Thoughts on the environment, psychology and the future

Trump’s comeuppance wasn’t glorious, but it’s finally happened

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“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions” Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

The last few days have summed up Donald Trump perfectly; predictable, unintelligent and dangerous. …

Your move, Washington

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Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

In September, China’s President Xi Jinping made a surprise announcement during a video conference with the UN General Assembly stating that China is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060. While this target remains a decade behind most countries’ ambitions, it is an enormous, and unexpected, step for the world’s largest polluter. China is responsible for around 28 percent of global emissions (10 GT total), driven by the biggest manufacturing industry and the largest population in the world.

This built upon China’s previous commitment to peaking emissions by 2030 by adding a long-term target. However, it is vital that climate action ramps up from now. …

The sunk costs hindering fossil fuel divestment

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Sunk costs often stop people from thinking logically. Investing significant time and money into something creates a tendency to continue to pursue it rather than cutting losses, even when that is the responsible decision to make. While sustainable investing is very much in the spotlight with investors wanting to integrate ESG considerations into their decision-making, strong returns remain the bottom line. Typically, investors care more about how much is made rather than how it’s made — ignorance is often bliss.

According to the University of Oxford, where they have a specific stranded assets programme, stranded assets are defined as “assets that have suffered from unanticipated or premature write-downs, devaluations or conversion to liabilities. They can be caused by a range of environment-related risks and these risks are poorly understood and regularly mispriced, which has resulted in a significant over-exposure to environmentally unsustainable assets throughout our financial and economic systems.” …

Millennia of knowledge can help tackle future challenges

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Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

This article was originally published here on Ingena Insight’s website

Indigenous communities are on the front lines of climate change and environmental degradation. While only making up 5% of the population, their lands account for 22% of the world’s surface and 80% of the world’s biodiversity. The values, traditions and culture of indigenous groups portray a symbiotic relationship with the earth, with their roles as hunters, fishermen, herders and farmers all reliant upon a healthy environment and natural ecosystems.

This intimate relationship has seen the expert management of resources for millennia, ensuring that precious biodiversity is not overexploited. This is the cornerstone of intergenerational equity — “the principle that every generation holds the Earth in common with members of the present generation and with other generations, past and future.” …

How one Scottish brewery became carbon negative

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Photo by Nighthawk Shoots on Unsplash

This week, the Scottish brewing company Brewdog announced it had become carbon negative — meaning that it removes more carbon into the atmosphere than it emits — the first brewery with that accolade.

This isn’t the first time Brewdog has stood out. …

Healthy oceans are a thing of the past but they don’t have to be

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Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Healthy oceans are essential for the planet. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), oceans add $2.5 trillion to the global economy every year, feeding 3 billion people and providing livelihoods for millions. Oceans also absorb around 25% of all CO2 emissions while providing us with half of the world’s oxygen. Ocean pollution of any kind creates far more concerns than simply being unsightly.

For one, it can be fatal for marine life that gets stuck in plastic or ingest it. Currently, there is an increasing focus on the impacts of ocean pollution on human health. It is thought that it can increase exposure to pathogens and the chemicals can cause acute or chronic toxicity. …

PPE, takeaways and home delivery are moving us in the wrong direction

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

The revolt against plastics had, perhaps, been the area of most progress on climate change and environmental destruction so far. Single-use plastics had become the poster child for behaviour change in recent years as the public learned more about their harmful impact. The visceral images of bottles littering pristine beaches and bright blue seas or straws getting stuck in marine animals led, in part, to progressive policies that banned or increased the cost of single-use plastics. Then COVID-19 happened.

As people, businesses and hospitals scrambled to limit the spread of the virus, enormous volumes of plastics were purchased. Masks to stop droplets and gloves to prevent transmission on surfaces led to a surge in PPE to protect key workers. Some estimates place it at 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves being used every month. …

Opportunities and challenges for responsible investing

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Financial markets make the world go around, whether we like it or not. The most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement can’t be achieved without the successful integration of environmental considerations within investment decisions.

Investors need to realise that responsible investing isn’t simply about making the ‘correct’ decision morally or ethically but also imperative in terms of limiting climate risk across many industries represented within their portfolios. Ignoring environmental risks could wreak havoc to potential returns.

The Need for ESG Investing, Opportunities and Progress so Far

The UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) defines ‘responsible’ investing as “an approach to investing that aims to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions, to better manage risk and generate sustainable, long-term returns.” While they include governance of businesses and impact on social issues (such as human rights), environmental challenges have taken the spotlight. …

We can save the economy and environment together

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Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

Covid-19 has caused shockwaves around the world, creating a health crisis and economic impacts beyond anything we have seen in our lifetimes. As governments scramble to provide fiscal stimulus packages and create recovery plans for the short term, with G20 countries earmarking $7.3 trillion in spending so far, there is a threat that environmental considerations will be sacrificed in favour of rebuilding the economy quickly.

However, if we pursue economic recovery at all costs, “we will leap from the Covid frying pan into the climate fire.” …

The silent devastation of starvation

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Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

A famine of “biblical proportions” was how the chief of the World Food Programme (WFP) described the potential impacts of the food shortage crisis earlier this week.

While the focus on COVID-19 is on preventing deaths from the virus itself within more developed countries, another pandemic is building. The fighting over toilet paper and rice we’ve seen in supermarkets pale into insignificance when we take a look at food shortages in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Food crises in these regions aren’t a new problem. After all, that’s why such humanitarian organisations exist. …

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