COP28, the UN Global convening hosted by the United Arab Emirates, concluded Wednesday. Success was in the eye of the beholder.
For some, the first explicit mention of reducing use of fossil fuels in any official UN climate talks text (a fact I find quite astonishing) was a major breakthrough. For others, the shift in language from a “phasing out” of said hydrocarbons to a “transition” away fell short of what’s needed. A tripling of renewable energy capacity and a doubling of energy efficiency measures, together with funds to address the impact of climate change in poorer countries, were universal positives.
Judging by my news feeds, business leaders and countries still economically tied to coal, oil, and gas revenues – this COP also saw a significant increase in the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists – will generally like the outcome. Activists, scientists and anyone living in vulnerable areas will not. I see that small island nations most at risk from climate change were reportedly not in the room when the final text was approved.
Will it keep temperatures under 1.5 degrees? If corporate pledges are anything to go by, unlikely. Since we started tracking corporate climate commitments in the Russell 1000, Net-Zero pledges have tripled and science-based commitments have doubled, but emissions have not fallen.
I don’t pretend there’s an easy or obvious path here. To me, this is a global stakeholder balancing act of the highest order. How does the world address climate change while safeguarding economies, acknowledging disparities, protecting worker well-being and jobs, meeting consumer needs, and supporting communities? How do we advance a just transition? These are questions that JUST’s work is grounded in. I’ll close with this – according to our data, companies doing the best job of both prioritizing workers and mitigating environmental impacts outperform their peers by over 20%. Perhaps a win-win is achievable after all.
JUST In the News
This week we hosted our latest “JUST Better Business” conversation with Sheri Bronstein, the Chief Human Resources Officer of Bank of America, our 2023 Most JUST Company and No. 1 when it comes to Workers. We discussed the bank’s standout employee practices – from offering an industry leading minimum wage and global sabbatical programs to its robust mental health and wellness offerings to how it’s boosting opportunity across its workforce. See the full video and summary here.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The market operates as a massive system, and like all systems, there are drivers that influence the direction in which they move and how they operate. We truly believe that as we merge into the natural flow of the system – instead of fighting the current – while partnering with market leaders to introduce factors and incentives that shift the targets, we can ultimately and incrementally reorient the flow of that system to deliver the kind of positive outcomes we know are possible.”
- Tolu Lawrence, JUST Capital Chief Impact Officer,
ChatGPT has reached an agreement with Axel Springer, owners of Politico and Business Insider, to pay for using content from those sites within its algorithm. It’s a first-of-its-kind contract as media companies push for compensation when their writing is utilized on AI platforms.
Last Friday, the EU agreed on The Artificial Intelligence Act, the world’s first comprehensive set of AI rules. AP breaks down how the legislation will regulate uses of AI based on risk factors. The Financial Times reports that French President Emmanuel Macron believes that the AI Act will hamper innovation from European tech companies, and place the continent behind the U.S., UK, and China.
Following up on last week’s story, Sports Illustrated has officially fired its CEO after it was discovered that many articles on the site were generated by fake AI writers. Futurism has the story.
Fortune reports that many employers are receiving pushback from harsh return-to-work mandates from an unlikely group – investors – who have seen companies with hybrid work models deliver better returns over the past few years.
The New York Times covers the discouraging trend of companies intentionally changing and raising product prices to see at what point, if any, American consumers are scared off.
CVS Health is planning to upend how much drugs cost across its pharmacies. The Wall Street Journal reports that, rather than relying on complex formulas typically used to set the price of prescription drugs, the company is planning to shift prices to just include the cost for them to buy the drug, plus a small markup and fee.
The Verge covers the ruling in the lawsuit between Epic and Google, with a jury finding Google guilty of maintaining an illegal monopoly with its app store. While the changes Google will have to make to its policies have not been revealed yet, it’s bound to lead to a sea change in app and game development for all Google platforms.
U.S. construction worker wages have hit $35 an hour on average, and with record job openings and significantly fewer workers to fill them, wages in the field are expected to rise even higher.
In the absence of a global price on carbon, Reuters looks into the rise in companies setting their own. An analysis from CDP found an increase in companies using an internal carbon price or planning to do so in the next two years, though some experts worry this trend lends itself to greenwashing.
In a year marked by strikes across industries, Microsoft states that it plans to remain neutral should its U.S. workforce seek to unionize. The New York Times reports on the unprecedented announcement.
CHART OF THE WEEK
This chart comes from our latest report, How Corporate America Can Work With HBCUs to Boost Economic Mobility and Build Diverse Talent Pipelines. Our analysis found that 66% of companies that support HBCUs sit in the top 20% of our Rankings, and 44% sit in the top 10% of companies – the JUST 100. Learn more about what this means in the full piece here.