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This Week in Sustainability News – 08.07

Learn about corporate greenwashing, investments in plant-based meat, unprecedented dryness in Europe, and global warming’s impact on child mortality, with our summary of this week's sustainability news.

This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.

Environment Agency chair criticises corporate greenwashing

  • In a speech to the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment Annual Forum, Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd warned of the dangers of corporate greenwashing.
  • Howard Boyd criticised companies that make misleading or false statements surrounding their sustainability. She stated that failure to identify and address these deceptions gives people a dangerous false confidence in how we are addressing climate change.
  • She also commented on the dangers that greenwashing has on the guilty companies, stating: “companies that believe their own greenwash are embedding liability, storing up risk for their investors”.
  • Howard Boyd also highlighted the need for more transparency within ESG practices and stated her confidence that disclosure regulations will help to “benchmark best practice, set standards, and celebrate the companies that really are delivering on their commitments”.

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More on greenwashing: Dutch airline sued over greenwashing

Spain and Portugal facing unprecedented dryness

  • A high-pressure system called the Azores high has been preventing wet weather in Spain and Portugal with increasing frequency.
  • Extremely large Azores highs have increased in frequency significantly, with one occurring every 10 winters prior to 1850 to now one every four winters since 1980. This has led to Spain and Portugal suffering their driest climate in 1200 years.
  • Scientists have been able to conclusively link the increase in large Azores highs to humanity’s emissions and climate change.

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Plant-based meat investments beat other green investments in emissions cuts

  • A report by the Boston Consulting Group has found that investments in plant-based meat and dairy result in greater emissions cuts than other green investments.
  • The report shows that each dollar invested in plant-based meat and dairy provides 11 times more emissions cuts than investments in zero-emission cars, three times more than investments in green cement, and seven times more than investments in green buildings.
  • Emissions cuts through plant-based meat investments are significant due to the enormous quantity of emissions that traditional meat and dairy farming produce. Experts state that a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, land use, and agriculture, with over half of this coming from beef alone.

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Heat-related child mortality rates set to double without rapid emissions cuts

  • Researchers have studied the effects of climate change on heat-related child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa under low, medium, and high emission scenarios.
  • Under a high emissions scenario, where humanity makes little effort to further cut carbon emissions, heat-related child mortality rates would be expected to double by 2049.
  • Under a low emissions scenario, where humanity rapidly cuts emissions and limits temperature increases to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C target, up to 6000 deaths could be avoided per year.
  • The researchers also found that since 2009, heat-related child mortality has already been double what it would have been without climate change.

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