LOOKING AHEAD TO 2020
As we welcomed in the new decade, a new mindset and narrative around climate had developed, drastically different to when we entered the 2010s – climate disruption and awareness came to the forefront of public discourse. Then COVID-19 struck. The global pandemic is likely to have significant repercussions on the climate movement.
Our work is needed more urgently than ever as this crisis presents an opportunity to transform our energy systems towards newer and cleaner modes of production. As fossil fuel industries request tax breaks and bailouts, governments are now in a unique position to use stimulus policies and fiscal recovery packages to implement lasting change. The crisis has shown what is possible in terms of changing behavioural patterns – working from home, less travel, increased localisation but also institutional trends towards coordinated global action. The crisis is likely to bring forward peak demand for fossil fuels as a whole (first coal, then oil then gas), and to weaken the lobbying power of incumbents. It creates space for policymakers to put in place a sustainable energy system and so enables the clean energy revolution to continue.
The initial onset of the pandemic at the start of 2020 did not have a material impact on our planned research, which is outlined below. However, as events unravel in the coming months, we will be looking at how to adapt our research to continuing events. We are fortunate that our existing work model allows us to be agile in the current difficult environment. Already at the start of 2020 we have recruited an additional five people across all four of the research teams. It will be a crucial year for us as we are recruiting a new Head of Research and drafting a business plan which will cover the next three years.
We believe that this decade has to be about decisive climate action, climate ambition and climate governance.
Oil & Gas
In 2020, our Oil & Gas team will embark on an ambitious agenda of research and events. New work will include a report for PRI’s Inevitable Policy Response Initiative, a country level report, a company level update, remuneration report updates and an initial scoping exercise for seaborne fossil fuel transport, along with a series of blogs. On events, the team intend on being present at many key flagship meetings in the sector, including LCAW, conferences and webinars.
Power & Utilities
Over the coming year, the Power & Utilities team will continue to focus on its core competency: fundamental research and analytics to power investor and government engagements such as the CA100+ and the PPCA as well as campaigning effort (e.g. Europe Beyond coal).
The team will update their Powering Down Coal modelling, releasing a new series of reports and will enhance the scope of the analysis applying the same methodology to look into global gas power generation at asset level, with a focus on their climate-related risks and Paris-alignment retirement trajectory.
In 2020 the team’s goal is to continue to produce strong, evidence-based research to persuade investors to reallocate capital away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy, with a special focus on London-based investors and hedge funds. In particular it will produce a series of reports with the WEF Global Future Council on Energy and another study looking into the expansion of the plastics industry.
Additionally, the team will produce a new major report looking at the potential size of stranded assets and the risk posed for the entire fossil fuel industry deriving from the transition – analysing both underground and above ground carbon and usage assets – it will provide an update to our seminal ‘carbon bubble’ report in 2011.
Working with the CA100+ we will improve the process for producing and updating utility and oil & gas company profiles. We will also aim to increase the number of engagements on both oil & gas and utilities with the lead CA100+ engaging investors – both via webinars and via 1x1 meetings with the largest and most influential investors.
In 2020 key initiatives include increasing broadcast coverage especially with the BBC and other well-known international networks; producing an animation video that captures all our work and speaks to multiple audiences; create new podcasts; participate and schedule numerous webinars, hosted by partner organisations such as Ceres, PRI, Responsible Investors, Impax, MSCI and others; explore and experiment with new social media platforms and micro-targeting. These webinars will help us to raise and target our message to new audiences in South and East Asia and North America. The team was testing a Carbon Tracker branded webinar platform as the COVID-19 crisis hit which has allowed us to move to online events that have replaced in person conferences and networking.
Our events team will embark on new strategic partnerships and event collaborations with complementary organisations such as PPCA, RMI, the European Commission and with international media organisations like Reuters and Responsible Investor who are increasingly interested in this space. A key part of this will be participation in flagship events throughout the year.
Due to disruption across the print and broadcast media landscape caused by COVID-19, Carbon Tracker cannot simply rely on the media to the usual extent to carry our message to policymakers, within the timeframes in which green or brown stimulus spending decisions are likely to be made (particularly during the current lockdown phase).
Therefore, we are exploring LinkedIn targeting options to amplify Carbon Tracker research – with a particular focus on targeting those government policymakers and business leaders designing and implementing stimulus packages as we emerge from COVID-19 lockdown. We are exploring LinkedIn targeting options, to amplify Carbon Tracker research – with a particular focus on targeting those government policymakers and business leaders designing and implementing stimulus packages, as we emerge from COVID-19 lockdown.
ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATIONS OBJECTIVES
Operationally, we will continue to improve internal processes. In 2020 an area of focus will be improving our monitoring and evaluation framework. In addition, we will be setting out our wider Strategy and Business plan 2020-2023. We will be adapting to new ways of working as the pandemic continues.
When COVID-19 struck in March 2020, our existing flexible working practices meant we were well positioned to shift to remote working. The mental and physical wellbeing of staff was prioritised to ensure everyone was supported in their new set up, whether they were people separated from their family and friends, or parents now having to home-school children. The crisis has not had a material impact on our operations to date, and we have been able to continue with most activities as planned.