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Report Report

Report Report: Buying green, carbon farming, social contract

A wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and the clean economy.

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The Report Report is produced by Corporate Eco Forum, a by-invitation membership organization comprised of large, global companies that demonstrate a serious commitment at the senior executive level to sustainability as a business strategy issue.

2020 Global Buying Green Report (Trivium Packaging and Boston Consulting Group) analyzes survey responses from more than 15,000 U.S., European and South American individuals to better understand consumer attitudes toward sustainable packaging. The report finds that 74 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, with nearly 25 percent willing to pay 10 percent or more.

Agriculture and Climate Change: Reducing Emissions Through Improved Farming Practices (McKinsey & Company) identifies 25 measures to reduce on-farm emissions by around 20 percent by 2050, compared with a business-as-usual scenario. The report finds that 15 of the 25 measures would result in cost savings or are cost-neutral.

Banking on a Low Carbon Future II (ShareAction) rates the 20 largest European banks based on their efforts to manage climate-related risks and opportunities. The report gave the highest scores to BNP Paribas, Lloyds Banking Group and ING.

Carbon Footprint: Exploring the U.K.’s Contribution to Climate Change (WWF) finds that 46 percent of the United Kingdom's carbon footprint comes from emissions released overseas to satisfy U.K.-based consumption of products, including clothing, processed foods and electronics. The report also finds that these emissions are not covered by national reporting or included in the U.K.’s net-zero target.

Global Energy Review 2020 (International Energy Agency) assesses how COVID-19 affects global energy demand and CO2 emissions. Key findings include:

  • Global carbon emissions are estimated to decline by nearly 8 percent in 2020.
  • Global energy demand declined by 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020. Countries in full lockdown are experiencing an average 25 percent decline in energy demand per week and countries in partial lockdown an average 18 percent decline through mid-April.
  • Global electricity demand is estimated to decline by 5 percent in 2020, with 10 percent reductions in some regions. Electricity demand has decreased by 20 percent or more during periods of full lockdown in several countries.
  • Renewables were the only source that posted growth in demand, driven by larger installed capacity and priority dispatch. Renewables demand is expected to increase, due to low operating costs and preferential access to many power systems.
  • Global coal demand fell by almost 8 percent in the first quarter, compared with the first quarter of 2019.
  • Global oil demand was down nearly 5 percent, and gas demand was down around 2 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050 (IRENA) finds that transforming the energy system could increase cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by $98 trillion between now and 2050. The report also finds that transforming the energy system would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and more.

Protecting Irrecoverable Carbon in Earth’s Ecosystems (Conservation International) identifies pockets of "irrecoverable carbon" stored in ecosystems around the world to help focus efforts on protecting Earth’s living carbon reserves. The report finds that six continents contain more than 260 billion tons of irrecoverable carbon, equivalent to 26 years of fossil fuel emissions at current rates.

Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 (International Renewable Energy Agency) finds that global renewable generation capacity increased by 7.4 percent in 2019, with solar and wind accounting for 90 percent of all net renewable additions. The report also finds that Asia accounted for 54 percent of new capacity in 2019, while Europe and North America expanded their capacity by 35 gigawatts (up 6.6 percent) and 22 GW ( up 6 percent) respectively.

The Social Contract in the 21st Century: Outcomes so far for workers, consumers, and savers in advanced economies (McKinsey Global Institute) analyzes the shifting economic outcomes for groups of individuals across 22 advanced economies in Asia, Europe and North America. Key findings include:

  • Employment among working-age people increased by 45 million in 2018, compared to 2000 levels. However, the number of people in middle-skill, middle-wage occupations dropped by 7 million in 16 European countries and the United States between 2000 and 2018.
  • Average wages grew just 0.7 percent annually across 22 countries between 2000 and 2018.
  • 20-30 percent of the working-age population engage in independent work.
  • Rising housing prices, higher healthcare and education costs and more spending have absorbed between 54-107 percent of the gains in income for average households in Australia, France, the U.K. and the United States since 2002.
  • The average person can work six fewer weeks a year and consume the same amount in the clothing, communication, furnishing and recreation categories compared to 2000.
  • Real median net wealth has not recovered in 13 countries since the financial crisis; it declined from $104,371 to $80,659 on average between 2007 and 2018 and only just has started to rise again.

State of the Profession 2020 (GreenBiz Group) provides an overview of the modern-day sustainability professional based on findings from an annual Intelligence Panel member survey and external outreach. Key findings include:

  • 67 percent reported being hired from the outside for their sustainability role in large companies, compared to 45 percent in 2012.
  • 58 percent of sustainability executives in large companies are women and 54 percent are women in smaller firms. In 2010, men comprised 60 percent of sustainability executives in large companies and 54 percent in smaller firms.
  • 75 percent of vice presidents, around 57 percent of directors and 75 percent of managers report having a master’s degree. However, the higher degree doesn’t necessarily translate to higher pay, especially for directors and managers. It is more likely the price of entry into the profession.
  • There was a 10 percent increase in sustainability job postings on LinkedIn and a 7.5 percent increase in LinkedIn members with a sustainability-related job title in 2019.

Weaving a Better Future: Rebuilding a More Sustainable Fashion Industry After COVID-19 (Boston Consulting Group, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Higg Co) offers four actions that business decision-makers and sustainability professionals can take to avoid backsliding on progress and actively prepare for a changing fashion industry:

  • Protect critical assets to survive the economic crisis
  • Solve immediate inventory challenges in partnership with suppliers
  • Integrate sustainability throughout business recovery strategies
  • Accelerate transparency while increasing sustainability ambitions


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