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CEO Insights: Glencore and the transition we had to have

By Andrew Petersen

CEO | BCSD Australia

The biggest news was undoubtedly that Glencore, one of the world’s biggest sellers of coal, is yielding to investor pressure on climate change - the clearest sign yet that the movement is sweeping the natural resources industry. The company has promised to limit coal production and align its business with Paris climate targets. It’s a surprising about-face from a company that’s spoken glowingly of coal in the past and snapped up major Australian coal mines from rivals that were exiting the industry.

The announcement is all the more timely in a week when two data points gave us insights into the future of the planet's energy needs as well as the way in which business is driving that need.

First, the annual BP Energy Outlook – 2019 Edition found that as global energy demand will increase by around a third by 2040, 85% of that growth in energy supply will be met by renewable energy and natural gas, with renewables becoming the largest source of global power generation by 2040.

The second data point is in another report which came out this week, highlighting that by investing in low-carbon products and renewable energy procurement, 200 of the world's largest corporates have continued to deliver strong returns against stock market averages, despite global political, social and economic tensions. That is the key conclusion of the latest Clean200 report, which ranks the world's largest publicly listed companies by revenue generated from clean energy products every year. Established by non-profit As You Sow and green media researchers Corporate Knights in 2016, the Clean200 is regarded as a key overview of the corporate competitiveness of renewable energy sourcing and investment into low-carbon products.

The Glencore announcement follows similar announcements by Shell, BP and Maersk, who have worked with investors through initiatives such as the Climate Action 100+ to agree to sensible roadmaps for action.

Decoupling economic growth from emissions growth is no longer an aspiration. It is no longer an ambition. It is the transition.


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