Maitland/AMO Green Monitor – Thursday 17 October 2019

17th October 2019

In Business­

  • WAITROSE TO REMOVE PLASTIC WRAPS: Waitrose & Partners has removed the plastic wrap from several of its best-selling multipacks of canned products, with the company branding it as unnecessary. Products include its ‘essential Waitrose’ lines of baked beans, sweetcorn, plum tomatoes and chopped tomatoes in juice.
  • PZ CUSSONS LAUNCHES HAND WASH REFILL: Healthcare and consumer goods giant PZ Cussons has launched its first ever hand wash refill offering, with the company’s plan to reduce its plastics use 25% by 2025.
  • MCDONALD’S AND STARBUCKS’ ECO CUPS: McDonald’s and Starbucks are investing millions of dollars into developing eco-friendly alternatives to disposable coffee cups amid the global crackdown on plastics. The companies are noted as having plans to spend a fraction of their $5.9bn and $4.5bn profits respectively on the move.
  • PEPSI’S GREEN BONDS: In the past week, Pepsi have announced that it has priced the company’s first ever green bond. The company is reportedly intending the net proceeds from the $1bn green bond offering to fund a series of key initiatives to advance Pepsi’s sustainability agenda.
  • CUADRILLIA SAYS NO TO FRACKING CANCELLATIONS: Cuadrilla has said it has no plans to abandon its fracking ambitions in Lancashire and still plans to apply for an extension to its shale gas campaign. However, an extension to its application is anticipated to resume conflicts between the company and environmental campaigners at its Lancashire site.
  • TAXPAYERS PAYING FOR DYSON R&D: UK taxpayers gave around £5m to Dyson to support the electric car project that it scrapped this week. The company explains that the money it received was spent on research and development into battery technology production – a focus that will not change in light of the company’s decision to forgo its electric car rollout.

In Politics

  • QUEEN’S SPEECH: In her speech in the House of Lords, the Queen has unveiled the government’s new Environment Bill, aimed at preserving nature and restoring habitats. This environmental framework enshrines a new air quality target, set to be the “most ambitious in the world” and will take further action to combat plastic pollution. The Bill will see environmental principles in law for the first time, including the EU principle of the ’polluter pays’.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY LIFESTYLE: A report from the Committee on Climate Change and Imperial College London has shown that a shift in consumer behaviour is necessary to decarbonise households and meet the UK’s net zero goal. The report encourages the implementation of tougher policies on frequent flying and suggests shifting to sustainable diets, arguing that plant-based meals should be served by schools, hospitals, and other institutions.
  • SUSTAINABLE DIET: Fourteen global cities, including London, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Guadalajara, Lima, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toronto, have committed to the C40 Good Food Cities Declarations at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen. The pledge promotes a planetary health diet and the avoidance of food waste to cut greenhouse gas emissions from food by 60 per cent.
  • ABSOLUTE ZERO: The Environment Agency has announced plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions from its activities by cutting emissions a further 45 per cent by 2030. This target would be partly met through tree planting, restoring soil quality, and peat bogs. The agency is also exploring plans to eliminate all emissions by 2050, becoming an absolute zero organisation.
  • GLOBAL CARBON TAX: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Fiscal Report argues that stronger fiscal policies such as higher carbon pricing, tighter regulations and fees on carbon-intensive activities should be introduced globally to tackle climate change and cut emissions. The IMF suggested the immediate implementation of a global carbon tax that should rise to $75 a tonne of CO2 by 2030.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL ANNOUNCEMENTS: Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has confirmed a series of environmental announcements from the government. Leadsom promised the UK would come up with a new “pathway” to meet its net zero target and that plans for meeting the net zero target will be presented before the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
  • TORY ENVIRONMENTAL SCORE: According to recent findings, Conservative MPs are five times as likely to vote against climate action as legislators from other parties. Tory MPs also registered many donations and gifts from fossil fuel companies, petrostates, aviation companies and climate sceptics.

In Innovation

  • UNCERTAINITY CLOUDS INNOVATION: Research published by Schneider Electric finds that almost a third of businesses claim to have delayed green innovation projects in the last 12 months due to the political uncertainty over Brexit.
  • BIO BAG BONANZA: Outdoor clothing brand Finisterre to switch from plastic bags to ‘water-soluble’ biodegradable alternative.
  • ELECTRIFYING THE SKIES: Electric passenger aircraft project HyFlyer received £5.3m in backing from the UK government – one of the over 100 electric plane projects estimated to be underway across the world.
  • HYBRID SHIPS: Shipping firm FairTransport is working to retrofit one of world’s oldest cargo ships with sails and battery power, tackling the estimated 2.5% of global carbon emissions produced by commercial shipping.
  • COWS GO SOY FREE: UK-based rapeseed oil firm Yelo has developed soy-free feed for dairy cows called NovaPro.

In Peril

  • 25 YEAR ENVIONRMENT PLAN IN JEAPORDY: Ambitious legislation is needed to prevent failure of the 25 Year Environment Plan, according to a report from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. The report claims “our nature is in crisis”, and warns that a combination of austerity measures, Brexit uncertainty, and weak legislation and enforcement is undermining the government’s plan.
  • NON-ESG COMPANIES RISK BANKRUPTCY: Mark Carney has warned that companies that do not respect climate change will go bankrupt, whilst also warning that the longer it takes for the economy to reverse emissions the greater the risk of a sudden financial collapse. The Bank of England has said up to $20tn of assets could be wiped out if the climate emergency is not addressed effectively.
  • CENTRAL AFRICAN JUNGLES IN PERIL: Researchers have said that Central African jungles are emptying at an alarming rate by bushmeat hunters looking to make money, with many local citizens claiming it is the only way they can earn a living. The Research shows around 6 million tonnes of bushmeat are sourced annually from the Congo Basin, whose forest spans across six countries.
  • SCOTTISH ANIMALS DECLINE AT RAPID RATE: The animal charity OneKind has estimated that hundreds of thousands of birds and animals are being killed on the Scottish moors every year, often via traps and snares.

In Investment

  • FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT: According to Octopus Investments’ latest report “The great transition: Opening the renewables floodgate”, institutional investors with $5.9 trillion in assets under management are planning to divest $920 trillion from fossil fuels over the next ten years. However, only 30% of the investors surveyed will reinvest their funds into climate mitigating assets.
  • IAG’S NET ZERO GOAL: International Airlines Group (IAG) launched plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, becoming the first airline to publicly commit to a full decarbonisation goal. These decarbonisation plans will be delivered through carbon offset programmes and investment in more efficient aircraft and emerging green aviation innovations.
  • GREEN LSE: The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has unveiled the Sustainable Bond Market and the Green Economy Mark. These new initiatives aim to help investors distinguish between different types of sustainable or green bonds.
  • AI BUILDING: BP Ventures has invested around £2 million in AI-powered software start-up Grid Edge that allows commercial and industrial buildings to better control their energy use. This technology, which anticipates a building’s energy demand using variable data, typically enables customers to decrease their carbon emissions by 10 to 15 per cent. The technology is already in use in several sites across the UK.
  • GERMAN GREEN BOND: Solactive, a German index provider, has launched its first ESG screened green bond index and teamed up with Lyxor Asset Management to unveil an exchange traded fund (ETF). The new index will be called the Solactive Green ESG Bond EUR USD IG TR Index.
  • FOSSIL FUEL-FREE: The European Investment Bank (EIB) has delayed the vote on whether to adopt a policy that bans lending to fossil fuel-based energy projects. Several European NGOs have suggested to delay the vote to the board’s next meeting on 14 November due to political resistance from EU states.
  • PRI NEW SIGNATORIES: German insurers Deutsche Rückversicherung and VöV Rückversicherung have become signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).  Deutsche Rück has €1.9 billion of assets and VöV Rückversicherung has €1.6 billion. By signing the PRI, the insurers commit to the sustainability of their investments.