As I write this, the western US is battling hundreds of raging, fast-moving wildfires, fuelled by climate change and a decade of drought; while the Gulf of Mexico is being battered simultaneously by tropical storms Marco and Laura. The Greenland ice sheet is said to have disintegrated beyond the point of no return. And back in Blighty the late summer has seen unusually high winds, brought most recently by Storm Francis – while less dramatic and consequential, nevertheless a reliable sign of excessive energy in the atmosphere.
Earlier this month, we witnessed the catastrophic industrial accident in Beirut that caused an enormous explosion, with attendant injuries, loss of life and devastation to industry. Our thoughts are with all those affected, not only in Beirut itself, but in vulnerable locations including Syria, dependent on Beirut’s ports for shipments of vital food and medical supplies.
Business and governments are rightly concerned at the moment about emerging from the economic doldrums of COVID-19, while holding down the disease’s resurgence and ensuring schools and other vital activities can resume safely. We have a lot on our plate. But it seems 2020 is not inclined to give us a break.
The business community really must mount an urgent, ambitious response on multiple fronts across the sustainability space. Fortunately, and contrary to the traditional August lull, we are seeing big strides. Scottish disruptors BrewDog announced that they have gone ‘carbon negative’, Google’s parent company Alphabet issued US$5.75bn in sustainability bonds – the largest in corporate history, and the CFA Institute recently announced the development of ESG standards as a reliable measure of quality for financial services companies marketing investment products with an ESG emphasis. The magnitude of the impact that sustainability and ESG integration is having, and indeed will continue to have, on all corners of industry is undeniable.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on many of these developments, and as such this month’s newsletter includes a summary of our recent ESG webinar, in partnership with Ashurst and RSK, on ‘How the built environment can help deliver a sustainable recovery’. Next month we progress the series with a session on ‘Acceleration of the Energy Transition – a focus on energy and infrastructure’ (register your interest through this link).
Our Consultant Ross Lakhdari’s latest insight explores the issue of pandemic plastic. This is a hugely interesting debate: recent years have seen enormous, necessary efforts to reduce plastic by brands, regulators and consumers alike, only to find, as a result of the last six months of lockdown measures, how pivotal the material is in halting the spread of coronavirus. There is no straightforward answer to this dilemma and it will certainly be interesting to see how attitudes evolve over the coming months.
Analyst, Rachel Horigan, shines a spotlight on the unique role the finance industry has in preventing human rights abuses, and the guidance available to companies looking to take responsibility for tackling such issues.
Finally, the UK Government has just announced its intent to require that businesses show their products are free of any association with illegal deforestation, including through their supply chains. This is potentially a significant action that will affect many businesses and materials, so we’ll be sure to bring you a thorough analysis of the proposed law in the coming months.
At Sancroft we seek to challenge business to think differently and to make sustainable profits they can be proud of. I hope our insights inform and inspire you to drive change in your organisation. Please do get in touch to find out how we can help.
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