Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 19 February 2021

19th February 2021

Over the last few years, cryptocurrencies have continued to grow in popularity with 2020 seeing bitcoin increase in value by over 300%. One of the most high profile announcements recently was Tesla’s £1.08bn bitcoin investment. For ESG investors this has reignited debate about the environmental credentials of the asset class.


Tesla’s electric cars emit lower levels of emissions relative to petrol and diesel cars. However, new bitcoins enter circulation through a process known as ‘mining’, which involves a significant amount of computing power to be lucrative. The ‘mining’ process is energy and carbon intensive, with recent research from the University of Cambridge suggesting that bitcoin used more than 120 terawatt hours a year. For context, that would mean it consumes nearly as much energy as Norway.


Some argue that blockchain technology, which bitcoin utilises, could also be used to address a number of ESG problems including supply chain traceability and improved cyber security. Furthermore, research from the University of Cambridge indicates that ‘mining’ tends to be powered by renewable energy sources.


So which side do you land on?


Enjoy the weekend.


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

In Business

  • EARTH CAPITAL DESIGNATION: Private equity group Earth Capital has received Guernsey Green Fund designation, the world’s first regulated green fund product standard, for its Nobel Sustainability Fund.
  • IBM 2030: IBM has announced its target to reach net zero emissions by 2030 and has set interim 2025 targets that will see it reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds.
  • NEW MEMBERS: 20 companies have joined Amazon’s Climate Pledge Companies including IBM, Iceland and Green Britain Group are joining and committing to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • SAD FACE: Unicode, who are responsible for releasing new emojis, have rejected a bid from RenewableUK and Possible to release a wind turbine symbol. The body has been accused of being ‘behind the curve’.
  • EV INCREASE: The number of EVs owned by companies who are members of the EV100 initiative more than doubled last year.
  • B-CORP AISLE: Ocado has launched a dedicated online ‘aisle’ for B-Corp certified brands including Ben & Jerry’s and Innocent Smoothies. The new offering will allow shoppers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions.
  • ELECTRIC JAGUAR: Jaguar Land Rover has announced that all cars built under the Jaguar brand will be fully electric by 2025. The company has also unveiled its new strategy to become a net zero business by 2039.
  • DOUBLE PROJECTS: Heathrow is commencing with two projects to help reinforce its role as a hub for research to tackle the aviation sector’s emissions. Project Fly2Plan and Project NAPKIN will explore how new technologies could use airport data more efficiently and develop a broader blueprint for the decarbonisation of the sector.
  • REINVENTING THE EGG: Aldi has redesigned some of its chocolate Easter egg range to have a flat square shaped bottom – eliminating the need for 2m pieces of plastic support packaging.
  • NAME CHANGE: The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership is changing its name to the Zemo Partnership as part of efforts to reflect the industry’s renewed and increased focus on delivering fully net zero emission technologies.

In Politics

  • HYDROGEN HOMES: BEIS has announced that the UK’s first show homes with household appliances fuelled entirely by hydrogen will open in the spring in Low Thornley, near Gateshead.
  • CGFI: The UK government has established the new £10m UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, which will advise on more sustainable investment decisions. New innovations hubs will be setup in London and Leeds.
  • UKEF WIND FARM: The UK government, through UK Export Finance, has announced that it will be providing £200m in credit guarantees to help finance the 605MW Greater Changa 1 Offshore Wind Farm in Taiwan.
  • CLIMATE AND NATURE INVESTMENT: Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has called for climate and nature investment to be prioritised in the economic recovery. The Committee has warned that if the economic recovery from Covid-19 is not used as an opportunity to ‘grow back better’, climate change and biodiversity collapse may deliver an even greater crisis.
  • COMMUNITY ENERGY INQUIRY: The Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry to consider the role community energy could play in decarbonising energy and heat to help the UK meet its 2050 net zero target.

In Investment

  • SHAREHOLDER VOTE: Mining giant Glencore will hold an advisory shareholder vote over its climate action strategy in April. The company has pledged to align itself with the goals of the Paris Agreement, backed by a strategy launched in December to achieve net zero by 2050.
  • HSBC CSO: HSBC has appointed Celine Herweijer as its first ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Celine will join from PwC where she is Global Climate Change Leader.
  • $40M FUNDING: Eavor Technologies, a scalable geothermal technology company, has announced it has closed a $40m funding round with backing from Chevron, BP and BDC Capital. Appliances include cookers, hobs, boilers and fires.
  • NET ZERO ASSET OWNER ALLIANCE: The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance – which represents 33 of the world’s biggest investors with over $5tr in assets – has pledged to work with asset managers worldwide to help develop blended finance vehicles with the potential to generate the massive amount of investment needed for global decarbonisation.
  • FSTF: The Prince of Wales’ Sustainable Markets Initiative has announced that executives from the likes of Bank of America, BNP Paribas, NatWest and Lloyds have joined on as members of a new Financial Services Task Force aiming to create a net-zero investor sector.
  • AMUNDI VOTING AND ENGAGEMENT: Amundi has presented the results of its 2020 voting and engagement policy. During 2020 it took part in nearly 4,250 general meetings of European and international companies, focusing its dialogue and voting policy on the fight against climate change and social inequalities. Amundi’s priority themes for 2021 will continue to be the energy transition and social cohesion.

In Research

  • TPI REPORT: A new report from the Transition Pathway Initiative has revealed that heavy industry, which is responsible for roughly 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is lagging in preparedness for the net zero transition, with only 14% of companies aligned with global climate goals.
  • GOOD YEAR: Research from Imperial College London on behalf of Drax has revealed that 2020 saw another record year for renewable power as clean power sources overtook fossil fuels on Britain’s grid for the first time.