ESG weekly review | Feb. 16

Sally Duros

Sally Duros

Freelance Editor

Highlights from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) news coverage for the week ending Feb. 16, 2024, curated for John Lothian News

Chicago's skyline seen from an ice-covered Montrose harborBeware skimpy ice in Chicago   

Here in Chicago – where I am based – it was no surprise and certainly not good news – to hear reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the average ice cover over the Great Lakes was only 6% in January, marking one of the least icy Januarys in the past 50 years. The Great Lakes, which include Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario, form the largest freshwater system globally, covering 95,000 square miles near the US-Canada border.


1 in 5 Migratory Animal Species Faces Extinction, UN Says.

Animal and insect migrations play an essential role in maintaining the world’s ecosystems, providing vital benefits by pollinating plants, transporting key nutrients, preying on pests, and helping to store carbon. A first-ever UN report on the state of these animals was released February 12 on the opening of a major UN wildlife conservation conference (CMS COP14). The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) found concerning trends. These include: migratory species are experiencing population declines, with over one-fifth facing extinction threats and almost all CMS-listed fish at risk. The risk of extinction is growing globally, affecting both listed and unlisted species. Key biodiversity areas crucial for migratory animals often lack protection, with many facing unsustainable human-caused pressures. Overhunting and habitat loss are the culprits.

Climate action 100+ suffers a blow 

On Feb. 15, JPMorgan Asset Management, BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors retreated from the Climate Action 100+ investor compact saying they don’t want the political and legal liability.” Before the exits, the  700 or so institutional investor members of Climate Action 100+ managed more than $68 trillion in assets.  New York City Comptroller Brad Lander had strong words for Larry Fink and Jamie Dimon:  “By caving into the demands of right-wing politicians funded by the fossil fuel industry and backing out of their commitment to Climate Action 100+, these enormous financial institutions are failing in their fiduciary duty and putting trillions of dollars of their clients’ assets at risk….Climate risk is financial risk. Today BlackRock, JPMorgan, and State Street are choosing to ignore both.”

A 125 country survey found 69% of folks support climate action with their pocketbooks

A study published on titled “Globally Representative Evidence on the Actual and Perceived Support for Climate Action” by Peter Andre, Teodora Boneva, Felix Chopra, and Armin Falk reveals:

  • 69% of the global population is willing to allocate 1% of their personal income for climate action.
  • 86% endorse pro-climate social norms, 89% demand intensified political action,
  • Countries facing heightened vulnerability to climate change show notably high levels of willingness to contribute.  

“How many people do you think would be willing to give away 1 per cent of their household income every month to fight global warming?” asked Pilita Clark in an opinion piece in the Financial Times. “Here’s a clue: it’s not 20 per cent or 40 per cent of the global population. It’s 69 per cent according to a striking study by four European economists that came out last week. This survey demonstrates political will for climate action. The  [[|Daily Mail.]] also reported on the survey. 

Agriculture dominated the global backdrop for climate news this week. 

In the U.S., the number of farms is shrinking as growers are getting older and producing crops gets more expensive. The number of farms in the U.S. has dropped 6.9% from five years ago and is the lowest since 1992, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture released on Tuesday, a huge quinquennial report that covers 6 million data points and gives the current state-of-the-state of American farms and farmers. The total acreage used in farms dropped about 2.2%, Bloomberg reported. When unveiling the report , Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the decline in American farms and farmers, urging climate action to reverse the trend. His main takeaway?  Carbon-intensive farms and large, factory-scale animal operations are only getting bigger.

Meanwhile in Europe farmers were taking to the streets. “Don’t they always do that?” Some ask. Well maybe, but their actions are likely to become increasingly contentious as they fight green policies attempting to prevent heat, drought and flooding. Europe’s farmers are already suffering from these effects of climate change.  In India, farmers amassed 25,000 tractors for a march on Delhi in a protest to demand guaranteed crop prices. Finally, here’s an important question:  The World Is Quietly Losing the Land It Needs to Feed Itself; Land degradation is a growing problem for not just climate change but food and water security. Why isn’t it getting more attention? Thanks for pointing out the UN report to us, Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg.

Other headlines

Water Is Now a Global Asset, and a Growing Threat – Aaron Rutkoff – Bloomberg Green Editor
How Financial Engineering Can Help Europe Go Green – The Editorial Board – Bloomberg
In Tokyo, world’s first sovereign transition bonds make their debut –  Junko Fujita – Reuters
New Barclays Team Gets Guidance on How to Avoid Greenwashing- Alastair Marsh – Bloomberg
TotalEnergies CEO Warns of Energy Transition Misconceptions – Sarah White and Tom Wilson – Financial Times
Oxford under fire for increasing fossil fuel investments – Attracta Mooney – Financial Times
UK universities threaten to divest billions unless banks accelerate net-zero plans – Sidhi Mittal – edie
Investors Wrestle With the ‘Scope 3 Conundrum’ – Alastair Marsh – Bloomberg
BlackRock’s ESG Fund Business Is Soaring Despite Attacks by the GOP – Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
Google Wants to Help Track Methane Polluters Spotted From Space – Aaron Clark and Jessica Nix – Bloomberg
New Texas Fossil-Fuel Power Plant Planned to Shore Up Shaky Grid – Mark Chediak – Bloomberg
Busting Myths and Taking Action: A Round-up of Climate Change Books – Pilita Clark – Financial Times


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WFE CEO Nandini Sukumar speaks with JLN about ESG progress at the World Federation of Exchanges, the WFE’s new green equity principles, and the difference between sustainability and ESG

WFE CEO Nandini Sukumar speaks with JLN about ESG progress at the World Federation of Exchanges, the WFE’s new green equity principles, and the difference between sustainability and ESG

John Lothian News interviewed Nandini Sukumar, Chief Executive Officer at the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), about the findings of the WFE’s 9th Sustainability Survey of Exchanges. First, Sukumar discussed the WFE’s process for conducting the survey and its findings, which reflect the many ways that exchanges have increased their activity in the sustainability and ESG areas.

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