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August 7, 2023

Editor’s note: carbon markets, climate data and storytelling

Chile heatwave ice cream
People eating ice cream during a heatwave in Chile as winter in parts of South America feels unusually hot at more than 30C (Photo: Pablo Vera/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter.

Dear Reader,

I don’t know about you but, to me, August is a time of reflection. It likely has to do with a habit developed during school summer breaks, typical of Europe and other parts of the world.

Reflecting on climate is also unavoidable right now as “boiling” replaces “warming” in describing temperature changes, as UN secretary-general António Guterres exasperatedly remarked last month. “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning,” he added.

In numbers: only last week, sea temperatures off Florida reached 38C, while winter in parts of South America felt unusually hot at more than 30C. Wildfires raging in Canada have already emitted more than twice the amount of CO2 than the previous annual record.

In Asia, Beijing experienced the heaviest rain of the past 140 years, since records began. (These stats were included in this Sunday’s The Climate Graphic, the eye-opening newsletter by our colleagues at the Financial Times – if you’re an FT subscriber, you can register here.)

If this is not enough to galvanise action (we are told that “storytelling”, more than numbers, is the way to drive a message home), you may also wish to catch up on some climate-related cinematography.

This includes the recent Apple TV+ series Extrapolations, where a star-studded cast depicts a world in the not-too-distant future dealing with the daily and deadly consequences of pollution and extreme weather. (The New York Times has a thoughtful review of the series.)

Sustainable Views readers may also find our latest story on carbon markets gripping. On the one hand, there is the need to channel capital towards deserving projects, on the other, the disillusionment that those ventures may be shortchanged and the impact of resulting carbon credits overblown.

In between are initiatives like the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market, which is attempting to bring rigour and ensure quality in this space with guidelines and a new assessment framework.

Others, however, remain vocally sceptical, like non-profit Carbon Market Watch. Alex speaks to both organisations about the key details of the carbon market controversy, from “permanence” requirements to stress-testing “buffer pools”.

The tension in this space would arguably make for a good film script too. Market rules, as we know, do play a role in addressing the climate crisis. As we commit to bring you information that helps with your sustainability work – in finance or elsewhere – we will continue to dig into the less-known details and present all relevant sides of each story.

Until tomorrow,


PS. On the theme of storytelling, a reader has taken issue with a consultant’s suggestion that SDG emojis would help broaden the UN’s sustainable goals’ appeal – Gen Z needs action, not patronising symbols, she writes.

Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views

A service from the Financial Times