Green-hushing is the new greenwashing

INQUIRY SAYS — Companies have filled in the ESG forms, but now they have to do the work.

Good news: According to a survey published on Monday by the accounting firm KPMG. And 80% of them have set climate goals based on global or national emissions targets, up from 51% in 2020.

Bad news: According to a report last week from the Climate Action 100+ investor group.

Strange news: A significant portion of companies that set goals don’t want to talk about them. The Zurich consultancy South Pole published a poll on Tuesday which revealed that while 72% of the 1,200 private companies surveyed have set emissions targets in line with global climate goals, almost a quarter of them do not plan to publish them.

South Pole calls it “green-hushing” and says it’s no good. “It’s harder to scrutinize those goals, it’s harder to find opportunities to work together, and so on,” said Nadia Kahkonengroup spokesperson.

This is the first time South Pole has asked if companies are talking about their goals, so the group can’t say if green silence is on the rise. But there is a bit of a sacred implication in the conclusion: it’s wrong to over-mediatize the action of companies, but it’s also wrong to act in silence.

Companies could be silent because they fear anti-ESG pushback, but it could also be because they fear being accused of greenwashing, especially as rules against it take shape, South Pole speculated. . It could also be that ESG is such a nascent and messy field that they don’t want to tackle it publicly.

“There is a lot of noise in the system,” said George Favaloro, South Pole Climate Solutions Manager for North America. “In the United States we have this ridiculous political pushback against ESG, which is really unfortunate, but there’s also some confusion about ESG.”

CEO NO-SHOW — Last year’s UN climate talks in Glasgow brought together some of the biggest names in finance. But major banks and asset managers, including BlackRock Inc. and Citigroup Inc., will not send their CEOs to the next round of talks in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, next month.

This looks bad on the face of it, but there are reasons why this is not a bad sign for the financial sector’s adherence to climate principles, Reporting by Sara Schonhardt for POLITICO’s new E&E.

“Last year it was the engagement COP, and this year it’s the implementation COP,” said Kirsten Snow Spalding, senior program director of Ceres Investor Network, which works with asset managers such as BlackRock. “The best CEOs make commitments and their staff implement them. And so, to me, that’s reason enough that we see a different group of people coming.

GREEN PURSE — The London Stock Exchange launches the first platform allowing investors to invest in funds and companies that produce carbon reductions (and possibly receive carbon offsets in the form of a dividend).

LSE issued period last week which funds and companies must follow if they wish to use the voluntary carbon market designation to list on the exchange.

There are no specific requirements as to what portion of the funds raised must be used to directly support carbon reduction projects, but anything that does not must go to other activities with environmental benefits. LSE said it expects at least one fund to register this year with more to follow in 2023.

FIRE SALE – Raising insurance rates to meet the increased risk of natural disasters is rational, but unpopular. Enter discounts to mitigate risk.

California officials yesterday finalized rules requiring property insurers to offer discounts to homes and businesses that maintain “defensible space” to reduce wildfire risk: things like clearing vegetation under bridges and within five feet of buildings, and the removal of nearby combustible buildings such as sheds.

The rules could succeed where others have failed. Oregon regulators released and then withdrew a wildfire hazard map earlier this year after residents complained it could lead to higher insurance rates. California rules require insurers to notify customers of their property’s fire risk score, but also allow customers to appeal the scores.

Learn more about E&E News’ Avery Ellfeldt.

HOW MANY OTHER ROCKS? — The green revolution will not be immaculate. Data firm estimates we’ll need 336 new mines by 2035 to meet increased demand for electric cars and battery-electric storage, like Jael Holzman reporting for E&E News.

Recycling and new manufacturing technologies can help reduce the footprint: many new Teslas don’t use nickel or cobalt in their batteries, for example.

But the Cut Inflation Act, with its language limiting electric vehicle tax credits to cars produced with materials from the United States or countries with which America has free trade agreements exchange, lays bare the tensions inherent in the transition from fossil fuels to other forms of energy which carry their own environmental risks.

“What I have is that we are looking at the electric vehicle supply chain because it is really important,” said Alyssa Kendallprofessor at the University of California, Davis, who co-authored a recent study that estimates repurposed materials can only meet 7-8% of US lithium demand by 2035. “But we have to couple that with a reminder that the supply chains we’re trying to rid ourselves of huge environmental impacts.

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