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Report Report

Report Report: ESG, supply chains, net zero and EVs

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

The Report Report is a periodic article 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.

2019 Industry Report on GHG Emissions (Consumer Technology Association, or CTA) tracks progress that 45 companies in the consumer technology industry have made on emissions reduction, environmental initiatives and goalsetting. Key findings, based on publicly disclosed data, include:

  • While global Scope 1 and 2 emissions increased across the 45 companies (up 2.7 percent), their U.S. Scope 1 and 2 emissions decreased by nearly 9 percent from 2016 levels in 2017.
  • More than half of the 45 CTA members featured in this report received a CDP ranking of A or A-minus for their climate initiatives.

2020 ESG Trends to Watch (MSCI) explores five ESG trends that are top of mind for investors in 2020:

  1. Climate change innovators: Spotting the sleeping giants
  2. New terms for capital: Ready or not, here comes ESG
  3. Re-valuing real estate: Investing in the eye of the hurricane
  4. The new human capital paradox: Juggling layoffs and shortages
  5. Keeping score on stakeholder capitalism: Looking for accountability in all the new places

Accelerating America’s Pledge (America’s Pledge initiative) finds that American coalitions of states, cities, businesses and others committed to climate action in support of the Paris Agreement represent 68 percent of U.S. GDP, 65 percent of the U.S. population and 51 percent of U.S. emissions. The report also finds that key economic sectors, states, cities and businesses are adopting actions that would reduce U.S. emissions 19 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Art of Alignment: Sustainability & Financial Transparency (SustainAbility) provides insight into the trend toward alignment of sustainability and financial transparency and offers guidance on best practices to help sustainability practitioners advance their company’s approach to transparency. 

Brand Pressure Index (High Lantern Group) ranks the top social issues that affected corporate brands in 2019, based on an analysis of 6.2 million tweets from leading activists, influencers and political figures. The Top 10 corporate issues:

  1. Climate change (up 77 percent from 2018)
  2. Plant- and lab-based foods (up 274 percent from 2018)
  3. Aviation safety (up 689 percent from 2018)
  4. Living wage (down 3 percent from 2018)
  5. Data security (down 12 percent from 2018)
  6. Union concerns (down 11 percent from 2018)
  7. Pesticides (up 26 percent from 2018)
  8. Antitrust (up 42 percent from 2018)
  9. Trade barriers (up 14 percent from 2018)
  10. Consumer privacy and regulation (down 20 percent from 2018)

Changing the Chain (CDP) analyzes climate, water and deforestation-related data from nearly 7,000 suppliers around the world to highlight the progress companies and their suppliers have made in building sustainable supply chains. Key findings:

  • Participating suppliers reported $906 billion in potential financial risk linked to climate change.
  • Participating suppliers reduced 563 million metric tons of CO2 collectively in 2019. However, only 29 percent reported absolute decreases in emissions, and 4 percent reported having a renewable energy target in 2019.
  • Suppliers reported $15.8 billion in financial risk linked to deforestation. However, only 27 percent of suppliers have zero-deforestation policies in place.
  • Suppliers reported $78 billion in financial risk linked to water security.
  • 95 percent of CDP members believe suppliers showing environmental leadership are more competitive, with only 5 percent stating that in their experience such suppliers are more costly.

The Circularity Gap Report 2020 (Circle Economy) finds that the global economy is only 8.6 percent circular, meaning that just 8.6 percent of the 100 billion tonnes of extracted raw materials that enter the economy are reused. This figure has declined from 9.1 percent in 2018 to 8.6 percent in 2020.

Climate Risk and Response: Physical Hazards and Socioeconomic Impacts (McKinsey & Co.) assesses the impact climate change will have across five socioeconomic systems: livability and workability; food systems; physical assets; infrastructure services; and natural capital. Key findings:

  • By 2030, between 160 million and 200 million people in India could live in regions with an average 5 percent annual probability of experiencing a heatwave that exceeds the survivability threshold for a healthy human being.
  • In Ho Chi Minh City, direct infrastructure damage from a 100-year flood could rise from about $200 million-$300 million today to $500 million to $1 billion by 2050, while knock-on costs could rise from $100 million-$400 million to as much as $8.5 billion.
  • Ocean warming could reduce fish catches, affecting the livelihoods of 650 million to 800 million people who rely on fishing revenue.
  • By 2050, the number of people living in areas with a nonzero chance of lethal heatwaves would rise from zero today to between 700 million and 1.2 billion.
  • The average share of annual outdoor working hours lost due to extreme heat and humidity in exposed regions globally would increase from 10 percent today to 15 to 20 percent by 2050.
  • Losses from flooding could devalue exposed homes in Florida by $30 billion to $80 billion by 2050.

Electric Vehicle Penetration and Its Impact On Global Oil Demand: A Survey of 2019 Forecast Trends (Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy) finds that battery packs for electric vehicles will become cost-competitive with the internal combustion engine without government subsidy in 2025, yet the share of electric vehicles in the global passenger vehicle fleet is "not projected to be substantial before 2030 given the long lead time in turning over the global automobile fleet." The report also finds that passenger vehicle oil demand likely will decline beyond 2025, with no available forecasts showing growth.

Global Social Mobility Report 2020 (World Economic Forum) ranks 82 countries on their citizens' ability to achieve their full potential regardless of socio-economic background, gender or origin. Denmark tops the rankings, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. The United States is ranked 27th, the sixth worst score among the G7 economies.

Annual Green Bonds Analysis (Climate Bonds Initiative) shows that global green bond and loan issuance reached a record $254.9 billion in 2019 — up 49 percent from $171.1 billion in 2018. The report predicts that global green bond and loan issuance will reach $350 billion-$400 billion in 2020.

Navigating the Rising Tide of Uncertainty: PwC’s 23rd Annual CEO Survey (PwC) analyzes responses from more than 1,500 CEOs across 83 territories to identify the top concerns among business leaders. The survey finds that 24 percent of CEOs cited climate change and environmental damage as an "extreme concern" in 2020, up from 19 percent in 2019. The survey also finds that 30 percent of CEOs believe that investing in climate change initiatives gives their organization a reputational advantage, up from 16 percent in 2010.

The Net-Zero Challenge: Global Climate Action at a Crossroads (World Economic Forum) assesses the progress corporations, governments and civil society have made to address climate change in line with the Paris Agreement. The report finds that climate action needs to move at a much greater scale and faster pace, citing that 67 countries — accounting for less than 15 percent of emissions — have committed to achieving net-zero emissions and only one-third of the approximately 7,000 companies that report to CDP fully disclose their emissions.

The Oil and Gas Industry in Energy Transitions (International Energy Agency) finds that the world’s largest oil and gas companies have invested, on average, less than 1 percent of total capital expenditure on low-carbon activities, such as solar photovoltaic, wind and carbon capture and use technologies. The report finds that leading individual companies invest, on average, around 5 percent of total capital expenditure on low-carbon activities.

Sustainable Investor Poll on TCFD Implementation (Global Sustainable Investment Alliance) finds that 59 percent of surveyed investment professionals are "very" or "somewhat" dissatisfied with publicly traded companies’ climate-related disclosure. The report also finds that 34 percent of survey respondents already have incorporated Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures guidelines into their investment analysis, while an additional 26 percent of respondents report they plan to do so in the near term.

What’s Next for Sustainable Business? (SustainAbility) identifies 10 global issues expected to shape the sustainable business agenda in 2020 and highlights some of the most effective emerging solutions. The report covers climate mitigation, plastics, sustainable consumption, transparent supply chains, biodiversity, technology for the SDGs, sustainable finance and more.

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