This Week in Sustainability EasyJet and Emirates airlines flexed some climate leadership, California halts fracking, Exxon and Aramco make financial market news, while Gucci throws down a very stylish glove to challenge on carbon.
All this, and more in This Week in Sustainability.
EasyJet to Offset all Carbon on flights
My new second favorite airline is UK based budget airline, EasyJet which announced this week it would operate net-zero carbon flights by offsetting emissions from its planes.
This is a first in the airline sector.
Way to go EasyJet . That’s leadership
The move will direct an estimated USD 33 million to a variety of offsetting projects including forestry and renewable community-based projects.
EasyJet will invest 4% of profits in offsets
Last year, the airline made a profit of USD 550 million, so the planet saving offsets will cost the company all of 4.5% of its profits.
Eleven other airlines offer some form of voluntary customer flight offsets, which is good, but not as good as the EasyJet plan.
Who knew how little it costs to offset a flight?
An offset from New York to London costs between one and four Starbucks coffees depending what is used to offset the carbon (e.g., planting trees, investing in wind power etc.)
While EasyJet is the first to offset the carbon for each of its flight, Qantas, the Australian and my favorite carrier, has been certified carbon neutral by NCOS since 2007. The down-under airline offsets some 2.5 million tons of carbon annually.
You can offset your flights, it’s easy ….
Now you know how little it costs, you can write your favorite airline urging them to do the same or offset your own flights.
Emirates Air, Greta, and Extinction Rebellion…something in common?
Breaking rank (to some degree) with many corporate leaders, Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Air, said this week “I quite like Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg for having brought a real focus to the issue (of the #ClimateCrisis).”
The head of the biggest long-haul airline in the world qualified, saying he was not “condoning some of their methods” but that industry did need their kind of action to force “us to make decisions.”
Airline and carbon: a big deal and growing
Commercial air traffic accounts for 2% of global emissions. Emirate alone burns through an astonishing 100 million barrels of oil each year.
That’s a lot of carbon.
And with the number of commercial air travel passengers set to grow by 3.5% annually to the year 2037, emissions will increase by 5.7% nnually. That is 70% faster than estimates expected less than five years ago .
At current rates, airline emissions will triple by 2050
It is good to know, however, that the airlines of the 36 country members of the International Civil Aviation Organization are signatories to Corsia, a carbon reduction scheme which has the companies recording emissions starting in 2016.
The International Air Travel Association or IATA, announced seperately that all growth in international aviation CO2 starting 2020 will be offset with a goal to “cut total emissions to half the 2005 levels.”
Going for low hanging carbon reduction fruit first
Airlines like Emirates are focused on easy reduction wins such as minimizing plastics, increasing efficiencies, and improving flight logistics to reduce fuel consumption.
More aggressive paths to low carbon such as alternative fuels and electric planes, said Sir Clark, are just not viable in the foreseeable future.
Too bad. But if you fly and you want to voluntarily offset your carbon, the ICAO has a useful carbon offset calculator.
California halts all new fracking
California is at ‘good things sustainable’ again. This time by halting all new fracking activity in the state.
Governor Newson, who was recently in This Week in Sustainability for CAs response to Trump’s automobile emisUSD sions standards rollback, signed a moratorium on new fracking permits this past week.
The ban is temporary and will be in place until the state figures out how to better regulate the industry.
Send CA good luck energy as it moves to regulate oil & gas
The Western States Petroleum Association, in an attempt to scare consumers, released a report saying the move could hike gas prices up to USD 2.33 a gallon.
That’s hard to imagine as only a third of gas used by Californians comes from the state’s oil fields and there is plenty of gas from producers in other jurisdictions.
Not (really) a climate move….?
For Californian’s the halt is all about health and safety linked to production spills.
These are concerns to be sure.
But some suspect that if California is serious about meeting its own tough climate emissions goals, this temporary ban may be the first move in a phasing out oil and gas operations in the state altogether.
For a good review of this story, see Gov. Newsom halts new steam injection, oil fracking in California in the Desert Sun.
Moodys downgrades Exxon
Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Exxon Mobil’s Aaa rating due to a “substantial” burning a lot of debt to fund investments for future growth.
Now, before you jump up and down (as I did when I read the headline), I have to say that the debt is not headed towards much alternative energy investment.
The company, a dinosaur bent on making us all extinct, is planning to rebuild its upstream portfolio, chemical facilities, and refinery capacities.
Infamous for suppressing its very own and very damning climate change research for over 30 years, Exxon invested but one-fifth of 1% of its 2018 capital budget in low carbon fuel projects.
This is a ridiculously small amount. But then again, so is the industry average of 3%.
The company said taking on more debt for future projects was a strategic move as rivals retreat from new mega projects.
Climate change writing on the wall?
Why are other companies not big betting debt on carbon is anyone’s guess. Are we seeing a carbon wind up?
Nope, most other companies simply have more cash on hand to invest, while others have already made their big plays.
Or, maybe Exxon’s cover up of its own climate change research was so effective it is now failing to ‘get’ the message on climate?
Clearly, fossil fuels are not going anywhere soon, indeed, oil and gas use is predicted to increase over the next three years.
Exxon’s long slow slide to extinction?
This is not the first time the global oil and gas company has been downgraded. In 2016, Standard and Poor’s stripped it of its AAA rating for the first time in the producer’s history.
Sustainable investors and divestment leaders have been waiting for the day capital dries up for troglodytes in the form of #BigOil.
With any luck, Exxon will help the planet out with its debt fueled binge and burns itself in effigy of a dying industry.
That’s a bit of carbon I’d be willing to offset.
Aramco IPO: Crock tears for investment banks left out
In yet more depressing oil and gas news, Aramco is all set for its initial public offering in which the Saudi oil giant anticipates raising USD 1.5 to 1.7 trillion.
Despite the staggering figure, this is not the news.
What is news is that the company announced this week that the IPO will be in Saudi Arabia as opposed to on an international market like the New York or London stock exchange.
Depressing that oil is still so valuable
I am not sure, however, what is worse: an oil company being so valuable, or the fact that among the many advisors to the IPO are banks who claim to care about sustainability.
Aramco IPO ve advisors – Bank of America, Goldman Sachs , JPMorgan, Citigroup, Credit Suisse , Morgan Stanley and HSBC
Interestingly, in the list above all but HSBC and Credit Suisse are Business Roundtable members.
Remember the Business Routable?
Just last month the Roundtable was selling its own brand of fuel, sustainability snake oil that is, with the promise of putting “people and planet before profit.”
How can we forget the announcement of its stakeholder doctrine? It very nearly made Alex Gorsky, chief executive of Johnson & Johnson cry, as he alluded to the Declaration of Independence (even as his company was fined USD 570 million less than a week later for its role in the US opioid crisis).
Crock tears for the banks
Now that the Aramco IPO is going local, advisor banks could miss out on as much as USD 350 million to USD 450 million in fees. Any profits they can take out of the IPO will now depend on the amount of Aramco equity they can sell to investors.
So… make sure you tell your advisor you want nothing to do this IPO and nothing to do with banks that sell their toxic shares.
PS – We will be looking out for and reporting back to you on which banks end up selling Aramco stock despite their ‘sustainability commitments.’
PPS – Last week in This Week in Sustainability we reported Credit Suisse announced a great new fund to encourage responsible consumerism. And now you see them lining up to profit from the biggest oil company IPO ever. If anyone knows how to deal with this at a philosophical, metaphysical, or practical level let me know, I ve not much hair left to rip out.PPS Last week in This Week in Sustainablity
Bank of Canada on climate change eh!
This week the Bank of Canada outlined how it will shape its response to and monitor the transition to a low carbon economy , particularly as it relates macroeconomic and financial system impacts.
The bank will consider physical risk, transition risks, stranded risks. It will focus on the impacts of more frequent and severe extreme weather events, short-term macroeconomic forecasting and inflation, sectoral, regional and macroeconomic effects of the transition to a low-carbon economy, and the long-term structural effects of global warming.
What that all aboot? Just a central bank taking #ClimateCrisis seriously eh!
Gucci throws down on supply chain offsets
Gucci, an USD 8.8 billion fashion company, said this week it will offset the carbon footprint in its entire supply chain.
The CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri is throwing down what must surely be a most stylish glove, challenging other business leaders to join him in his CEO Carbon Neutral Challenge initiative.
Can fashion go sustainable?
Fashion produces an estimated 10% of all annual human carbon emissions. It is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water, and puts over 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — that’s the same as 50 billion plastic bottles.
Changing your clothes too often hurts
While the high-end fashion industry has taken its share of sustainability criticism, it’s fast fashion that is rightly the focus sustainability’s ire .
With some brands putting out more than 10 collections a year (where it was once one or two!), folks are tempted to buy more.
And they do. Consumers purchase some 60% more clothes each year than they did in 2000.
Fast fashion is like pop song: sweet, fizzy and not meant to last too long
Fast fashion clothes wear out…and fast, so fast fully 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year.
And these are just the environmental considerations of fast fashion.
Fast fashion is also based on supply chains which are notoriously shameful featuring abusive work conditions, poverty pay, sexual predation of women and youth, etc. etc.
So, bravo to you Gucci! You may be a bit fussy for my taste, but bravo for your always bold approach and intentions.
We will be watching.
PS – If you want to learn more about fashion and sustainability see a great piece Business Insider’s The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Here are the biggest ways it impacts the planet.
Or check out the National Public Radio article, Can Fast Fashion And Sustainability Be Stitched Together?
Amazon deforestation at highest levels in a decade….
That is the rate at which the Amazon rainforest was deforested in the 12-months ending July 2019, according to the Brazilian space agency INPE this week.
That’s 3,769 square miles or about the size of Rhode Island. This growth represents a 30% spike in deforestation since 2008.
According to the anti-environmentalist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, there is nothing to worry about, saying “we burn the Amazon all the time.”
Cristiane Mazzeti of Greenpeace begs to differ, asserting “Bolsonaro supports environmental crimes, and encourages violence against forest people,”
Populist threats from anti environmentalists
Invoking ominous populist rhetoric, Bolsonaro warned national and international dissenters alike (and I paraphrase), it’s our culture so fuck off.
This is the kind of language that feeds and enables powerful interests in Brazil who want no attention placed on their mostly illegal deforestation activities (sounds familiar?).
Hu yea, get me some war paint
A recent rally bringing together anti-deforestation activists including indigenous, environmental, and spiritual leaders, was met – surprise, surprise – by dozens of rightwing ruralistas (farming, timber and mining interests) who attempted to forcibly disrupt the meeting.
They were stopped by indigenous warriors and women who formed a human barrier between them and the speakers.
A local affair that international pressure could help
How long must we wait before Paris Agreement signatory countries do something?
Sanctions, import taxes, or other steps can be taken to ensure that forests no longer fall, indigenous leaders are no longer killed, and Brazil upholds its own environmental laws for the good of our shared planetary habitat.
The Last Word in This Week in Sustainability
Coldplay. This incredibly cool (or so my kids tell me) band decided to halt their current tour until they figure out how to reduce its carbon footprint to help cool the planet (ok, yet one more Dad joke!).
Signs of Change – November 22
Clean air, clean water, clean earth, and the truth, not a lot to ask for really.
Thanks and love to all of This Week in Sustainability witting and unwitting contributors:
@SafetyPinDaily, @AlexSteffen, and @dustynlanz
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Want to join the tribe of investors urging dramatic action on the #ClimateCrisis, social justice and equality? Get your copy of my book Invest Like You Give a Damn….. drop me a line if you have any questions or thoughts!
Have a great weekend.