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Corporate green bonds, which are issued to fund climate-friendly projects, have grown incredibly since their inception in 2013. That year investors purchased $3 billion green bonds, but in 2017 that amount had sky rocketed to $49 billion. A wide-range of companies issue these bonds including Apple, Unilever, and Bank of America and it doesn’t look like the trend will end.
But what are green bonds? And do they really contribute to creating positive results for the environment? A review analyzing the 217 corporate green bonds issued by public companies globally from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2017, demonstrated that they are not only getting a positive reaction from the stock market, but also leading to improvements in financial and environmental performance, increased green innovations, and an increase in stock ownership by long-term and green investors.
The growth in the environmental performance of these companies as well as their increased green innovation is certainly encouraging.
Several measures suggest that after issuing green bonds, companies improved their environmental performance. When it came to the Thomson Reuters’ ASSET4 scale (based on more than 250 performance indicators like CO2 emissions, hazardous waste, and recycling), these green bond businesses environmental score rose by 6.1 percentage points. They also reduced their emissions by 17 tons of CO2 per $1 million of assets and increased their green innovations―measured by the ratio of the number of “green” patents filed to the total number of patents they filed in a given year― by 2.1 percentage points
All these positive response to such a relatively new innovation in impact investing shows that there is significant promise when it comes to fighting against climate change on a global scale. Big businesses are willing to step up and take the lead when it comes to making changes even if the government is not.
When it comes to the mining industry, we know that there is a lot at stake for the environment. However, we don’t often think about mining companies as business that care about sustainability.
While fossil fuels and mining companies tend to be dismissed as unable to create sustainable strategies, but many companies in the mining industry are trying to mitigate their impact.
At Strategic Sustainability Consulting we have worked with mining companies, like Teck Resources Limited and a global resource leader in Scandinavia.
Through our work with natural resource companies, we helped to identify emerging sustainability trends and best practices in the mining industry. The result of which has been that Teck has garnered national and international attention for its sustainability performance. In fact, in 2017 they were recognized among the best of their peers for social and environmental responsibility.
Mining companies can care.
And in an industry this big, with heavy materials circling the globe and creating significant environmental impacts, it’s vital that those in the sustainability field continue to push for more companies to embrace changes like Teck.
While the traditional corporate responsibility agenda has required that mining companies work with greater transparency and coordinate with local communities during the life of their projects, the sustainability agenda for mining is getting broader. For example, the industry itself has so much to lose if they do not try to understand and manage global trends, including the intense pressure their business is putting on the world’s very limited natural resources.
With alternative energy solutions taking off, we might think there is less need for mining, but as the population continues to increase (we are closing in on 9 or 10 billion) — and more and more of us have disposable income, our demands on these resources just keep growing. Unfortunately at the same time the demand is rising, the richness of ores (the “ore grade”) has been in long-run decline for most elements. Copper ore grade is down from 4% a century ago to well under 1% now (and falling). Copper mining isn’t just affected by natural resource pressures; it embodies natural resource constraints.
With all this information available, we must continue to monitor mining companies and encouraging them to engage in more mindful practices that can lessen their negative impact on the world around us all.