Decarbonisation Enablers Monthly Report | January

30 January 2024

Climate Change ETF Key Takeaways | January

 

The US Fed as expected did not increase rates at the last FOMC meeting: CPI data released in early December showed signs that inflation is indeed coming down and while in the last Fed meeting interest rates were left unchanged, the market currently expects cuts to take place in 2024. Besides the decision to keep rates at current levels, committee members indicated in the so called “dot plot” an expectation of at least three rate cuts this year. While markets expect more aggressive cuts than in the chart updated by Fed officials, the new expectation of cuts is much more dovish than what officials had previously indicated.   Whether expectations for cuts as early as March and as high as 150 bps are unrealistic remains to be seen. The change in tone by the Fed since November and the consequent equity rally in the last two months of 2023 indicate that in the near-term shares of sectors that are interest rate sensitive, such as renewable energy, will likely be tied to interest rate. The view of some analysts (including JP Morgan) is that 2024 key US numbers will include 2% inflation, 0 recession, 2% growth and 4% unemployment.

 

MegaTech continues the trend and Apple emerged as the first company to pass the $3 trillion market cap level: The “grand finale” of the year of MegaTech culminated with the incredible milestone of Apple being the first company ever to pass the $3 trillion market capitalization level. AI and MegaTech are priced for perfection and an economy with modest growth (while many strategists still expect a recession) are not likely to translate into higher revenue or profit levels. Multiple expansion is unlikely as the cohort is already trading at higher valuation levels. If AI new markets do not materialize as a short-term catalyst, it is not likely that Microsoft would go up another 10% and join Apple in the group that passed a $3 trillion valuation.

 

CLMA Performance in 2023

 

What a difference a month makes: We saw a very dramatic turn of events from October to November. While CLMA was down -11.9% in October, the iClima Global Decarbonization Enablers Index was up 10.6% in November and 10.01% in December, ending the year up ca. 4%. An end of year broader rally was fuelled by the yield in the two-year US treasury that went below 5% at the very beginning of November, to 4.83%. Many analysts interpreted Powell’s remarks at the FOMC meeting on November 1st as dovish. On December 13th at the last FOMC meeting of the year, to the delight of most of Wall Street, the Fed indicated that cuts to the tune of 75 bps are likely to take place in 2024. 

 

The interest rate trajectory is what moved CLMA from a blood bath in October to a green rally in November and December. Investors looked for names that were oversold in segments that are in line with decarbonization. Although it is indeed hard to predict the exact sequence of events in the energy transition, we can start from where we are. In 2023 more than 1 GW of renewables was added to the planet per day, with the vast majority of that being solar and particularly behind the meter solar. In Europe in 2023 around 70% of all new solar added was in the form of onsite solar rooftops, accelerating the creation of “ProSumers” of electricity. The US has sold over 1 million EVs in the first eleven months of the year (more on that below), and clean energy storage is booming in the US and Australia. The solutions are here, but their adoptions are interest rate sensitive.

 

If 2024 is indeed the year of 2, 0, 2, and 4 (that is 2% inflation, zero recessions, 2% US GDP growth and 4% US unemployment as mentioned above), growth cyclical names associated with the beginning of a cycle could do very well. The names in the iClima Global Decarbonization Enablers Index will be impacted by the US election outcome, but lower interest rates are the most important catalyst for a broad green rally. 

 

Dogmatism may meet pragmatism in 2024, as the companies that solve our biggest problems, arguably all environmental in nature, benefit from not only the tailwinds of global policies (more below on the outcomes of COP28 and the support for 3x renewable energy growth by 2030) but also from a more favourable interest rate trend. From distributed renewable energy to long duration energy storage, climate adaptation solutions, circular economy models, early decarbonizing solutions to broad climate change mitigation solutions, the current depressed valuation levels with a positive outlook may be the necessary conditions for a green rally in 2024 (also subject to the political scenario of the US facing an election year). 

 

MegaTech seems to be currently “priced for perfection”, with higher interest rates (at current levels already restrictive for certain segments) and lower economic growth not conducive to higher earnings. Unless multiples go even higher, there is arguably not much more room for MegaTech to continue its 2023 incredible rally.

 

 

Source of all performance data: iClima Earth / Bloomberg. Data as of 31.12.2023. Past performance is not indicative of future performance and when you invest in ETFs your capital is at risk.

 

 

 

Decarbonisation developments in December

 

No, US EV sales do NOT disappoint: Contrary to the narrative of many media outlets, sales of EVs in the US continued strong growth in 2023 and closed the year up in a material way. Overall sales of EVs up to November in the US passed the milestone of one million units, an increase of ca. 51% YoY, bringing the share of EV sales in the overall US market close to 8% of all new units sold. While the US is behind the EU and Chinese markets in terms of EV representation, a potential reduction in US interest rates combined with the federal rebate available through the Inflation Reduction Act (that starting January 1st applies a $7,500 discount at the point of sale for qualifying vehicles) shall support further EV penetration in America.

 

BYD overtakes Tesla and the EV landscape in 2024 is likely to be one of bankruptcies and consolidation: In the last quarter of 2023, Chinese BYD overtook Tesla as the number one seller of pure EVs. In 4Q23 the Chinese player sold a record 526,000 pure battery only cars while Tesla sold 484,500 units in the same period. For the year, Tesla’s 1.8 million BEV sales were still above BYD’s 1.6 million (however, BYD sold more than 3 million “New Energy Vehicles” which include BEVs and plug in hybrids). Competition in the EV market has intensified, with profitable companies like Tesla and BYD leading in market share, clear winners in the race to electrify transportation. Players that are not yet profitable but with a likely path to breakeven like Rivian are given the benefit of the doubt by many investors, while those that continue to struggle on sales (like Chinese NIO) are suffering a lack of confidence.

 

BNEF released its EV forecast for 2024: Again, despite US media claims of a slowdown in EV demand, Bloomberg NEF recently released their forecast for the year expecting more solid growth in global EV adoption. In terms of passenger electric vehicles, their research points to 16.7 million units being sold in 2024 and one million new commercial vehicles to be delivered. That brings the percentage of EV global sales to 20% of all new car sales, and an inventory of 57 million EVs on the planet by year end (representing 4% of the global fleet). Continuing the trend, 60% of all EV sales is expected to be in China (last November, ca. 42% of new car sales in China where pure EVs or plugin hybrids). Lastly, BNEF expects a record 1.6 million new EV charging connectors to be added this year, a material increase over the 1.2 million new charging points added globally in 2023. 

 

Renewable Energy additions in 2023 were material, which puts the planet on track for a 2.5-fold increase by 2030: The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released figures for renewable energy expansion in 2023, showcasing that renewable energy capacity grew by ca. 50% in 2023, reaching 510 GW. In the year, solar additions represented 3/4 of all renewable energy added globally, with China commissioning more solar than the rest of the world combined. Looking forward, the IEA forecasts current market conditions, and existing policies, will translate into 7,300 GW of global renewable capacity by 2028 and 11,000 GW global capacity by 2030 (a 3-fold increase), requiring additional support from governments. Almost 120 countries at COP28 pledged to support the acceleration of permitting and grid connection, the two major bottle necks for utility scale renewable development that if removed would give the 11,000 GW 2030 target a high probability of becoming real. While it took 12 years from 2010 to 2022 to achieve the last tripling of renewable capacity, the next tripling of renewable capacity is expected to take place in eight years.

COP28 does not disappoint, and US Fed change in stance also a positive catalyst for green strategies: December 13th was Christmas coming early

 

On December 13th, two key events took place that triggered more optimism for green (growth) shares. A historical agreement was reached in Dubai at COP28, on the same day that the US Fed indicated that interest rates will likely go down in 2024. The combination of these two events signalled the end of the bloodbath that decarbonization companies leading the energy transition were facing last year. 

 

All in one preposition: After a day of delay, the final text of the COP28 summit was approved and the much-criticized leadership of the event by the CEO of UAE’s Adnoc (the world’s 11th largest oil & gas producer) proved to be what was needed. For the first time in the history of the Conferences of the Parties, the text explicitly referred to a transition away from fossil fuels. After much debate on terms such as phasing out or down from fossil fuels, the agreement was a clear indication of a more definitive direction of travel. Nearly every country in the world has committed to the transition away from coal, natural gas and oil, and the commitments are included in the first “global stocktake” where measurement and a situation analysis to determine where each country is in terms of both climate change mitigation and adaptation is reported, so that implementation gaps can be identified as well as the solutions that can accelerate adoption.

 

Renewable is the clear winner and undisputable solution: At the beginning of the conference 118 countries signed a pledge to accelerate renewable investments. More specifically, countries committed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 (to at least 11,000 GW). The US stands with 56 countries committed to phasing out coal fired power plants. 

 

Methane is the important short-term issue and, again, fossil fuel presence and leadership was the catalyst for the agreement: Another accomplishment of this UAE based COP was the coalition of 50 major oil & gas producers that committed to cutting methane emissions (often leaking during fossil fuel production, methane is 84 times more damaging than CO2).  They agreed to cut methane emissions by 80% to 90% by the end of the decade. If successful, this would be an impactful way to increase the chance of cutting global emissions by half by 2030.

 

On the other side of the Atlantic, the US Fed also gave indication of a key element for the acceleration of the transition: At the last US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year, Chairman Powell kept interest rates unchanged, as expected by markets, but more importantly indicated that they envision three interest rate cuts in 2024, lowering interest rates by 75 bps. Observing the increasing pressure in share prices of the renewable energy names in general, and green growth names as well, it is very clear that the accelerating energy transition greatly benefits from a lower interest rate environment.  

 

Climate change mitigation and adaptation are infrastructure problems: We solve infrastructure issues with investments. For that we need clarity on the direction of travel and both the global commitment of moving away from fossil fuels and the Fed’s indication that interest rates are likely to go down next year. These two events took place on the same day and are tipping points in the effort to accelerate the adoption of the many decarbonizing solutions. 

 

The 3x on renewables goes from being aspirational to being a target: Contrary to what one would believe by analysing the share performance of the companies with the key decarbonizing solutions – from solar panels to wind turbines, inverters, electric vehicles, heat pumps, green hydrogen components, to lithium and batteries – we were already advancing the adoption of key solutions. The US has sold over 1 million EVs in the first eleven months of the year, while clean energy storage is booming in the US and in Australia. More than 1 GW of solar was added to the planet per day in 2023, with a material percentage on rooftops, behind the meter solar that does not depend on the transmission grid expansion. In Europe this year around 70% of all the new solar added was in the form of solar rooftops at the point of consumption. These solutions are compelling, but their adoptions is interest rate sensitive. Luckily, on December 13th we got indication that the momentum behind them is going to intensify.

 

2023 saw many green companies go belly up, a natural selection that points to the survival of the fittest

 

As we move along in the energy transition curve, it becomes clear what technologies are likely to win. One of the worst performing segments in CLMA this year was fuel cell & electrolysers. These key technologies supporting the development of a green hydrogen economy are facing scepticism by many investors. The larger cap name PlugPower summarizes the challenges the sector faces. Hydrogen a couple of years ago was seen as the “Swiss army knife” solution that would decarbonize many hard to abate activities. Energy economists like BNEF founder Michael Liebreich has long warned of the risk of this analogy, equating the gas more to the Wenger giant army knife that costs $1,400 and weighs 7 pounds - costly and hard to use. 

Several names across many other segments also faced severe sell offs last year, showcasing that long gone are the days when investors indiscriminately supported green growth names (notably back in 2021 when Biden was first elected). Proterra, AppHarvest, and Tattooed Chef were once part of the CLMA index but are companies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. Other constituents removed from low market capitalization and/or average daily volume levels have also struggled in the year, namely Gogoro, Wallbox, and Nuvve. The silver lining of the Fed’s tightening cycle of 2023 is that management teams of pre profitability names have an unequivocal mandate to deliver a clear path to profitability. Companies must grow while preserving cash, streamline operations and shore up their supply chain. The fittest names will be better positioned to benefit from the gigantic growth prospects for proven decarbonization solutions.

 

Climate Change ETF Performance Table
 
As of 31.12.2023

 

1M

3M

6M

YTD

12M

2Y

3Y

SI

iClima Global

Decarbonisation Enablers UCITS ETF

10.10%

7.95%

-4.62%

3.64%

3.64%

-25.27%

-20.01%

-10.60%

CLMA iClima Global Decarbonisation

Enablers Index

10.01%

7.95%

-4.40%

4.25%

4.25%

-24.40%

-18.86%

-9.25%


 Please note that all performance figures are showing net data. Source: Bloomberg / HANetf. Data as of 31/12/2023

Performance before inception is based on back tested data. Back testing is the process of evaluating an investment strategy by applying it to historical data to simulate what the performance of such strategy would have been. Back tested data does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of actual or future performance. Past performance for the index is in USD. Past performance is not an indicator for future results and should not be the sole factor of consideration when selecting a product. Investors should read the prospectus of the Issuer (“Prospectus”) before investing and should refer to the section of the Prospectus entitled ‘Risk Factors’ for further details of risks associated with an investment in this product. When you invest in ETFs and ETCs your capital is at risk.

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