Can a high ESG rating save you from inflation? Plus, Tesla's China problem

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By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

In British Columbia, more than 230 deaths have been reported from Friday to Monday as an historic heat wave brought record-high temperatures. That’s nearly double the number normally recorded, and the coroner’s service says more heat-related deaths are expected. Tuesday’s high in Lytton, B.C. was almost 50°C. (122°F.) The World Meteorological Organization says: “Without human-induced climate change, it would have been almost impossible … as the chances of natural occurrence is once every tens of thousands of years.”

In a few hours, China will celebrate 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with national fanfare and a historic speech by leader Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square. Safe to say Elon Musk won’t be there.

China hit Tesla (TSLA) with a safety order over the weekend requiring it to fix almost 300,000 vehicles it has sold there because of a “sudden acceleration” problem tied to its cruise control feature. The order was part of a series of bad publicity blows to Tesla in its biggest market, and a warning to other Western companies that nobody or no company is too big for the government to control.

After a year of watching China dismantle the freedoms of Hong Kong, threaten Taiwan, and go after first Alibaba (BABA) and now Tesla, it’s hard to reconcile those actions with the need the world has for China to take the lead in battling global warming.

China’s coal production is on track to run for at least another decade. Its solar power manufacturing progress is largely on the backs of human rights violations. Its Belt and Road trade initiative is exporting lax polluting standards across Asia. One of the only positives is its plan for a carbon market later this year.

Few would have predicted the CCP would make it 100 years, but its enduring strains of paranoia and nationalism have propelled it, mostly to the dismay of the West. For investors, it’s hard to keep giving China chances to come through after so many disappointments.

But the CCP’s remarkable knack for self-preservation must ultimately include protecting itself and its region from global warming. So, like Tesla, investors will keep trying, and hoping.

More insights below. . . .

ESG ratings help buffer South American commodities producers from swinging prices

. . . . Commodities companies in South America have been on a wild ride this year with prices of everything from copper to lumber to beef on a roller coaster. So how have highly rated ESG companies performed during the volatility? Michael Molinski compared 10 commodity producers which get significant amounts of their revenue from South America to gauge how their stock price performance compared with their MSCI ratings for environmental, social and governance policies. The higher the rating, the better the performance. But only in the long term. Check out Molinski’s findings, presented in chart form. . . .

Read the full story

Wednesday’s subscriber insights: MGM goes solar as Lake Mead shrinks

. . . . MGM Resorts International announced this week a massive solar campaign to power 13 of its Las Vegas properties in a deal with Denver-based Invenergy to construct a solar farm in the Nevada desert. Just in time, as nearby Lake Mead, which currently gives Vegas much of its electricity, is at record low capacity. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Honda joined the list of giant automakers committing to electric vehicles, and said many will be built in its U.S. manufacturing facilities. Honda is getting a late start in the global EV race, but with a self-imposed deadline of stopping selling gas-powered cars in the U.S. by 2040, better late than never. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: Cows make a break for it; plus, ‘super trees’ and Biogen energizes its fleet

Cows make a break from California slaughterhouse

A gate had accidentally been left open and they saw their chance for freedom. Alas, the escape attempt did not end well for most of the 40 cows that ran from a meatpacking plant last week in the town of Pico Rivera southeast of Los Angeles. Media reports indicate the bovines ran, or trotted, wild in the city streets. Residents described the scene in a nearby residential neighborhood as a “stampede.” Despite the story quickly gaining attention on social media — and a vigil for the animals’ well-being — most of the cows were rounded up and ended up back at their original destination, and fate. One of the animals reportedly charged a family and was killed by a sheriff’s deputy. One other — who made it an estimated five miles from the plant — had a happier ending. Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Diane Warren offered to save the cow from slaughter and send it instead to a local sanctuary in Acton, Calif.

‘Super trees’ can capture, store more carbon

San Francisco Bay Area company Living Carbon is working to engineer trees that capture and store more carbon than typical trees, Adele Peters reports for Fast Company. The startup recently completed a stint at the prestigious tech accelerator Y Combinator. The report quotes Patrick Mellor, cofounder and chief technology officer at Living Carbon, as saying “Planting trees alone is definitely helpful. But any way that we can improve the total drawdown of carbon dioxide from photosynthesis, and also improve retention of that carbon, are ways to quite greatly increase the total drawdown potential of trees.” Peters writes that the company plans to share more details about the technology later in the year, but it builds on previous research, including years of work from other scientists looking at how to enhance photosynthesis in other plants.

Biogen putting free EV chargers in workers’ homes

Biogen (BIIB) wants all its corporate vehicles to be electric by 2025 and it’s hiring to give employees at-home charging to make it happen. Canary Media reports the Cambridge, Mass.–based neuroscience company will contract with Enel X to provide residential chargers for Biogen employees driving corporate vehicles and manage their charging to maximize the use of renewable energy while balancing the grid. The report notes that more corporations are converting to electric delivery vans and other cargo vehicles as part of their carbon-reduction goals. Many other corporations have joined early adopters like Google (GOOGL) in making EV charging available for employees at their corporate campuses and other work sites, the report said.

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