Morgan Stanley has sent a powerful message by announcing its commitment to reach net-zero financed emissions by 2050. By taking this stance, the company also committed to getting involved in developing the tools and methodologies needed to measure and manage carbon-related activities, while also disclosing financed emissions.
The company’s sustainability program stretches over more than a decade—in 2009, Morgan Stanley created the Global Sustainable Finance Group, and ever since it has committed to various sustainable initiatives. One such action is the attempt to mobilize $250 billion toward low-carbon solutions between 2018 and 2030 and, to-date, roughly $80 billion have been financed, of which more than $50 billion last year.
Another measure, undertaken by Morgan Stanley in 2017, targets the achievement of carbon neutrality across its global operations by 2022 through powering 100 percent of global operational needs from renewable sources and offsetting any remaining emissions. As such, the company has been looking into on-site power generation, securing power purchase agreements and purchasing renewable energy credits and carbon offsets.
Energy demand heats up
Energy use is continuously increasing. Last year, for example, the world consumed 584 exajoule (EJ) of energy, which is the equivalent of 27 light bulbs of 50 watts, each functional since the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. It is also important to note that energy demand has marked a 20 percent increase over the past decade and only contracted twice in the past 55 years—in 1980-’82 after oil prices tripled, and in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis.
Consequently, fossil carbon dioxide emissions—which stand for emissions from fossil fuels and cement production—rose from roughly 36.6 billion metric tons in 2018 to an estimated 36.8 billion tons in 2019, according to data from the Global Carbon Project. On top of that, land-use change—which are emissions mostly related to deforestation—added approximately another 5.5 billion tons.
Of this total, about 18.8 tons remain unabsorbed by oceans and vegetation and are the cause of rising global temperatures. Last year, the world’s average temperature was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the average from 1850-1900.