Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 22 May 2020

22nd May 2020

After kicking off our new series, ‘In the Hot Seat’ earlier this month, this week we were thrilled to catch up with Julia Chapman, Investor Communications Manager at CDP, a not-for-profit charity running the largest global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities and states to manage and measure their environmental impacts.

In our latest edition, we focused on the importance of environmental disclosure and how corporates can become climate leaders, to which Julia offered four important steps:

  1. Disclose your full impact
  2. Manage and influence your supply chain to become more sustainable
  3. Have Board-level oversight of your environmental impact and action
  4. Commit to science-based targets

Some food for thought on a Friday afternoon.

Maitland/AMO Sustain Team

 


COVID-19 and companies:

The Under2 Coalition of 220 state and regional governments have joined the growing chorus of businesses, politicians, investors and campaigners all calling Governments to place the Paris Agreement climate targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals at the core of economic recovery measures, claiming “business as usual is no longer an appropriate response” to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

155 companies – with a combined market capitalization of over $2.4trn and representing over 5m employees – have signed a statement urging Governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science. The joint statement, which is signed by businesses like Mars, Nestlé, Vodafone, Coca-Cola European Partners, the Co-op, and H&M among many others.

A 10-minute home saliva test for coronavirus is under development in a deal struck between the billionaire co-founder of online fashion brand Boohoo and Cambridge-based firm, Avacta. The antigen test, which would be available to buy, will look like a pregnancy test but will use a saliva sample, and is designed to give a result within 10 minutes. The test kit is still in development and needs to be approved by regulators, but the company expects it to be available in the UK in July.

 

COVID-19 and climate change:

The National Trust has reported that the absence of humans has led to an increase in rare sightings and behaviour of UK wildlife. Sightings have included peregrine falcons, otters and orcas.

Fair and efficient carbon pricing that encourages a shift from fossil fuels to green investment can help deliver a more resilient COVID-19 recovery, as well as raising up to £15bn a year in crucial revenues for the Treasury over the next decade, according to a policy briefing by LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment.

The European Commission has adopted a new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. According to the Commission’s statement, the new Biodiversity Strategy is “adopted in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy is a central element of the EU’s recovery plan, crucial to preventing and building resilience to future outbreaks and providing immediate business and investment opportunities for restoring the EU’s economy.”

 

COVID-19 and communities:

Manna Aero, an Irish drone delivery company, was initially planning to use their drones to deliver takeaways but are now using their fleet to deliver medication and supplies to the elderly and vulnerable.

Love Beyond Walls, a US non-profit, has started the Love Sinks In initiative which installs portable sinks throughout the country to help homeless people wash their hands and stay safe during the pandemic.

The BBC has launched their Together tool which unites friends and families in different households by allowing them to watch or listen to BBC programmes at the same time.

 

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

In Business

  • INFINTELY RECYCLABLE: UK waste management company Viridor has teamed up with chemical recycling tech company PLASTIC ENERGY to commence feasibility work to develop a new plastic recycling project which has the ability to return up to 30,000 tonnes of previously unrecycled plastic using a new technology that would make such materials ‘infinitely recyclable’.
  • I’LL CHEERS TO THAT: Drinks giant Pernod Ricard has brought forward a target to ban single-use plastic in point-of-sale items by four years, aiming to eliminate it by 2021.
  • WASTE NOT WANT NOT: Iceland has published its first food waste report. Since 2017/18, the retailer has reduced its food waste by almost 2,500 tonnes, equivalent to 23.2%.

In Politics

  • OPEN FOR CONSULTATION: The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has further extended the deadline for Contracts for Difference scheme (CfD) consultation by a week due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The CfD scheme is the Government’s main mechanism for supporting new, low carbon electricity generation projects in the UK.

In Investment

  • JUST RECOVERY: Over 40 religious institutions with more than £1.1bn in assets under management have agreed to divest from fossil fuel companies, in the largest ever joint announcement by faith organisations. The 42 faith groups come from 14 countries and is composed of Catholic, Anglican, Quaker, United Reformed, Buddhist and Methodist institutions.
  • BANKING ON SUCCESS: The European Central Bank has launched a public consultation on its guide on climate-related and environmental risks. The guide “explains how it expects banks to safely and prudently manage climate-related and environmental risks and disclose such risks transparently under the current prudential framework.” The consultation will close on 25 September 2020 (midnight CET).
  • LARGEST-EVER SOCIAL BOND: Unédic, France’s unemployment insurance management body, has launched the world’s largest ever social bond, raising €4 billion to support its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order book on the issue, maturing in November 2026, ultimately reached €7.75bn. This is the highest volume of orders ever generated by a Unédic issue. The proceeds will primarily be used to fund pandemic crisis response measures.
  • FINANCING GREEN BUILDINGS: The Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings finds that up to £65bn of investment is required to maximise the number of UK homes with an Energy Performance Certificate of ‘C’ or above by 2035. This target is only one step for the residential sector to reach its own climate reduction targets by 2050.
  • UK-CHINA PROJECT ON ENVIRONMENTAL RISK DISCLOSURE: The UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment and seven signatories are participating in a UK and Chinese government-backed pilot on climate-related and environmental risk disclosure.

In Research

  • ISLAMIC FINANCE COUNCIL REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: The Islamic Finance Council UK, in partnership with Malaysia based International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance, has launched the first report in a thought leadership series that aims to assist and encourage active engagement in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the global Islamic finance sector.
  • CLIMATE DISCLOSURE STANDARD BOARD RESEARCH ON CLIMATE-RISK: Research from the Climate Disclosure Standard Board has found that 78% of Europe’s largest companies are falling short of adequately reporting environmental and climate-related risks despite EU guidelines.
  • GREENPEACE REPORT ON OIL AND GAS SECTOR: A new Greenpeace report finds that Google has revealed how Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are using AI technologies to help oil majors find and extract oil and gas deposits around the world.
  • CDP RESEARCH ON SUPPLY CHAIN TRANSPARENCY: The number of large corporates calling on their suppliers to provide more information on their environmental performance has increased exponentially in the past year, according to a new research from the investor-backed CDP initiative. The organisation confirmed the number of large-scale purchasers asking suppliers to report environmental data through its disclosure programme reached 24 % since last year.