By Ira Srivastava

1. The State of the Global Climate 2023 report. The World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, published its annual climate stocktake report. 

  • According to the report, “2023 was the warmest year on record” with an average global temperature about 1.45 degrees C above the pre-industrial era. 
  • Methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide emissions reached record atmospheric concentrations while ocean temperatures were the highest since records started in the 1960s. 
  • The rate of sea level rise from 2014-2023 was more than twice that of 1993-2002, showing that climate change is only accelerating. 
  • The largest loss of glacial ice in history was recorded from 2022-2023.
  • Extreme weather from wildfires, droughts, floods, and heatwaves battered countries around the world causing untold amounts of damage and casualties. 

Read the full report here.

2. Dutch airline KLM found guilty of greenwashing. KLM, the Netherlands’ flag carrier was found guilty of misleading passengers through its advertising. The advertising in question was a “Fly Responsibly” campaign that highlighted the use of sustainable fuels and tree planting to offset emissions. The court verdict disputed KLM’s claims, stating that “these measures only marginally reduce the negative environmental aspects and give the mistaken impression that flying with KLM is sustainable”. The advertisements have been taken down, although the court did not impose any punishment. Air France-KLM CEO argued that the company was not greenwashing, pointing to the fact that the company is using biofuel and fuel efficient planes to reduce emissions. In January 2024, the European Parliament passed a law banning greenwashing. Companies that operate in the EU must ensure that they are not running afoul of any new legislation or risk facing litigation. 

3. Texas Permanent School Fund withdraws funds from BlackRock over ESG. Red states in the United States have been leading the anti-ESG movement. Last week, the Texas Permanent School Fund (TPSF) that funds the Texan public school system announced it would withdraw US$ 8.5 billion currently under BlackRock management. The TPSF cited BlackRock “boycotting fossil fuel energy producers” as the primary reason for cutting ties, while BlackRock has stated it is not participating in any such boycott. In 2021, Texas passed a law that bans state funds from investing with fund managers who are moving away from fossil fuel investments to decarbonize. A large portion of TPSF’s funding comes directly from oil and gas revenues via the state’s General Land Office. 

4. Morningstar publishes the Low Carbon Transition Leaders Index. In order to give investors deeper insight into the sustainability journey of potential investments, Morningstar has published nine new indices. These indices highlight companies across all industries that are leading the net-zero transition globally, regionally, and within individual countries. Industry leaders include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ørsted, and more. These detailed insights will allow investors to focus their capital on companies who are taking concrete and meaningful climate action as the climate crisis worsens around the world. 

5. Can investments in agriculture technology solve food security crises? While the energy transition receives the most attention, the world is facing a food crisis that will require an agricultural transition as well. Investors can help to address this problem by investing in agriculture technology, with the market expected to see a compounded growth rate of 10% annually between 2024 and 2030. Examples of emerging agricultural technologies include indoor vertical farming, improved data sharing between farms, developing new seeding and pesticide spraying schedules, new pollination techniques, and more. However, agtech is a relatively new market and comes with its own risks. Investors can mitigate these risks by diversifying their agtech investments as much as possible and focusing on publicly listed companies.

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

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