This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.
New initiative aims to bring transparency to business carbon offsetting
The purchasing of carbon credits by companies to offset carbon emissions is a controversial and unregulated market.
Critics argue that companies can use offsets to make claims regarding their sustainability, despite failing to take proper action to reduce their own operational emissions.
The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative is set to publish The Claims Code of Practice in 2023 in an attempt to help to limit the scope of this problem.
The code is designed to assist investors in establishing the credibility of claims made by companies using carbon offsets. It seeks to provide coherence, consistency, and transparency across corporate claims and usage of terms such as net-zero, climate positive, and climate neutral.
IEA calls business and government failure to promote efficient energy “inexplicable”
International Energy Agency (IEA) head, Faith Birol, has stated that while energy efficiency is “utterly essential” to responding to the global energy crisis and to solving many of the world’s leading issues, governments and businesses are inexplicably failing to properly act.
A recent IEA report has demonstrated that, by 2030, if the rate of energy efficiency improvements from the last decade doubled, households would save approximately $650bn.
Furthermore, oil use would be reduced by almost 30 million barrels per day, which is three times the oil produced by Russia. This could end the EU’s reliance on Russian oil.
The IEA has stated that energy efficiency improvements could be quickly achieved using existing technologies including electric cars, heat pumps, and efficient household appliances.
Investment in greener equipment would be paid back fully by lower running costs, especially considering current energy prices.
Climate disaster funding need rises over 800% in 20 years, yet the rich still aren’t paying their fair share
Funding needed by UN humanitarian appeals has increased by over 800% in the past 20 years as extreme weather events including fires, floods, and droughts become more common worldwide.
Research by Oxfam has shown that over the past five years, UN appeals linked to extreme weather had a funding shortfall of $28-33bn, being only 54% funded on average.
The Oxfam report criticises the rich nations, corporations, and individuals who are responsible for the vast majority of excess historical emissions yet fail to pay for the harm their actions cause.
Rich countries have fought proposals for climate-related loss and damages financing for over 30 years, resulting in most financing coming from humanitarian aid, development aid, and insurance. This leaves climate-vulnerable countries to be held “hostage to random acts of charity”.
The Oxfam report demands that nations and governments make substantial changes by COP27 to address climate financing issues.
Their demands include: developed countries must pledge bilateral finance, additional to existing commitments, that explicitly addresses loss and damage; and all governments must agree to establishing finance facilities and systems of financial support to address loss and damage, under the UNFCC.
Producers, retailers, workplaces, and governments key to encouraging climate-friendly diets
With food production, particularly the production of animal products, being responsible for 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is well understood that climate-friendly diets play a big role in mitigating the climate crisis.
Climate-friendly diets are generally low in animal products (especially red meat) and rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Research suggests that you don’t need to be vegan to eat in a climate-friendly way.
However, experts stress that the burden of implementing low-emissions diets should not fall on the consumer. Instead, the institutions around us must make plant-based and climate-friendly foods more convenient, appealing, and tasty.
This can be done by taking plant-based meat alternatives out of speciality sections in grocery stores and putting them in with the meat; using language to communicate the taste and feel of the product, instead of only communicating its ethics; and providing meat-free alternatives in restaurants and fast-food chains.