Weekly Media Roundup – August 6

Welcome to this week’s Media Roundup: a curated digest of top stories and major developments in the climate finance space.

Read on below.

The Guardian – Reduce methane or face climate catastrophe, scientists warn

Cutting carbon dioxide is not enough to solve the climate crisis – the world must act swiftly on another powerful greenhouse gas, methane, to halt the rise in global temperatures, experts have warned. Leading climate scientists will give their starkest warning yet – that we are rushing to the brink of climate catastrophe – in a landmark report on Monday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish its sixth assessment report, a comprehensive review of the world’s knowledge of the climate crisis and how human actions are altering the planet. It will show in detail how close the world is to irreversible change.

Inside Climate News – Inside Clean Energy: Three Charts that Show the Energy Transition in 50 States

The Energy Information Administration reported last week that, for the first time ever, the United States generated more electricity from renewable sources in 2020 than from coal.

Inside Climate News – US Forest Fires Threaten Carbon Offsets as Company-Linked Trees Burn

Forests in the United States that generate the carbon offsets bought by companies including BP and Microsoft are on fire as summer blazes rage in North America. Corporate net-zero emission pledges rely on such projects to compensate for the carbon dioxide generated by companies that are unable to make sufficient cuts to their actual emissions.

Iowa Capital Dispatch – Critics: ‘Big and bold’ infrastructure bill falls short on helping states fight climate change

The Senate is poised to pass a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that would upgrade state transportation networks, electric grids, water systems and more. It’s a major spending boost and potential job creator that critics say falls short of the administration’s goals to address climate change and reduce its effects in the states…The bill would reauthorize surface transportation programs for five years, normally a major accomplishment on its own, Howard said. However, [T]he transportation sector is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which estimated 29% of U.S. emissions in 2019 came from transportation.

National Observer – Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bets big on U.K. gas network

Despite committing to net-zero by 2050 earlier this year, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) is upping its stake in the United Kingdom’s second-largest gas network. When the deal closes, the OTPP will have increased its ownership in Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) from 25 per cent to 37.5 per cent. The OTTP says it expects to release more details about its net-zero plan sometime in the fall, but did not answer questions on how investments in gas infrastructure align with a net-zero commitment.

Phys.org – Like China, Japan and the US continue to finance overseas fossil fuel power technologies

Stepping away from carbon-intensive power systems and investing in renewable technologies is critical to decarbonizing the global power sector and reducing global climate change. But the three countries dominating overseas bilateral finance in the power generation sector—China, Japan, and the United States—continue to fund fossil fuel power generation. A previous study led by Princeton University researchers found China to be the largest public financier of overseas power plants, particularly coal plants. Now, in a follow-up analysis, they report that Japan and the United States follow closely behind, supporting mostly gas and coal power overseas.

Reuters – Costa Rica eyes permanent ban on fossil fuel exploration and extraction

Costa Rican lawmakers this week will discuss a bill to permanently ban fossil fuel exploration and extraction, a move that would prevent future governments from pivoting on the issue as the popular eco-tourism destination country aims to decarbonize by 2050. Costa Rica started efforts to ban fossil fuel exploration in 2002 under President Abel Pacheco. This ban was supposed to expire in 2014 but later extended until 2050. The new bill, backed by the administration of President Carlos Alvarado, would go further by permanently banning it.

Reuters – U.S. orders new review of drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

The United States will start a new environmental review of oil and gas leasing in an Alaska wildlife refuge, it said on Tuesday,a process that may determine the fate of drilling parcels handed out in the final days of the Trump administration. The widely anticipated move comes two months after U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration suspended the nine leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending an environmental analysis.

Roll Call – As Labor reviews ESG rule, study says many 401(k)s don’t reflect sustainability pledges

As House Democrats step up pressure on Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to clarify use of environmental, social, and governance-minded investing in employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s, a study found that plan investments often fail to align with their sustainability commitments. Last year, the Trump administration adopted rules that instructed fiduciaries of retirement plans overseen by the Labor Department to focus investment strategies on “pecuniary factors” and imposed similar obligations on proxy voting in connection with plan investments. Though the rules didn’t completely foreclose ESG strategies, they elevated financial performance to the main focus and led many plan administrators to simply avoid ESG options altogether.

Wealth Professional – Fiera Capital makes climate change commitment

Fiera Capital has joined an international cohort of asset managers around the world who are proactively joining the fight against climate change. In signing on to the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, the company has pledged to take active steps towards reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as well as support broader efforts to rein in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.