Behind the ESG headlines - April 1, 2022

By mathew-loup

There’s no place for April Fools in the current geopolitical landscape. The challenges ahead of our planet keep piling up, faster and faster. 

To help you stay on pace with all the rapid changes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities, our weekly round-up brings you five  agenda-setting articles, blogs, reports or videos.

If there are others we should include next time, do please share them at info@competentboards.com.

1. There’s a growing pushback to some of the sustainability-related proposals coming forward for proxy season. The anti-ESG proposals being submitted are often disingenuous at best and designed to delay or block pro-ESG motions. Politically conservative organizations are often the main proponents of anti-ESG moves. In March, the Proxy Preview Report 2022 estimated there would be more than 300 ESG-related proposals this proxy season, a 20% rise on last year. Anti-ESG filings often target the “RESOLVED” clause to clock other filings in that current year. 

2. Apple recently published its annual Green Bond Impact Report. The tech giant uses its green bonds to finance other sustainability areas, such as clean energy projects and carbon neutral materials. Apple aims to be carbon neutral in terms of manufacturing and product lifecycle by 2030. To help that goal, it has issued US$4.7 billion in green bonds since 2016. Just under three-quarters (70%) of Apple’s carbon footprint is still derived from making its millions of products.

3. The European Commission has presented new proposals that will soon make sustainable products the norm in Europe. As part of the European Green Deal, the proposals will strengthen consumers’ position as part of the overall transition to a true circular economy. The proposals are stringent: products will have to be “durable, reliable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, easier to maintain, refurbish and recycle, and energy and resource efficient”. Textiles, which have the fourth highest environmental impact, are also under the microscope. In bad news for the fast fashion industry, by 2030 they will have to be “long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment”.

4. The war in Ukraine has disrupted supply chains everywhere, not least the flow and price of oil. A new report by the International Energy Agency highlights emergency measures that could significantly lessen the world’s demands for the black stuff. If implemented, the 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use would reduce demand by 2.7 million barrels per day within four months. From there, the plan outlines steps towards a sustained transition to net-zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050. 

  1. Reduce speed limits on highways by at least 10 km/h
  2. Work from home up to three days a week where possible
  3. Car-free Sundays in cities
  4. Make the use of public transport cheaper and incentivise micromobility, walking and cycling
  5. Alternate private car access to roads in large cities
  6. Increase car sharing and adopt practices to reduce fuel use
  7. Promote efficient driving for freight trucks and delivery of goods
  8. Using high-speed and night trains instead of planes where possible
  9. Avoid business air travel where alternative options exist
  10. Reinforce the adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles

5. Sustainability disclosures may start to get a little easier. The IFRS Foundation and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) recently announced a new collaboration agreement on setting reporting standards. The agreement, which will be implemented by their individual standard setters the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), will smooth the flow and compatibility of green information for capital markets. They will also work to clean up the alphabet soup of sustainability terminology, which has to be good news for all stakeholders.
Mathew Loup is Competent Boards’ Director, Marketing & Communications. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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