TCFD mandates, COP27 and the energy crisis response: The sustainability stories of 2022
With less than a week until Christmas, edie recaps on a hugely busy year for sustainability stories, rounding up successes and failures in the global green recovery movement and reflecting on COP27.
4C global warming warnings, three UK Prime Ministers, two different COPs and TCFD mandate for businesses. If 2022 was a climate Christmas song, it would be less “12 Days of Christmas” and more 12 minutes to midnight.
From an energy and cost-of-living crisis that emerged at the start of the year to key climate and biodiversity summits in recent weeks, 2022 was topped and tailed by events that showcase why it is so important to combat the climate emergency in a just and green manner.
After such a hectic and landmark year, many of us will be keen to wind down, take stock of the past year and set out what we want to focus on for 2023.
And, with this in mind, edie has rounded up all of the biggest sustainability stories from the policy, business and public spheres during 2022. We are UK-based, so there is a focus on stories from the UK, but with some global implications too. Enjoy!
1) How will the energy price crisis affect UK Plc’s net-zero transition?
The energy crisis swelled at the start of 2022 and predictions warned that annual household bills were due to rise from around £1,000 to £3,500. At the same time, a noisy minority used the cost rise to push back on net-zero legislation, in favour of increased North Sea oil exploration and fracking.
So, why not cast your mind back to January to see how these twin disruptions were impacting how UK corporates were approaching the net-zero transition.
2) TCFD mandate comes into force for UK businesses
From 6 April certain large businesses in the UK were required by law to include climate risks in their annual reporting. The aim of the mandate is to increase climate-related engagement between investors and the companies they invest in. Until now, non-unified climate disclosures have made it challenging for investors to truly measure their exposure to climate risk. Another benefit is that, in measuring their climate impact, risks and opportunities, businesses may well be compelled to increase their environmental ambitions and accelerate actions. For businesses, this may come with operational cost savings and cost savings in terms of avoided risks.
Here, edie rounds up all the key information about aligning with the Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations.
3) Carbon offset prices set to increase 50-fold by 2050
The net-zero movement is well underway, despite some noteworthy bumps in the road. More than 11,309 non-state actors including more than 8,000 companies have committed to net-zero through the Race to Zero initiative.
Setting a target and reaching the destination are very different, however. Many businesses have turned to offsetting to account for some unavoidable emissions, why others are perhaps leaning to heavily into the market. Regardless, one of the most-read stories on edie in 2022 was a regarding a study from BloombergNEF (BNEF) that prices for carbon offsetting could reach highs of up to $120 per tonne by 2050, up from between $2 and $3 in 2021.
4) Greenwashing isn’t going to fly in 2022
As use of offsets increase so too does the risk that brands “greenwash” their approach to sustainability. Greenwashing is neither a new tactic nor a new term; it was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, but it definitely gathered pace in 2022.
Here in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced at the start of the year that it will undertake its first official investigation into greenwashing, with an initial focus on fashion. Brands found to be flouting its Green Claims Code could face fines and other penalties.
5) UK’s net-zero target deemed unlawful
Brands weren’t the ones twisting the truth regarding net-zero in 2022. Indeed, the High Court has ordered that the UK Government’s Net-Zero Strategy is “unlawful”, with an order now in place for policymakers to flesh out the Strategy with new details.
In July, the High Court ruled that the Net-Zero Strategy is too vague, meaning that there were no assurances that targets listed under the Strategy, which aims to decarbonise the UK economy to net-zero by 2050, could be met.
6) The Prime Minister merry-go-round creates green policy chaos
July was a tumultuous time for green policy in the UK. As well as that net-zero ruling, Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister following “Party Gate”. What followed was a fresh batch of Conservative candidates vying to become the new leader, all of whom had patchy records on green legislation
Liz Truss was named as the new Prime Minister, but didn’t even outlast a lettuce and Rishi Sunak has since stepped into Number 10 and has started U-turning his way through climate conferences and green policy red tape.
7) Patagonia to redistribute profits to environmental and social causes
Corporate sustainability is constantly evolving and those who are considered leaders in the space can fall back into a common place position if they don’t continue to revaluate their role in society.
It is unsurprising that the most read story on edie in 2022 was the announcement that Patagonia, which has been a private company since it was founded in 1973, planned to allocate all profits that are not re-invested back into the company to environmental causes.
8) COP27 delivers landmark deal on loss and damage
COP27 officially opened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday 6 November as delegates from more than 190 nations spent the following two weeks trying to orchestrate new texts on how the climate crisis would be averted through finance and new national targets.
The result was some weakened language on clean energy, but a landmark new funding framework to help developing nations cover the cost of loss and damage. There’s a lot to recap over the two weeks at COP27, but edie’s live blog covered all the key announcements.
9) COP15: New global deal for nature agreed despite objections from developing nations
Following swiftly on from COP27 was the CBD’s COP15 in Montreal, which delivered a new Global Biodiversity Framework aimed at halting land and water deterioration, restoring 30% of degraded ecosystems on land and sea by 2030 and unlocking new finance streams for nature recovery, with 23 action-orientated targets to be achieved by 2030.
This “Paris-style” agreement for biodiversity is a huge step towards protecting and restoring our ecosystems, but not all nations left Montreal happy.
10) edie’s 2023 Awards shortlist revealed
We wanted to finish this 2022 recap on a positive note, and what better way to spread positivity than by focusing on the exemplar initiatives and people from sustainable businesses.
After a record-breaking year of hundreds of entries from across the spectrum of sustainable business, we are proud to announce the shortlist of finalists for the edie Awards 2023.
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