 2017, leading all G20 nations with a decarbonization rate of 5.2 percent. However, none of the G20 countries achieved the 6.4 percent rate required to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius this year.

Making Business Sense: How RE100 Companies Have an Edge on Their Peers (The Climate Group, CDP and Capgemini Invent) finds that companies committed to 100 percent renewable electricity as part of the RE100 initiative are performing better than non-RE100 members on two financial indicators: net profit margin and EBIT margin (Earnings Before Interests and Taxes). The report highlights that the difference in performance ranges from 0.3 percent to 7.7 percent across both indicators.

Return on Values (UBS Investor Watch) surveys more than 5,300 investors, with at least $1 million in investable assets, across 10 markets to better understand investor attitudes towards sustainable investing. Key findings include:

  • 65 percent of investors surveyed believe it is highly important to help create a better planet. However, only 39 percent have sustainable investments in their portfolio.
  • 72 percent of investors find the language of sustainable investing difficult to understand, and less than 50 percent are very familiar with the term itself.
  • 12 percent of U.S. investors reported having sustainable investments, compared to 39 percent globally. However, 49 percent of the U.S. investors’ portfolio assets are dedicated to sustainable investments, the highest of any country.
  • 51 percent of U.S. investors surveyed expect sustainable investment returns to match those of traditional investments, compared to 50 percent of investors globally. 19 percent of U.S. investors expect sustainable investments to outperform traditional investments.
  • 72 percent of young investors have sustainable investments, compared to only 6 percent of investors age 65 or older.

State of Sustainable Business (BSR and Globescan) draws on responses from business leaders representing 152 global companies. Key findings include:

  • Corporate reputation was the No. 1 driver of sustainability efforts, given heightened attention to social issues.
  • Top priorities include ethics/integrity (76 percent), diversity/inclusion (71 percent), climate change (70 percent), human rights (69 percent).
  • 41 percent of companies report no change in their approach to women’s empowerment issues.
  • Only 20 percent of company leaders surveyed think efforts in the supply chain are effective, but 75 percent are working on approaches and technologies to improve.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and disruptive tech are the mega-trends of greatest concern.
  • 71 percent are using SDGs to help set corporate goals, most notably around climate change, decent work economic growth, responsible consumption and production and gender equality.

The State of the Circular Economy in America (Circular CoLab) analyzes 202 circular economy initiatives and categorizes them according to their solution focus area — such as design, education/awareness and financing — and industry focus. The report also includes expert interviews, case studies and editorials.

The Sustainability Reporting Performance of the FTSE 100 | 2018 (EcoAct) identifies sustainable business trends within the United Kingdom’s largest companies. Select key findings:

  • 76 percent have set carbon reduction targets; 42 percent are on track to meet their targets.
  • 73 percent of companies disclose Scope 3 emissions.
  • 32 percent have set or committed to science-based targets.
  • 15 percent of companies align to the TCFD recommendations.
  • 31 percent have dedicated initiatives to reduce their plastic waste.
  • 29 percent of companies consider the natural capital impact of their operations.

A Users Guide to Comprehensive Energy Management (GreenBiz Group & Siemens Building Technologies) outlines recommendations to advance comprehensive energy management and accelerate investment in a clean energy future. 

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