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Why everything that’s not renewable will, sooner rather than later, be too expensive

September 29, 2021, 10:14 AM UTC

Good morning.

The Fortune Global Sustainability Forum convened virtually yesterday, with more than 100 executives from a wide range of companies. The conversations reinforced two trends I’ve written about before in this space: 1) the number of companies making commitments to achieving “net zero” by 2050 or sooner has grown dramatically this year; and 2) even if the true-believer companies remain in the minority, they are having an outsized impact by insisting on so-called “Scope 3” changes throughout their supply chains. Some excerpts:

“What we know is critical in being successful (on sustainability) is doing what companies know how to do well. Once you decide something is a priority, you set clear goals, allocate the resources, put a plan out in front of you—the math and the path, so to speak—and then you hold yourself accountable.”
—Mike Roman, CEO, 3M

“Companies need to think about this from a competitive advantage point of view. We’re going to spend, if we do this right, $3-5 trillion a year globally for the next 30 years. What company wouldn’t want to get that tailwind behind them?”
—Rich Lesser, CEO, BCG

It has to become a way of doing business…We are integrating sustainability into the core commercial operations of our business, so that any initiative we’re working on not only has that traditional financial P&L lens, but also has the sustainability lens as well.”
—Michele Buck, CEO, Hershey’s

“I think when it comes to consumption, the equation of the future has to be that every new material must be circular material.  And everything that’s not renewable will, sooner rather than later, be too expensive, whether that’s driven by taxation or simply because of change in supply and demand.”
—Jesper Brodin, CEO, Ingka Group (IKEA)

“I think nuclear is very important. First of all, do no harm. Please let’s keep the existing fleet alive. Nuclear currently comprises 52% of our clean energy and about 20% of our overall energy and if we allow those to decommission, if there were a push to pull those offline, that would mean that’s obviously so much more clean power, in other ways, we would need to get there.”
—Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy.

You can read more of Fortune’s coverage of the “Path to Zero,” presented in partnership with BCG, here. Other news below.

Alan Murray


Chinese power

Global supply chains are now being threatened by China's power crunch. Provincial governments are forcing temporary power rationing to meet emissions-reduction targets, though it should also be noted that Chinese power producers are also suffering from coal and gas shortages that make electricity generation unprofitable for them. Fortune

Amazon robot

Amazon has unveiled a home robot called Astro, which can follow you around playing music and podcasts. It can also dance and act as a home security device, presumably not at the same time. The mapping data it generates as it learns your nooks and crannies will be stored on Amazon's servers, in encrypted form. Amazon also announced a "Glow" projector for kids, and a new Echo Show gizmo. Fortune

CNN vs Facebook

After the Australian high court ruled news organizations are liable for defamatory comments on their Facebook pages, CNN has become the first U.S. organization to make its Facebook pages unavailable for users in that country. CNN apparently asked Facebook to help it and other news organizations disable all comments on their pages in Australia, but Facebook refused. CNN: "We are disappointed that Facebook, once again, has failed to ensure its platform is a place for credible journalism and productive dialogue around current events among its users." Wall Street Journal

Musk vs everyone

Elon Musk used a tech-conference interview to lay into: Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin ("If you’re only doing suborbital, then your rocket can be shorter"); the SEC over the issue of crypto ("Short-seller Enrichment Commission"); and the Biden administration ("not the friendliest"). On flying into space himself: "I suppose I will at some point." Fortune


Japanese PM

The next Japanese prime minister will be Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister who was today elected as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is quitting after a mere year in the role, and Kishida will replace him on Monday, before contesting a national election at the end of November. Al Jazeera

Myanmar economy

Myanmar's currency, the kyat, has fallen more than 60% against the U.S. dollar in the last four weeks. The economy is tanking as armed militias step up clashes with the army and COVID-19 sweeps through the country. All bad news for the junta that staged a coup eight months ago. Reuters

EV batteries

Electric-vehicle batteries may have a big green mission, but their own supply chains are not particularly sustainable. So the race is on to find alternatives that use less or no cobalt, or that use hydrogen fuel cells instead of lithium-ion batteries. Fortune

Cleantech VC

The cleantech space, particularly so-called climate tech, is seeing a surge of funding at the moment. But unlike the previous investment boom in renewable energy, which lost billions for some VCs, there's more money sloshing around this time—and, thanks to ever-increasing net-zero pledges, a more robust customer base. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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