Corporate Knights Spring 2021

Providing information empowering markets to foster a better world. Corporate Knights produces editorial at the intersection of business and society, with news and analysis about sustainability and corporate sustainability rankings

Corporate Knights
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3 min
renewables rake in 700% higher returns than fossil fuels

The experts say that reducing global carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 will require new investment of US$1 trillion to US$2 trillion a year to shift buildings, transportation and industry to renewable electricity sourced from wind, solar and hydro. Fortunately, taxpayers won’t have to pick up the whole tab. The International Energy Agency, a policy think tank in Paris run by the world’s energy ministers, says the zero-carbon shift can be funded mainly by investors. A new IEA study finds that publicly traded renewable-energy companies are already outperforming fossil-fuel stocks – without exposing investors to additional risk. The study, produced with the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment (CCFI) at London’s Imperial College Business School, compared the five- and 10-year investment performance of 545 oil, natural-gas and coal producers in 55 countries…

2 min
u.k.’s meatless farm plants roots in cattle country

While Canadians hunkered down in their homes last year, plant protein sales surged 30% in this country, and food chains and manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with demand. Maple Leaf Foods just announced a new 118,000-square-foot tempeh facility in Indianapolis. Burger King is debuting its plant-based Impossible Whopper this spring, and Beyond Meat just locked McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell into partnership deals to feed the global plant-based craze. And while being smack dab in the middle of Canada’s largest beef-producing region may have earned Calgary the nickname Cowtown, the city is quickly emerging as a major player in the booming plant protein business. Last month, the U.K.’s Meatless Farm set up shop in the Albertan city with a US$12-million, 30,000-square-foot plant with the capacity to produce up to 18,000…

3 min
unilever to support “living wage” and diverse suppliers

If there’s one company that’s been the 21st century’s poster child for corporate citizenship, it’s Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever, producer of familiar consumer brands such as Hellmann’s, Dove, Breyers and Red Rose Tea. Under former CEO Paul Polman, Unilever expanded into greener brand categories and embraced a “sustainable living plan” that included climate action, eliminating food waste, and promoting human rights. Polman took heat for making social purpose as important as profit. But in his nine years as CEO, the company’s stock price nearly tripled, so when he stepped down in 2019, he left as a visionary. He also got a say in his successor, Alan Jope, a Unilever lifer who has run the company’s operations in China, Russia and India and who shares Polman’s social concerns. In January, Jope finally stepped out…

9 min
is cancelling keystone xl the catalyst calgary didn’t know it needed?

Max Fawcett is a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine. For many Albertans, the news that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden planned to cancel Keystone XL’s presidential permit on his first day in office came as a major disappointment. But while their government was more interested in picking a fight with the most powerful country in the world, some were looking for the silver linings on an otherwise dark cloud. It wasn’t that hard to find them, either, because while Biden’s win meant the end of Keystone XL’s decade-long saga, it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for the province’s cleantech sector – one that might soon create more jobs than Keystone ever could. “A crisis is a horrible thing to waste,” says Paul Pede, the co-founder…

5 min
banking on change

Naomi Buck is a Toronto-based writer. As a girl growing up in Victoria, B.C., Tamara Vrooman did not set her sights on landing one of the most senior jobs in Canadian banking. Pursuing her own interests, she played string bass in high school and studied history at the University of Victoria. It was only while defending her master’s thesis on the B.C.government’s policy of forced sterilization of the “feeble-minded” in the early 20th century that she realized her fascination with the government’s role in shaping the lives of Canadians. She also realized that, rather than study the intersection of private and public interests, she would prefer “to go to where the decisions are made,” as she told The Globe and Mail in a 2009 interview. That’s where she now is, as chair of…

10 min
supplying the green wave

Toby Sparwasser Soroka is a German-Canadian whose professional interests span across social entrepreneurship and disruptive technology. Last summer, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced he would be issuing “giant contracts” to mining companies capable of supplying Tesla with nickel in an “environmentally sensitive” way. “Please mine more nickel,” he asked bluntly. By October, Tesla was in talks with Vale, the world’s largest producer of the mineral, about securing sustainable nickel from its Canadian mines to power Tesla’s electric vehicle batteries. No firm definition of “environmentally sensitive” was given, but as minerals become increasingly critical to a low-carbon future, attention around how those minerals are extracted and produced is growing sharply. Cleantech’s cleanest resources are not in short supply: wind is free and the sun shines, at no charge. Yet enormous amounts of copper, nickel and…