ESG Essentials: Tougher standards on oil and gas, greater climate risks for meat and dairy

ESG CommsESG EssentialsLeave a Comment

New report from investor coalition FAIRR exposes massive potential climate risk for meat and dairy firms

New data from the FAIRR initiative has shown that many major meat and dairy firms are operating under acute climate risks that could cost the industry $24 billion in the near future. FAIRR estimates that nearly half of the 40 major meat and dairy firms they surveyed may see operating losses by 2030. 

The report claims that very few of these companies have completed sufficient assessments of their climate risks, leaving them dangerously exposed to upcoming environmental regulations. 

“The allure of investing in meat and dairy could be approaching expiration unless companies take action to address climate change” said Jeremy Coller, Chair of the organisation in a press release.

Investors have an ‘outsize opportunity’ to reduce food sector emissions according to think-tank Planet Tracker

Influential think-tank Planet Tracker released the world’s largest and most comprehensive investor roadmap for a sustainable food system that detailed six practical steps for the financial world to meaningfully reduce the emissions of one of the world’s most polluting industries. 

The report claims that by following these steps, investors could generate nearly $1.5tn in economic benefit by reducing waste and inefficiency by the end of the decade. These changes would reduce emissions by 10 gigatonnes overall- equivalent to double the United States’ current annual total. 

In a press release, Peter Elwin, Director of Fixed Income & Head of Food and Land Use programme at Planet Tracker, said: 

“The global food system generates nearly 20% of the world’s GDP, however it is inherently fragile and no longer fit for purpose. From conception in the farm to consumption on the fork, the global food system accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions and endangers 86% of species on the IUCN Red List. Even as food reaches the end of the chain, one third is lost or wasted. 

Unless the global food system is transformed, none of the global targets, pledges and ambitions that have been agreed in recent years with respect to people, planet and climate will be achieved. Financial institutions providing debt and equity finance have an outsize opportunity to influence systemic change.”

Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance toughens standards on oil and gas

The Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance, a UN-convened coalition committed to truly sustainable changes in the financial sector and whose members control $11tn in assets, has announced new standards on oil and gas. Members who wish to remain part of the group must make no new investments in upstream oil and gas infrastructure projects for new fields. 

The group argues that these new requirements reflect a scientific consensus that transitioning away from fossil fuels as soon as possible is necessary to abate the worst effects of climate change. 

The alliance has also called on oil and gas companies to set science-based targets to reduce their emissions as well as substantive targets and plans to transition away from fossil fuels.

International Court of Justice considers whether nations could be sued for failing to prevent climate change

Vanuatu, a small pacific island nation that has been central in the international movement to provide ‘loss and damage’ reparations for climate affected developing nations, has now received UN approval to take a question to the International Court of Justice: can developed nations be sued for their role in contributing to climate change?

The resolution for Vanuatu to bring this proposal forward was passed by consensus in the UN General Assembly, passing surprisingly easily for an action that could possibly lead to many of the world’s most powerful nations being held accountable for their emissions. 

While the International Court of Justice’s ruling will not technically be binding, if Vanuatu is successful, it could mean that a legal obligation to protect nations from climate change will be reflected in international law, clearing the way for enforcement from other bodies. 

As a nation uniquely exposed to climate risks, Vanuatu has naturally been one of the most vocal on the issue of climate change. In combination with their advocacy for ‘loss and damage’ the nation may yet leave an important legacy on international climate politics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *