Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’
Social Research Digest – November 2012
A joint report by the Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics sheds light on the often ignored issue of worker welfare in the food industry by highlighting practices and policies of some of the largest and most influential food companies in the U.S. Major challenges are identified across the industry and the authors propose avenues of influence for companies and investors going forward.
- The organic, local, natural food movement has a glaring blind spot: worker welfare.
- Despite popular assumptions, foods that are sustainable, organic, or locally grown are often produced under highly inequitable working conditions.
- In fact, workers that produce and deliver food to consumers face some of the lowest paying jobs, the highest levels of food insecurity, and some of the most dangerous working conditions in the U.S.
- Fewer than one in five companies shows evidence of having a high-level committee tasked specifically with oversight of worker equity issues.
- Managing supply chain risks at overseas operations tends to take precedence over local oversight of employees and contractors.
- Compared to other frontline workers in the U.S., food industry workers earn about one-third less – only $18,900 per year.
- Many food workers lack the rudimentary protections of wage and hour laws.
- Some of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. are found in the food industry.
- While the fatality rate for all industries is 3.5 per 100,000 workers, in agriculture the rate is over 25, and for warehousing and transportation jobs it is 15.
- The prevalent cost-cutting model across the industry increases risks to workers and to food safety; preliminary findings suggest a direct correlation between worker equity and food safety.
Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics
Environmental Research Digest – June 2012
The report identifies seven climate-themed areas in which bond investors can tap current opportunities: energy, transport, buildings and industry, waste, water, agriculture and forestry. The Climate Bonds Initiative then analyzed how the proceeds of the identified bonds were used.
- The climate-themed bond market is much broader and deeper than previously thought, with $174 billion worth of bonds outstanding.
- The study found over 1,000 outstanding climate-themed bonds, which came from 207 issuers.
- Corporations, including state-owned and private companies, issued 82 percent of the total, followed by development banks and financial institutions with 13 percent of the bonds.
- Project bonds accounted for 3 percent and municipal bonds were 2 percent.
- The climate-themed bond market is dominated by $119 billion of transport bonds, nearly all of that for railway projects, followed by $29 billion of low-carbon energy bonds.
- The report also found that bonds linked to the expansion of wind and solar power account for two-thirds of the $29 billion in energy bonds.
- UK institutions have issued the largest amount of climate-themed bonds, with 23 percent of the global total.
- France comes in second with 17 percent. Europe accounts for 67 percent of the global market, followed by the US with 17 percent and Russia, Canada and China, all at around three percent each.
- There could be another $204 billion of outstanding bonds from issuers with more than 50 percent of revenues and activities linked to the climate economy.
- The report also identifies a further $373 billion of bonds “conditionally aligned.”
- These are bonds issued from sectors or technologies linked to the climate economy, but where more disclosure is required to determine which bonds can be considered climate-themed.
- HSBC estimated that $10 trillion in cumulative capital investments will be required globally between 2010 and 2020 to drive low-carbon energy alone.
- Of that amount, $6 trillion could be required in terms of bank loans and bonds, assuming the historical 60:40 split between debt and equity is followed.
Environmental Research Digest – June 2012
Calvert Investments, Ceres and Oxfam America released a new guide for companies to improve their analysis and management of the risks that climate change poses to their operations and supply chains. It focuses on companies in the agriculture, food and beverage, apparel, electric power, insurance, mining, oil and gas, and tourism sectors, all of which are highly vulnerable to climate impacts.
- The guide provides detailed checklists that companies should use to assess, manage and disclose physical risks they face from climate change.
- Climate change is already causing costly physical impacts for communities and the companies and investors that depend on them.
- As hurricane season looms, companies must begin to understand, plan for and disclose to investors the ways in which climate change is likely to affect their bottom lines.
- The impacts of climate change on companies’ supply chains, natural resources, operations and key infrastructure are expected to worsen as a result of increasing temperatures, changing weather pat¬terns, and more frequent and intense droughts, floods and storms.
- The year 2011 set records for economic losses and insured losses caused by natural catastrophes, with extreme weather events accounting for 90 percent of the disasters and 8 of the 10 most costly.
- Among the specific, physical impacts that U.S. businesses felt from last year’s extreme weather events:
- more than 160 companies in Thailand’s textile industry were harmed by the 2011 floods, stopping about a quarter of the country’s garment production, much of it for U.S. companies;
- electric power company Constellation Energy experienced reduced quarterly earnings of about $.0.16 per share due to the record-setting 2011 heat wave in Texas that forced it to buy incremental power at peak prices;
- last year’s drought in Texas also caused more than $2 billion of cotton losses, raising prices and limiting supplies for apparel companies that source from the state;
- U.S. property insurers experienced some $32 billion in insured damage losses last year, second only to losses in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Much of last year’s damage occurred away from the coast, including hurricane-driven storms in Vermont, wildfires in Texas and hailstorms in Arizona.
- Virtually every sector faces climate risks and opportunities, and investors can’t afford for those risks to remain opaque.
- The guidelines in this report shed light on how businesses should analyze and quantify physical risks from climate change so that investors can make informed decisions.
- The guide also provides investors with advice on the types of information they should seek and expect of companies in order to manage portfolio risks related to climate change impacts.
Calvert Investments, Ceres and Oxfam America