Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 1 May 2020

1st May 2020

Over the last week, we’ve seen plenty of analysis, media commentary and research around the impact of COVID-19 on emerging markets. Across Africa, official statistics have indicated that the pandemic has had a ‘milder’ impact, in comparison to other continents. However, The World Economic Forum warns that the initial good news might be short-lived. In a blog, the development bank warns about the significant long-term risk of food shortages, under-developed healthcare systems and ‘patchy’ testing.

Heading over to Brazil, media are being to question whether the country is the next ‘hot spot’ for the virus. This morning’s data from John Hopkins University suggests there are over 87,000 cases. Analysis published in The Lancet reports that the Brazilian public health system has 7·6 intensive care unit beds per 100 000 people, highlighting the pressures facing the country’s healthcare facilities and state governments.

In Bangladesh, the IFC along with 40 representatives from industry, apparel brands and development, virtually convened to assess the textile and garment industry’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan. In a statement, the IFC stated that the industry employs 4.5m people, mostly women, and contributes more than four-fifths of the country’s export earnings. The industry has experienced significant pressure after being severely disrupted by a collapse in the global supply chain. With the threat of automation still looming, it will be interesting to see how the industry recovers, and continues to evolve, post-pandemic.

Maitland/AMO Sustain Team

COVID-19 and companies:

Businesses continue to support the fight against COVID-19 with Camden Town Brewery’s launch of a thank you beer for healthcare heroes and TikTok’s donation to support the future deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

Global payments provider Klarna has teamed up with ASOS to support the International Committee of the Red Cross in its frontline response with the launch of ‘Giveback Day’ on 29 April. For every transaction carried out on the fashion giant’s website in the UK, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the US using Klarna’s payment option, 1 pound, 1 dollar or 1 euro was donated to the Red Cross.

Social networking platform TikTok has pledged $10 million to support life-saving immunisation programmes and future deployment of COVID-19 vaccines through Gavi, a public–private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. The donation will also be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Camden Town Brewery launches new Camden Heroes lager

Camden Town Brewery has launched its new Camden Heroes lager – a thank you beer for healthcare heroes with all proceeds donated to charity. All NHS workers will be able to claim a free six pack as well.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Fund (WEEE Fund) has announced its “WEEE Support Grants and Loans Package” to help support the electrical waste reuse and recycling sector during the pandemic. The funding will provide £5 million of interest free loans to electrical waste treatment facilities and £0.6 million of grants to charity sector reuse organisations.


COVID-19 and climate change:

Scientists research whether COVID-19 can spread through air pollution, whilst a decline in underwater noise pollution from a lack of shipping activity has scientists racing to study marine life.

Wildlife Trusts has warned that the long-term effects of lockdown on the environment could be negative as important conservation work to look after special areas has been unable to be carried out. Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Nature brings health benefits and offers solutions to the other great emergency facing humanity – climate change – so it must be protected and allowed to recover. I’d urge people to support their local Wildlife Trust wherever they are in the UK.”

  • Top US scientist warns that our disregard for nature led to pandemic

Thomas Lovejoy, a leading US scientist, has said that the coronavirus is not “nature’s revenge” but rather it has come as a result of our excessive intrusion into nature and the vast illegal wildlife trade humanity partakes in.

Coronavirus has been detected on particles of air pollution by scientists at the University of Bologna in Italy, who are investigating whether this could enable the virus to be carried over longer distances and increase the number of people infected.

The work is preliminary and it is not yet known if the virus remains viable on pollution particles and in sufficient quantity to cause disease.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a drop in shipping which has helped to cut levels of underwater noise pollution known to have an adverse effect on marine mammals. The quieter ocean has scientists racing to study and listen to whales.


COVID-19 and communities:

People have been dedicating their daily outdoor exercise time to give back to their local communities as well as finding creative ways to keep children learning and entertained while they’re out of school.

Sarah Lamarr, a part-time teacher in London, has transformed a bus stop in Turnham Green into a children’s art gallery. Being confined in her flat during lockdown she decided to giver herself a more uplifting view that would involve the community. The gallery has a handwritten sign encouraging adults and children to contribute their artwork.

Royal Shakespeare Company actors, including Tamsin Greig and Noma Dumezweni, have offered their help to people who are struggling to understand Shakespeare. People can submit their questions on Twitter using #RSCHomeworkHelp by 10 May for help with scenes, speeches, and characters.

New Philanthropy Capital has collected information and launched a free data resource to help show areas that are currently most affected by COVID-19 and those that have underlying factors (including health and the economy) which could potentially put them at risk.


A round-up of this week’s sustainability news…


In Business

  • NESTLE GOES GREEN: Nestlé UK has signed a 15-year 125GWh PPA with Ørsted that will provide them access to a 31MW share of an offshore wind farm near Norfolk. The deal, in combination with other deals, will ensure that the company’s electricity usage will be fully provided by wind generated sources.
  • NEW ECO BUSES: Wrightbus, a Northern Ireland-based company, has plans to help decarbonise the UK’s bus fleet through manufacturing 3,000 zero emissions hydrogen vehicles over the next four years.

In Politics

  • BRITAIN POWER RECORD: The National Grid has confirmed that the UK has now completed its longest coal-free period since records began with 18 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes.
  • PETERSBURG CLIMATE DIALOGUE: COP26 President Alok Sharma spoke at the High Level Stakeholder Session for the Petersburg Climate Dialogue on Monday, noting that the “huge challenges of climate change” must not be forgotten as the world focuses now on combatting the immediate COVID-19 crisis.
  • LOW CARBON HEAT PLANS: The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced a range of proposals which hope to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK’s heating systems, including plans for a new Clean Heat Grant scheme.
  • UK COULD RUN DRY: Philip Dunne, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, has written to DEFRA requesting an update on measures to help tackle water shortage issues in the UK. The National Audit Office has warned that unless more serious action is taken, areas in the south of England could run out of water in the next 20 years.

In Investment

  • BLACKROCK OPEN LETTER: An open letter from 92 NGOs and civil society organisations urged the cancellation of a contract between BlackRock and the EU Commission that will see it advise on environmental regulations for the banking sector. The letter was written by advocacy group Change Finance, and addressed to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Signatories included Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the Bretton Woods Project.
  • SHELL SLASHES DIVIDEND: Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has slashed its dividend for the first time since 1945, sending its shares down more than 10% in both London and Amsterdam. The Anglo-Dutch firm cut its Q1 dividend by two-thirds amid the ongoing economic uncertainty provoked by the coronavirus pandemic. The reduction
  • OXFORD’S DIVESTMENT PUSH: Oxford University announced it would divest its multi-billion pound endowment from fossil fuel assets and enact a new investment policy known as the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, that would call on companies to provide evidence of their net-zero business plans, following a campaign from students, academics, and alumni.
  • INVESTOR ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The Investor Alliance for Human Rights has welcomed this week $5trn in investor support, with new signatories including Aberdeen Standard Investors, ASN Bank, Boston Common Asset Management, Impax Asset Management, MP Pension and Storebrand Asset Management.

In Research

  • IEA’S GLOBAL ENERGY REVIEW 2020: The IEA published its Global Energy Review 2020 report this week, noting that the pandemic is set to deliver the biggest disruption to the energy system since the 1930s, with global electricity demand to fall by 5% while the level of emissions for 2020 are set to fall by 8% – the largest annual decrease in emissions ever recorded.
  • 5 DEGREE PATHWAY: Global analysis firm McKinsey published a new report this week, outlining “rigorous, data-driven snapshots” at how the world can reach the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement, through three different pathways. A rapid scenario would require all sectors to have abated at least 30% of their 2016-level CO2 emissions by 2030.
  • PLANET TRACKER: Europe’s largest food retailers are failing to fully disclose the carbon footprint of their food waste, according to a new report from think tank Planet Tracker. Between a quarter and a third of all food produced for human consumption ends up going to waste every year. The new report published late last week by Planet Tracker reveals almost half – 44 per cent – of all food loss and waste emissions in Europe come from indirect emissions generated across supply chains.


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