Tag Archives: Net Zero

Navigating Financial Net Zero Alliances 

Building a global zero emissions economy to cut back human emissions is going to mean upending how countless businesses operate and cost trillions of dollars – a daunting task. Fortunately, financial firms are clearly taking the matter seriously, banding together into alliances to better address the problem. Financial net zero alliances hit the headlines again in April this year as former Bank of England governor Mark Carney – now the UK Finance Advisor for COP26 and the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance – launched the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (or GFANZ).  

Corralling together the mighty weight of over 160 firms, GFANZ is doing essential work in the race towards carbon neutrality. Yet it is not alone – delve deeper into its connections and we learn that it was co-founded by the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). This in turn joins three further initiatives – and as we looked further, we became embroiled in an intertwined web of alliances. 

Although initially appearing to be a Sisyphean task, navigating the web of financial net zero alliances gives a very real sense of the scale of the movement – how many financial companies have set net zero targets, for example. It also increasingly makes the Race to Zero look like an achievable goal. 

Below is our timeline infographic of the evolution of Financial Net Zero Alliances. Please feel free to share it (tagging @GongComms) – we welcome collaboration and input to improve our work. We are aware this is an ever-growing universe; if you have additional financial alliances that you think ought to be represented in the network, please feel free to email us on NetZero@gongcommunications.com.

What does it mean to be a Net Zero company?

In short, being a Net Zero company means meeting the goal of net zero carbon emissions – or becoming carbon neutral – by 2050, in order to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (in line with the Paris Agreement). While there is no standardised definition or criteria for use, society is becoming increasingly wary of greenwashing. All of the financial alliances for net zero listed in this article require their signatories to be transparent about their goals and to set science-based targets. The Collective Commitment to Climate Action (CCCA) has published a set of guidelines for climate targets setting for banks that underpin the NZBA (and can be downloaded here). 

Is there an overview of all of the financial net zero alliances? 

We couldn’t find one, which formed the basis of our own research. By way of overview: beyond GFANZ, the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA)is a collection of 43 of the world’s biggest banks (including Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, HSBC, Santander and UBS) – which in turn joins three existing initiatives, namely the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (AOA), the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative and the Paris Aligned Investor Initiative. It incorporates the insurance industry (with the soon-to-be-launched Net Zero Insurance Alliance, NZIA), the internationally-led Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) and the Investor Group on Climate Change (Australia and New Zealand). In turn, both of these are part of Climate Action 100+, an investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change. 

One of the original financial Net Zero alliances, Bankers for Net Zero is run in partnership with Volans, which has recently published a must-read white paper on aligning finance to a net zero economy. 

How many financial companies have set net zero targets?

The good news is that the number of financial companies that have set new zero targets is increasing almost too quickly to assign a meaningful number. In September 2020, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reported that the number of net-zero commitments from local governments and businesses had more or less doubled in less than a year, mainly from members of the UN Race to Zero campaign. 

Our research into the financial alliances for net zero indicates nearly a thousand large financial institutions are now part of one or more alliance, with thousands more signatories to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment. 

Gong signs up to Green Pensions Charter

Today marks the launch of the Green Pensions Charter, led by Make My Money Matter in partnership with Count Us In. It’s a world first for pensions, uniting 50+ employers – Gong included – in a mission to “make our money matter”.

The Green Pension Charter seeks to ensure that all money invested by company pension schemes helps to tackle the climate crisis – an issue close to all of our hearts at Gong.

As organisations are increasingly supporting net zero strategies and making critical strides on sustainability, pensions are often overlooked. As a result, the £20 billion invested annually through company pension schemes continues to fund tobacco, fossil fuels and deforestation. The Green Pensions Charter seeks to bring an end to that.

To find out more, read the Make My Money Matter blog, and sign up your company to the Green Pensions Charter today.

Showcasing sustainability around the world

President Biden’s virtual Climate Summit this week has seen important international negotiations on climate and sustainability, and the year ahead promises yet more. Although rescheduled once because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 is due to be held in Glasgow in November, with international leaders coming together to add detail to their pledges.

Arguably, rescheduling last year’s event may not have been a bad thing. As a result of the pandemic, we learnt the positive power of cutting emissions (albeit imposed on us) – with the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War II according to one study – not to mention our capability in responding to existential threats. Meanwhile, the past year has seen some of the strongest climate commitments ever made by governments and business leaders – the EU Green Deal, a greener-than-expected Brexit deal, net-zero pledges by China, South Korea and Japan, Joe Biden’s election as US President, rejoining of the Paris Agreement and hosting of this week’s virtual Climate Summit, which has seen yet more ambitious pledges from international leaders. Climate action is becoming institutionalised.

We all wait in hope that November will bring further ambitious international carbon pledges, and more importantly, the necessary action to complete them. The narrative for COP26 includes the assertion that ‘each of us has a part to play’ and in the run up to the summit, the conversation is mounting around how businesses, society groups, schools and individuals are taking action to tackle climate change and encourage sustainability – working #TogetherForOurPlanet.

A cursory glance at some of the sustainability stories around the globe shows that this can mean different things in different regions, but all are making strides towards a better future. Here are some of those stories we find most inspirational:

The importance of carbon removal in reaching Net Zero

The growth in net zero pledges over the last year – including asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard in March 2021 – has created unprecedented interest in carbon removal strategies and carbon markets. And rightly so. This article by our Finland-based client Puro.earth explains the difference between carbon offsetting and carbon removal, and why the latter is so integral to reaching our net zero targets. Microsoft is on board – it has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030, partnering with Climeworks and Puro.earth (including using the latter’s suppliers Carbofex, ECHO2 and Carbon Cycle to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through production of biochar, allowing carbon to be stored in soil for centuries) to reach its goal.

Powering-up for a greener, brighter future

The European Union has committed 550 billion euros to climate protection and clean technologies over the next seven years, and these plans hinge on batteries to store renewable energy and to power electric vehicles. Analysts say the next generation of batteries must last longer, charge faster and be safer and greener than those on the market now, allowing for innovation. International technology firm Systems Sunlight, has announced a new R&D centre, at which the company will develop innovative lithium battery technologies for the industrial energy storage sector, focusing on new technologies that will usher in a clean energy future.

Chilling out for a cooler climate

Unreasonable Group-backed company Sure Chill has developed a unique cooling technology that allows cooling equipment to maintain a constant temperature without constant power. Rather like a rechargeable battery, the tech is entirely natural and can be linked with solar – perfect for areas of the world with intermittent power. Sure Chill is also working with some of the world’s largest brands to develop solutions within home refrigeration, food and drink, and logistics —all of which contributed to the government of Dubai’s decision to choose Sure Chill as “one of the technologies most likely to change the world in the next 20 years”.

Protecting East African heritage against the threat of climate change

Established in 2016, the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, offers financial backing for projects that tackle the threat from climate change to cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In November last year, the Fund awarded five global heritage projects including the development of disaster risk management strategies for preserving Kenyan and Tanzanian coastal heritage at risk due to rising sea levels, and protection against the impact of flood threats to communities and monuments in Uganda.

Constructing a more sustainable future

With cement production responsible for 8 - 12% of the world’s CO2 emissions, the race is on to find a sustainable alternative for the construction industry. As part of our African Net Zero series, we spoke to Wolfram Schmidt from Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) about his research into alternative materials like cassava and other agricultural residues as a source of ‘green’ African-made cement for future sustainable construction on the Continent. You can watch the full video here.