By Ira Srivastava

1. Updates from COP28. As COP28 continues, here are some highlights so far:

  • An agreement to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund was announced, but there are issues to address. These include a lack of specific finance targets, relying on voluntary contributions. Pledges are low, as the US only contributed US$17.5 million despite being one of the largest polluters. Developing nations protested the World Bank’s involvement, pushing for an independent fund due to the Bank’s pro-Western policies and high loan interest.
  • The Arab Coordination Group made up of development-focused institutions in the Arab world and globally, announced a plan to mobilise US$10 billion by the end of the decade. This money will go towards green finance, climate resilience, renewable energy capacity building and accessibility, and new technologies. 
  • The ACEN Corporation has collaborated with the Coal to Clean Credit Initiative on a new project to replace a Filipino coal plant with green energy. A key aspect of this project is that employees who work at this coal plant will be supported through the transition. If successful, this pilot will be expanded globally.

2. Carbon capture is not a silver bullet. Research from InfluenceMap has found that the focus of corporations on carbon capture and storage is not in line with net-zero transition guidance from the IPCC. Analysis found that companies are painting carbon capture as the primary solution to climate change, as they promote carbon capture as an alternative to meaningful emissions reductions. More than half of all carbon capture advocacy also comes from oil and gas company lobbying. The science does not back up the claims of carbon capture’s importance in the energy transition and job creation, and focus must remain on reducing emissions from the source. 

3. New disclosure laws should fuel a boom in ESG investing. Both the state of California and the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission have either passed or proposed new climate disclosure rules. These rules come on the heels of a wave of ESG backlash that swept through North America over the past year, and there is hope that it will help turn the tide and push investors to begin favouring ESG again. Companies can no longer ignore ESG when disclosures become mandatory, and those who are proactive instead of reactive will benefit as new regulations come down the pipeline. Additionally, companies who do not engage with ESG issues face higher risk of  reputational backlash and accusations of greenwashing. Consumers overwhelmingly favour sustainable business practices, and companies around the world should take note. 

4. Microsoft agrees to fund a groundbreaking reforestation project in Brazil. Microsoft has partnered with Mombak, a company focused on carbon removal, to reforest land in the Brazilian Amazon. This represents one of the largest-ever nature-based carbon removal offtake agreements globally. Since 2021, Mombak has worked on large CO2 emission removal projects by reforesting cattle grazing land in the Amazon with native biodiversity. This agreement is expected to remove 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by replanting 25 forests with over 30 million trees. Microsoft is a leader in the emission mitigation space as it aims to reach negative emissions in the next seven years and remove all historical emissions by mid-century. 

5. Insights into social mobility and equal opportunity. Data from the OECD found that 80% of those surveyed felt inequality reduction is key to maintaining equal opportunity. The idea that success can always be achieved via hard work is being challenged. Only 20% felt “hard work is the only factor for success”, as health, educated parents, wealthy families, and birth country were identified as key determinants. Respondents overwhelmingly felt that addressing inequality was the job of both the private sector and governments. The three actions to address inequality by the private sector that received the most support were paying fair wages, reducing wage inequalities, and job creation. For the public sector, they were increasing minimum wage, improving education access, and increased taxation on high-income individuals.

Ira Srivastava is Competent Boards’ Program Coordinator. Follow Competent Boards on LinkedIn.

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