Investors with $4.7tr of assets under management call on the SEC to deliver robust new rules, as Germany ramps up green infrastructure plans and Coal India sets sights on net zero
Top investors call on SEC to deliver wide-ranging climate disclosure rules
Seventy-five investors with $4.7tr of assets under management (AUM) this week sent a letter to the commissioners at the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to call on them to ensure new climate change disclosure rules are as wide-ranging and robust as possible.
The Biden administration recently instructed the SEC to look at strengthening climate-related risk disclosure rules for listed companies in the US, but some leading investors remain concerned any reforms could prove too narrow and as such would fail to tackle the systemic climate-related risks their portfolios face.
The letter explains why the soon-to-be-released climate change disclosure rule must require verified Scope 1-3 value chain emissions reporting, with a particular emphasis on Scope 3 reporting.
“The SEC has a critical role to play in ensuring that full emissions reporting is timely, comparable, complete, and accurate,” said Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel at campaign group As You Sow. “Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions is the bedrock of sound investor decision-making on climate and transition risk. Investors need robust, complete, and comparable disclosure of emissions data to determine which companies are aligning their business activities with Paris targets, and thereby minimizing transition risks – and which are failing to prepare for the rapidly accelerating and economy-wide transition.”
The letter argues that failure to require disclosure and reporting of Scope 3 value chain emissions is likely to result in the largest source of emissions remaining unaccounted for in company reporting and unaddressed in company activities. This in turn impacts a wide variety of actors that rely on accurate and consistent emissions information including investors, banks, insurers, and policymakers, the group argued.
COP15 Biodiversity Summit reportedly facing further delays
The COP15 Biodiversity Summit that was slated to take place in Kunming, China in May could be delayed for a fourth time, according to reports in the New Scientist.
The magazine said a senior UN source had indicated the Summit is set to be postponed until the end of August, following a series of previous Covid-related delays.
The latest postponement would mean that COP15, which is expected to deliver a raft of new biodiversity protection targets for 2030, would take place almost two years later than originally scheduled.
A spokesperson for the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN body behind the COP15 summit, told New Scientist: “The COP [conference of the parties] bureau, at its last meeting, discussed that the UN Biodiversity Conference could be moved to the third quarter. However, the official decision on this has not yet been taken.”
EDF announces plans for new Irish wind farm
EDF Renewables Ireland has this week announced plans for a new 50MW wind farm in Carlow, Ireland, which would be capable of powering more than 36,000 homes.
The project team is currently gathering wind data and mapping the environmental constraints on site which will be used to create a preliminary wind turbine layout, the company said. EDF Renewables Ireland intends to submit a planning application and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report in support of the project, which could consist of up to seven turbines, to Carlow County Council in late 2022 or early 2023 with a view to bringing the project online by 2026.
Kevin Daly, head of development at EDF Renewables Ireland, said: “Projects like Seskin Wind Farm are crucial to tackling the climate crisis and decarbonising our energy supply, and will contribute to helping Ireland meet its target of delivering 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of this decade.”
Germany announces €220bn infrastructure investment drive
Germany’s response to the energy security threat presented by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued this week, with the announcement of a new €200bn industrial transformation strategy, which would see the government back an array of climate protection projects, hydrogen developments, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
“€200bn in funding [has been earmarked] for the transformation of the economy, society and the state,” Finance Minister Christian Lindner told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday. The funding package includes plans to shift green levies on energy bills into general taxation in a bid to curb soaring bills for households.
Coal India touts net zero operations goal
Coal India is aiming to deliver net zero emissions from its operations in the next three to four years, according to the company’s chairman.
In comments reported by Reuters, Pramod Agrawal, chairman of the coal mining giant, said the company was working to deploy renewable energy capacity, improve energy efficiency, and embrace clean transport technologies in order to reduce its operational emissions. However, the new target would not cover the emissions resulting from the burning of the coal that it extracts.
Renewable energy, greater internal energy efficiency and cleaner transport are expected to contribute to Coal India’s net zero target, of the world’s largest miner of coal by output, said on Monday.
“We plan that maybe in the next three to four years, we should become a net-zero company,” Agrawal said in a presentation to the 15th Indian Coal Markets Conference.
China unveils plan for giant Gobi Desert renewables projects, plots new carbon-saving policies
China has unveiled plans for a fleet of wind and solar plants in the Gobi Desert, which could deliver up to 450GW of capacity – more than twice the level of wind and solar capacity currently installed in the US.
Climate Home News reported that government planner He Lifeng said China intended to bring the giant projects online by 2030.
The news came in the same week as the Chinese government reportedly published documents indicating it intends to introduce new policies and incentives later this year to encourage businesses to accelerate efforts to curb their emissions.
EPA restores California’s ability to set more demanding tailpipe standards
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday that it would reinstate California’s freedom to set its own auto emissions standards, reversing a Trump-era decision that controversially stripped the state of its long-standing authority over tailpipe standards.
The move means California can revert to more demanding auto emissions standards and electric vehicle target, providing a template for other states to follow that should increase pressure on the entire US auto industry to enhance the fuel efficiency of their fleets.
“Today we proudly reaffirm California’s longstanding authority to lead in addressing pollution from cars and trucks,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement, adding that the mov revived “an approach that for years has helped advance clean technologies and cut air pollution for people not just in California but for the US as a whole”.
The move was welcomed by California Governor Gavin Newsom who thanked the Biden Administration for “righting the reckless wrongs of the Trump Administration and recognising our decades-old authority to protect Californians and our planet”.
“The restoration of our state’s Clean Air Act waiver is a major victory for the environment, our economy, and the health of families across the country that comes at a pivotal moment underscoring the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels,” he added.
Saudi Arabia inks deal for 1GW of new renewables projects
The Saudi Arabian government this week announced that it has awarded contracts for two new solar projects with a combined capacity of 1GW in support of the kingdom’s clean energy goals.
The Saudi Power Procurement Company signed two power purchase agreement (PPA) deals worth $665m with two winning consortiums, the Ministry of Energy said in a statement reported by the Saudi Press Agency.
The SPPC signed a 700MW PPA with the Ar Rass Solar project, alongside a 300MW PPA with the Saad Solar PV IPP project which is backed by a consortium led by Jinko Power.
Diageo brews up plans for Canadian carbon neutral distillery
Diageo this week announced plans today for a new C$245m distillery to support the expansion of its Crown Royal Canadian Whisky brand, promising to deliver a carbon neutral site.
The drinks giant said the distillery would feature resource efficiency technologies and would operate with 100 per cent renewable energy to ensure the new distillery is carbon neutral and zero-waste to landfill from all direct operations.
“A low-carbon world is essential for a sustainable future, so I am thrilled to announce our first carbon neutral distillery in Canada as we continue to build momentum in our journey to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030,” said Perry Jones, President, North America Supply for Diageo. “We celebrate such a significant milestone for our Crown Royal brand, our North American operations and global footprint.”