Airlines stall in tackling climate change

The aviation sector accounts for two percent of world greenhouse gas emissions. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 March 2019
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Airlines stall in tackling climate change

  • More fuel-efficient planes, wider use of biofuels and ensuring that planes fly at full capacity would help to limit emissions
  • Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, almost 200 governments agreed to cut emissions to help avert more floods, droughts and rising sea levels

OSLO: Airlines are doing too little in the fight against global warming, a study funded by investors with $13 trillion of assets under management said on Tuesday.
The fast-growing sector accounts for two percent of world greenhouse gas emissions and should do more to manage risks of climate change, the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) said in a review of 20 of the world’s biggest listed airlines.
It rated Delta, Lufthansa, United Airlines and ANA Holdings as the best performers at managing the business risks and opportunities of climate change. But all could do more.
“Investors have a clear message to the aviation sector: When it comes to carbon performance they must be in it for the long haul,” said Faith Ward, co-chair of the TPI on behalf of the British Environment Agency Pension Fund.
“Investors do care ... it’s about encouraging disclosure so we can make informed decisions,” she told Reuters.
TPI, which seeks to assess the performance of businesses in cutting carbon, groups 40 investors with $13 trillion under management, including BNP Paribas and Legal & General Investment Management. Its research is by the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute.
More fuel-efficient planes, wider use of biofuels and ensuring that planes fly at full capacity would help to limit emissions.
TPI separately said easyJet and Alaska Air now had the most efficient fleets among the top 20 listed airlines, judged by their emissions per passenger kilometer flown.
At the other end of that scale, ANA, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines have the highest emissions intensities, it said.
Lead author Professor Simon Dietz of the Grantham Research Institute said some airlines had adopted broad industry goals to cap net carbon emissions at 2020 levels, or to halve net emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels.
But that focus on net emissions often meant airlines could buy permits to emit carbon dioxide, rather than make cuts themselves.
“The issue is that we don’t know how much they are going to reduce their own flight emissions compared to buying offsets,” he told Reuters.
Dietz also said there were other effects of aviation apart from carbon dioxide that need more research. Contrails, for instance, may can cause high-level clouds that trap heat.
Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, almost 200 governments agreed to cut emissions to help avert more floods, droughts and rising sea levels. They promised to “enhance public and private sector participation” in cutting emissions.


Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

A general view of Gulf Cement Company in Ghalilah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates July 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 7 min 43 sec ago
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Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

  • The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China

LONDON: European funds managing $2 trillion in assets called on cement companies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions on Monday, warning that a failure to do so could put their business models at risk.
Some asset managers are ramping up engagement with heavy polluters to demand a faster transition to a cleaner economy.
“The cement sector needs to dramatically reduce the contribution it makes to climate change,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which has more than 170 members, mainly European pension funds and asset managers. “This is ultimately a business-critical issue for the sector,” Pfeifer said in a statement.
The group said investors had written to cement or construction materials companies including Ireland’s CRH, Franco-Swiss group LafargeHolcim and France’s St. Gobain to demand they achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
They also noted that Germany’s HeidelbergCement had already adopted the target. The funds urged all cement companies to align themselves with the 2015 Paris agreement to combat global warming, engage with policymakers to ensure an orderly transition to a low carbon economy, and increase their reporting of climate risk.
“Construction materials companies may ultimately risk divestment and lack of access to capital as an increasing number of investors seek to exclude highly carbon-intensive sectors from their portfolios,” said Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of the Ethos Foundation.

FASTFACT

The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Signatories collectively manage assets worth $2 trillion and include Aberdeen Standard Investments, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Sarasin & Partners and Hermes EOS.
Although funds are increasingly engaging with companies from airlines to carmakers on emissions, few are calling for the systemic transformation of the global economic system that scientists increasingly argue is needed to prevent runaway climate breakdown.
The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China.
With climate campaigners traditionally focused on fossil fuel companies, the European cement sector has received comparatively little scrutiny until recently.
On Tuesday, police arrested six climate activists from civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion at a protest aimed at disrupting a site in east London belonging to London Concrete, a unit of LafargeHolcim.
In June last year, a report from think-tank Chatham House concluded that although there was no “silver bullet” to reduce emissions from cement, it should be possible to deploy a range of policies and technologies to achieve deep decarbonization.