Cheet sheet: State of Green Business Report 2018
For 11 years, GreenBiz Group has published an annual report that "looks at 10 key trends and dozens of metrics assessing how, and how much, companies are moving the needle on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges." In the early days, the report was an exciting compendium of projects, stories and data showing the breadth and variety of corporate approaches to environmental responsibility and innovation.
But there is a difference between activity and actually making progress. So for the last few years, they have also tried to answer the question:
"Is any of this moving the needle? Is all this corporate activity to improve social and environmental impact making a difference?"
To answer that question, they have partnered with TruCost, a leader in carbon and environmental data and risk analysis, now a part of S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The 10 Sustainable Business Trends to watch in 2018:
ESG moves from the margins to the mainstream: environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) is increasingly part of the risk analysis for business and investment valuation; according to the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative 2016 report, 58 stock exchanges, representing over 70% of listed equity markets, have made a public commitment to advancing sustainability in their market.
Science-based targets gain traction: the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI) counts over 200 companies committed to registering science-based targets
Green finance funds the sustainability transition: the OECD projects green bonds market growing to $4.7 - $5.6 trillion by 202
Rethinking carbon for the new economy: big data + low carbon energy sources = major innovations in the energy sector; China has committed over $300 billion to renewable energy
Economic inclusion becomes a sustainability imperative: "In nature, diversity builds ecosystem health, productivity, longevity and resilience. So, too, in communities: Sustainable economic and social systems need to be diverse and inclusive in every respect."
Energy storages charges forward: projected deployment of 125 gigawatts in storage capacity worldwide between now and 2030, according to projections — a $103 billion investment
Cities mobilize to avert "peak delivery" congestion: "Cities across the world are congested enough. But the growing wave of online and app-based commerce could reach a tipping point...United States alone accounted for an annual 13 billion parcel shipments — just over 40 packages a year for every man, woman and child in America — and that number likely will double in the next three to four years." Multi-stakeholder decision-making, new governance structures, and woven technology-human systems will be required.
Artificial intelligence gets smarter: "A whopping 70 percent of the companies surveyed this year by Forrester Research plan to use some form of AI by the end of this year...'If we are smarter and focused on win-win type of results, AI could help proficiently distribute the world’s existing resources like food and energy,' notes U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed."
The electrification of everything: "By 2040, a dollar will buy 2.3 times as much solar energy as it does today, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), and offshore wind prices will decrease by 71 percent." Innovations in cars, long-haul trucks, rail, and planes are finding ways to use this clean energy for everyday operations by electrifying everything.
Synthetic biology hacks the code for sustainability: The need for new materials that are non-toxic and feed closed loop production-consumption systems is at the heart of sustainability. One source of these materials is increasing synthetic biology. "It holds great promise for addressing a wide range of sustainability issues, including how we power and feed our world, and how we design and create the materials we use to make things. It stands to revolutionize agriculture, energy production, water filtration and a variety of resource- intensive industrial processes."
Key Findings from Trucost's annual assessment of corporate environmental performance among the world’s 1,200 largest companies and 500 largest firms in the United States
Bottom line: TruCost's analysis reveals a worrisome finding:
"The natural capital costs of companies had previously been falling, but the latest year’s results show a sharp increase. As a result, the natural capital cost generated by the largest global companies is nearly two times higher than their net income."