By Ira Srivastava

1. EU passes Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive. With the passing of the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), companies will be expected to begin reporting from mid-2027. The CSDDD will require organizations to audit their suppliers, operations, and more for human rights and environmental violations. Companies must then put action plans in place to address any issues found. They must also develop climate strategies in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement 1.5 degree Celsius goal. Deloitte has identified some common challenges companies may face once the CSDDD comes into force. These include a lack of transparency in supply chains, prioritization of stakeholder engagement to work with suppliers and subsidiaries, implementing a strong net-zero transition strategy, and being proactive in risk-management strategies. 

2. Indian companies are ahead of the disclosure curve. According to PwC India’s report on “Navigating India’s Transition to Sustainability Reporting”, more than half of India’s top 100 companies are disclosing Scope 3 emissions voluntarily. Scope 3 emissions cover both upstream and downstream emissions through a company’s supply chain. This comes on the heels of the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) rules introduced in 2021, with more sustainability and ESG legislation expected in the future. Most of the emissions reductions from these 100 companies have come from increased energy efficiency via building retrofits, carbon offsets, and renewable sources for electricity generation. India has set a target of reaching net-zero by 2070. Read the full report here.

3. Investors show support for a plastic pollution treaty. The 4th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution was held in Ottawa last week to continue discussions on a global plastic pollution treaty. An open letter signed by 160 financial institutions “[called] for an ambitious international treaty to end plastic pollution”. The aim of this treaty is to address the increase of plastic production and waste around the world, as approximately 8 million pieces of plastic enter the Earth’s oceans on a daily basis. Plastic pollution has significant negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and human health, and waste management systems for plastic are typically poor. Plastic production is also a large source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

4. Making GenAI sustainable is the tech industry’s next challenge. Generative AI tools will forever change the way businesses operate. According to Benjamin Lee, a professor of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, making AI sustainable is one of the most significant challenges of his career. Training AI models and the process of generating answers both require huge amounts of water and electricity due to the number of data centres that have to be built to meet demand. Electrical grids in most countries are not yet equipped to deal with this increased demand, with electricity usage outpacing renewable energy capacity growth significantly. The tech industry is understandably pouring huge amounts of resources into AI development, but it should spend just as much time, if not more, on making sure these developments are sustainable. 

5. US ESG funds see biggest outflow in Q1 of 2024. According to Morningstar, American ESG funds saw withdrawals of nearly US$9 billion between January and April of this year. In contrast, European funds saw an inflow of about US$11 billion. These outflows set off a negative feedback loop where withdrawal of funds results in poor returns on clean energy investments, which then disincentivizes future investments into clean energy. Investors are likely waiting out the numerous elections that will be held around the world this year before deciding how to allocate their funds.

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

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