Corporate Climate Inaction Jeopardizes Future

Corporate Climate Inaction Jeopardizes Future

A new analysis from Net Zero Tracker found that the world’s largest private companies are lagging a “disturbing distance” behind public companies when it comes to climate targets. In the public sector, 69 of the top 100 largest traded companies have net zero emissions targets, and among those, 73% have outlined plans to achieve them. In contrast, only 32 of the 100 largest private companies have targets, and only 13% of those with targets have published any plans.

NBC: Are Major Companies Living Up To Their Net-Zero Pledges To Combat Climate Change?, February 10, 2022.

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net zero' pledges, February 15, 2022.

Though the activities of private companies have received significantly less scrutiny than publicly-traded ones, the top 100 private firms have a combined revenue of more than $4 trillion, accounting for 5% of the global economy.

Worse, many public companies aren’t living up to their promises, and have continued polluting, despite their climate pledges. Together, public corporations, like Chevron, Amazon, and even Tesla, remain on track to raise global temperatures 2.9 degrees C by 2100.

As You Sow, Road to Zero Emissions | 55 Companies Ranked on Net Zero Progress, March 7, 2022.

DW: Time is running out | WMO warns 1.5 degree threshold could be topped by 2026, May 18, 2022.

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to CNN's Connect the World about the extreme heat, 18 July 2022, July 19, 2022.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

Last week, the massive asset management company BlackRock said they would not support any net-zero scenarios that call for a halt on further coal, oil, and gas investments, stating that the company’s role “is not to engineer a specific decarbonization outcome in the real economy.” The announcement comes after conservative opponents sought to punish the company for its climate-conscious investing. Other, companies, too, have felt red state wrath. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase were among six financial institutions boycotted by the state of West Virginia because of their reluctance to work with fossil fuel companies. In Texas and Arizona, a group of US attorneys recently launched an investigation into the country’s six biggest banks, claiming that environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices are bankrupting the energy industry. Tech billionaire Peter Thiel is even backing a new asset management firm whose goal is to end ESG investing.

CNBC: Sen. Tom Cotton Targets ESG Investing | BlackRock is a climate cartel, July 14, 2022.

Fox Business: This Wall Street 'scam' must be investigated | Ramaswamy, July 17, 2022.

FINANCE MARK: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink | We are not the environmental police, June 5, 2022.

Forbes: 'Absolutely Not' | Bank CEO Jamie Dimon Rebuffs Rashida Tlaib Request To Divest From Oil And Gas, September 22, 2022.

Why This Matters

The world’s banks and corporations have the power to spur decarbonization, but remain in various states of discussion and disagreement about their role balancing returns to shareholders with obligations to the planet. Despite climate promises and record lending to green technologies, banks such as Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan continue to fund projects that lead to Amazon deforestation, while the World Bank has funneled $14.8 billion directly into fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris Agreement. Experts concur that continued investment in coal, gas, and oil could destroy any chance the world has to stop the worst effects of planetary warming. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ even called these investments “delusional.”

At last year’s COP26, 100 world leaders pledged to stop deforestation, but have thus far galvanized only 2.3 billion dollars in funding, less 1% of what is needed to preserve critical ecosystems around the world.

The Big Shift Global: World Bank | A Broken Promise, October 5, 2022.

The YEARS Project: Five Years Post Paris | Big Banks Pour Trillions Into Fossil Fuels, April 15, 2021.

Euronews: UN Secretary-General says the climate crisis is placing half of humanity in 'the danger zone,' June 14, 2022.

TED: Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don't they? | Myles Allen, December 4, 2020.

Investing to Fuel the Future

Within the US, a handful of states have become battlegrounds in the fight against Big Oil. Not long after California passed a series of bills that would slow oil drilling and protect residents from harmful emissions, an industry lobby group filed a referendum aiming to reverse these measures. Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the city of Boulder, Colorado, are some that have filed lawsuits against oil companies, alleging that they mislead the public, causing millions of dollars of damage. In New Jersey, the lawsuit was filed last week and comes ten years after Hurricane Sandy, one of the most devastating storms in the state’s history.

Instead of making polluters pay, some states are seeking federal dollars to fix the damage caused by oil companies. Across the country, abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking, contaminating the groundwater, and threatening the health of residents and ecosystems, especially in Texas. In the latest infrastructure bill, Congress allotted 4.3 billion dollars to address leaking oil wells, and anticipates that most US states will seek funds.

CBS: Climate change lawsuits | Taking fossil fuel firms to court, April 17, 2022.

NJ Spotlight News: Lawsuit filed against oil companies, claim systemic fraud, October 18, 2022.

Although the world’s largest reinsurers including Munich Re and the American International Group (AIG) are stepping away from risky energy sources like oil and gas, shifting investment to renewable energy is no simple task. As the world’s wealthiest countries continue to invest in fossil fuels, many poorer countries that seek to rely on oil and gas reserves for their own development are skeptical of the double standard.

Greenmanbucket: Munich Re Geoscientist on 2021 Disasters and Losses, January 15, 2022.

Energi: Oil/gas investors lost $1 trillion because of stranded assets...Canada loses $100 billion, June 3, 2022.

Al Jazeera: ​​Stranded Assets | Plan It Green, January 16, 2022.

It’s an issue that will surely be discussed at COP27 this November. “While Africa is being discouraged from using its own energy resources to pursue industrialization, many signatories to the COP26 agreement [on climate change, signed at the last international climate summit] continue to expand fossil-fuel use at home,” Mo Ibrahim writes for Project Syndicate.

FT: American LNG exports are surging, on the back of European demand, October 20, 2022.

WION: Gravitas Plus | Europe's hypocrisy on fossil fuels, August 27, 2022.

MSCI: MSCI Net-Zero Now (documentary), October 11, 2022.