Maitland/AMO Green Monitor – 9 January 2020

9th January 2020

In Business

  • VEGAN FAST FOOD: Fast food giants including Greggs, KFC, and McDonald’s have all launched plant-based meals to mark Veganuary after supermarkets recorded a decrease in meat sales which looks set to continue in the year ahead.
  • ZERO EMISSION CARS SURGE: Industry data has highlighted that battery-powered electric car sales increased 144 per cent in 2019 while the overall market for new cars in the UK dropped 2.4 per cent in the same year. This surge in EVs is a clear sign the UK car market is transitioning towards zero emission technology, but experts warned the shift needs to accelerate if EVs are to become the dominant new vehicle type in the next decade.
  • GREEN VOGUING: Vogue Italia will not publish any photos in its January 2020 issue in a move to highlight the carbon impact of fashion photoshoots and the overall environmental impact of producing a fashion magazine. Condé Nast announced that editor Emanuele Farneti decided to ditch the usual fashion shoots with models, photographers, makeup artists, and stylists in favour of illustrations to advertise a new way for the fashion press to show clothes to readers.
  • SHELL’S SEG: Last week, Shell Energy launched the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), under which the company will significantly increase the price it will pay for solar energy produced by customers following criticism from climate campaigners for initially having the lowest rates on the market.
  • SUSTAINABLE AVIATION: British Airways has begun offsetting all its UK domestic flights as part of a broader plan announced by its parent company IAG in October 2019 to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. BA claims it will only buy the highest quality offsets, which will help fund rainforest protection, reforestation schemes and the rollout of green energy worldwide.
  • EV BOOST: German giant Volkswagen now expects to produce one million EVs by 2023, two years earlier than previously planned. The German carmaker announced it has produced 250,000 battery and hybrid EVs to date, including 70,000 last year, and now plans to further accelerate its production to surpass 1.5 million by 2025.
  • TOKYO 2020: The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are set to be the start of a new era for global sports as the organisation committee aims to make the Games a carbon neutral event and the first in history powered entirely by renewable electricity.
  • WASTE POWERED FLIGHTS: Shell Aviation announced a new partnership with World Energy and Lufthansa that will see the German airline supplied with sustainable aviation fuel for flights between San Francisco and Munich, Frankfurt, and Zurich. The sustainable fuel is made from waste agricultural fats and cooking oil and emits lifecycle carbon emissions at least 80 per cent lower than conventional jet fuel.

In Politics

  • SATELLITE CLIMATE PROJECT: The UK Government has announced plans for a new £5m virtual data centre using cutting-edge satellite technology to better predict future climate change impacts to help shape UK net zero policies. The project is a joint collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds.
  • FIRST BUDGET: Chancellor Sajid Javid vowed to prioritise the environment in his first Budget, which will be held on March 11. Top of the priority list for green campaigners will be accelerating the roll out of electric vehicles, upgrading the energy efficiency of houses, and boosting the rollout of renewable energy policies to get on track to hit net zero emissions by 2050.
  • AGRICULTURE BILL: The UK Government is also planning on bringing an updated version of its Agriculture Bill back to Parliament this month. Passing the Agriculture Bill before the summer would allow the Government to stick to its timetable of launching the first pilot payments under the new Environmental Land Management system in 2021.
  • GREEN CATERING: Green Party MP Caroline Lucas  has argued that the House of Commons’ catering services should reflect the climate emergency in their offering and provide more environmentally friendly options to help politicians play their part in tackling the climate crisis.

In Innovation

  • EARTHSHOT PRIZE: Prince William has unveiled a major new global innovation prize aimed at combatting climate change and environmental degradation with a goal to create 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030. The Earthshot Prize, considered the “most prestigious environment prize in history” seeks to use science to tackle major planetary issues across climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans and fresh water, and air pollution, and will be awarded to five winners every year over the decade.
  • WOVEN CITY: Toyota has unveiled plans to build a sustainable “city of the future” near Mount Fuji. The sustainable city, named Woven City, will run on hydrogen fuel cells and become a living laboratory for self-driving vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence. Buildings will be made mostly of wood to minimise carbon footprint and powered by solar tiles.
  • CLEAN ENERGY MILESTONE: According to National Grid data published last week, 48.5 per cent of electricity consumed in Britain was generated through zero-carbon methods such as wind, solar, and nuclear – compared to 43 per cent for fossil fuels. The additional 8.5 per cent is attributed to biomass. These findings make 2019 the first year in which zero carbon power generation outstripped fossil fuels for the first time.
  • HYDEPLOY: Gas distribution network firm Cadent has announced a “ground-breaking” energy pilot at Keele University, injecting for the first time zero carbon hydrogen gas into the UK gas network. Called HyDeploy, the £7m trial is seeing up to 20 per cent of the volume of gas in Keele University’s existing natural gas network provided by hydrogen, which provides lower carbon heating for 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings.
  • HI FLY: Portuguese wet-lease airline Hi Fly, which owns and operates eight planes, announced that, from January 1, 2020, all Hi Fly flights will take off without any single-use plastic items on board. The company operated the world’s first ever ‘plastic-free’ trial flight when it took passengers on a Boxing Day trip from the carrier’s base in Lisbon to Natal, Brazil, on an Airbus A340 in December 2018.

In Peril

  • AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRES: Bushfires in Australia have already burned through over 155,000 hectares in South Australia, killing an estimated 1 billion animals. Scientists fear that surviving species will have to struggle due to dramatic changes in the forests’ ecosystems which will affect biodiversity for decades.
  • EV MATERIALS SHORTAGE: Researchers at the University of Sussex warned that the global production of batteries, solar panels, electric cars and wind turbines could be compromised without more reusing and recycling of rare materials for EVs such as lithium, cadmium, cobalt and copper, as well as stronger international agreements to safeguard their supply around the world.
  • WHALE MONITORING: The New England Aquarium, based in Boston, and Draper, a firm based in nearby Cambridge, teamed up to develop a new technology which can protect whales by monitoring them from space. Scientists claim that the technology could prevent their extinction by counting them over international boundaries more correctly and by getting a better picture about why whales are moving from one area to another.
  • LIFESAVER: A study by the University of California has highlighted that approximately 26,610 lives were saved in the US by the shift away from coal between 2005 and 2016. The shift to gas saved more than 300m tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide levels dropped.

In Investment

  • RCP COAL DIVESTMENT: The Royal College of Physicians became the latest professional body to announce it is to divest from all fossil fuel and mining companies whose operations are not aligned with the Paris Agreement by 2023, defining its divestment plans in a Climate Policy.
  • FTSE RUSSELL EXPANSION: Index and data provider FTSE Russell is to expand its Asia Pacific sustainable investment coverage to around 800 China A Share securities and 1,300 securities in Japan.
  • CARBON BUDGET: The California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced its investment portfolio has used 65 per cent of its allowed carbon budget to contain global temperature rises to 2°C by the end of the century.
  • PAF AUCTION: The World Bank has announced that the Pilot Auction Facility (PAF) will host a fourth auction on 3 March 2020, to address methane abatement from landfill, animal waste, and wastewater sites. The PAF was first launched in 2015 to provide project developers with price guarantees to sell their emission reductions credits at a pre-determined strike price.
  • BNP PARIBAS’ SLL: BNP Paribas has secured a bilateral, incentive-linked corporate revolving credit facility with Canadian energy provider Brookfield Renewable Partners. This is one of the first sustainability linked loans (SLL) offered in Canada and the first for BNP Paribas in Canada.
  • INVESTORS PUSH: Eleven institutional investors have filed a shareholder resolution to Barclays, calling on the bank to phase out its financing for fossil fuel firms. The institutional investors – including Brunel Pension Partnership, LGPS Central pension scheme and Sarasin & Partners – manage over £130 billion in assets.

Misc.

Non-profit organisation Veganuary encourages people to go vegan for the month of January, with a view that participants will change their dietary habits in the long-term. Launched in 2014, the Veganuary campaign recorded its highest participation in 2019.