Living Beyond Borders Articles

While the US played a major role drafting the Paris Climate Accord, a 2015 global treaty aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, it was also the only country out of nearly 200 signatories to pull out of the landmark pact.

Now President-elect Biden says he will rejoin the accord on day one of his administration in January. But while rejoining the treaty in practice is relatively straightforward, Biden will face plenty of political challenges at home — and abroad — once the US is back in the mix.

So what comes next for the Paris Climate Agreement, and how might things change once the US is back on board?

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638 billion: Investors have poured $638 billion into new coal power plants around the world, with more than 80 percent of them in Asia. Analysts predict that most of these projects will go ahead despite falling demand and environmentalist pushback, as many Asian governments seek to protect their coal sectors from the economic impact of COVID-19.

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As more investors back responsible businesses and funds, the growth of assets under management that are ESG-compliant (under one standard or another) has been soaring in recent years. What's more, the geographic scope of this market is growing. A few years ago it was mainly big in Europe , but it's now picking up fast in the US and expanding to Asia, driving a massive boost this year alone. Why? By throwing a glaring spotlight on global inequality, the thinking goes, the pandemic has been a major driver of investment that focuses less on hard profits and more on socially and environmentally responsible capital management. Will this sustainability surge carry on next year? We take a look at ESG investment's upward trend over the past eight years — globally and by region.

During the early months of the pandemic, scientists announced some rare good news in a hellish year: as energy demands fell because of stay-at-home policies, global carbon emissions plummeted. Some hoped the impact might be long lasting. But mere months later, as the pandemic recovery has picked up in many countries, greenhouse gas emissions have ramped up again, reaching pre-pandemic levels in many places. Here's a look at the amount of carbon dioxide produced in several regions and countries during the first six months of 2020.

The future of ESG: Global investor interest in supporting sustainable companies has soared in recent years. But how do you define "sustainable"? One widely used criteria is ESG, which stands for "environmental, societal, and (corporate) governance." The catch, however, is that there still isn't a uniform definition of ESG criteria and regulation across different markets. For example, the EU and the US — home to the largest financial markets in the world — still disagree on the basic question of whether pension funds can classify or not. Meanwhile, outside of these two markets and some parts of Asia, the concept of ESG is relatively scarce in much of the developing world. So, what about China, where the sustainable investment market remains virtually untapped? If the Chinese join the party, it could be a game-changer. The larger the ESG market, the more lucrative it can be — and the better that is for society and the planet. But that means that the world's three largest economies, which hardly see eye-to-eye on anything these days, will have to agree on common standards for global ESG investment to truly take off. We're watching to see if and how that might happen.

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As the virus departs in 2021, the global economy will recover more quickly and robustly from the COVID recession than from a more typical large downturn. The backdrop this optimistic outlook is the remarkable resilience seen despite the pandemic.

Read the full report, learn more about key themes in the report, and view related videos.

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