Maitland/AMO Green Monitor – 31 January 2020

31st January 2020

In Business

  • SAINSBURY’S COMMITS TO NET ZERO: Supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s has pledged to invest £1bn over the next 20 years to become a net-zero business across its own operations. It plans to implement a raft of programme changes to reduce carbon emissions, food waste, water use and plastic packaging while increasing biodiversity and improving healthy and sustainable eating for customers.
  • BIG TECH BUYS GREEN: The world’s biggest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, have emerged as the biggest buyers of renewable energy, helping to fuel a record surge in the amount of renewable energy sold directly to global corporations last year, according to Bloomberg NEF.
  • EV FLEET BOOST: Octopus Electric Vehicles has launched a new EV bundle offer for fleet managers, designed to further aid businesses in making a smooth switch to greener, more cost-effective transport and logistics.
  • JUST WINDING UP: Danish green energy giant Ørsted has delivered a 17 per cent jump in operating profit in 2019, exceeding the firm’s expectations. According to 2019 earnings reported this week, Ørsted logged an operating profit of $2.6bn, thanks in part to windier weather than anticipated.
  • 30% CUT IN FOOD WASTE: The UK’s largest food and drinks manufacturers have collectively reduced their food waste by 30% over the past eight years, on a per capita basis, according to the latest annual progress report from the Food and Drink Federation.
  • SUSTAINABLE SUPPLY CHAINS: A group of leading carmakers, including Volvo, Audi and BMW, joined a joint initiative aimed at creating battery value chains that are environmentally and socially sustainable.
  • H&M’s NEW CEO: Helena Helmersson, a former sustainability manager at H&M, has been appointed as the new CEO of the fashion giant, in a move that could signal an acceleration in the firm’s commitments to more sustainable operations.

In Politics

  • ENVIRONMENT BILL: The long-awaited Environment Bill has finally been reintroduced to Parliament this week, outlining powers to stop the exports of plastic waste to developing countries, and revamped governance systems on clean air and biodiversity and two-yearly reviews to update the Bill if required.
  • NEW EAC CHAIR: Philip Dunne MP has become the new chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), after previous chair Mary Creagh lost her seat as MP for Wakefield in December’s general election.
  • UK GOV SUED: The Government is being sued for approving a large new gas-fired power plant being developed by Drax in north Yorkshire. The plant would become the biggest gas power station in Europe and could produce 75% of the UK’s power sector emissions when fully operational, according to the environmental lawyers ClientEarth, who have brought the judicial review.
  • £1.15m TO FIGHT FOOD WASTE: The Government has announced £1.15m in funding for businesses and non-profits aiming to reduce food waste in households and supply chains through behaviour change.
  • “WE ARE WATCHING YOU”: An open letter to world leaders calling for bolder progress on the SDGs has been signed by 20 leading activists and backed by 2,000 high-profile supporters. The letter, which boldly states “We are watching you”, pushes for governments to “act faster” to tackle the interlocking crises facing the human and natural worlds.
  • CARBON BORDER TAX: The EU could deploy a carbon border tax against the UK after Brexit, according to the head of the European Parliament’s environment committee, if Westminster diverges from bloc rules on issues like carbon markets. “For the EU’s industry, you can’t accept that the UK has full access” to the EU’s single market while a lower carbon price is on offer across the Channel, French MEP Pascal Canfin told reporters.

In Innovation

  • CARBON CAPTURE TECH: Energy giant Drax is going ahead with its plans to develop a new carbon capture, usage and storage technologies at its power plants, having this week announced a partnership with Econic Technologies to develop new uses for its stored carbon.
  • NET-ZERO INFRASTRUCTURE: Industry bodies representing hundreds of firms across the engineering and environmental technologies sectors have partnered to analyse how the UK’s infrastructure should be redesigned to meet net-zero by 2050.
  • PLASTIC FREE PACKAGING: Iceland is set to trial plastic-free and low-plastic packaging across 38 of its fruit and vegetable lines, in a step towards its ambition for all own-brand lines to be free from single-use plastics by 2023.

In Peril

  • WARNING FROM THE AMAZON: According to a prominent indigenous Amazon leader, ecosystems will continue to collapse around the world unless humanity listens to the expertise of indigenous communities on how to live alongside nature. His warning comes amid a new study that shows rainforest areas under tribal stewardship manage carbon better.
  • HIT TO GLOBAL ECONOMY: Researchers led by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis have claimed that climate change will cause massive economic disruption around the world with some countries facing GDP losses of up to 12% and with China likely to be among the worst affected.
  • SOFTER SHELL CRABS: As the Pacific Ocean is becoming more acidic, the exoskeleton of Dungeness crabs that live in its coastal waters are dissolving, damaging its sensory organs, a new study found.

In Investment

  • MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Dr Nina Seega, a research director for sustainable finance at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, has warned that comments from major banks at Davos suggest they could be about to miss a huge opportunity afforded by climate change.
  • GREEN DELIVERY: UPS has announced that it has completed a minority investment in UK-based electric vehicle pioneer Arrival in a move that has seen the global logistics giant place an order for 10,000 purpose built electric vans.
  • CARBON NEUTRAL EY: Professional services giant EY has pledged to become a carbon-neutral business by the end of 2020 through investments in decarbonising its operations and in carbon offsetting schemes.
  • NET ZERO FINANCE STRATEGY: The Brunel Pension Partnership, which oversees £30bn worth of investments for 10 local government pension scheme funds has pledged to align its management practices with the Paris Agreement.