Davos 2020: Pressure on companies & govts. to tackle climate crisis

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22 January 2020

Activist leaders call on govts. & companies at Davos to declare climate emergency

Author: 350; Amnesty International; Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Civicus; Global Call to Action Against Poverty; Global Witness; Greenpeace; ITUC CSI IGB; Oxfam

‘Activist Leaders Call on World Economic Forum Delegates to Declare Climate Emergency’, January 2020

...We believe it’s time for decision-makers joining the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting to declare a Climate Emergency in their own countries and companies and urgently take the measures necessary to protect humanity and our planet, including some of our most vulnerable communities.

To maximise our chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, we must halve global emissions by 2030 and reach Net-Zero by 2050. This means governments, business, investors and civil society must work together to rapidly transform our economy by the end of the decade, with a just and carefully managed transition that tackles inequalities and upholds human and labor rights...

...It will require governments to pass laws requiring companies to respect human rights and implement due diligence to identify, address and disclose their social and environmental impacts and prevent and remedy the abuse that is currently endemic in their operations and supply chains. Companies will need to comply strictly with laws, put policies in place quickly and publish and implement clear and just transition plans...

...We appeal to...decision-makers, heavily represented at the Davos Meeting to heed this call: Declare a climate emergency, end fossil fuel exploration and extraction, end fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay the true cost of their activities.

We further implore these actors to respect the fundamental rights of activists working on these issues to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly...

In our opinion, any company that is not operating in a clear and transparent way to support transformative public policies, or failing to respect human rights and the environment, by identifying, disclosing and addressing its negative impacts, is not meeting its responsibilities to society...

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22 January 2020

Davos 2020: Mixed comments from finance sector on calls to stop working with major polluters

Author: David Crow & Gillian Tett, Financial Times

"Davos 2020: Bankers push back against climate action calls", 21 January 2020

The leaders of major banks and other financial companies have rejected suggestions that they are not doing enough to combat climate change and resisted calls that they should refuse to work with clients that are major polluters...

Mike Corbat, chief executive of Citibank, said it was not the job of banks to ensure that companies were adopting environmentally friendly business models by unilaterally cutting off finance for polluting businesses...

...David Solomon, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, which recently worked on the initial public offering of oil company Saudi Aramco, said his bank would not "draw a line" by refusing to advise clients that are major polluters...

...Brian Duperreault, chief executive officer of AIG, echoed Mr Solomon's line: while he stressed that AIG is embracing sustainability (partly under pressure of its own employees), he also said that he is not ready to impose a blanket ban on offering insurance to coal companies yet...

...But other asset managers, such as Hiromichi Mizuno, chief investment officer of Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund took a different line. He told a Davos panel that it is imperative for asset managers to support green finance now, almost irrespective of consumer pressure or government rules.

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22 January 2020

Microsoft & Nestlé make climate commitments on carbon output & sustainable packaging ahead of Davos 2020

Author: Oliver Balch, Ethical Corp

"Microsoft, Nestlé and BlackRock put climate action centre stage at Davos", 20 January 2020

This week's gathering..in Davos...is a major date in the sustainable business calendar, with big corporates using the media spotlight on the Swiss ski resort to highlight major announcements.

...Nestlé, the Swiss food giant, came out with a pledge to invest up to CHF2bn ($2.07bn) to accelerate the development of sustainable packaging solutions. Of this CHF1.5bn will go towards paying premiums for sourcing food-grade recycled plastics between now and 2025. The move is in line with Nestlé's pledge to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Hot on its heels came Microsoft, with a promise to remove all the carbon it has ever created by 2050. Included in the commitment by the US tech giant (founded in 1975) is an interim pledge to become carbon negative by 2030...

It also intends to plough $1bn into a climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies. Both companies, incidentally, make it onto a new list launched by the World Benchmarking Alliance of the 2,000 private sector organisations judged most likely to help deliver on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

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17 January 2020

Activists cheer BlackRock's landmark climate move but call for vigilance

Author: Edward Helmore, The Guardian

"Activists cheer BlackRock's landmark climate move but call for vigilance", 15 January 2020

The decision by BlackRock... to exit investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk” has been welcomed by environmentalists as a significant moment in the battle to reshape the relationship between money and the climate crisis... [L]eading climate science writer Bill McKibben [said]... “The steps BlackRock is taking are baby steps... we will have to... push hard for them to begin striding at the pace we need to go.... [C]oal is part of the problem, but not the biggest part of the problem – oil and gas are... Fink made noises that natural gas is part of the solution but it’s not... at least we’ve reached the point that they’ve realized they have a role in dealing with the climate crisis.”... A report last year by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project claimed that BlackRock had voted overwhelmingly against key climate resolutions at energy companies, including ExxonMobil... Majority Action’s Eli Kasargod-Staub [said]... “BlackRock has the power to [say] ‘Either you commit to the science-based targets of the Paris climate agreement and align your operations, governance, political spending, lobby and trade association activities to achieve that target or we will vote against you and your directors...ExxonMobil or Marathon petroleum... have actively undermined our ability to protect long-term investors and meet the goals of the Paris agreement’”. 

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