This week: two letters turn up the heat on climate action and remind us that we need to #FaceTheClimateEmergency. One from civil society and the other from big investors. Morgan Stanley and Apple make new climate commitments. But do they miss the mark? Read on to find out, and for the week’s top climate stories.
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1. It’s time to #FaceTheClimateEmergency, says an open letter from thousands of activists, scientists, representatives of civil society and influencers.
Delivered last Thursday, the open letter starts, plain and simple: “You must stop pretending that we can solve the climate and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis”. In other words, #FaceTheClimateEmergency. (If it wasn’t clear enough already.)
It points out that COVID-19 has shown us how many “world leaders and people around the world stepped up”, and goes on to highlight that it’s now “clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business, nor finance.” Noting the EU nations’ commitment to the Paris Agreement, it urges the EU nations “to actually deliver on [their] promises”. “Net-zero emissions by 2050 for the EU – as well as for other financially fortunate parts of the world – equals surrender”, it adds. “Of course we welcome sustainable investments and policies, but you must not for one second believe that what you have discussed so far will be even close to enough. We need to face the full picture.”
Aptly named “#FaceTheClimateEmergency”, this open letter was signed by many. Actors, activists, artists, authors, scientists, journalists and more. Read the full letter here.
2. Climate change poses a “systemic threat” to the economy, according to big investors.
A group of large investors just sent a letter to the Federal Reserve and other regulators, urging them to act to avoid economic disaster. Signed by over three dozen pension plans, fund managers, and other financial institutions, collectively representing almost $1 trillion in assets. “The climate crisis,” the letter reads, “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy, with significant disruptive consequences on asset valuations and our nation’s economic stability.” Together, the financial threat and physical risks may create “disastrous impacts the likes of which we haven’t seen before”. Investors are worried that if regulators don’t “explicitly integrate climate change across [their] mandates”, climate change could cause the price of some companies to drop suddenly. This would in turn ripple out through the economy.
They could start, perhaps, with providing more information about climate-related risk, helping investors make better decisions. And speaking of more information…
3. Morgan Stanley commits to tallying its climate impact.
This move makes them the first major US bank to publicly disclose how much its loans and investments contribute to climate change. So could it be that Wall Street is finally beginning to come to terms with its hugely (and actively) enabling role it has in the anthropogenic global warming? “This is a journey,” said Audrey Choi, chief sustainability officer for Morgan Stanley. “I think that this is an incredibly important piece of it, because as we all know it’s harder to make people respond to something when there’s no data”. Additionally, the bank is joining the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a global body that collectively manages $5.3 trillion of assets. Members of this body will count emissions from projects and investments, and Morgan Stanley will be on this group’s steering committee.
Transparency is indeed important, but it’s only the first step towards real change. And now, speaking of making steps towards change…
4. “A climate change promise from Apple”: legit or just corporate bullsh*t?
Yet another Silicon Valley tech giant going green? Seems like every other day there’s a new announcement coming from Silicon Valley… According to a Grist analysis, “Apple’s ratio of ambition to baloney is approximately 5:1.”
The good? Here are a few notable points. By 2030, we’re looking at “zero climate impact” iPhones and Apple Watches (as in all Apple suppliers will only use 100% renewable energy). By 2025, we’re looking at only recycled and renewable materials in its products and packaging, no plastic packaging, reduced freshwater usage and reduced waste sent to landfills from corporate offices and suppliers. As for its emissions? Apple’s global corporate operations are already net-zero, thanks to offsets. For the rest of its operations? It plans to cut emissions by 75% by 2030 and invest in carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25%. And finally, Apple will be investing an undisclosed portion of its existing $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative in minority-owned businesses.
But here’s one glaring bad: Apple still hasn’t changed its repair policies. If you’ve used Apple products, you know what this means. Got a broken Apple product? Spend a ton on authorised repair, void your warranty by going for an unauthorised one, or spend even more buying a new one.
Apple’s reasoning for doing this is simple: profit over planet.
5. No more polar bears by 2100?
According to a new study published in Nature Climate Change, it seems likely. Scientists are saying that some populations have already reached their survival limits, with Arctic sea ice shrinking. When sea ice shrinks, they have to roam for long distances or on to shore. Which means they struggle to find food to survive. “Any of us know that we can only go without food for so long,” said the chief scientist. Under a high emissions scenario, all but a few polar bear populations will collapse by 2100. And with moderate emissions, still, several populations will disappear. He added that our current trajectory isn’t “a good one, but if society gets its act together, we have time to save polar bears. And if we do, we will benefit the rest of life on Earth, including ourselves.”
Perhaps the poster child of climate change will serve as a wake-up call for some animal-lovers?
Are Corporate behemoths getting serious about climate or is this just more corporate bullsh*t? You decide. Four new “green” products that came out this week include, first: Burger King’s new lemongrass-fed beef to reduce methane emissions. Second: Johnnie Walker drinkers rejoice, because a new design of paper-based bottles made from sustainably sourced wood might mean Scotch whisky from a planet-friendly bottle is coming to you soon. Third: Nissan just debuted its first all-electric SUV, which can drive up to 300 miles on a single charge. And finally: Chipotle is testing riced cauliflower as customers’ tastes shift toward plant-based and low-carb options. Read more here.
Image credits: Climate Emergency Europe! #FaceTheClimateEmergency