Christian Arno

Best sustainability reports of 2020/21: my must-read list

8 min Read
Close up of a pile of multicoloured books

Well… Q1 went by in the blink of an eye, didn’t it? For those of you who checked out this ‘listicle’ (as the youths are calling them) back in December, I’m updating it with a few more fascinating sustainability reports that have crossed my desk over the past few months.

If this is your first time happening upon my must-read sustainability reports, bienvenidas! It’s absolutely not an exhaustive list of all the amazing work out there, just the bits that have piled up on my virtual nightstand. If you have any you think I should add, please comment below.

Some must-read sustainability reports:

Project Drawdown’s ‘Solutions’

There are two things I love about Project Drawdown’s ‘Solutions’—1, they all exist already; there’s no need to wait around for the Prince Charming of climate solutions to save the day. And 2, when utilised in the right way they put the ‘drawdown’ point (when emissions begin to decline) at some point in the mid-century. If that isn’t the dollop of good news that you needed today, I don’t know what is.

The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review

Much like The Stern Review (on which the Dasgupta Review was modelled), this is a seminal piece of work. Over 606 cleverly worded pages, Dasgupta demonstrates where our current economic systems will lead (hint: it’s nowhere good) and how—if we want to course correct—we will need to reconnect with nature so that it is treated (globally) as an asset. With a foreword by Sir David Attenborough and backing from the government, I believe it’s done as much as it can to convince leaders to commit to more ambitious climate action going forward. I watch with interest… (Top tip: the full thing is dense. Unless you have a couple of weeks, take a peek at the abridged version or GreenBiz’s summary.)

UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2020

I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently found myself in a number of conversations about the impact of Covid on carbon emissions and wished I had the numbers to hold down a strong argument. If you’re like me, take a look at this report. It delves into the impact of Covid on global warming, what impact a low carbon pandemic recovery could have, and much more. Also, if you’ve got access to Apple TV, I highly recommend Attenborough’s short documentary, ‘The Year the Earth Changed’.  

The Sixth Carbon Budget - The UK’s Path to Net Zero

Compiled by the Climate Change Committee, this report provides advice on how much CO2e the UK can emit between 2033-37. It is the most comprehensive report they’ve ever released, acting as a blueprint for a fully decarbonised UK. I’ve only read the forward so far, but it made me feel both soothed and stirred. There is a plan to get us where we need to go, but (as is pointed out by Lord Deben, Chair of the committee) ‘the utmost focus is required’ from government, business and individuals if we’re going to pull it off. This is one I’m looking forward to learning more about!

She Changes Climate’s Open Letter to UK COP26 Leadership team

I’ll admit, not a report. But undoubtedly important reading. She Changes Climate is campaigning for COP26 to achieve a 50:50 split of men and women in its top-level leadership team. I’ll be reading the letter as a jumping-off point to learn more about the campaign and about why CO26 is currently predominantly male-led. In the spirit of honesty, Pawprint is concerned about its own lack of diversity and is currently working to identify ways that we can change that.

Foundations for Science-Based Net-Zero Target Setting in the Corporate Sector

Certainly not the catchiest of titles, but this report caught my eye because of its authors: a collaboration between the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute, WWF, CDP and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. I’ve built Pawprint out of a belief that the environmental movement must be grounded in science, so completely back the initiative’s work to define a standard, science-based framework for setting corporate net-zero targets. Keen to find out more!

Rewilding Britain’s ‘Rewilding and climate breakdown: How restoring nature can help decarbonise the UK

I firmly believe that nature must play a key role in restoring our planet to its former glory. Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation that lets nature restore itself, and is something I’m keen to learn more about. This report looks at how our countryside could be managed so that both nature and people thrive.

IEA’s Renewables 2020 report

This report provides a detailed analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on renewables, with forecasts through 2025, in the electricity, heat and transport sectors. Despite the pandemic, financing activity for utility-scale renewables is expected to increase in the second half of 2020 and beyond. A sign perhaps that we are dedicated to building back better!  

Our Planet: Too Big to Fail

Again, not a conventional report, but I think this 43-minute video (which explores the risks of inaction and the role the finance sector can play in powering a sustainable future) will be worth the watch. Richard Peers of Responsible Risk Ltd calls it ‘A fire alarm that shows you where the exit is’.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2021

Lastly, for a bit of sustainable travel inspiration (when it’s possible again) I’m going to check out Lonely Planet’s reimagined Best in Travel list which—this year—champions people and places that position travel as a force for good.

To reiterate, I’d really love to build up this list so that it becomes the ‘go to’ article for people looking to learn more about what’s going on in the world of climate solutions. Comment below with any and all suggestions that I could add!

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