Christian Arno

Best sustainability reports of 2021/22

8 min Read
Bookshelf with white ladder leaning against it

I recently realised that it’s been a while since I updated my list of best sustainability reports – and there’ve been quite a few heavy-hitters over the past few months. 

For those who didn’t read last year’s list: welcome! This is where I earmark some of the most thought-provoking papers that have crossed my path as of late. I hope you’ll find them as challenging and inspiring as I have. 

My must-read sustainability reports:

The TNFD Nature-related Risk & Opportunity Management and Disclosure Framework

It’s a mouthful, but the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)’s pioneering framework could not have come at a better time. This initial report lays the groundwork for corporations and financial institutions to begin disclosing their nature-related risks and opportunities. Why is this important? Well, it’s an important acknowledgement of how much we rely on our natural environment for, well, everything. The report states that over half of the world’s economic output – priced at 44 trillion USD – depends on our planet’s biodiversity. The hope is that once we’ve gained a more sophisticated understanding of our dependencies on nature, we’ll start taking better care of it. 

World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report

This one really made me sit up. The 2022 Global Risks Report highlights ‘climate action failure’ as their top risk for this decade (surprise, surprise), but goes further to argue that we must ‘embrace the disorderly net-zero transition’ if we’re going to decarbonise in time to avert the worst effects of climate change. A ‘disorderly’ transition will cause disruptions in the short-term, like energy supply constraints and price fluctuations, but the report argues that the pace of an ‘orderly’ transition would now be ‘too little, too late’. Instead, we should look to the opportunities that can be – and have been – seized during periods of disorder for hope. A bold, thought-provoking read that’s not at all what you’d expect.

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report – Mitigation of Climate Change

An obvious addition to the list, but how could I not include it? The last report in the IPCC’s current scientific cycle is an analysis of current mitigation processes and the impact of long-term climate pledges. Okay, bad news first: current trajectories have us at 3.2 °C of warming before the end of this century. But there is good news in here too: the report looks at how the cost of solar and wind energy has fallen steeply, as have lithium ion batteries, making the green transition more feasible than ever. The hope of 1.5 °C is still alive, and the IPCC’s ‘Mitigation’ report lays out exactly what is required from us to make it happen – governments, businesses and individuals alike.

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International Energy Agency’s Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage Report

The IPCC’s ‘Mitigation’ report has found that all pathways that keep warming to 1.5 °C will depend on carbon removal – whether these are nature-based solutions, or technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and greenhouse gas removal (GGR). However, these technologies remain somewhat controversial, so it seems like now’s a good time to deep-dive into the topic. The IEA’s report on CCUS is an excellent place to start, as it provides a factual overview of how CCS and GGR work and where they’re currently being implemented. 

Project Drawdown’s Climate–Poverty Connections Report

COP26 and the sixth IPCC report has put climate justice in the spotlight, and rightly so. It’s an important subject that everyone – especially those of us in positions of privilege – need to educate ourselves on, and so I’m excited to dive further into Project Drawdown’s Climate–Poverty Connections Report. The executive summary is clear-eyed about the deeply entrenched inequalities that link the climate crisis and poverty in the Global South. At the same time, its authors strike a powerfully optimistic tone in detailing the co-benefits of economic empowerment, health and development that climate mitigation solutions can bring to vulnerable frontline communities – if we do it right. 

UNEP’s Beat Plastic Pollution

Not a report in the strictest sense, but this striking visual feature by the UNEP provides a moving and effective map of how our oceans and waterways – even our bodies – have become choked with plastics and microplastics, creating a new microbial habitat ominously dubbed the ‘plastisphere’. With a historic global treaty to end plastic pollution currently in the works, let’s hope we’ll soon be rid of plastic’s stranglehold.

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I'll update this blog as more excellent reports come my way, so do check back in from time to time. In order for us to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities of climate change, we need to keep our minds open, and to keep learning. I hope you've found something on this list that intrigues and excites you to accelerate your company's journey to net zero.

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