Hej from Swedish Lapland, the place I’m visiting a metal plant with a distinction. Outdoors the snowy metropolis of Luleå, steelmaker SSAB has began processing iron ore utilizing hydrogen rather than coal — a course of that it needs to make use of to interchange all its blast furnaces inside a decade.
That is the primary cease on my travels to shoot the following in our sequence of Ethical Cash documentary movies (we’ve been delighted to see that the first, on fusion power, has attracted greater than 1 / 4 of one million views throughout all platforms). This movie will take a look at the position that hydrogen may play in shifting Europe’s industrial economic system past fossil fuels, that includes among the most enjoyable work occurring within the area.
You’ll discover extra on my Lapland journey in a forthcoming version, the primary of a sequence of dispatches on the rising hydrogen economic system. Within the meantime, we wish to hear from you. The place are the most important alternatives on this area, and who’s doing probably the most compelling work? Or do you suppose the hydrogen story has been hideously overhyped? Drop us a line at email@example.com, or simply reply to this e-mail.
Within the meantime, ensure to learn on for the most recent in Kenza’s terrific run of reporting on Gfanz, shedding new mild on developments behind the scenes on the world’s greatest company local weather alliance. For world monetary establishments, fossil gasoline funding is proving a tough behavior to kick. — Simon Mundy
International local weather finance group is caught in impartial over oil and gasoline commitments
Disagreements over coal financing led some banks to threaten to quit the world’s greatest local weather finance group final 12 months.
Now the recent matter is whether or not to chop off lending to grease and gasoline firms, and the controversy reveals all indicators of being equally contentious. These flows make up the most important chunk of members’ “financed emissions” — their real-world carbon footprint.
The Glasgow Monetary Alliance for Internet Zero is a mammoth grouping of greater than 550 main banks, insurers, asset managers and asset homeowners. Its business subgroups are pivotal in debates in regards to the shift to cleaner capitalism.
In line with a leaked doc seen by Ethical Cash, the Internet Zero Banking Alliance, a Gfanz subgroup led by world banks together with HSBC and Morgan Stanley, made plans final 12 months to inform members to slash their fossil gasoline financing based mostly on a simple metric of carbon emitted.
This paper marked a big step up, requiring banks to make real-world adjustments to scale back emissions. Its passage would have successfully concluded the controversy about whether or not banks ought to minimize lending to fossil gasoline firms.
The proposals had been open for session till September and appeared to focus on a swift implementation of the foundations. The paper regarded forward to “when the rule of thumb is formally adopted by the NZBA Steering Group (subsequent assembly on the eleventh of October)”. Greater than 5 months later the NZBA mentioned it has nonetheless not been despatched to executives for approval.
A key sticking level has been the obligatory use of a more durable “absolute” accounting metric for measuring decarbonisation, based on a financial institution government who sits on the NZBA’s management group and didn’t want to be named. Most banks in Europe already set absolute targets, whereas few US banks do — except for Citigroup.
At the moment many banks, notably within the US, focus as a substitute on pushing power firms they finance in direction of much less carbon-intensive manufacturing, like how Saudi Aramco invests in renewable energy and carbon capture to scale back the day-to-day emissions of its oil rigs. The NZBA’s present place allows banks to use a weaker intensity metric that may be met with no change in actual world carbon emissions.
4 in 10 world banks elevated their lending publicity to grease and gasoline firms final 12 months, together with alliance members NatWest and Barclays, based on analysts at Autonomous.
Mike Coffin, head of oil, gasoline and mining on the think-tank Carbon Tracker, which advises the NZBA, mentioned establishments ought to give attention to reducing actual financing flows to the oil and gasoline sector, by making absolute emissions cuts obligatory. “Decarbonised fossil fuels are a little bit of a delusion,” he mentioned.
Metrics apart, one other sticking level stays over the energy of the steerage. Whereas the unique draft used the phrases “ought to” and “shall”, the most recent working draft replaces these instructions with softer language like “may” and “might”, based on an individual who has labored on the paper for the NZBA.
This linguistic tweak was agreed on final 12 months to guard banks from the chance of being attacked beneath competitors regulation for collusion on local weather objectives, the particular person mentioned. Such worries triggered the departure final week of Munich Re, one of many world’s greatest reinsurers, from the insurers’ group it helped to discovered, citing “materials antitrust dangers” to collective motion.
However critics additionally attribute monetary firms’ gradual progress on tightening requirements to a reluctance to forego oil and gasoline sector enterprise at a time of booming income and renewed give attention to power safety.
“The failure to supply this paper reveals banks’ unease about web zero targets and what these indicate for his or her relationships with the oil and gasoline sector in follow,” mentioned Lucie Pinson, founding father of the NGO Reclaim Finance.
Vitality firms BP, TotalEnergies and Shell, which use a combination of absolute and depth targets in their very own web zero objectives, had been listed as knowledgeable advisers to the NZBA’s oil and gasoline working group within the doc seen by the Monetary Occasions, alongside an business group and non-profits.
“The presence of fossil gasoline firms as knowledgeable members [is] not inflicting a delay within the progress of this work observe,” the NZBA mentioned. It added that the draft paper outlines a variety of choices that banks can select from to set targets, and that it’s persevering with to work on its oil and gasoline place.
A special draft place paper seen by Ethical Cash tells one other story of thwarted good intentions. It reveals that the Internet Zero Asset Homeowners Alliance (NZAOA) — whose members embrace UK insurance coverage group Aviva and Calpers, the most important public pension plan within the US — additionally made plans final 12 months to herald robust guidelines on oil and gasoline.
These guidelines really useful that buyers ought to keep away from investing in new oil and gasfields, not solely by venture finance, but additionally by equities and bonds. Most oil and gasoline financing is finished at company degree, not venture degree.
When the group published new guidelines last week they’d been noticeably softened. They mentioned members ought to minimize off venture finance for oil and gasfields or baseload gas-fired energy era with out carbon seize expertise. However they didn’t seek advice from company bonds or fairness stakes.
The NZAOA declined to remark. Shaped earlier than Gfanz was based, the grouping has a powerful fame for local weather commitments. It now represents greater than $11tn in property in portfolios which might be instantly owned and subsequently simpler to tweak. So its urge for food for decarbonisation (or lack thereof) may set the tone for the tempo of change by banks and asset managers. (Kenza Bryan)
Swedish actor and Zoolander star Alexander Skarsgård has recorded a tongue-in-cheek take for the New York Occasions on Cambridge professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s theories about together with the price of nature in mainstream economics, which could be neatly summarised as “Pay for what we use”. Revisit Ethical Cash’s interview with Dasgupta here.