Half of companies target carbon reduction goals before 2030: survey

Source: gauthierdelecroix / Flickr

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

More than half of companies who set carbon reduction targets in the past few years plan to meet their goals by 2030 or before, according to early survey data shared with Callaway Climate Insights from Winmark Global, which runs the chief sustainability officer’s network.

While target dates run out to 2050, about a quarter have set their dates within a decade and more than another quarter are gunning for as early as next year to 2026, according to the data. That’s a remarkable shift from just two years ago, when 2050 was the preferred target because it was, well, out there.

John Jeffcock, the CEO of London-based Winmark, said the survey of the network’s members is continuing as new members join, but that the early results are encouraging. Still, there is a long way to go. Only a third of existing members have a formal plan to cut emissions in place, while the rest are still developing plans.

The most interesting findings to me were the top challenges companies listed in getting a plan in place. Confusing metrics and international regulations were obvious. But problems in committing to Scope 3 supply chain cleanup are interesting as they reflect that companies are holding back on pledges because they worry that they don’t have the clout with their vendors to require emission cuts. The top challenge was finding a way to reduce emissions while still growing profits, with companies saying that hitting ambitious emissions targets will require transformation of their entire organizations, or much of them.

In the end, the great renewables economic transition is going to depend as much on whether it’s a business opportunity as an environmental one.

More insights below. . . .

Thursday’s subscriber insights: China’s Olympics snowjob

. . . . A legal case in which Baltimore is demanding that oil companies pay for the city’s climate-change damage took a turn in favor of the plaintiffs this week, with appellate judges potentially prepared to send the case to a lower state court, which could be more amenable than a federal court. With 20 similar cases pending, this one will be watched closely. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Tesla’s earnings this week reflected the usual supply chain woes, and investors were disappointed that Elon Musk said no new models would be introduced this year, including its cybertruck version. But global sales patterns, especially in China, reveal that at least through the fourth quarter, inflation, higher rates and supply chains weren’t the obstacle many had thought. Read more here. . . .

. . . . An all-fake snow Winter Olympics. Severe smog over Beijing. It might seem that China would be alarmed and embarrassed enough to take more action to stop being the world’s biggest polluter. But Xi Jinping says energy security — including by building new coal plants and keeping others — will continue as planned. The world will be watching more than just the Games when they open next week. Read more here. . . .

. . . . For the past six months or so, electric vehicle news has centered around Ford as well as newcomers Rivian and Lucid, both of which made big IPO splashes. But now, having made the most ambitious net-zero pledge among carmakers, GM is ramping up big-time, predicting it will outsell Tesla in EV sales by mid-decade. Unfounded bravado or a real threat? Read more here. . . .

. . . . Like cooking with gas? Most serious cooks prefer it over electric stoves. But now comes word that gas stoves in the U.S. leak methane equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of half a million cars in the same timeframe. With a growing number of cities and states looking to phase out gas-fueled appliances in homes, including New York City, in favor of more climate-friendly electric alternatives, it seems a new revolution in cooking is in the cards. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: Battling pollution in the Gulf states; EV makers need more graphite

EPA set to battle pollution in minority communities

The EPA is stepping up enforcement efforts to combat air pollution, drinking water quality and other health and environment issues in minority communities in three Gulf coast states. The Associated Press reports the agency will conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites suspected of polluting air and water and causing health problems to nearby residents,” citing EPA Administrator Michael Regan. The agency said it plans to install air monitoring equipment in Louisiana’s so-called “chemical corridor” to improve enforcement at chemical and plastics plants between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The region contains several hotspots where cancer risks are far above national levels, the AP notes.

Reliance on China for graphite hits EV makers

The world’s reliance on China for a vital ingredient in batteries is proving to be another road bump for EV manufacturers — in addition to the semiconductor industry. S&P Global Market Intelligence reports that the concerns stem from the fact that the world is reliant solely on China at some point in the supply chain for graphite. In light of trade battles and rising demand, “U.S.-based battery and car companies have urged President Biden to ease trade restrictions or risk impeding the administration’s push to electrify transportation sectors, according to industry experts. Producers trying to break into the market for graphite, the largest component of lithium-ion batteries by volume, have begun building out new production facilities in the U.S. and Canada, but they are years away from production,” Camille Erickson writes for S&P Global.

Climate change and the Olympic Winter Games

Winter is changing the locations around the world where Olympic Winter Games have been held in the past, threatening the future of these host locations and the games and athletes as well. The authors of Climate change and the future of the Olympic Winter Games surveyed 339 elite athletes and coaches from 20 countries to define fair and safe conditions for snow sports competitions. “The frequency of unfair-unsafe conditions has increased over the past 50 years across the 21 OWG host locations. The probability of unfair-unsafe conditions increases under all future climate change scenarios. In a low-emission scenario aligned to the Paris Climate Agreement, the number of climate-reliable hosts remains almost unchanged throughout the 21st century. The geography of the OWG changes radically if global emissions remain on the trajectory of the past two decades, leaving only one reliable host city by the end of the century. Athletes expressed trepidation over the future of their sport and the need for the sporting world to be a powerful force to inspire and accelerate climate action.”

Words to live by . . . .

“No new coal plants. No expansion in oil and gas exploration. Now is the time for an unprecedented investment surge in renewable energy — particularly in emerging & developing economies — tripling to $5 trillion dollars annually by 2030.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

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