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Lithium Rally, OpenAI Calls for Regulations, and Other ESG News This Week


By FactSet StreetAccount  |  May 18, 2023

FactSet StreetAccount publishes regular company-level and summary-style ESG news. Below is our recap of key ESG developments and insights over the past week.

Chart of the week: Lithium price rebound continues

Lithium miners are seeing some gains today following Citi’s analyst note suggesting the collapse in lithium prices is likely over, with Raymond James also finding bullish fundamentals. In fact, China lithium carbonate prices have risen 44% in the past three weeks to $34K per ton. In company news, lithium producer shares have been mixed on the week as Albemarle saw several analyst upgrades and Lithium Americas Q1 earnings beat, though Critical Elements and Electra are trading sharply lower after providing project updates.

Figure 1: Prices of lithium and select producers


Source: Investing.com, FactSet

Thematic performance

Thematic sectors mostly higher on the week with US EV charging gains led by Beem and Tritium Q1 results, though both remain sharply lower YTD. In contrast, ADS-TEC trading higher despite weaker Q1 results (prompting analyst downgrade) and is one of few stocks in the space higher since start of the year. EVs also higher led by aviation names Joby and Archer which rolled out first Midnight aircraft. Canoo earnings beat though large EV pure plays like Tesla and Rivian outperformed most small players. Wind, environmental and circular economy names were also among the gainers.

US solar names weaker after Treasury Department released "domestic content" guidance for IRA tax credit qualification which would allow some PV cells produced in China to benefit. US PV makers have pushed back on the rules though analysts see the guidance as positive for domestic manufacturers with several highlighting First Solar as a key beneficiary. Maxeon leading losses in the space, reversing gains in prior week. Hydrogen is underperforming on big losses from Hyzon Motors (delayed filing) and Loop Energy (Q1 losses).

Carbon capture and storage in focus this week after the Biden administration released plans to decarbonize the US power sector, which include the first-ever large-scale use of CCS. US climate envoy John Kerry called on the fossil fuel industry to prove the efficacy of the technology. In contrast, ex-UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has slammed COP28 host UAE's approach to decarbonization for relying heavily on CCS. In Australia, the Albanese government announced plans to scale up its capability for offshore CCS. Chevron and Exxon are seeking government backing for their carbon capture and hydrogen projects in the country, however, Chevron's flagship CCS project Gorgon is stuck at one-third capacity, having struggled with technical difficulties since launching in 2019.


The World Meteorological Organization warned 1.5C threshold likely to be breached temporarily by 2027 with the onset of El Nino weather pattern and sustained increases in GHGs. PCAF member banks are nearing a compromise on voluntary global financed emission disclosure standards. Meanwhile, an investor group is creating a database of avoided corporate emissions to support decarbonization finance. The US Agriculture Department to spend $11B electrifying and decarbonizing rural America. The Biden administration is hoping to tighten regulation on toxic powerplant coal waste dumping. In APAC, China's emissions reached record highs last quarter as Pacific Island leaders criticized wealthy nations for their emissions. Vietnam approved a $135B plan to slash coal-fired power by 2030; eliminate its use by 2050. In Australia, Albanese government approved first coal mine since election.

Europe's carbon emissions were lower Jan-Apr 2023 than during lockdown due to a ramp up in renewables and higher energy prices. Europe looking to finalize 42.5% renewable energy target amid disagreement by France over nuclear energy inclusion. EC chief said bloc needs time to absorb recent green laws; adopts new rules to cut deforestation from products in EU market while MEPs support plans to ban misleading environment claims and planned product obsolescence. Spain approved unprecedented €2.2B drought response plan amid record heat. UK to lessen government transparency over air pollution; energy regulator warned against decarbonizing grid. UK water companies apologize for sewage leaks and pledge £10B investment to tackle the issue over this decade.


Push for AI regulation gains traction as OpenAI CEO called for a dedicated agency to regulate risks of increasingly powerful AI. Google is launching image search tools to tackle misinformation; will label AI-generated images.

Elsewhere, Southwest pilots voted to authorize strike. United Airlines pilots want bigger deal than Delta's. Royal Mail may face fines from regulator for late deliveries amid long-running pay dispute. General Motors recalling ~1M US vehicles for air bag defect. Over 2M Toyota users in Japan face risk of vehicle data leak.


Corporations hit with lawsuits as Deutsche Bank to pay up to $75M to settle lawsuit by Epstein victim; JPMorgan opposed class-action status for Epstein accusers and Tesla CEO Musk subpoenaed in JPMorgan lawsuit over Epstein ties. Wells Fargo to pay $1B in shareholder lawsuit claiming bank misled on progress cleaning up sham account scandal. Exxon settled lawsuit with Indonesia villagers alleging violence by Exxon-hired guards. HSBC fined $12M by SEC for use of messaging services such as WhatsApp. Walgreens reached $230M settlement with San Francisco over role in opioids crisis. Nike facing fines of more than $540M for misclassification of temporary office workers.


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