Fidelity doubles ESG offerings; New England disputes rise over grid control

Welcome to Callaway Climate Insights. The Western drought never disappoints for surprises. See below.

Workers testing underwater surveying equipment say they found the wreckage of a small airplane at the bottom of California’s Folsom Lake, courtesy of low water levels tied to the state’s severe drought. Sonar images show the outline of the plane, covered in a thick layer of silt, about 160 feet below the lake surface, CNN reported. The plane, with three people aboard, crashed near Folsom Dam on New Year’s Day 1965.

New environmental, social, and governance funds may be a dime a dozen, but when Fidelity Investments almost doubles its lineup, we take note.

The Boston fund giant said Wednesday it will launch five new ESG funds and ETFs, bringing to 11 the number of products it will offer in the ESG space. The funds, which will be actively managed, will include a Fidelity Climate Action Fund (FCAEX), a sustainable U.S. equity fund, a bond fund, and two exchange-traded funds (ETFs), one of which will focus on women’s leadership.

In a unique twist, Fidelity said the ETFs will not disclose their holdings each day, like traditional ETFs. Fidelity said the practice will prevent competitors from copying its strategies, which could present advantages, as well as risks. A spokeswoman said the ETFs assets, and those of the mutual funds, will be disclosed after 30 days per the company’s usual policy with funds.

The women’s leadership fund, and the climate action fund — which conveys that it will focus on entrepreneurial companies making a difference in climate technology and finance — will be worth watching. Too often, ESG products replicate existing, passive indexes with an environmental flair. The active nature of these funds and ETFs will shed more light on how quickly the maturity of the broader category develops.

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Grid control: In New England, competing agendas as clean energy grows

. . . . As states in New England become more climate active, they’ve run into a bureaucratic nightmare of competing federal priorities, dictated by a little-known agency that dates back to a pre-climate era. George Barker in Boston looks at the role of New England’s independent energy grid operator, which turns out not to be so independent, and explores what it means for other multi-state electricity grid agencies as local governments demand more action. . . .

Read the full story

Wednesday’s subscriber insights: Covid no match for global warming

. . . . The global Covid lockdown last year caused pollution to drop a record 6%, but it was nothing more than a blip in global warming, a new report said Wednesday. As economies open up again and pollution returns to historical rates, it appears nothing short of zero-carbon emissions, which nobody is contemplating in the next three decades, can stop the damage already done. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Last weekend’s G7 in Cornwall highlighted the delightful scenery of Britain’s most temperate seaside region, but new reports show the image of the dreary, rainy island has given way to the reality of oppressive heat waves that will triple the amount of heat-related deaths by 2050. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Despite the well-publicized collapses of electric vehicle SPACs Nikola and Lordstown Motors, investors continue to flock to electric plays, the latest being electric bus maker Proterra Inc., which said it will raise $648 million in a SPAC deal. Unlike some of its competitors, 17-year-old Proterra has already provided hundreds of buses to cities and has an established record. . . .

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Editor’s picks: Growing green investment from Norway to Singapore; plus, threats to Europe’s chocolate, coffee supplies

Equinor sets $23 billion goal for renewables investment

Equinor (EQNR), the Norway-based global energy company, is increasing investments in renewables and low carbon solutions to more than 50% of gross annual investments by 2030, as part of its strategy to accelerate its transition away from fossil fuels. RENewsBiz reports. Equinor expects gross investments in renewables of around $23 billion from 2021 to 2026, and to increase the share of gross capital expenditure for renewables and low carbon solutions from around 4% in 2020 to more than 50% by 2030. The company also pledged to reach a 20% reduction in net carbon intensity by 2030 and a 40% reduction in net carbon intensity by 2035, as part of its strategy.

Singapore seeks to be global hub for green finance

The climate emergency poses an existential threat but also provides new opportunities for green investment and development, Singapore Finance Minister Lawrence Wong says. Speaking to Martin Soong as part of the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit, Wong said, “We are investing in renewable energy. We are investing in decarbonization technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture. And, we are also looking at building Singapore as a hub for the region when it comes to green finance.” CNBC notes that most of Singapore lies within 15 meters above the mean sea level, with around 30% less than 5 meters above the mean sea level. Additional increase in sea level caused by climate change will be an immediate threat to the country.

Climate change threatens chocolate, coffee supplies in Europe

Coffee and chocolate supplies in Europe soon could be disrupted by the climate crisis as droughts hit producer countries, according to recent research reported in The Guardian. The research also found a high vulnerability for palm oil imports, used in many foods and domestic products, and soybeans, which are the main feed for chickens and pigs in the European Union. The study, published in Nature Communications, says: “In the near future, supplies of certain crops to the EU could be disrupted due to increased drought in other parts of the world. Coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, oil palm, and soybean are the most climate-vulnerable imported products.” The research was led by Ertug Ercin, at R2Water Research and Consultancy and Vrije University in the Netherlands.

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Data driven: Hot, hot, hot

According to the National Weather Service, the highest temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 124°F. in Death Valley, Calif. Tuesday. The low temperature was 25°F. near Sand Creek, Ore. The NWS has issued warnings that dangerous heat will continue across portions of the West and Northern/Central Plains, this week, with record-breaking temperatures and fire danger in some areas.

The agency says: Temperatures well into the 110s to lower 120s are forecast for the Desert Southwest. Meanwhile over Montana, high temperatures well into the 100s will be as much as 30 degrees above average this afternoon and evening. Dozens (possibly hundreds) of daily record high maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to be set over the next few days in California, the Intermountain West, Desert Southwest, Rockies, and central/northern Plains.

High temperatures across the lower elevations of the Central Rockies region could even challenge all-time records this afternoon and Wednesday at some locations. By Thursday, the summer heat will push southward into the Central Plains, as well as expanding west into the central valleys of California. Widespread Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories have been issued throughout eight states in the western U.S., from southern California to northeast Montana.