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S2 Episode 7: Why biodiversity loss matters to governments and investors


Listen: Are global leaders finally taking needed action on environmental issues? Coming out of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, we've seen governments agree to a certain set of policies to fight climate change. But that isn't the only urgent environmental issue we face. The twin problem of climate change AND biodiversity loss are a serious threat to not just governments, but also investors.

The latest episode of Living Beyond Borders, a special podcast series from GZERO brought to you by Citi Private Bank, looks at how important biodiversity is to the global economy, and what leaders need to do to prevent further loss. Moderated by Caitlin Dean, Head of the Geostrategy Practice at Eurasia Group, this episode features Anita McBain, Managing Director at Citi Research, heading EMEA ESG Research; Harlin Singh, Global Head of Sustainable Investing at Citi Global Wealth; and Mikaela McQuade, Director of Energy, Climate and Resources at Eurasia Group.

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COP26 climate deal: Reasons for hope

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Just about to head to Singapore, but before I do, I thought I would give you guys a quick recap on the COP26 summit, couple weeks long in Glasgow.

And I understand that it's fashionable and important to talk about just how immediate and immense the climate crisis is, and that we didn't do enough, and we have more work in front of us, and all that is true, but actually I come away from the last two weeks fairly optimistic in the sense that the acceleration of effort that we're seeing from all corners, I mean there's even more from the central governments than you would've expected, and they were the underperformers, certainly more from the private sector, more from the banks, more from the corporates. And as a consequence, right now, I mean the big headline is that we are still on track for 2.4 degrees centigrade of warming if all of the countries make good on their existing pledges, which is itself unlikely. So we're not really on track for 2.4, it's higher. And that's double where we are right now, 1.2.

Having said that, there are a number of positive things that I think are also getting baked in, not just how much carbon is in the atmosphere. One is that they have decided, the participants of COP26, that they're going to come with new goals next year, as opposed to every five years, which had been the process. So as we're seeing more effort, as we're seeing more progress, we're also seeing stepped up urgency. And the very fact that you will now have a one-year, an annual summit that becomes an action-forcing event, even if it's marked by half measures, will end up getting you a lot more progress. I think that's significant and everyone agreed to that.

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Climate change trade wars

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is almost done and dusted, with some ambitious commitments and breakthroughs from governments and corporations to more aggressively tackle the climate disaster. Yet, though there seems to be broad agreement on what needs to be done to stop the planet getting hotter — like getting to Net Zero emissions over the next few decades — big disagreements remain on how to pull it off.

As countries try to turn jobs green while also boosting exports to keep foreign cash flowing in, reliance on protectionist economic policies is becoming an increasing point of friction between governments. Here are two juicy examples where this dynamic is playing out.

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Net zero emissions by 2050 "lacks sense of urgency" — Suntory CEO

Like many other big corporations, Japanese brewer and distiller Suntory want to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that's not enough for CEO Tak Niinami. "It's far away and lacks the sense of urgency," he says. Niinami predicts that especially after COP26 people will be wary of greenwashing, so it's essential for corporations to "to be transparent, showing society what we are doing and how much progress we are making" on climate.

Suntory CEO Tak Niinami spoke during the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here.

Making plastic industry sustainable is corporate self-interest

Plastics are essential for Asia, but for Ian Bremmer the way the industry works right now is incompatible with the region's targets to fight climate change. Very soon, though, he predicts there will be "immense gravitational pull" to do things differently. Once the way Asian companies use plastics now becomes outdated, he says, it's only a matter of time before they change out of their own self-interest. Bremmer spoke during the second of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory.

What We're Watching: American missile defense, Chilean impeachment scandal

The US ups its missile defense game. Israel has used for years a precise missile defense system — known as the Iron Dome — as a bulwark against short-range rocket attacks from terror groups. In recent weeks, the US has been using the same technology — jointly developed by Israeli and American defense contractors — in the US Pacific territory of Guam to test its own defense capabilities against Chinese weapons, according to the Wall Street Journal. This comes after Beijing, as part of a military drill, recently sent sophisticated hypersonic missiles into space that could reach Guam, about 1,800 miles from mainland China. The Pentagon is not messing around in anticipating potential threats from Beijing right now as bilateral tensions continue to rise. However, the DOD says this tech isn't a long-term fix because Iron Dome isn't meant to be used to thwart cruise missiles, which are capable of transporting a nuclear warhead long distances. Meanwhile, the US military has requested more than $200 million to develop a new missile defense system for Guam, but Congress has yet to deliver.

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To invest in recycling plastics, embrace risk and watch where you divest: JBIC's Tadashi Maeda

Tadashi Maeda, governor of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, believes there's huge potential for new technology to solve the global problem of plastic pollution via recycling. But to do so, he says companies should first be a bit less risk-averse with new ways of doing things, and don't rush to divest from countries that not only consume a lot of single-use plastics but also burn much coal like Indonesia or Vietnam.

Maeda spoke during the Sustainability Leaders Summit, a live GZERO event sponsored by Suntory. Watch the full discussion here.

Want to land a "green job? 3 tips from LinkedIn

Upgrading your resume with some "green" skills to get a job in the future low-carbon economy? First, think long-term because whatever's good for you will be good for the planet, says Sue Duke, vice president and head of public policy at LinkedIn. Second, get training that aligns with your company's climate targets, and third, expand your network to make it "greener." Watch her interview with Tony Maciulis, chief content officer at GZERO Media, during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

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