ESG essentials… in the news this week

ESG CommsESG1 Comment

China is trying to become a champion of biodiversity 

Despite China’s reputation as a massive global polluter following a period of rapid industrialisation, its government is now on a mission to clean up its act. In November, an American-Chinese climate cooperation pact was announced, and in April the Chinese city of Kunming will host the second meeting of COP15, the largest UN biodiversity gathering in a decade. 

Such moves have been interpreted to be indicative of President’s Xi Jinping’s focus on ecological preservation, but China’s broader commitment is unclear: it remains the largest consumer of coal and emitter of carbon dioxide globally, despite a 2020 commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Moreover, whilst the Beijing Olympics were touted as a carbon-neutral event, dubious figures around water usage and offsetting emissions have threatened to undermine such claims. 

Read the full story here

Icahn’s Board Fight at McDonald’s Pivots on Pigs in Tight Crates 

The McDonald’s board has announced that it claims that by the end of the year 85-90% of its US pork will come from “sows not housed in gestation crates during pregnancy”. This comes following pressure from activists who termed the incumbent process of storing and transporting pigs in crates “unnecessary suffering”.

Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR Initiative welcomed the move, stating that investors too would be pleased as gestation crates are as much of an investment risk as they are an animal-welfare issue. 

Read the full story here

National Portrait Gallery ends BP sponsorship under pressure from activists 

Despite their 30-year history, London’s National Portrait Gallery is terminating its partnership with BP. This comes following pressure from climate activists to end a five-year sponsorship deal with the company, which expires this year. 

This event puts a spotlight on the involvement of money coming from environmentally unfriendly sources in the public sphere: how damaging is it to a company’s public perceptions and how does this translate in business terms?

Interestingly, another column in the Financial Times questioned the effectiveness of divestment as an investment strategy since the stock prices of fossil fuel companies (including BP) have risen recently whilst ESG funds’ have fallen.  “Divestment? That’s over. Holding Glencore but nagging them a bit about their — very profitable — thermal coal business, talking mostly about the nickel and copper they produce for battery manufacture and making sure everyone knows you are attending ESG week at the Energy and Mining Forum? It’s the new sustainable.”

Read the full story here.

Are ad agencies, PR firms and lobbyists destroying the climate?

Solitaire Townsend, founder of Futerra, spoke at TED about the importance of PR firms, consultancies and law firms in the fight about climate change. This industry, which she terms ‘Industry X’, has a ‘brainprint’ on all carbon emissions, acting as either the primary architects of climate destruction, or the frontline soldiers against it. 

On the one hand, actors in the ‘destructive corner’ grease the wheels of such operations, utilising science to implement harmful practices, promoting their activities and quashing legal objections. On the flipside, all of these stakeholders can be powerful agents of change, selling their talent to those fighting to preserve our planet and implement the right regulation to do so. 

ESG Comms firmly believe in the case for the latter, working to promote clients doing meaningful work in the ESG space. Seeing reports published in outlets like the Financial Times, Forbes and Bloomberg directly translates critical climate news to the audiences that need to hear it, helping change public perceptions and influence behaviour. Watch the full talk here.

One Comment on “ESG essentials… in the news this week”

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