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Biden climate plans could face uphill battle in divided Congress

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Biden climate plans could face uphill battle in divided Congress

The ESG Insider newsletter compiles news and insights on environmental, social and governance developments driving change in business and investment decisions. Subscribe to our ESG Insider newsletter, and listen to the ESG Insider podcast on SoundCloud, Spotify or Apple podcasts.

Facing a high likelihood of a divided Congress when he assumes office, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is charting a course that will rely on aggressive regulatory actions, executive orders and incremental legislation to curb global warming and address other energy and environmental issues.

"Given the fact that Biden is probably not going to have a compliant Senate to work with, don't look for him getting policy done through a reconciliation bill or even an ambitious climate bill," said Eric Washburn, who served as legislative director for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and is a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In this week's newsletter, we also look at how COVID-19 is causing some investors to push the meat-production industry to revamp operating methods they view as risky and unsustainable. And our Chart of the Week shows the downward trend in ESG-committed private equity funds worldwide.

Chart of the Week

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Top Stories

Executive, agency actions offer more viable pathway for Biden's climate plan

If Congress remains divided, Democrats have weakened prospects of passing more sweeping measures in the next two years to curb climate-warming greenhouse gases, including bills to place a price on carbon dioxide emissions or to establish a national clean energy standard. But President-elect Biden could still make progress on reducing the nation's emissions through federal agency and executive actions, continuing the more recent trend of governing through executive orders rather than congressional action, according to industry observers.

COVID-19 intensifies investor scrutiny of meat producers' operating methods

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, more than 200 slaughterhouses operated by the world's biggest meat producers in the U.S., Europe and Brazil have emerged as leading hotspots for new infections. Thousands of workers have caught the virus, dozens of meatpacking plants have closed and at least one meat producer has been sued. The ensuing stock price plunges have led some investors to push for change in the way the industry operates.

COVID-19 brings ESG discussions to forefront; PE funds still behind

The COVID-19 crisis and social unrest have given conversations about ESG a new urgency, panelists said at the 2020 BSR Virtual Conference. A recent Environmental Resources Management survey of private equity investment professionals found that only 25% of respondents said their firms have a thematic ESG fund or strategy and actively look for ESG-focused investments, while 53% said they are not using any ESG framework to identify tactical opportunities.

Environmental

Blue hydrogen to play big role in developing a US hydrogen economy, experts say

'Immune to COVID-19': Renewables behind 90% of new capacity in 2020 – IEA

CaixaBank's first green bond issue oversubscribed by 4.5x, raises €1B

Social

Black representation in insurance grows slowly as industry seeks to diversify

Social bond issuance may approach $100B in 2020 – S&P Global Ratings

CBS sets new diversity targets for unscripted programming

Governance

Fed warns of systemic climate risks in latest Financial Stability Report

BoE to launch climate-related stress tests on UK banks, insurers in June 2021

Shell to slash crude capacity at Singapore refinery as it pursues ESG goals

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