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Report Report

Report Report: Climate risk, biodiversity, natural capital and plastic

A monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology.

The Report Report is a monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology, 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.

Changing Course: A Comprehensive Investor Guide to Scenario-based methods for Climate Risk Assessment, in Response to the TCFD (UN Environment Finance Initiative) offers guidance to help investors assess how climate change and climate action could affect investor portfolios around the world. Key findings include:

  • Government inaction on climate change is projected to put $1.2 trillion at risk for the world’s largest listed companies over the next 15 years.
  • Investors face as much as 13.16 percent of risk from the required transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Utilities, transportation, agriculture, mining and petroleum refining sectors have the highest policy risk. 
  • Green revenues in a 1.5-degree Celsius world are projected to be six times greater than green revenues in a 3 C world.

A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets (American Association for the Advancement of Science) lays out a science-driven plan to protect natural ecosystems that play a critical function in storing carbon, producing freshwater and providing food security. The study finds that global land conservation must double by 2030 to prevent dangerous warming and unraveling of ecosystems. 

Global Forest Watch Map (Global Forest Watch) The tropics lost nearly 30 million acres of tree cover in 2018, the fourth-highest annual loss since record keeping began in 2001, according to updated data from the University of Maryland. In addition, 9 million acres of primary rainforest, an area the size of Belgium, disappeared in 2018.

Corporate Reporting (G&A Institute) reveals that 86 percent of S&P 500 companies published a sustainability or corporate responsibility report in 2018 — up from roughly 20 percent in 2011.

Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates (International Monetary Fund) estimates that fossil fuel subsidies reached $5.2 trillion globally (6.5 percent of GDP) in 2017 — up from $4.7 trillion (6.3 percent of global GDP) in 2015. The report finds that the largest subsidizers in 2015 were China ($1.4 trillion), United States ($649 billion), Russia ($551 billion), European Union ($289 billion) and India ($209 billion). 

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports that around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction due to human activities, according to an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report. Additional key findings include:

  • 75 percent of land-based environment and about 66 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
  • More than 33 percent of the world's land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are devoted to crop or livestock production.
  • Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 percent of the global land surface, up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • In 2015, 33 percent of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.
  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980. 

New Analysis of Natural Capital Dependencies (Natural Capital Finance Alliance) found that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of U.K. businesses listed on the FTSE All-Share Index are "potentially highly or very highly dependent" on natural capital such as water, clean air and biodiversity.

Oil in 3D: The demand outlook to 2050 (Barclays) explores how much oil the world might use by 2050 under three scenarios: Dynamism (best-case scenario); development (business-as-usual scenario); and deadlock (worst-case scenario). Key findings include:

  • Renewables are the most rapidly growing part of the energy mix under all scenarios.
  • Oil consumption is likely to peak between 2030 and 2035, with a long plateau period thereafter. Under the dynamism scenario, this peak could come as soon as 2025.
  • Depending on the scenario, oil demand could range between 70 million barrels per day (mb/d) to close to 130 mb/d by 2050, compared to current demand of nearly 100 mb/d.
  • Petrochemical demand is expected to increase under all three scenarios.
  • Oil is expected to remain a large part of the energy mix, even under the dynamism scenario.

Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet (Center for International Environmental Law, Environmental Integrity Project, FracTracker Alliance, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 5 Gyres and Break Free From Plastic) finds that the production and incineration of plastic will produce more than 850 million metric tons of GHG emissions in 2019, threatening our ability to meet global climate targets. The report also finds that the production and disposal of plastic could generate 56 gigatons of emissions by 2050, equivalent to 14 percent of the earth’s entire remaining carbon budget.

PwC & Energy UK B2B Survey (PwC and Energy UK) surveys more than 500 U.K. businesses to better understand their energy investment choices. Key findings include:

  • 71 percent of businesses surveyed have an energy strategy in 2019, up from 65 percent in 2017.
  • 33 percent of industrial businesses expect to be fully reliant on the grid for all their supply within five years.
  • 46 percent of industrial and commercial businesses are planning to invest in renewable generation.
  • 30 percent of businesses have based their smart energy investment on reducing energy costs in 2019, down from 57 percent in 2017.

Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report (International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the United Nations Statistics Division, the World Bank and the World Health Organization) assesses progress against the four targets of SDG7: Universal access to electricity; universal access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking; deployment of renewable energy; and improvement of energy efficiency. Key findings include:

  • Significant progress has been made on energy access in recent years, with the number of people living without electricity dropping from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 840 million in 2017.
  • Access to clean cooking has increased from 57 percent in 2010 to 61 percent in 2017. To reach the target of universal access by 2030, the pace of recent progress would have to accelerate sixfold.
  • Total final energy consumption from renewables reached 17.5 percent in 2016 — up from 16.6 percent in 2010.
  • Global primary energy intensity has been falling at an accelerated annual rate of 2.3 percent since 2010, up from 1.3 percent between 1990 and 2010.

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