Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 20 March 2020

24th March 2020

A new format to your weekly sustainability newsletter

Every day we are seeing organisations adapt and respond to COVID-19. From helping their local communities to looking after the health and wellbeing of employees, we will now be providing our readers with an update on how companies are supporting all of their stakeholders. We will also be exploring what impact the virus is having on our planet and how communities are rallying together to help the most vulnerable members of our society.

We hope you find this new addition useful and if you would like any further information, please do get in touch.

Maitland/AMO Sustain Team


COVID-19 and companies:

From pledging financial aid to transforming distilleries into hand sanitizer production sites, companies are working hard to tackle the pandemic.

In efforts to help small businesses which may be experiencing disruptions as a result of the virus, Facebook is offering $100m in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.

Independent brewer Brewdog will begin making hand sanitizer at its distillery in Aberdeenshire. The company has announced that they will provide their “punk sanitizer” for free to those that need it. The first batch will be available next week.

Discount retailer, Home Bargains, has announced a financial package to support staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. The package will include paying staff that need to self-isolate for up to two weeks. For staff that don’t need to isolate between now and December, they will also receive two weeks’ extra salary.

Investindustrial has announced that it has, together with its portfolio companies, pledged €6.5m to support local hospitals across Europe in the midst of the outbreak. The financial support will be primarily deployed in Southern Europe as an act of thanks to the medical community.

Adobe is offering free distance learning for higher education and K-12 institutional customers globally that have been impacted by COVID-19 from May 31st.

Additionally, John Lewis has also introduced protected shopping times at Waitrose for the elderly and vulnerable and has moved 2,100 John Lewis staff to help in Waitrose stores.

 

COVID-19 and climate change:

Research indicates that self-isolation and social distancing measures have contributed to a decline in global CO2 emissions.

Research from CarbonBrief has found that COVID-19 has wiped out a quarter or more of China’s CO2 emissions over the past four weeks. Coal consumption at power plants also declined by 36%

The Committee on Climate Change has closed its offices until further notice, in line with the Government’s advice to avoid non-essential travel. “The CCC’s work will continue over this period, with all staff and Committee members working remotely. At present, we have no plans to change our programme of planned publications, but we will remain responsive to events over the coming weeks,” it said in a statement.

Glen Peters, a Research Director at the Center for International Climate and Environment Research in Oslo, considers the impact of COVID-19 on tackling climate change as a slowdown in global economic activity will result in a slowdown of carbon dioxide emissions due to reduced energy consumption.

 

COVID-19 and communities:

Communities and local charities are rallying together to look after the most vulnerable by offering additional supplies and simple acts of kindness.

Age UK, a charity dedicated to supporting the elderly, is calling for urgent donations to help them to ensure their vital information, advice and befriending services can continue to safely help older people. The charity highlights that calls to its advice line have increased by 30%, while calls to its Silver line (its initiative to tackle loneliness through friendly conversation) have increased by 40% in the wake of the outbreak.

In response to COVID-19 and the increase in stockpiling, Beauty Banks, a charity that supplies essential toiletries to people in poverty, has launched an emergency virus-related appeal. The initiative aims to “provide emergency hygiene parcels that will help protect those at higher risk and more vulnerable to being infected by the virus.”

The Trussel Trust has published guidance on how to best support local food banks amidst the outbreak. Emma Revie, CEO of the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks warns of “a significant increase in users as more people are unable to work”. “We are definitely in need of additional volunteers,” Revie says. “One of our biggest threats is people becoming unwell and unable to volunteer.” You can sign up to volunteer here.

Twitter user Becky Wass has helped others to join in on #viralkindness through a simple postcard template that allows others to help their elderly and vulnerable neighbours. The options range from a friendly phone call to picking up urgent supplies.


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

 

In Business

  • WRAP IT UP: Waste advisory body WRAP published on Tuesday its food waste reduction roadmap, offering farmers access to new support to help them measure food surpluses and waste, and identify how best to cut down on it.
  • HAPPIER MEALS: McDonalds has announced the replacement of plastic toys in its Happy Meals in the UK and Ireland, pledging to include either a soft toy, paper-based toy or book from 2021. The change will remove over 3,000 tonnes of plastic from across the business from 2021.
  • GREENER FLIGHTS: The International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed on rules governing the eligibility of carbon offset programmes for the initial pilot phase of the industry’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which runs from 2021 to 2023.
  • ELECTRIC AVENUE E9: Siemens unveiled on Wednesday ‘Electric Avenue E9’, the UK’s first avenue to be fully converted to cater for electric vehicle charging, installing 24 lamp post-integrated charge points along Sutherland Avenue in central London. The project was developed in collaboration with ubitricity and Westminster City Council.
  • STATE OF THE TRANSITION: The Transition Pathway Initiative’s annual State of Transition report, which assesses 238 energy, industrial and transport companies on their projected emissions intensity, has found that just 43 companies (18%) have emissions trajectories in line with limiting climate change to 2°C – a slight improvement on 16% aligned with this benchmark last year.

In Politics

  • GREEN DEAL DELAYS: As the European Commission is having to re-order its priorities in the face of the coronavirus crisis, “non-essential” initiatives like the biodiversity strategy and the farm-to-fork strategy are likely to be delayed by several weeks. “The long-term work on the Green Deal continues in parallel” to the coronavirus firefighting “and continues to be one of the priorities as well,” said Vivian Loonela, EU Commission spokesperson for the European Green Deal.
  • COP 26 ON TRACK: The UK government claims COP26 remains scheduled to take place in November, despite growing fears the critical UN climate change summit could be hindered by the battle to control the pandemic.
  • WATER OVER-CONSUMPTION: Daily water consumption per head of population needs to be cut from 143 to 110 litres by 2050 to meet future supply challenges caused by population growth and climate change, according to new research by the Environment Agency’s National Framework for Water Resources.
  • CLEAN AIR GRANT: The Government £2.2m of funding from its Air Quality Grant to help local authorities curb air pollution across England. The grant is to be shared by 16 local authorities that have proposed projects and campaigns to reduce harmful emissions.
  • UKEF CLEAN BUSINESS SCHEME: Through its direct lending scheme, UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Government has pledged £2 billion of direct lending to support clean growth projects as global economies shift away from fossil fuels to renewable and low carbon solutions.

In Investment

  • FOSSIL-FUEL FREE FUND: PensionBee has partnered with Legal & General to launch the UK’s first fossil-fuel free fund in response to customer feedback which saw 34% of respondents claim that they would forgo some profitability of their pension if it would guarantee full exclusion of oil from their portfolios.
  • UPM RCF: UPM, a Finnish forestry business, has become one of the first companies to link repayments on a €750m syndicated revolving credit facility with the pricing mechanism linked to its performance against long-term biodiversity and climate targets.
  • BAD BANKS: A new study backed by over 250 NGOs and environmental organisations, including the Rainforest Action Network, has shown that financing for carbon-heavy fossil fuels has risen yearly since the Paris Agreement was signed. Only 35 banks worlwide have together financed fossil fuel projects amounting to over $27tr in 4 years.
  • DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO: The Pensions and Lifetime Saving Association (PLSA) has published a new inclusion guidethat calls lack of board diversity in the industry a “particular problem”. The guide reports that 83% of scheme trustees are male and that 50% of chairs of trustee boards are over 60 years old.

POST OF THE WEEK:

Trending on Instagram, we spotted this post for all NHS workers helping to fight COVID-19: