The Edge of Risk Menu Search
New thinking on corporate risk and resilience in the global economy.

Quick Takes

Climate Summit Leaders Set Out Largest Emissions Cut Since 2015

Source: CAIT, Climate Action Tracker, Marsh McLennan Advantage

Note: 34 parties including the U.S. were analyzed from the 40 World Leaders invited to the Leaders Summit on Climate. Leaders from the European Commission, European Council, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain were aggregated into one party—the “European Union”—for analysis. Total emissions data from 2018 was used and includes Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LUCF) and all greenhouse gases (CH4, CO2, F-Gas, N2O, etc.). Other parties not listed make up 1.9% of global emissions including, Chile, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Norway, Israel, Kenya, Gabon, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Singapore, Bhutan, Marshall Islands. The horizontal length of each region in the chart represents the share of total emissions of participants.

The Climate Leaders Summit last week set out the single biggest reduction in the global emissions gap since Paris, shaving off around two gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2030 emissions. (See footnotes 3 and 4 below.) Nevertheless, the emissions gap remains enormous — with around 29 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent left to address before the world can be on a 1.5 degree-Celsius pathway.

The summit’s participants are responsible for 81% of global emissions, with the 10 largest emitters accounting for two-thirds of the global total. Their key objective was to announce revised 2030 emissions reduction targets ahead of COP26.

Of those attending, the U.S., Canada and Japan announced new 2030 targets. The U.S. pledged to reduce emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and is responsible for almost 80% of the combined 2030 savings pledged at the summit.

1. Announced plans to strengthen NDC at Leaders Summit on Climate. 2. Strengthened or announced plans to strengthen NDC before the Summit. 3. For the calculation of US emission savings, we assumed for the baseline, the emissions reduction trend from 2025 to 2030 would have been a continuation of the 2005-2025 trend. 4. For countries which proposed a new emissions reduction target range, the midpoint was used.

 

Digital Exhaustion Threatens the New Hybrid Workplace

Source: Microsoft Work Trend Index survey

Time spent in meetings and chats per person spiked in 2020 and continues to grow. The number of meetings hosted in Microsoft Teams more than doubled — up 148% — as of February 2021, compared to the same time last year. Email communications to commercial and education customers also increased to 40.6 billion, compared to 12.4 billion at the start of COVID-19, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index.

Many employees reported experiencing digital exhaustion — with 54% of survey respondents feeling overworked and 39% feeling exhausted. “The shared vulnerability of this time has given us a huge opportunity to bring real authenticity to company culture,” Microsoft employee, Jared Spataro says. When employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work, it can actually spur productivity and attract talent, according to Microsoft.

Moving forward, Microsoft recommends five strategies to help business leaders successfully shift to hybrid work: promote flexibility, invest in space and technology, prioritize addressing digital exhaustion from the top, rebuild social capital and culture and rethink employee experience to attract top and diverse talent.

Foreign Aid Is at a Record Peak, But Is It Enough?

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Foreign aid rose to an all-time high of $161.2 billion last year, a 3.5% increase from 2019. In many cases, larger economies directed these funds to countries in need of significant help to respond to the short-term impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the OECD. 

An OECD survey shows that the foreign aid supported health systems, humanitarian aid and food security. However, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría added that there will need to be “a much greater effort to help developing countries with vaccine distribution … to build a truly global recovery.” 

Internationally, governments approved $16 trillion worth of COVID-19 stimulus measures, but only 1% was used to help developing countries handle the virus. Trade, foreign direct investment and remittances in developing countries have also declined as a result of the pandemic, intensifying their need for support.

Why Are Central Banks Creating Digital Currencies?

Source: Atlantic Council

Nineteen countries have started to test a central bank digital currency (CBDC) on a small-scale with a limited number of participants. The Atlantic Council defines CBDC as “the digital form of a country’s fiat currency that is also a claim on the central bank.”

As of today, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the European Central Bank (ECB) are prominent players in the digital currency realm. The United States currently lags behind in the research phase, yet the Federal Reserve has expressed continued interest in the digital dollar.

As digital currencies expand globally, there are challenges ahead — the legal, political and regulatory properties of CBDCs remain unclear. But the IMF notes that there are also multiple benefits to having government involvement in digital currencies, including lower cash transfer costs, greater accessibility to banking services and easier implementation of monetary policies. 

The Great Commodity Bounceback

Source: World Bank

Most global commodity prices were higher than their pre-pandemic levels during the first quarter of 2021. Metal prices are expected to continue their upward trend, rising by 30% during 2021, according to the World Bank. This jump in commodity prices parallels the rise in global economic activity, the impact of stimulus bills and changes in supply factors.  

The crude oil industry saw a record-fast recovery after a price and demand collapse in 2020. The predicted average cost of crude oil for this year is $56 per barrel —  about one-third higher than its cost in 2020. Natural gas prices also rose by one-third as a result of increased demand during the winter season.

The World Bank expects that price levels will “remain close to current levels throughout the year” driven by “global economic rebound and improved growth prospects.” The report notes that all commodity markets heavily depend on how long the economic implications from the pandemic last and how well the risk is managed by governments.

BRINK’s daily newsletter offers new thinking on corporate risk and resilience. Subscribe