ESG Risks Affecting Data Centers: Why Water Resource Use Matters to Investors
Data centers play a critical role for many technology and telecom companies and for their supporting servers, digital storage equipment and network infrastructure for data processing and storage. Data centers require high volumes of water directly for cooling purposes and indirectly, through electricity generation. Morningstar Sustainalytics’ recent activation of the Resource Use Material ESG Issue (MEI) within its ESG Risk Ratings recognizes water risks of data centers.
The Emergence of Water Risk: From Marginal to Systemic
The past two decades have seen a surge in interest in environmental issues, mainly climate change, global warming, and fossil fuels. Yet, another equally important dimension - water scarcity - has thus far remained largely unexamined and has not been given adequate importance in the economic development agendas of many countries.
Water-Related Risks and Challenges
This report sheds light on the growing effects of water scarcity on companies and countries. To address these challenges, investors can use water reporting metrics to identify companies and countries with severe water risk. We further relate water metrics to firm and country characteristics and highlight substantial cross-sectional differences.
3 Reasons to Skill Up and Scale Up ESG Stewardship in 2022
As our clients and the industry at large focus on proactively mitigating risk and capitalizing on this evolving landscape, stewardship will be a key lever for savvy investors—particularly those facing external pressure to divest. Here are the ESG themes we see influencing stewardship priorities this year.
COP 26: A Spotlight on Emerging Climate Action Themes for Investors
Reactions to the COP26 Conference and the resulting Glasgow Climate Pact have predictably run the gamut from claims of greenwashing to the celebration of progress in the fight against climate change. Ultimately, any judgement on COP26 may be premature, as the success of the conference will best be measured in time by the extent to which commitments made are put into motion. While we wait to see the concrete actions that materialize, the past two weeks have underscored the importance of several themes that will garner increasing attention and should be considered by sustainable investors.
Momentum Around Principal Adverse Impact Data Remains Strong Despite SFDR Delays
Despite the shifting timelines, we observe that the market momentum around PAIs is not diminishing, quite the contrary. Investors in the scope of the regulation are using the fourth quarter of this year to get acquainted with PAI data and set up their systems. Most investors we speak with want to be prepared in time to be able to monitor PAIs throughout 2022 and adjust their portfolios to boost their PAIs (or rather limit the downside, as these are adverse impact indicators). This means that PAIs may significantly impact stock selection and portfolio construction by fund managers keen to have ‘good’ PAI scores.
SFDR and EU Taxonomy Product Disclosure Rules Finally Released
The publication of these rules marks the end of a prolonged period of uncertainty in the market around final rules and timelines - assuming the RTS will be adopted as-is in a Delegated Act, which turns these rules into regulation. There are several noteworthy aspects to these rules, which we address from our perspective in this article.
North American Material Risk Engagement Trends: ESG Reporting Frameworks, Emission Reduction Targets and Beyond
There are many factors that rating agencies consider within its overall assessment. For example, ESG rating companies tend to look for at least three years of ESG metrics to determine company trends and long-term ESG targets, goals, and strategies to manage and reduce ESG risks at least five years ahead. Read on to learn about how Sustainalytics' Material Risk Engagement program promotes and protects long-term value by engaging with high-risk companies on financially-material ESG issues. (A North American Snapshot)
A Reflection of Water Reporting Around the World
On World Water Day, we reflect on global companies’ dedicated attention to this most vital resource. Water risks are related to nine of the top ten worst global risks in the Global Risk Report published by the World Economic Forum, with risks likely to increase due to climate change. As global water resources contend with increased stress, companies are expected to face growing scrutiny of their water use due to the significant impacts that it can have on resource security and the health of ecosystems. This scrutiny may manifest in business risk, including limits placed on water withdrawal, increasing costs and heightened regulations.
Water Security: Global Challenge, Local Solutions
The growing scarcity of freshwater resources is a risk to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of populations worldwide, and a material issue for companies. Corporate-wide water strategies are essential, but because water security challenges are experienced at the local level, and water basin conditions are unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for companies to implement.
Deepwater Plays Against Rising Risks: The U.S. Gulf of Mexico
As onshore resources became harder to locate over the past decades, offshore exploration and production have grown into a global industrial activity. The prospect of finding hydrocarbons has led some companies to explore deeper waters in some regions.
Water Stewardship Engagement
The Water Stewardship and Risk Engagement combines both scale and detail, and covers the food and beverage, mining and garment sectors, which are associated with a high level of water risk. This engagement links water policy and practices in these three sectors to the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all)
The business case against letting the well run dry
Do you believe climate change is a problem needing urgent attention? Have extreme weather events got you thinking about the personal or professional risks you face? Are you interested in how the global population will be fed in the future? Concerned about the mass migration of people in search for a better life? Worried about the outlook of energy production? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may also want to consider the vital element connecting all of the above: water.
High and Dry Down Under: Water Risk in Australia
In June, Sydney introduced water restrictions[i] amid an ongoing two-year drought in New South Wales. Authorities stated that the city was experiencing some of the lowest inflows into its catchment dams since the 1940s. At the end of the month, the City of Sydney also officially declared a climate emergency[ii], joining over 600 other local governments around the world.
Earth Day 2019 | The Water Scarcity Challenge
Earth Day 2019 is focused on protecting the species that make up our natural environment. With nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface covered in water, it’s a natural resource that we can’t take for granted. Human activity has irrevocably impacted this natural resource, affecting the quality and quantity of water available for consumption and for the natural habitat. In this article, we examine the role companies can play in addressing this water crisis and the potential opportunities for investors to support solutions.
Water Risks in Extractive Industries
Water is an important natural input for mining, as extractive operations rely heavily on this natural resource to process the ore. However, the impacts of climate change (higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable weather conditions) are affecting the availability of water resources globally.
Waste Not, Want Not – Water Use in the Semiconductor Industry
This year’s theme for World Water Day is wastewater. It was aptly chosen given the United Nations’ prediction of a 55% increase in global water demand by 2050 (compared to 2000). To meet this demand, companies will need to manage (waste)water far more efficiently than they do today. The risk of failing to do so becomes concrete when you look at a water-intensive industry such as semiconductors.