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News and Reports

The Report Report is a monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology ... February 2018


Peter Burgess

Report Report Report Report: Planting trees, circularity, risk and responsible exits Devon Edwards Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 1:45am

The Report Report is a monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology, produced by Corporate Eco Forum, a by-invitation membership organization comprised of large, global companies that demonstrate a serious commitment at the senior executive level to sustainability as a business strategy issue.

Approaching a Tipping Point: How Corporate Users are Redefining Global Electricity Markets (The Climate Group and CDP) examines progress that RE100 member companies have made against their 100 percent renewable electricity goals, and highlights their approaches to sourcing renewables across market contexts around the world. Key findings included the following:
(1) The biggest achievers in 2016 included Bank of America, AstraZeneca and Coca Cola Enterprises Inc., whose share of renewable electricity increased more than threefold.
(1) The proportion of renewable electricity being sourced via power purchase agreements grew fourfold in 2016, while the quantity of electricity sourced from onsite generation increased 15 times (via supplier-owned projects) and nine times (via member-owned projects).
(1) 88 percent of respondents cited the economic case for renewable electricity as a major driver, with 30 out of 74 reporting that renewable electricity was either cost competitive or delivered significant savings on energy bills.
(1) Member renewable electricity use by region: 25 percent of the electricity consumed by RE100 companies in North America was renewable; nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of electricity consumed by members in the U.K. was renewable; Spain (87 percent), the Netherlands (62 percent); South and Central America (23 percent); and Asia and Oceania (15 percent).
(1) 25 RE100 member companies had reached 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of 2016.

Behind the Curtain: The State of EHS and Sustainability Today (Antea Group) presents findings from a survey conducted with 75 EHS professionals to provide insight into emerging trends, priorities, and challenges in the field. The top priorities mentioned by respondents included compliance and safety, followed by business development, and& successful project completion. The top challenges mentioned by respondents included resource constraints (35 percent), followed by risk management (14 percent), and compliance management (12 percent).

The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity (World Resources Institute and The Nature Conservancy) highlights 14 companies participating in the landscape restoration economy, with some positioned to grow revenues up to 10 times annually. The report also identifies four emerging themes in the landscape restoration economy: technology; consumer products; project management; and commercial forestry.

Carbon Pricing: Discover Your Blind Spots on Risk and Opportunity (Trucost) encourages companies to account for carbon risk beyond their direct operations to uncover future carbon pricing exposure across the entire value chain that could lead to 'significant risks and missed opportunities.' The report explores the following in detail: When carbon pricing could affect company profits; How risk exposure can vary substantially among companies in the same business sector; and the size and timing of carbon pricing risk likely to be passed through supply chains and product portfolios.

The Circularity Gap (Circle Economy) finds that only 9.1 percent of the global economy is circular, which means that more than 90 percent of extracted raw materials are wasted after their functional use in society and not cycled back into the economy. The report also introduces the Global Circularity Metric — a new framework and fact-base to measure and monitor yearly progress in closing the circularity gap.

Clean Energy Investment Trends 2017 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) finds that global investment in renewable energy and energy-smart technologies reached $333.5 billion in 2017 — up 3 percent from $324.6 billion in 2016. China invested a record amount ($132.6 billion) into clean energy technologies in 2017, while the United States invested the second most ($56.9 billion). The report also finds that a record 160 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy generating capacity (excluding large hydro) globally was commissioned in 2017, with solar providing 98GW of that capacity and wind providing 56GW.

Corporate Reporting in the United States and Canada (WBCSD) presents data from the Reporting Exchange, a free tool that summarizes and connects environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting requirements and resources from across 60 countries and 70 sectors to help businesses understand what, when, and how to report on ESG issues. The report also offers insight into the challenges, opportunities and next steps for corporate reporting and disclosure.

Driving disruption (CDP) ranks 16 large publicly listed automotive companies, representing 79 percent of the global passenger vehicle market by sales volume, on their business readiness for a low-carbon transition. BMW, Daimler and Toyota were ranked the highest; Suzuki, FCA, and Subaru were ranked the lowest.

Future of Sustainability 2018: Living in Nonlinear Times (Forum for the Future) explores seven dynamic trends that could unlock opportunities for a more sustainable future. The seven 'areas of dynamism' are:
(1) Mobility faces as radical a shift as horse to motor
(1) Regenerative agriculture grows in momentum
(1) Action against pervasive plastic pollution
(1) Retail shifts and changing consumerism
(1) New ways of organizing catalyze societal action
(1) New livelihoods in low and middle income countries
(1) Blockchain impacts beyond the hype

Global Energy Perspective 2018 (McKinsey Energy Insights) provides energy-related demand projections for 145 countries, 28 sectors and 55 fuel types. Key findings included:
(1) 80 percent of global net capacity additions of power generation between now and 2050 will be renewables.
(1) Global energy-related CO2 emissions are expected to peak in 2030, but at 1.5-2.0 times higher than the level necessary to meet the 2-degree Celsius target.
(1) Electricity demand is expected to grow four times faster than demand for other fuels.
(1) By 2030, one-fifth of global car sales will be electric, with sales rising from 3 percent in 2020 to 20 percent a decade later.

Global Risks Report 2018 (World Economic Forum) assesses the impact and likelihood of 30 global economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks that could pose a significant threat to our global system over the next 10 years. The top 10 risks, in terms of likelihood and impact, are:
(1) Extreme weather events
(1) Natural disasters
(1) Cyber attacks
(1) Data fraud or theft
(1) Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
(1) Large-scale involuntary migration
(1) Man-made environmental disasters
(1) Terrorist attacks
(1) Illicit trade
(1) Asset bubbles in a major economy

Global Opportunity Report 2018 (DNV GL, Sustainia and the United Nations Global Compact) draws on insight from experts and private and public sector leaders around the world to identify 10 business opportunities to help deliver progress against four of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are likely to miss their 2030 targets: Goal 10 (reduced inequalities); Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production); Goal 13 (climate action); and Goal 14 (life below water).

Global Supply Chain Report 2018 (CDP and McKinsey & Company) analyzes climate, water and deforestation-related data from over 4,800 suppliers around the world to highlight the progress that companies and their suppliers have made in building sustainable supply chains. Key findings include:
(1) A total of 58 companies — out of more than 3,300 companies analyzed — were recognized on CDP’s Supplier Engagement leaderboard for their work with suppliers to reduce emissions and lower environmental risks in the supply chain. CEF members featured on the leaderboard include: Apple; Bank of America; Cisco Systems; HPE; HP Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Microsoft; NRG Energy; TD Bank Group; and Unilever.
(1) The number of companies using an industry-leading approach to tackling emissions in the supply chain has doubled since last year.
(1) On average, GHG emissions in supply chains are four times higher than those generated by a company’s direct operations.
(1) Participating suppliers reduced 551 million metric tons of CO2 collectively in 2017, resulting in cost savings of $14 billion.

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth (PwC and World Economic Forum) explores over 80 ways that artificial intelligence (AI) can transform traditional sectors and systems to address six of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, including climate change, food and water security, and clean air.

In Demand: Clean Energy, Sustainability and the New American Workforce (EDF Climate Corps and Meister Consultants Group) finds that the wind and solar energy sector employs more people than coal and gas in 30 states. Key findings included:
(1) Total renewable energy jobs outnumber coal and gas jobs by nearly 1.5 to 1.
(1) An estimated 777,000 people worked in the renewable energy industry at the beginning of 2017, led by wind and solar employment.
(1) Wind and solar employment grew by 16 percent and 24.5 percent respectively since 2016.
(1) The energy storage market grew 46 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Lasting Impact: The Need for Responsible Exits (Global Impact Investing Network) highlights a range of investment strategies — pre-investment, at the time of investment, during the investment and at the time of exit — that impact investors have used to meet liquidity objectives while also ensuring the long-term sustainable impact of their investments. The report features case studies from Adobe Capital, Lok Capital, Beartooth Capital and LeapFrog.

Powering Sustainable Cities: Key Trends and Pathways to Success for City Leaders (NRG Energy) draws on insight from energy industry experts and professionals from cities to explore:
(1) Global, regional and local trends affecting cities’ approaches to sourcing cleaner power
(1) How leading cities source sustainable energy
(1) Barriers, opportunities and best practices
(1) Next generation sustainable power technologies to watch

Readiness for the Future of Production Report 2018 (World Economic Forum and A.T. Kearney) analyzes 100 countries according to 59 indicators to determine their readiness for the future of production in light of rapidly emerging technologies, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, wearables, robotics and additive manufacturing. The report serves as a global benchmark and is intended to inform the development of modern industrial strategies.

Redefining Sustainable Business: Management for a Rapidly Changing World (BSR) provides a framework to help companies adopt resilient business models with sustainability at their foundation. The report recommends a three-pronged approach to company strategy, governance and management:
(1) Act: Create resilient business strategies, governance and management approaches that ensure achievement of sustainable business goals.
(1) Enable: Catalyze systemic progress by building mutually beneficial relationships and collaborating with stakeholders and partners across the entire value chain.
(1) Influence: Promote policy frameworks that strengthen the relationship between commercial success and the achievement of a just and sustainable world.

Sustainability Trends for 2018 (SustainAbility) identifies 10 issues shaping the sustainability agenda in 2018, and explores the impacts they could have on business. The report covers climate change, the social equity agenda, freedom of speech, sustainable mobility, and other issues facing society.

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