Weekly News | 1st to 13th February 2023

Codo Advisory keeps an eye for you on the latest events and trends in climate finance and corporate sustainability, in the world and in Japan. Here’s what caught our attention last week. 

World | Global carbon markets value hit record $909 billion last year 

  • According to Refinitiv analysts, the value of traded global markets for carbon dioxide (CO2) permits hit a record 850 billion euros ($909 billion) last year. 
  • Around 12.5 billion tonnes of carbon permits changed hands in the world’s emissions markets, which is 20% less than the previous year, but the market value increased by 14% due to substantially higher permit prices. 
  • The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which was initiated in 2005, was worth roughly 751 billion euros last year, up 10% from the previous year and accounting for 87% of the global total. As part of its efforts to tighten climate rules, EU parliamentarians pushed to reform the EU ETS last year, agreeing to reduce the number of permits in the system, which was also favorable for prices. 
  • Read more about this story: Reuters, Carbon News 

Comment from Codo: Carbon credits are coming under greater regulatory scrutiny, which is constricting supply and increasing the overall price. This means that companies cannot rely on carbon credits for expansive offsets due to the prohibitive price. Instead, companies need to focus on reshaping their business models to reduce emissions from the outset. Sufficiently robust GX plans should consider the immediate and long term ROI risks of relying upon carbon credits.

World | More than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest certifier are invalid, study finds 

  • According to a new analysis by the Guardian, the German weekly Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, the forest carbon offsets recognized by the world’s main certifier and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci, and other huge firms are essentially worthless and may worsen global warming. 
  • The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2 billion (£1.6 billion) voluntary offsets market, revealed that more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions. 
  • Barbara Haya, the director of the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project stated that “One strategy to improve the market is to show what the problems are and really force the registries to tighten up their rules so that the market could be trusted.” 
  • Read more about this story: The Guardian, Die Zeit 

World | France, Germany criticize U.S. green subsidies on Washington trip 

  • The economy ministers of France and Germany expected a readiness in Washington to address Europe’s concerns about green technology subsidies under the US Inflation Reduction Act but came away with few specifics from meetings with key officials there. 
  • European capitals are concerned that the Act, which is intended to protect US industries from price increases and fund investments in new green technologies, will weaken their enterprises’ competitiveness in the massive North American market. 
  • Among the outcomes of the meeting is a commitment to have the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) develop common standards for green goods, as well as an agreement to investigate the formation of a “critical minerals” club to help both sides of the Atlantic reduce reliance on China for minerals in batteries. 
  • Read more about this story: Reuters, BNN Bloomberg 

Comment from Codo: We are starting to see the international Race to Green speed up. The green transition has been acknowledged for its critical economic and political import on a global stage. Now the players are jostling to determine which market will emerge as the major market leader. A US-EU agreement on investments and trade could create an opportunity to wrench China from its long-established lead.

Japan | Itochu, Eneos, others aim to start carbon storage services in 2030 

  • Three Japanese business groups led by trading firm Itochu and two energy companies Idemitsu Kosan and Eneos will commence initiatives targeted at providing large-scale carbon storage services in Japan by fiscal 2030. 
  • The Japanese government is supporting the projects with subsidies and by establishing a legal framework, as the industry ministry hopes to have a capacity to store up to 12 million tons of carbon dioxide per year in Japan by fiscal 2030. This is the equivalent of up to three coal-fired power plants. 
  • To facilitate the setting up of projects, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will propose a law for submission at the next Diet session. The law will require businesses to obtain approval from METI before undertaking a carbon capture and storage project and limit the liability of the operators in case of mishaps such as carbon dioxide leakage. 
  • Read more about this story: Nikkei Asia 

Europe | UK watchdog urges firms to accelerate climate transition plans

  • Before formal laws are finalized, financial firms and publicly traded corporations in the United Kingdom should begin developing strategies for transitioning to a net-zero economy, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 
  • Since January 2022, the FCA has required asset managers and publicly traded corporations to make climate-related disclosures on a comply or explain basis. A government-backed net-zero assessment found last month that plans based on disclosures have varied in quality and lack specificity on short-term efforts to attain net-zero goals. 
  • UK Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) is drafting mandatory guidelines for listed corporations and financial organizations to ensure comparable plans, with the work expected to be finished by the end of this year. 
  • Read more about this story: Bloomberg, Reuters 

Codo’s comment: International accountability for carbon emissions at a national level and substantial financial investments driven by and for transitioning to a net-zero economy pushes global regulators towards stricter reporting standards. Around the world, regulatory bodies are pushing companies to justify their claims of GHG emission targets through the disclosure of robust, comprehensive plans that define short and medium term goals in addition to long term targets.

Asia | Asia ESG funds global market share doubles, according to Barclays 

  • As political and regulatory upheavals hinder inflows for environmental, social, and governance investment in the US and Europe, ESG funds in Asia have more than doubled their global market share. 
  • Asia’s net inflows into ESG stock and bond funds were 15% in 2022, compared to 4% globally. Barclay analysts noted that Asia’s net inflows into ESG stock and bond funds compared with 5% for non-ESG funds in the region show “stronger investor appetite for sustainable investing”.  
  • Asia seems to be “catching up” amidst intensifying backlash against sustainable investing in the US and Europe’s tighter rules that have resulted in some €175 billion ($190 billion) of funds being downgraded from the strictest ESG category, Article 9. 
  • Read more about this story: Bloomberg 

Codo’s comment: As funding availability for environmentally sound companies expands in Asia, companies need to ensure their business is sufficiently qualified to access this capital. Learning from the ESG fund experiences in the US and Europe, companies need to be able to justify why and how they qualify for ESG investment. This will mean not only declaring net-zero carbon targets, but also defining how those targets will be achieved and validating progress towards those goals. 

Europe | Eight funds breached EU sustainability rules, Danish watchdog finds 

  • Denmark’s financial watchdog has ordered eight sustainability funds including some of the region’s biggest banks, such as Nordea (NDAFI.HE) and Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) to take corrective action after discovering that they violated European Union disclosure laws on such transactions. 
  • According to the Danish FSA, the information provided by the funds was too general or “unclear, inconsistent, and incomplete” in various areas, and did not offer the necessary information for investors to understand how sustainability objectives affect their investments. 
  • Financial authorities across Europe have been upping their scrutiny of fund managers’ compliance with the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), which aims to avoid “greenwashing” of environmental or sustainability credentials. 
  • Read more about this story: Reuters 

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About our weekly news

The above article is a summary of news hand-picked and commented on by our team of experts. We monitor a selection of leading international and Japanese sources, including generalist and specialized press, communication from public authorities, and publications from recognized non-profit organizations.

This edition was prepared by Ilayda Tenim and reviewed by Emilie Jones.

About us

Codo Advisory is a Japan-based consulting agency offering independent advisory services to help Japanese companies define and refine their low-carbon transition strategy, to reduce their risks and reinforce their global competitiveness. Feel free to read more about our services and team, or contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can work together.

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