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Amid Positive Energy Trends, Challenges Remain Around Security

A recent ranking of countries’ performance in the global transition to renewable energy shows that a growing number of countries are pursuing and implementing policies that will deliver on the promise of the low-carbon transition. However, despite the overall positive trend, the data shows considerable variation in performance on the three dimensions the ranking tracks: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

In particular, the authors of the 2019 World Energy Trilemma Index found that while an increasing number of countries have achieved continuous improvement in equity and sustainability, fewer countries have managed to achieve continuous improvement in security — the ability to meet demand and withstand system shocks — in that same period. “The global energy transition has historically necessitated various trade-offs, where countries could manage one or two dimensions of energy performance, at the expense of the third dimension,” write the index’s authors. “The classic ‘trilemma’ challenge still remains relevant.”

China Is Dominating E-Commerce Activity

Source: Statista Digital Market Outlook

Global e-commerce sales are expected to increase by nearly 50% by 2050. Most of this growth will come from Asia — the region expects a 51% increase in e-commerce activity — and predominantly from China, according to Statista

The Chinese e-commerce market rose notably faster compared to the rest of the world — even prior to COVID-19 — driven by high-speed internet and smartphones, high consumer confidence in online shopping and a larger variety in e-commerce and payment platforms. The pandemic did, however, speed the region’s adoption of e-commerce: It registered $1.3 trillion in sales last year. By 2025, sales will grow to nearly $2 trillion, indicating that “almost every second e-commerce dollar could be spent in China.” 

The pandemic has significantly impacted consumer trends across the world, especially related to online shopping. To keep up with this market trend, large retailers are accelerating their investments in e-commerce to ensure their survival both during and after the pandemic.

Net-Zero-Aligned Investments Increase Nearly Fivefold in 6 Months

The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative has grown from 30 signatories with $9 trillion in AUM at the end of 2020, to 128 signatories managing $43 trillion today

In order to facilitate the global transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce the risks climate change poses to their investments, investors are setting commitments to steer their portfolios to net-zero emissions. With COP26 approaching, the first half of 2021 has seen rapid growth in the number and value of assets under management (AUM) aligned with the net-zero goal.

The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative has grown from 30 signatories with $9 trillion in AUM at the end of 2020, to 128 signatories managing $43 trillion today, representing around 36% of global AUM. The Initiative has joined with the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance and Net-Zero Banking Alliance to form the Glasgow Alliance for Net Zero, with over $70 trillion of assets between them.

As more investors align their portfolios with net-zero targets, companies will face mounting investor pressure to adopt credible net-zero transition plans and improve their disclosures of emissions and climate risks.

Lower-Income Households Are At Risk of the ‘Homework Gap’

Source: Pew Research Center

Remote learning during the pandemic exposed the already fragile technological gap among income groups — 46% of lower-income families report having at least one problem related to the “homework gap.” Pew Research identifies this gap as “school-age children lacking the connectivity they need to complete schoolwork at home.”

Ninety percent of Americans state in a Pew Research report that the internet has been essential during COVID-19; however, about a quarter of home broadband users and smartphone owners cite affordability as a key concern as the pandemic continues. 

Over 60% of Americans believe that the government should take responsibility and ensure fair access to high-speed internet. And, as COVID-19 continues to expose the digital divide, more U.S. adults are in favor of schools providing digital technology for online learning than they were in April 2020. 

Shipliner Schedule Reliability Halves to 40% Compared to 2019

Source: Sea-Intelligence

The reliability of shipliners’ schedules has dropped by 38.2 percentage points, compared to 2020. Sea-Intelligence analyzed 34 different trade lanes and more than 60 carriers in its Global Liner Performance report and notes that “None of the top-14 carriers recorded a Y/Y improvement in schedule reliability, with all carriers recording double-digit declines of over -31.0 percentage points.”

Vessels’ late arrival times increased by almost half a day to 6.41 days. “The level of delays in 2021 have been the highest across each month compared to previous years,” notes Sea-Intelligence.

Efforts to stay on schedule have been hindered by a block in the Suez Canal in March, the Yantian terminal closure, and “border restrictions and port worker absences,” according to The Financial Times, as well as a “partial shut down of Ningbo-Zhoushan port.” High shipping prices and congestion at ports are also contributing to the logistical issues, which are expected to continue into next year. 

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