Sustainability Newsletter #33

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#Figure of the month - 1.8 Million Tons of CO2 saved

Germany’s Ultra-Cheap Train Ticket Saved 1.8 Million Tons of CO2

Germany’s three-month experiment with super-cheap public transport reduced carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to powering about 350,000 homes for a year.

The 9-euro ($9) monthly ticket, which allows nationwide travel on regional trains, subways, trams and buses, prevented 1.8 million tons of CO2 because commuters didn’t use their cars as much, according to the VDV public-transport lobby.

The ticket, which took effect in June and runs out at the end of this month, is meant to help soften the blow from inflation in Europe’s biggest economy amid a surge in energy and fuel prices sparked by the war in Ukraine. While there are concerns over financing the ticket and strains on the transport network, several German politicians want the subsidy extended in some form.

Some 52 million of the tickets have been sold, with one in ten buyers ditching at least one of their daily auto trips, the VDV said. The group cited the results of a government-commissioned survey of 78,000 people it conducted with Deutsche Bahn AG and polling institutes Forsa and RC Research.

Sources : Bloomberg, The Guardian


Trends and Initiatives

Swiss 'freight subway' to reduce road traffic by 30%.

In Switzerland, a freight transport project seems to have come straight from the future. The mountainous country, which is the gateway between Eastern and Western Europe, has long been working to reduce road traffic. Its latest project to transport goods is going to take a step further, as it is expected to reduce road traffic by 30%.

The authorities have just given the green light to the Cargo Underground Tunnel (CST). This tunnel will link major cities to facilitate the transport of light goods, i.e. non-hazardous food and goods. Shuttles will run underground continuously, unloading goods in dedicated logistics centres, according to the project described by the CST company, whose shareholders include distributors, service providers and suppliers of intralogistics solutions (DSV, DPDgroup, Rhenus Logistics, Swisslog, Gilgen Logistics, Coop, Migros, etc.).

According to the company's projections, the sector's emissions should be reduced by 80%. Rail consumes six times less energy and produces eight times less particles per tonne per kilometre transported than road. However, CST does not give details of the carbon footprint of the titanic project. Moreover, it will be necessary to wait until 2031 for the first section of 70 km of tunnels and ten hubs, between Zurich and Härkingen-Niederbipp, to be operational, and then until 2045 for the whole of the nearly 500 kilometres to link all the country's major cities.

Sources : Novethic, Le Temps


Sustainable Finance

China tightens green bond rules to align them with global norms

China has raised the bar for issuances in the world's second-biggest green bond market, taking a major step towards adopting global standards and eliminating 'greenwashing'. Starting this month, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, China's premier bourse, requires 100% of the proceeds from green bond issuances to be invested in green projects such as clean energy - compared with at least 70% previously - according to a notice seen by Reuters.

Sean Kidney, CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), a London-based non-profit body that promotes investment in the low-carbon economy, said the changes would make China a leader in global green bond regulation. China had issued roughly $200 billion of green bonds by the end of 2021, compared with slightly over $300 billion by the United States, according to CBI.

China has stepped up efforts to develop green finance, seeking to channel low-cost funding into areas including renewable energy and electric vehicles so as to achieve President Xi Jinping's twin goals of peak emission by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2060.

Although a record $109.5 billion of Chinese green bonds were issued in 2021 - making China the fastest-growing major market for such bonds - nearly 40% of the issuance was not aligned with global definitions, according to CBI, which sets international standards.

Source : Reuters


Society and Planet

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan to Cancel Up to $20,000 in Debt for Millions

Millions of federal student loan borrowers will soon see up to $20,000 of their debt wiped away thanks to a new plan announced by President Joe Biden in late August. Not every student loan borrower is eligible for the debt relief. First, only federally owned student loans qualify. Private student loans are excluded. Second, high-income borrowers are generally excluded from receiving debt forgiveness.

“An entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt,” Mr. Biden said at the White House, adding that he wouldn’t apologize for what he characterized as a program to help the middle class. “I understand that not everything I’m announcing today is going to make everybody happy,” he said. “But I believe my plan is responsible and fair.” Independent estimates suggest the plan will cost more than $300 billion over 10 years. The action will add to the federal deficit over time since borrowers will repay less, or none, of their loans to the federal government, but it doesn’t involve the immediate outlay of federal funds.

Sources : CNN Politics, WSJ


India Approves Climate Change Commitments to UN Ahead of COP27

India formally committed to pivot half its electricity generation capacity to use clean fuels by 2030 and reiterated a demand for its “due share” of financial assistance as one of the world’s top emitters seeks to go carbon-neutral by 2070.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet Wednesday approved plans to cut emissions intensity of its GDP to 45%, by 2030, from 2005 levels, the government said in a statement. India will submit its updated nationally determined commitments or NDCs to the United Nations, becoming one of the last major emitters to fulfill this obligation under the Paris Climate Agreement. The updated plan also lays out propagating a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.

In Glasgow last year, India had argued that it should get $1 trillion in climate funding out to 2030. The country will need to spend more than $12 trillion by 2060 to put it on track to reach net-zero emissions, according to Standard Chartered Plc. Modi’s demands are unlikely to be met. Rich nations have said that they will only be able to meet a 2020 goal to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to poorer countries in 2023.

Sources : Bloomberg, L'AGEFI



Company news

Renault Trucks launches vehicle “disassembly plant” to boost circular economy initiatives

-       Company : RENAULT TRUCKS (a Volvo Group company)

-       Sector : AUTOMOBILES

-       Clover rating : 6/10

Volvo Group’s Renault Trucks announced in august the creation of the Used Parts Factory, its “Disassembly Plant” focused on recycling trucks and reusing the parts and raw materials. The company, which has announced plans to recycle end-of-life trucks and reuse their spare parts, stated that the new facility forms part of its steps towards transitioning its operations to a circular economy approach.

Based at the company’s manufacturing facility in Lyon–Vénissieux, France, the new 3000 m2 plant will handle used vehicles with high mileage, and parts with potential for re-use. End-of-life trucks will be dismantled at the factory, where components identified for re-use will be removed, including engine, gearbox, cabin, fuel tank, bumpers, and deflectors. After checking and cleaning, the parts will be sent to the nearby Renault Trucks spare parts store, and marketed under the “Used Parts by Renault Trucks” label.

Sources : ESG Today, Renault Trucks


J.P. Morgan Launches New Digital ESG Platform for Investors

-       Company : JPMORGAN CHASE & CO


-       Clover rating : 2/10

J.P. Morgan announced in September the launch of ESG Discovery, a new digital platform aimed at providing investors with a central source for ESG views from the firm’s sector and ESG analysts, and enabling assessments of current and forward-looking company and sector material ESG risks, opportunities and impacts.

According to J.P. Morgan, the new platform was developed in response to growing client demand for “a more structured and fundamental ESG view.” Released with a modular design, ESG Discovery is designed to meet the ESG data needs of a broad set of J.P. Morgan’s investor clients, from ESG integration to impact investors, providing both thematic deep-dives as well as stock-specific views.

Sophie Warrick, Head of EMEA Equity Research & Co-Head of Global ESG Research, J.P. Morgan, said:

“ESG Discovery will provide J.P. Morgan’s sector analysts with the unique ability to assess ESG issues according to a clients’ own ESG priorities, providing in-depth, fundamental and forward-looking opinions on ESG performance, which are increasingly important to our clients.”

Source : ESG Today


H&M to remove sustainability labels from products following investigation by regulator

-       Company : H&M

-       Sector : RETAILING

-       Clover rating : 3/10

Fashion retailer H&M and sporting goods chain Decathlon have made commitments to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to remove sustainability-related labels from their products and websites, and to improve the use of sustainability claims in the future, following an investigation by the Dutch regulator. In a statement by ACM about the commitments, the regulator said that H&M and Decathlon have also agreed to provide donations of €400,000 and €500,000, respectively, to sustainable causes, “to compensate for their use of unclear and insufficiently substantiated sustainability claims.”

The announcement comes as regulators worldwide are increasingly focusing on potentially misleading sustainability claims made by companies, particularly in the fashion and clothing sectors. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), for example, recently said that it is investigating fashion retailers ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda, over eco-friendly and sustainability claims, as part of its broader greenwashing investigation into whether consumers are being misled by the sustainability claims in the marketing of products and services.

In its investigation, ACM found that H&M uses sustainability claims such as “Conscious” and “Conscious Choice,” without explaining what they mean, or providing a description of the sustainability benefits of the products. Additionally, ACM pointed out several practices by the company in which it appears to make sustainability claims about products that may incorrectly give the impression of their sustainability benefits, or guaranteeing that a specific product is made with sustainable materials.

Source : ESG Today



Record coral cover on parts of Great Barrier Reef, but global heating could jeopardise recovery

Marine scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef say they have recorded the highest levels of coral cover in 36 years in the north and central areas, but warned any recovery could be quickly overturned by global heating.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s annual long-term monitoring report says the fast-growing corals that have driven coral cover upwards are also those most at risk from marine heatwaves, storms and the voracious crown-of-thorns (COTS) starfish. Global heating is accepted by scientists as the reef’s biggest long-term threat.

Earlier this year, unusually hot ocean temperatures caused the first ever mass bleaching during a La Niña year – a natural climate phase that should have given corals a respite. The first ever mass bleaching on the reef was recorded in 1998, but since then corals were hit in 2002, 2016, 2017, 2020 and again earlier this year. Dr Mike Emslie, who leads the Australian Institute of Marine Science monitoring program, told the Guardian: “The fact that we have had four bleaching events in the last seven years and the first one in a La Niña year is really concerning.”

In the northern parts of the reef however, the monitoring data showed coral cover averaged 36% – a record high, with the lowest levels in the region at 13% recorded in 2017.

Sources : The Guardian, Reuters


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