ESG Essentials: in the news this week

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Tesco and McDonald’s suppliers among meat and dairy firms ‘at risk of sparking next pandemic’

Last week, the FAIRR Initiative released its Industry Reinfected report, which found that 63% of protein producers assessed were failing to implement measures to prevent future zoonotic pandemics. Its Emerging Disease Risk Ranking classified 38 out of 60 companies as “high risk”, due to crowded, high-stress conditions creating an “ideal breeding ground for infections. 

Jeremy Coller, chair and founder of FAIRR stated: “Business-as-usual animal agriculture risks incubating the next zoonotic pandemic, posing both an intolerable investment risk and a threat to global public health. The sector must improve rapidly, starting with welfare conditions for both animals and workers.”

Read more here.

Fossil fuel and agriculture handouts climb to $1.8tn a year, study says

A new study has found that 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) is spent annually on subsidies that encourage unsustainable production or consumption, deplete natural resources and degrade ecosystems. The biggest beneficiary of the handouts was the fossil fuel industry, with the agricultural and forestry sectors close behind.  

Such findings are highly concerning after global negotiators agreed to the “phaseout of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” at COP26.  Complex issues like climate change and human development must be tackled as such: subsidies must therefore be created that recognise and balance the costs paid by humans and their environment, rather than “either-or”.

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ESG is far from perfect, but…

The ESG sector has evolved and grown significantly in the past two decades, but it frequently comes under criticism for not being the cure-all solution to prevent a climate change catastrophe. ESG is a vehicle for positive, lasting change, but nobody ever said it was perfect. 

The ESG industry is a powerful vehicle to enable populations globally to live more sustainably; it is rooted in scrutiny, encouraging companies, individuals and policymakers to examine their own behaviours and change them accordingly. Such scrutiny must also be applied to the sector itself – ensuring processes are tightly monitored and streamlined.

Investing sustainably offers the brightest hope for our fight against climate change, and although ESG has its flaws, what doesn’t kill it will only make it stronger.  

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