I leave London Climate Action Week both terrified and re-energised, in equal measure. We have so much work to do, in such a short period of time. Buzzwords were: “We need to move from word to action”; “We are rapidly running out of time”; “A liveable future is at stake” :“We have the answers, but we need to change our system to use these answers.” We had in-depth discussions, and finished the week with an uplifting and moving performance by Angélique Kidjo that you can watch here. (The person dancing in the back may or may not be me). Some sessions that may be of particular interest to you are ‘Can Fashion Be Sustainable’, ‘Is ESG a Distraction from Climate Action’ and ‘Halfway to COP27: What’s New and What’s Next’ (all here).
Here are a few highlights for you from all the incredible speakers.
Where are we?
What needs to happen?
How do we get there?
In the spirit of our weekly updates, here are three updates for you that we heard a lot about during the week:
MSCI Net-Zero Tracker
MSCI has found that publicly listed companies will burn through their 1.5°C emissions budget within five years of COP26 – in 2026. This MSCI net-zero tracker (2021) which looks at 9,300 public companies finds that company emissions are set to rise by 6.7% this year. This report underscores the significant role of investors in public companies and the role they should play in pushing companies to meet the Paris Agreement.
Banking on Climate Chaos
A range of organisations (Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, and Urgewald) found in its report ‘Banking on Climate Chaos’ (March 2022) that in the six years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, the world’s 60 largest private banks financed fossil fuels with USD $4.6 trillion, with $742 billion in 2021 alone. 2021 fossil fuel financing numbers remained above 2016 levels, when the Paris Agreement was signed. The 60 banks profiled in the report funneled $185.5 billion just last year into the 100 companies doing the most to expand the fossil fuel sector.
The Supreme Court and the EPA
On 30 June, the US Supreme Court took a significant decision for the climate in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (No. 20-1530). The Supreme Court decided to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. The judges decided that the US Congress had not clearly given the EPA sweeping authority to regulate the energy industry under the Clean Air Act. So the EPA can take some measures, such as emission controls at individual power plants, but cannot take more ambitious actions, such as a cap-and-trade system. This decision that will significantly limit President Biden’s ability to meet the United States’ goal of cutting GHG emissions in half by the end of the decade.
We will revert to our weekly update format this coming week. Have a good week, and Happy 4th July for those of you in the U.S.