By Ira Srivastava

1. Historic EU biodiversity legislation fails to pass. A vote on the Nature Restoration Law, a bill that would mandate EU member states to restore 90% of degraded ecosystems by 2050, was cancelled last week. Despite Parliament approval in February, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary stated they would abstain or vote against the legislation in the EU Council. The most common concern stated by objecting member states was the negative impact mandated nature restoration would have on the economy, particularly the agricultural sector. With the EU election in June, there is very little time to hammer out a deal before the election recess. 

2. Climate Action 100+ releases a climate scorecard for oil and gas companies. Climate Action 100+ has assessed the disclosure policies, climate solutions, and alignment with 1.5 degree warming targets of 10 fossil fuel companies in North America and Europe. Overall, European companies had stronger disclosure standards, as none of the North American companies reached a disclosure score higher than 39/100. The lowest scoring European companies, Shell and Repsol, sat at 58/100. The report concludes that oil and gas companies are not disclosing sufficient information for investors to make informed decisions. None of the companies are in strong alignment with 1.5 degree warming targets, as the highest score is BP at 28/100 with five companies sitting at 0. European companies were also far ahead in terms of investments in climate solutions. Find the full data set here

3. US EPA unveils new vehicle pollution standards. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new standards are the strictest pollution regulations the agency has ever set. They will apply to new vehicles in model years 2027 and onwards, and are expected to “avoid more than 7 billion tons of carbon emissions”. It is estimated to save US$100 billion via societal benefits including reduced healthcare costs due to better air quality, reductions in gasoline prices, and creating jobs in vehicle manufacturing. These standards will also spur growth in the electric vehicle sector. The new standards are expected to result in emissions reductions of 50% from new light-duty vehicles and 44% in medium-duty vehicles

4. The State of Mississippi threatens BlackRock over ESG practices. Mississippi’s Secretary of State has released a cease and desist that accuses BlackRock of “misleading investors in its funds about the firm’s climate related efforts”. The order states BlackRock has been defrauding and deceiving investors, and the company has been given one month to address this complaint. If the state’s lawsuit passes, BlackRock may be forced to cease all operations in Mississippi. This comes after Tennessee also brought legal action against the investment firm and a Texan education fund pulled its money out of BlackRock. The primary complaint of the Secretary of State is that despite BlackRock claiming it does not follow ESG investment practices, it still urges organizations to decarbonize. 

5. Diversity and inclusion under attack around the United States. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a strategy used to boost diversity in companies, educational institutions, and more. It has been coming under fire along with backlash towards the larger ESG movement. More than 30 states in the U.S. have either introduced, passed, or enacted laws that ban DEI. Last June, Texas became the first state to ban DEI programs at public universities such as multicultural centres or identity groups on campus. This year, Texas expanded this ban to public colleges as well. Last week, Alabama’s governor signed a similar law applying to the state’s colleges. While these laws only apply to educational institutions, it is possible that similar bans could be put in place for corporate DEI strategies.

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

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