WHO report: more than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day

Every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk.

A new WHO report on Air pollution and child health: Prescribing clean air examines the heavy toll of both ambient (outside) and household air pollution on the health of the world’s children.

It reveals that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, and have small, low birth-weight children. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.

Some of the Key findings of this report are:

-Air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development.

-Air pollution is damaging children’s lung function, even at lower levels of exposures

-Globally, 93% of the world’s children under 15 years of age are exposed to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels above WHO air quality guidelines, which include the 630 million of children under 5 years of age, and 1.8 billion of children under 15 years

-In low- and middle-income countries around the world, 98% of all children under 5 are exposed to PM2.5 levels above WHO air quality guidelines. In comparison, in high-income countries, 52% of children under 5 are exposed to levels above WHO air quality guidelines.

-More than 40% of the world’s population is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels.

-About 600’000 deaths in children under 15 years of age were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016.

-Together, household air pollution from cooking and ambient (outside) air pollution cause more than 50% of acute lower respiratory infections in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries.

-Air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children under five years of age.

So, actions should be made:

-Action by the health sector to inform, educate, provide resources to health professionals, and engage in inter-sectoral policy making.

-Implementation of policies to reduce air pollution: All countries should work towards meeting WHO global air quality guidelines to enhance the health and safety of children.

-Steps to minimize children’s exposure to polluted air: Schools and playgrounds should be located away from major sources of air pollution like busy roads, factories and power plants.

You can download the report here

Nearly 90% of public pension savings exposed to global warming

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) has revealed that only 13% of savings collectively managed by the world’s 100 largest public pension funds have undergone formal assessment for exposure to climate-related risks, leaving $9.8 trillion (£7.5 trillion) unprotected from the economic shocks of global warming. This exposes almost 90% of assets managed on behalf millions of savers worldwide to potential losses in the long term.

According to AODP, part of the responsible investment organisation ShareAction, pension funds are most aware of the risks associated with fossil fuel dependent investments. However, this awareness does not yet seem to have translated into action, with 85% of funds having no formal policy for excluding thermal coal.

50% of pension funds have been found to undertake some form of company engagement with high-carbon companies. However, despite recognising the regulatory and transition risk of fossil fuel investments, these efforts focus largely on improving disclosure, instead of driving action. Furthermore, results indicate an ‘escalation gap’, with only a minority of pension funds (18%) escalating their engagements in case of failure.

With almost 200 nations having ratified the Paris Agreement, only 10% of the largest public pension funds have made formal pledges to align their portfolios with the goals of the Paris Agreement, including Sweden’s AP7 and Finland’s Varma. A further 25% of funds have developed various forms of formal climate-related policies, while a staggering 65% of funds either have no policy, or a broad ESG or responsible investment policy that contain no specific references to climate change.

Promisingly, almost a fifth of pension funds are already performing climate scenario analysis in their investment portfolios, despite the TCFD recommendations only coming out last year, with a further 10% considering how to approach it.

You can see more information here

Paris goals can only be achieved in time with robust bottom-up action

The Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change this month published its special report on what action is required to keep global temperature increases to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

That report made sobering reading, and underlines the scale of the challenge that faces the world today:

  • The earth is already about 1 degree C warmer than in pre-industrial times, and temperatures are expected to rise to 1.5 degrees between 2022 and 2030 if emissions continue at the same level as today.
  • We have already used up most of the carbon “budget” that is available if we want to keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees.
  • Two-thirds of all primary energy must be renewable by 2050, if we are to remain on track – that includes 97% of all electricity generation. The IEA estimates that at present, renewables provide about 14% of all power.

This is the goal of the Paris Agreement – for the world to become carbon neutral by the second half of the century. Together with the Sustainable Development Goals, this represents a roadmap for growth in the 21st century while minimising negative impacts on our climate and on our environment.

And yet, despite the scientific evidence, there are still nations that are either not convinced of the need to reduce emissions, or are unwilling to do so.

Some governments are resisting the call from the international community, fearing that the changes required will involve too much social upheaval. Countries that rely on coal-fired power are reluctant to create unemployment in their mining sectors, or they believe the investment required to shift to renewable power is too great.

Certain politicians continue to emphasise national interests above the needs of the global community, and reject calls for cooperative action among nations to achieve these necessary goals.

But real demand for change is growing at ground level. Consumers around the world are paying greater attention to the environment and the climate, and making changes to their own lifestyles.

 

They are also starting to ask uncomfortable questions of the businesses that supply them.

These enterprises, the ones that directly face the general public, such as retailers, service providers, utilities, are being asked to demonstrate that they are considering their impact on the environment and taking measures to reduce their footprint.

More and more people want climate-friendly, environment-friendly solutions. They want to reward those companies that are forward-thinking, that take concrete actions and which are committed to playing a strong role in the fight against climate change and efforts to build sustainability.

Consumers are choosing energy companies who can deliver electricity from wind-farms or solar parks, who are cutting down on single-use plastics, and who are committed to recycling.

Increasingly, retailers are demonstrating their commitment by boosting the use of renewable resources such as replacing plastic bags with paper ones, selecting logistics partners who run carbon-neutral supply chains and by becoming carbon-neutral by purchasing carbon offsets.

Offsets represent a simple and effective way to neutralise the carbon footprint, by ensuring that for every tonne of CO2 a business emits, or causes to be emitted, a reduction of one tonne of CO2 takes place elsewhere.

Planting trees, changing from fossil fuel-generated electricity, switching from petroleum-driven to electric vehicles, even reducing water consumption, are all ways in which the climate impact of business can be reduced.

And for service-oriented companies such as banks an investment funds, there are emerging standards that apply to lending and investment portfolios. The Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure, for example, is building pressure on publicly-quoted companies to be more transparent about the impact of climate change on their businesses.

Action doesn’t stop at the retail level, however. In order to widen the scope of possible carbon reductions, these public-facing enterprises are in turn starting to ask the same questions of their own suppliers further up the supply chain.

And as these wholesale businesses encounter more demands for change, they will place increasing pressure on the heavy industries that supply them: the vehicle manufacturers, the electricity providers, and the industrial companies that produce their raw materials.

And once the pressure becomes too great, these primary industries will turn to governments and demand policy changes, such as putting a cost on emissions. Rather than take voluntary action themselves, which may put them at a competitive disadvantage, they will want to ensure a level playing field for all, which national regulation can provide.

Already, these giant primary industry businesses – the likes of Dow Chemical, Norsk Hydro, Akzo Nobel, Braskem and Lafarge Holcim, are banding together in organisations like the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, the Climate Market Investment Association, the  International Emissions Trading Association and the We Mean Business Coalition to put pressure on governments to put a price on carbon or to boost their climate and sustainability ambition in other ways..

National carbon price mechanisms are still at a relatively early stage: World Bank research shows that 51 countries and regions currently have a price on carbon, including the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), or the Western Climate Initiative in California and Quebec.

More countries are considering or even planning pricing systems: China will launch the world’s biggest emissions market in a matter of months, while Latin American nations from Mexico to Chile are readying plans to launch their own carbon markets.

Ground-level demand for action, by consumers, is the most certain way in which to cause the changes we need to see. Companies will always seek to exploit potential growth opportunities, and with demand for climate-neutral and sustainable products growing fast, the opportunity is developing.

There are an increasing number of tools to manage climate exposure for consumers, retail and even light industrial companies. Demand for change from the consumer end of the supply chain is working its way up towards heavy industry, and when that primary sector begins to feel the pressure to shift towards sustainability and climate neutrality, governments will act.

It’s clear that the impetus for change is unlikely to come from above, so it must grow from the ground up. Millions of consumers are already calling for action on climate and sustainable development and business.

Thousands of businesses of all sizes are also responding, but there need to be more. Policymakers around the world must be left in no doubt that we cannot continue with business-as-usual in a world where we are perilously close to triggering catastrophic climate change.

The science tells us we have only a few years left to act, and leadership must come from a community of consumers and businesses. Only when governments are convinced by their people and by their economic actors of the need for change, for ambition, will they catch up.

Alexis L.Leroy. CEO and Founder of ALLCOT Group

Urban climate policies can create nearly 14 million jobs in cities and prevent 1.3 million premature deaths annually by 2030

New research from C40 Cities, The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the NewClimate Institute, shows that ambitious urban climate policies can vastly reduce carbon emissions globally as well as effectively deliver enormous economic and public health benefits for cities.

Climate Opportunity: More Jobs; Better Health; Liveable Cities estimates that by 2030, a boost in urban climate action can prevent approximately 1.3 million premature deaths per year, net generate 13.7 million jobs in cities.

The report examines a number of effective urban solutions to climate change and the top findings show that:

-Investments in residential energy efficiency retrofits could result in a net creation of 5.4 million jobs in cities across the globe. Such investments would also result in significant household savings, as well as emissions reductions.

-Improved public transport could prevent the premature deaths of nearly one million people per year from air pollution and traffic fatalities worldwide. Improved transport networks could also save 40 billion hours of commuters’ time every year by 2030, while achieving important emissions reductions.

-District-scale renewable energy for heating and cooling in buildings could prevent a further 300,000 premature deaths per year by 2030. Renewable energy could contribute to significant emissions reductions and create approximately 8.3 million jobs.

-Climate action policies can have proportionally greater outcomes for lower income groups in developing cities, where populations have the most to gain from the introduction of new technologies.

You can download the full report here

 

IPCC Report: Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5°C, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5°C would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

You can see the report here

 

EU ETS Report – September 2018

Carbon began the month with a bang, but ended with more of a whimper. After prices soared to more than €25 early on, speculators took fright and started to take profits, but compliance and speculative buyers rallied to set a floor at around €20 by the end of the month.

EUAs closed the month of September at €21.21, a 0.06% increase from the August settlement and the 17th consecutive monthly gain for the front-year contract. Prices moved in a €7.89 range throughout the month, the most volatile trading ever seen in this market.

The epicentre of activity was the first half of the month, in which prices rocketed from €20.17 on September 3 to as high as €25.79 a week later. The sheer speed of the rally took the entire market by surprise, and many traders were moved to take profit.

Within three days the market was back below €19, and prices entered a period of extreme volatility, in which the daily trading range averaged more than €1.70, compared with a year-to-date average of €0.61.

The general view was that the unsustainably rapid price rise had raised fears that the market could not sustain these levels, and that liquidation was the correct response. At €25.79, the EUA price had more than trebled since the start of the year, and had added 25% in just a week.

The second half of the month saw the Decmber 2018 contract display substantial intraday volatility, though prices remained broadly between €20 and €22.50. The sharp daily moves suggested traders no longer had a clear sense of the market’s direction.

At the same time, compliance buyers were still active, entering the market to buy whenever prices dipped. Towards the end of the month support emerged at around €20, with industrials buying any time prices dropped below that level.

The main talking point in the second half of September centered around rapidly-widening spread differentials. The spot-December 2019 timespread traded between €0.32-0.33 in the first ten days of the month, but after ICE Futures announced two successive increases in its initial and variation margins, the spread began to widen rapidly to accomodate the higher costs, and ended the month at around €0.66.

This impact was felt throughout the curve, with December 2018-December 2019 spreads blowing out from €0.28 to €0.60, and the Dec 2018-Dec 2020 from €0.75 to €1.21.

September also saw the first signs of the annual “rolling” of open positions. Open interest in the December 2018 futures began to decline, while the volume if open positions in the December 2019 continued to increase. This rolling is taking place earlier than usual, traders say, and suggests that speculative traders may have given up on cashing in this year. Instead, the theory goes, speculators are positioning themselves to react to the start of the Market Stability Reserve next year.

Companies are increasingly using the Sustainable Development Goals as their strategic north star in setting targets

Companies are increasingly using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as their strategic north star in setting targets, according to The 10th Annual BSR/Globescan State of Sustainable Business Survey, which provides insight into the world of sustainable business and identifies common perceptions and practices of corporate sustainability professionals.

150 sustainability executives from the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) network have participated and 71 per cent are either using the SDGs to set internal targets or intend to do so in the near future.

Some of the key findings of the report are the following:

-Companies are defining a new sustainability agenda. Corporate integrity and diversity and inclusion are top priorities for sustainability efforts in 2018.

-Sustainability needs to be integrated into strategy: Three-quarters of practitioners observe that effectively navigating global megatrends means ensuring that sustainability is a mainstream business issue, necessitating both organizational integration and new approaches to strategy and governance.

-SDGs are driving strategy: There has been a significant increase in companies using the SDGs to inform their goals.

-Companies have limited focus on value chain impacts: Companies take an inconsistent approach to addressing key issues across their value chains, with efforts to go beyond their own operations still limited.

-There is a need for more cross-functional collaboration: Sustainability teams still struggle to get traction with strategic planning and core business functions.

-There is room to improve communications.

-Corporate integrity and ethics are top priorities for sustainability teams in 2018.

-Companies are experimenting with new governance structures and approaches to manage evolving stakeholder concerns. This necessitates closer coordination between the sustainability, ethics and compliance, and government/corporate affairs functions.

You can read the full report here

The Global Climate Action Summit ended with new commitments announced by thousands of attendees

The Global Climate Action Summit, which took place in San Francisco from 12th to 14th September and bring leaders and people together from around the world to “Take Ambition to the Next Level”, ended with new commitments announced by thousands of states, regions, cities, business, investors and NGOs.

These commitments are aimed at avoiding risks and seizing the opportunities outlined in a suite of reports, including the new Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century by the New Climate Economy. It finds that a stepped-up transition to a low-carbon economy can result in $26 trillion in economic benefits worldwide through 2030; generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030; avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2030; or generate, through just subsidy reform and carbon pricing, an estimated US$2.8 trillion in government revenues per year in 2030.

So, some the commitments announced to get all these benefits were the following:

-An alliance of more than 60 state/regional, city governments and multinational businesses are now committed to a 100% zero emission targets through the ZEV Challenge.

-Business is stepping-forward with 23 multinational companies in EV100, with revenue of over $470 billion, committed to taking fleets zero emission.

-Almost 400 global companies along with health care providers, cities, states and regions now have 100% renewable energy targets.

-488 companies from 38 countries have adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the science of the Paris Agreement—up nearly 40 per cent from last year.

-At the Summit, 21 companies announced the Step Up Declaration, a new alliance dedicated to harnessing the power of emerging technologies and the fourth industrial revolution to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors and ensure a climate turning point by 2020.

-Over 70 big cities, home to some 425 million citizens, are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, including Accra, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mexico City and further 9,100 cities representing 800 million citizens are now committed to city-wide climate action plans.

-A powerful Leaders Group and a new alliance linking over 100 NGOs, businesses, state and local governments, indigenous groups and local communities was launched to fire up action across the forest, food and land agendas.

-The Investor Agenda was formally launched bringing together nearly 400 investors managing US $32 trillion of assets including CalPERS, the largest US pension fund; La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CPDQ), Danish pension fund PKA, and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

-296 investors have now joined Climate Action 100+ which is working with some of the highest emitting companies to assist them in lowering emissions, getting on track with clean energy and the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Carbon Tracker Report: Demand for fossil fuels will peak in the 2020s

The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of financial specialists making climate risk real in today’s capital markets, published a report predicting that the peak in fossil fuel demand will have a dramatic impact on financial markets in the 2020s.

2020 Vision: Why You Should See Peak Fossil Fuels Coming shows that solar and wind will displace all growth in fossil fuels as they continue to expand against a backdrop of falling energy demand. With global energy demand expected to grow at 1-1.5% and solar and wind at 15-20% a year, fossil fuel demand will peak between 2020 and 2027, most likely 2023.

Kingsmill Bond, Carbon Tracker New Energy Strategist and author of the report, said: “The 2020s will be the decade of fossil fuel demand peaks, as one bastion after another is stormed and overwhelmed by the rising renewable tide. This will inevitably lead to trillions of dollars of stranded assets across the corporate sector and hit petro-states that fail to reinvent themselves.”

The impacts of the energy transition will be vast: The fossil fuel sector has invested an estimated $25 trillion in infrastructure and there will be systemic risk to financial markets as they seek to digest vast amounts of stranded assets; the transition will directly affect companies that compose up to a quarter of equity indexes and debt markets, hitting banking, capital goods, transport and automotive sectors and fossil fuel exporting countries will suffer.

Carbon Tracker warns that the first impacts of the energy transition are already being felt: Coal-fired and gas-fired power plants in Europe and parts of the US are already being closed down because they are uneconomic; Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal producer, went bankrupt in 2016 and in 2017 electric vehicles were 3 million out of 800 million cars globally, but 22% of growth in car sales, and are set to provide all growth in car sales in the early 2020s.

Kingsmill Bond said: “Investors anticipate, so they will typically react even before companies see peak demand. This is what happened recently in the coal and European electricity sector transitions. We believe that investors will start to react faster as the energy transition works its way through the world’s capital markets.  As each sector is impacted, it becomes easier for the market to anticipate something similar happening to the next sector.”

You can download the full report here

 

 

EU ETS Monthly Report – August 2018

Carbon enjoyed its best-ever August this year, with the front-year contract increasing by €3.31, or 19%, to close at €21.09. In euro terms, that’s the largest monthly gain since August 2008.

Prices have always risen during the month of August, supported by the annual 50% cut in auction volumes during the peak of the holiday season, but this year additional factors sparked the market’s performance.

Firstly, the 16-month bull run has brought an overwhelming bullish sentiment to the market: compliance buyers are now more proactive and looking to lock in low prices wherever possible. This together with speculative activity means that any price dips are heavily bought; as a number of traders have put it: “nobody wants to be short in this market.”

Secondly, power and fuel prices rose sharply in August: German calendar 2019 baseload power jumped 16%, and calendar 2019 API2 coal added 7.1%. At the same time, NBP winter 2018 natural gas gained nearly 18%. The result was a significant improvement in the clean dark spread at the expense of the clean spark spread, and a boost for EUA demand.

Taken in conjunction with the cut in auction supply, the conditions created a “perfect storm” for carbon prices to rise significantly.

EUAs rose from around €17.40 to €18.00 in the first half of the month before demand exploded. Allowance prices gained as much as €3.80 in the second half as buyers flooded the market and chased prices higher.

Average trading volume in the December 2018 contract was just 8.7 million tonnes a day during the first two weeks, but jumped to more than 14 million tonnes/day in the second half of the month.

Some strategy-based traders had predicted an effort by speculators to drive the EUA market higher in order to set a new level before the end of the supply-constrained month, but the impact of nuclear outages in France and later in Belgium added a further dimension that traders had not expected.

Power was therefore the biggest factor in carbon prices during the second half of the month, and may well dictate EUAs’ price direction in September as well.

September sees auctions revert to their normal size, around 82 million EUAs compared to August’s 46 million. This additional supply may take the heat out of the market, while a significant September options contract expiry may also lead to some selling. The previous options expiry in June triggered a €2.30 drop in prices.

The resumption of full auction volumes, together with the expiry of September options contracts could bring bearish pressure into the market, and traders have already noted carbon’s sideways movement in the final week of August as evidence that in the absence of abnormally strong power prices, carbon would already have started to correct downwards.