Over the Barrel: The Complex Task of Decarbonizing the World

Fossil fuels are the lifeblood of modern society, used for everything from heating homes to powering cars and planes to generating the electricity that keeps the internet running. Crude oil, natural gas, and coal currently meet about 80% of our energy needs globally, but 75% of carbon dioxide emissions come from finding and burning these fossil fuels. There is a consensus about transitioning away from those sources of energy, given how much they contribute to climate change, but there is not a consensus on how much our reliance upon them can be cut or what will replace them. There does not appear to be one clear replacement and there will likely be multiple pathways to decarbonizing the global economy. To understand our energy future, it is helpful to have a perspective on past efforts to develop new energy sources. In this excerpt from the 2024 Harding Loevner Investor Forum, our analysts offer some perspective on the history of energy transition.

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What If Fashion Were Taxed Like Cigarettes?

The fast-fashion industry produces a lot of waste but has largely avoided any consequences for its impact on the environment. That is starting to change.

The lower house of France’s Parliament passed a bill in February that would impose a “sin tax” of up to 10 euros or 50% of the selling price on fast-fashion clothing, a severe penalty given that many of these products cost less than €10. The bill would also ban advertising and demands that companies in the industry disclose the environmental impact of their businesses. The bill was approved unanimously and moved to the upper house of Parliament. If it becomes law, it will make France one of the first countries to impose this type of penalty on fast-fashion companies.

India’s Net-Zero Progress

Maria Lernerman, CFA, portfolio manager for our Global Paris-Aligned and International Carbon Transition Equity strategies, recently traveled to India to observe the country’s emission reduction initiatives first-hand. In this video, she shares thoughts from her trip and highlights hurdles that the country must overcome to progress toward net-zero status.

Growth Opportunities from Electrification

Portfolio manager Scott Crawshaw highlights several companies in our Emerging Markets portfolio that are poised to benefit from increasing electrical power demand.