This Week in Sustainability News 13.05
This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.
Fossil fuel companies quietly plan ‘carbon bomb’ projects
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed huge oil and gas expansion plans which threaten the world’s climate goals.
Short-term expansion plans include 195 large-scale oil and gas projects that would each produce over a billion tonnes of CO2 across their lifetimes.
The ‘carbon bomb’ projects are spread widely across the world, with the largest lifetime emissions coming from projects in the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
Over 60% of these projects have already started production. Experts argue that it is vital the remaining 40% of projects are stopped to avoid accelerating the climate catastrophe.
The massive investments fossil fuel companies have put into these new projects will only pay off if governments fail to react appropriately to climate change and cut emissions. Industry giants are essentially betting against humanity stopping global warming.
Financial advisors increasingly pleased with ESG returns
Research by Square Mile has shown positive attitudes from financial advisors regarding sustainable investments.
It was revealed that almost 90% of advisors agree that sustainable investments do not result in a sacrifice of clients’ returns, and over 60% said their clients would be willing to accept possible underperformance as long as their responsible investment objectives were met.
Over half of advisors reported an interest from clients in investing in specific themes, with climate change being the most prominent.
Many clients also expressed wanting to avoid investments in fossil fuels (41%) and tobacco companies (27%).
Steve Kenny of Square Mile said: “It is encouraging to see that most advisers now recognise that choosing between doing good for the planet and society and making financial returns is not a binary decision”.
New research casts doubt on the effectiveness of trees as carbon offsets
Recent studies focusing on the life and death of trees have raised questions regarding how much we can rely on forests to store our excess carbon and be used as offsets.
The studies suggest that the growth benefit trees get from higher atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are limited, and that climate stressors affecting trees (e.g., heat, drought, fires, and pests) will be more damaging than previously thought.
These climate stressors are increasing rapidly as the planet warms. As these stressors kill trees, the carbon stored within them is released back into the atmosphere.
The findings have large implications for carbon offset protocols, which currently fail to account for the updated scientific understanding of climate change’s impact on forests.
Queensland floods, again.
Just three months after February’s floods devasted Queensland, killing 13 people and inundating over 20,000 homes, the state braces for another flood crisis.
Evacuations are currently taking place across south-east Queensland and more than 540 roads have been cut off by the rising water.
Further heavy rainfall is expected and may lead to life-threatening conditions, including flash floods and landslides.