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Renewable Power Investment Resumed Growth in 2021, Despite Pandemic

Global renewable energy investments will account for around 70% of the $530 billion invested in new power generation by the end of 2021, according to the International Energy Agency, with the largest investments coming from China, Europe and the U.S.

Investment in power (both renewable and nonrenewable) is rebounding and will likely reach $820 billion by the year’s end. After a year of no growth in 2020, this figure represents a 5% increase in global investment in this subgroup of the energy industry.

The increase in investment is being driven by economic recovery and a wave of pledges made by the corporate sector and governments to address climate change through clean energy. It is also simply becoming more affordable to use renewable energy. “Thanks to rapid technology improvements and costs reductions,” the IEA report notes, “a dollar spent on wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment today results in four times more electricity than a dollar spent on the same technologies ten years ago.”

 

14-Week Maternity Leave Legislation Is Increasingly the Global Norm

One hundred and seventeen countries have legislation in place that specifies a paid maternity leave period of 14 weeks, according to The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2021 study. The 14-week duration has been the standard recommendation from the International Labour Organization and is described in the Maternity Protection Convention.

The majority of countries that do not have provisions for 14-week maternity leave are developing nations, with a notable exception being the United States. San Marino is the most progressive in leave benefits, with employees able to use more than 630 days — around 21 months — for maternity leave.  

Flexible leave provisions are key to attract and retain talent. Research in the U.K. has found that almost 30% of mothers were forced to reduce their working hours due to child care needs, compared to less than 5% of fathers.

The impacts of COVID-19 have only emphasized the need for employers to empathetically re-evaluate workforce policies. Implementing progressive parental leave policies, regardless of national legislative contexts, can help organizations show that they take employee concerns seriously. This is further discussed in The Future of Parental Leave in a Post-Pandemic World.

The Top 3 Concerns for Business Leaders in India

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic remains top-of-mind for Indian business leaders, who are also concerned about the effects of a future public health crisis, according to the Excellence in Risk Management India: Advancing Towards Resilience report. 

The country saw its biggest wave of COVID-19 infections as the Delta variant took hold, peaking in April 2021. The Indian economy also struggled with the stresses of the pandemic more deeply than other major countries — contracting 7.7% in 2020, higher than the 3.5% decrease of the global economy. Understandably so, company leaders are planning to incorporate more risk-averse strategies heading into 2022.

Among leadership’s top priorities in the new year are health measures to manage COVID-19 and upgrading risk management technology — the latter of which can incorporate models intended to predict and alleviate risks to an organization’s business. As Indians worked from home due to the pandemic, they also faced increased risks from cyberattacks, which is also a top priority for business leaders in India.

China, Europe and the US Lead World in Electric Vehicle Adoption

The global fleet of passenger electric and fuel cell vehicles now amounts to nearly 13 million, 8.5 million of which are true zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), either battery electric or fuel cell, according to BloombergNEF.

Passenger electric vehicle sales are set to jump over 80% in 2021, to 5.6 million units, off the back of unprecedented industry and government commitments around the world over the last two years. In the first half of 2021, sales of passenger electric vehicles (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles) were 140% higher than the same period in 2019, reaching 7% of global passenger vehicle sales. This compares with just 2.6% in 2019.

As the number of EVs grow — BloombergNEF’s forecast for the global ZEV fleet in 2040 increased by nearly two million in two years — automakers should look to automating electric vehicles as well. According to a new report by Marsh McLennan Advantage, automated electric vehicles will have compound effects on the environment, including reducing traffic congestion by 35% and lowering emissions made by heavy duty vehicles.

The Frequency of Costly Weather Disasters Is Increasing

2021 was among the busiest years for climate disasters in the United States. According to analysis of NOAA/NCEI data by Climate Central, there have been 18 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each as of October 8, 2021 — well above the average of seven events per year. 

The change in frequency between events has dropped from 82 days in the 1980s to just 18 days, on average, in the last five years (2016-2020). For 2020, NOAA tracked 22 events that cost the nation a combined $95 billion in damages. Of the billion-dollar events, a record seven were linked to tropical cyclones, 13 to severe storms, one to drought, and one to wildfires.

This finding, attributed to climate change, reflects a global trend of more people living within floodplains and on land prone to wildfires. Faced with rising uncertainty, those seeking protection against these risks are increasingly turning toward non-traditional insurance schemes, including reinsurance and captive insurance.

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