As 2021 draws to an end, we can’t stop ourselves from looking back on all things that have happened throughout the year. 2021 has been quite a year in regards to sustainability – with both its ups and downs. In betweenIPCC's "code red for humanity" reportand Greenhouse gas levels hitting record high (after a hopeful yet temporary dip in 2020), it is easy to forget the victories that took place.
For that, we want to end this year by shedding light on some of the sustainability highlights of 2021. Let’s take a look at the achievements we can be proud of in 2021 and bring with us into 2022!
1. Climate scientists win Nobel prize in physics
Speaking about wins, for the first time in history this year’s Nobel prize in Physicswas awarded jointly to three climate scientists! Syukuro Manabe (also referred to as "father of climate modeling"), along with Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Paris were honored with this year’s prize for their contribution to understanding the complex structure of nature, in particular climate change.
Others have received Nobel Prizes for their work on climate change in the past, most notably theNobel Peace price 2007, which was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". However, theRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciencessaid this is the first time the Physics prize has been awarded specifically to climate scientists.
In a critical time of environmental crisis, this Nobel prize is the game-changer we have all been waiting for. It proves to everyone (even the skeptics) that science has been right all this time – and it is now or never for climate action!
2. Green investments outnumbered fossil fuel investments
Another big victory of 2021 is that the market for green bonds has finally boomed! In May,Bloomberg foundthat during the first half of 2021, green bonds and loans from the global banking sector had exceeded the value of fossil financing. While the data doesn’t mirror the entire year’s investments, the picture is still clear: sustainable investments have reached a powerful tipping point, with awareness and interest at an all-time high! Future-proof your portfolio with Worldfavor Sustainable Investments– the solution designed to help you track your environmental impact and boost the ESG performance of your portfolio companies. Sounds interesting?Let our ESG specialists tell you more!
Investments in fossil fuels and green projects from 2014-2021, 2021 represents only the first half of the year. Source: Bloomberg
3. After much deliberation: The EU Taxonomy finally became law
After much delays and heated negotiations, the Climate Delegated Act of the EU Taxonomy was finally entered into law in December this year! With the climate delegated act approved, companies covered by the EU Taxonomy must begin their Taxonomy-eligibility reporting on the taxonomy’s two climate objectives from 1 January 2022.
In a statement Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the PRI said: "The adoption of the first set of EU Taxonomy criteria is a significant achievement, as it sets into law for the first time a common understanding of which and to what extent activities covered are environmentally sustainable."
While there is still lots of work to do, an important milestone in turning capital greener has been reached!
COP26 is presumably the most discussed happening of 2021. A lot has been said about the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) that took place earlier this year: Was it or was it not a success? Frankly, we will likely not know its effects for at least ten years as its success is inextricably linked to the wider global economy, effectiveness of regulations and social shifts – probably more so than the event itself. What we do know is that more has been promised than ever before, and since almost all countries are taking part, in some ways it’s incredible that anything has been agreed upon at all! In the end, the COP26’s engagement and agreements signal that the entire world is collectively changing.
5. Mandatory Human rights due diligence compliance on the upswing
This year, mandatory human rights due diligence legislation have been on the rise among governments all across the world – such as Germany’sSupply Chain Due Diligence Actand Norway’sTransparency Lawto name a few. While there has been a growing voluntary approach among companies to address these issues in the past years, a study in 2020 from the EU has proven that voluntary measures are not efficient enough. From that on, new regulations which legally bind companies to undertake human rights due diligence have accelerated. 2021 will forever be remembered as the year when companies started to be held accountable for the human rights and environmental violations within their supply chains.
6. The Environmental Act finally passed into law in the UK
The Environmental Act, which was first introduced by the UK government already in 2019, was finally passed into law in 2021! The Environmental Act 2021 has been described as "the most ground-breaking piece of environmental legislation in many years", as it set clear statutory targets to enhance the UK to go further than ever before to improve the environment, both within and around the world. With the Environmental Act 2021 set in place, the UK has become the first nation to set a legal target to halt species decline by 2030. The law also requires greater supply chain due diligence and transparency from businesses to tackle the environmental violations within their supply chains – and thus paving the way for a more sustainable world!
7. Worldfavor Transparency
Last but not least, this year marked an important milestone for us as Worldfavor and sustainability reporters all across the world – the launch of our Transparency solution! For the first time ever, there is a dedicated platform for organizations to share and access their ESG data. Any organization, regardless of size, sector or sustainability maturity, can join the network and get started for free!
The platform enables you to align your ESG information with leading standards and frameworks, so you can easily export the information in a standardized format and use it in reports and communication with stakeholders!