By Ira Srivastava

1. Friends of the Earth to file a new lawsuit against ING. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, the nonprofit that took Shell to court and won in 2021, plans to file a new suit against Dutch bank ING. Their demands include halving emissions by the end of the decade, “requiring climate transition plans from large clients and ending financing of fossil fuel customers” that are not decarbonizing. The nonprofit is using the same point used in the Shell case that argues companies cannot “create dangers that can cause avoidable damage to people or property”, including climate change. ING is the highest emitting financial institution in the Netherlands. The bank released a statement explaining that it funds fossil fuel projects because most of the energy used today is generated from fossil fuels. 

2. Companies are stepping up on nature loss. Following the release of the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) last year, hundreds of companies have begun tracking their nature impacts. Over 300 organisations and financial institutions have pledged to consistently report on nature and biodiversity. These include pharmaceutical giants, banks and wealth funds, mining companies, and more that make up US$4 trillion in market value and control US$14 trillion in assets. Companies that operate in biodiversity hotspots and protected areas face reputational, operational, and financial risks due to nature loss. However, while disclosure is a strong first step, companies must act on the information they collect and report to mitigate future environmental damage. There will also be some trial and error involved as nature loss cannot be measured by a single metric the same way climate change is via emissions. 

3. European Union cracks down on greenwashing in marketing. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law that cracks down on unproven sustainability claims. This includes labelling products as “environmentally friendly”, “climate neutral”, or claims of carbon offsets reducing the climate impacts of a product. This law also seeks to reduce waste by making guarantee information more visible and extending guarantee periods. The introduction of this bill comes after a study found that 40% of environmental claims in the European Union were misleading. If the EU Council approves of the bill, EU member states will have two years to comply. 

4. Clean energy trends for 2024. Demand for clean energy is continuing to grow, and clean energy investments will boom as a result. Here are some expected trends this year from the S&P Global Commodity Insights:

  • Investments in renewable energy will total nearly US$800 billion in 2024 and reach US$1 trillion by the end of the decade. More than half of this capital is expected to be invested in solar power.
  • Renewable energy costs will continue to decrease. After costs jumped in 2022 they reduced drastically in 2023 with a 15-20% drop from current prices estimated by 2030. 
  • Green energy companies will focus on decarbonising their manufacturing operations after facing criticism for their carbon intensive supply chains.
  • Offshore wind capacity will reach record highs as “more than 60 GW of new capacity is set to be auctioned in at least 17 different markets”. 

Find a more detailed breakdown here.

5. The European Union’s emissions drop significantly in 2023. The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has published an analysis of the EU’s carbon emissions and found that they dropped by 8% last year. The last time the EU’s emissions were this low was in the early 1960s. Transitioning to renewable electricity sources was responsible for 56% of this reduction. Other factors include a reduction in energy demand as well as improvements in transport and manufacturing emissions. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spiked coal usage around the region, but coal usage has dropped back below pre-2020 levels. The EU has long been a trailblazer in the world of climate mitigation, and it is clear those efforts are paying off.

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

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