Colossal investments on a global scale are required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. These efforts will range from switching from coal-fired power stations to wind farms, to electrifying vehicles, insulating buildings and making agriculture more efficient.
Therefore, the low-carbon transition will have many winners, particularly among those companies that form part of the many technological solutions to climate change. These can be found in arenas such as renewable energy infrastructure, carbon capture systems and recycling techniques.
But there will also be losers, specifically those firms that are too slow to adapt to the need to move to lower-carbon business models over the coming decade. As regulation gets tougher and consumer behavior changes in favor of more climate-friendly products, these companies will eventually be the ones still selling horses when the railroad has arrived.
The hydrogen industry is a good example of a likely winner of the transition. Though it is still niche, hydrogen production is expected to become a game changer, especially for lowering the carbon footprints of many heavy-carbon emitting industries (e.g., steel, glass, fertilizers, and semiconductors) where electrification is not feasible.
Moreover, its capacity as an energy carrier means it can store and deliver surplus renewable energy for later use on the electrical grid or to any number of energy-hungry sectors. It can be used for heating systems (to replace natural gas for heating residential and commercial buildings) or as a building block (to replace fossil fuels as feedstock in industrial productions of chemicals and biofuels).
For the transportation sector, hydrogen fuel cell technologies are seen as an effective means of decarbonizing long-haul freight fleets including heavy-duty trucks, trains, container ships, and even some types of aircrafts.
Investments made today in hydrogen technologies and infrastructure are critical for accelerating the energy transition to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Attractive opportunities exist along the entire hydrogen supply chain, that will reduce production costs, increase production scales, and accelerate hydrogen’s deployment and adoption within sectors and across the wider economy.
Investing has always been subject to regulations. What is new is a much larger commitment to promoting sustainable investing, led by sweeping regulation, in particular in the European Union (EU).
Specifically, a raft of new measures contained in the EU’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan (SFAP) seeks to promote sustainable investment across the 27-nation bloc. In particular, it aims to meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.
Part of the plan will be embodied in new rules, such as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), which clarifies what constitutes sustainable investment funds, and the Taxonomy Regulation, under which asset managers must disclose the impact (positive and negative) they are making.
The SFAP has three main objectives. The first is to reorient capital flows towards sustainable investment and away from sectors contributing to global warming, such as fossil fuels. The second objective is to mainstream sustainability into risk management. Finally, it seeks to foster transparency and long-termism in financial and economic activity.
The SFDR aims to make comparisons between funds, regarding their sustainability profile, easier and better understood by end investors, using predefined metrics for ESG characteristics used in the investment process. As its name suggests, much more emphasis will be placed on disclosure, including new rules that must identify any harmful impact made by the investee companies.
To learn more about the investment opportunity presented by combating climate change, please visit the dedicated section in our climate investing hub.
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