Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 3 April 2020

3rd April 2020

This week, we’re seeing famous faces from the sports and entertainment industries pull together and offer support. Tennis player Roger Federer, has donated 1mn Swiss Francs to vulnerable families in Switzerland. Joe Wicks, online nutrition coach, has launched a free daily live workout class on his YouTube channel. ‘P.E with Joe’ aims to help children and adults remain fit and active whilst staying at home. Film actress Angelina Jolie has also donated $1mn to anti-hunger charity No Kid Hungry, to help children access free meals during school closures. Musicians Rihanna and JAY-Z have pledged $2m to help high-risk communities. No doubt the list will grow over the coming weeks.

As we settle into our routines of social distancing, we’re also starting to see organisations consider our world post-COVID-19. Over the weekend Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, published his annual letter which addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the global economies, governments and the private sector. Fink also looks to the future, noting “when we emerge from this crisis, and investors rebalance portfolios, we have an opportunity to accelerate into a more sustainable world.” We see a similar message from UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa in a statement announcing the postponement of COP26. Espinosa remarked: “Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”

With that in mind, stay safe, positive and enjoy reading.

Maitland/AMO Sustain Team

COVID-19 and companies:

They might be supporting their local communities and charities, but companies are still expected to uphold their ESG commitments and maintain their reporting standards.

In addition to the $6m cash donation, Nasdaq has donated 12,000 face masks this month to the Greater New York Hospital Association and will double match all employee donations to global COVID-19 relief and response efforts through the Nasdaq GoodWorks program.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (‘CDPQ’), which manages assets for public and para-public pension and insurance plans, has announced a C$4bn ‘envelope’ to support Québec companies temporarily impacted by the crisis. CDPQ has also donated $300,000 to five charities.

Glass Lewis, an American proxy advisory services company, has published a memo outlining its approach to governance during the pandemic. On ESG and voting procedures, the independent provider of global governance services, notes “companies should be mindful not to use the crisis to dismiss or hamper the ability of shareholder proponents to put forward their resolutions, speak at virtual meetings and have shareholders vote on such matters. Poor behaviour or treatment towards shareholders will likely only encourage more activist attention and will certainly be reflected in future shareholder votes on directors and recommendations from proxy advisors.”

Brewdog has packed and donated over 50,000 units of its new hand sanitiser to the NHS and local charities. Over the weekend, the business will set up a second packaging station at its brewery to help us develop and pack even more products.

Ingka Group, the parent company of IKEA, has issued €26m of in-kind donations to protect the health and livelihoods of communities, co-workers, suppliers and consumers impacted by coronavirus. The IKEA Foundation is separately committed to provide up to €10 million in donations as well.

Source London, London’s leading charge point provider, has announced that NHS and Metropolitan Police staff can now charge their EVs for free across the entire Source London network to support their continued commute and wider operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Severn Trent, a state-owned water authority based in the UK, has committed to giving £1m to the charities and community groups that are making a difference and helping those struggling as a result of the pandemic.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund issued a £50m fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. The £50m fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 and will be open for applications within the next few days.

COVID-19 and climate change:

COP26 has officially been postponed until 2021, but the climate crisis still remains front and centre, with the pandemic significantly affecting the UK’s horticultural sector.

The COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed until 2021. In a statement, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.”

The World Economic Forum has published a blog addressing the similarities between the climate crisis and COVID-19. One similarity that the blog notes is the importance of well-resourced health systems with a “strong and supported health workforce” that can “protect us from health security threats, including climate change.”

The Horticultural Trades Association (‘HTA’) has been working over the past week to try and quantify the scale of the crisis facing growers and the wider ornamental horticultural industry. Due to the plunge in demand following the UK shut down, the HTA estimates that the value of lost plant sales in the UK will be £687m by the end of June and if it continues £1.2 bn by the end of December

COVID-19 and communities:

The largest social bond issued to date aims to provide financing to countries fighting the virus in Africa, whilst in Stockport, Spiderman makes a surprise appearance.

The African Development Bank has issued a $3bn social bond to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, in a deal that underwriters say could pave the way for more social bonds of this kind. The three-year ‘Fight Covid-19 Social Bond’ is the largest social bond issued to date, and proceeds are intended to provide financing to countries and businesses fighting against the coronavirus in Africa.

In a 29-year first, The Big Issue magazine will now be sold in shops, as the publication removed its vendors from the streets to safeguard them from the virus. From 2 April, Sainsbury’s will be the first major supermarket to stock The Big Issue and newsagents McColl’s, Martin’s and RS McColl will also carry the magazine.

A mysterious figure known as the Stockport Spiderman has been cheering up isolated children in the Greater Manchester borough. Spiderman goes out for an hour each day and visits a different neighbourhood. Parents can request a visit to their street from an online Facebook page, on the condition their children stay indoors and wave from their windows.

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

In Business

  • H&M AND CLIMATE POSITIVE FASHION: H&M Group has published its Sustainability Performance Report 2019 which highlights progress towards the company’s vision “to lead the change towards circular and climate positive fashion”. In 2019, the Group collected 29,005 tonnes of used garments – an increase of 40% from 2018.
  • UPS AND MOIXA PARTNERSHIP: Delivery giant UPS and tech developer Moixa teamed up with UK Power Networks, Innovate UK, and Cross River Partnership to optimise EV fleet charging in a project dubbed the EV Fleet-Centred Local Energy Systems project. The project is an innovative smart charging project aimed at demonstrating the carbon, cost, and grid benefits associated with switching large logistics fleets to electric models and managing them using AI software.
  • NET ZERO PRINTING: Japanese printer giant Ricoh becomes the latest multinational to set sights on 1.5C decarbonisation plans, after pledging to cut emission 63 per cent. Ricoh has had its latest emissions reduction goals approved under the Science Based Targets Initiative after more than doubling its emissions reduction target for 2030.
  • FAST EV CHARGING: Dutch fast charging company Fastned’s revenues from its fast charging network grew 175 per cent to €4.5m last year. The company claims it delivered nearly 8GWh of electricity to 42,800 customers in 2019, as financial results were overshadowed by coronavirus concerns.
  • ADM ANNOUNCES NEW SUSTAINABILITY TARGETS: The world’s largest food and ingredient supplier, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has announced a new plan to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent and its energy intensity by 15 percent by 2035.

In Politics

  • PLASTIC PACKAGING TAX: When asked if the Government would be implementing national guidelines for plastic packaging recycling alongside the introduction of a new Plastic Packaging Tax, Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park confirmed that the Environment Bill, which is currently going through the Committee Stage in the House of Commons, includes legislation so that all collectors of waste must collect a core set of materials from households, businesses and other organisations such as schools. The core set of materials will be paper and card, plastic, metal, glass, food and garden waste, which will have to be collected separately from residual waste.
  • HOUSE OF COMMONS ON PUBLIC WASTE: The House of Commons published a Library Briefing Paper on Public Waste which including statistics on plastic waste and information on UK Government and devolved Government plans and ambitions to reduce avoidable plastic waste and examples of voluntary initiatives from the plastics industry, environmental groups and retailers.
  • JUST “WITHIN REACH”: Germany is likely to achieve its binding EU renewable target for 2020, according to the latest figures from the country’s federal environment agency. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said the EU renewable target of 18% in 2020 is “within reach”.
  • JAPAN’S UPDATED CLIMATE ACTION PLANS: Japan became the first major economy to submit its updated national climate action plan under the Paris Agreement. However, the supposedly revamped plan controversially failed to increase the country’s headline emissions target, which campaigners have criticised as a ‘shameful’ lack of ambition.
  • EU COMMISSION’S ONLINE PUBLIC CONSULTATION: The EU Commission has launched an online public consultation to gather stakeholder views on the EU’s 2030 climate ambition increase. As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission will put forward a comprehensive plan to increase the EU’s current 2030 target of at least -40% greenhouse gas emission reductions to at least -50% and towards -55%, compared to 1990 emission levels
  • HACKNEY COUNCIL GOES GREEN: Hackney Council is now sourcing 100% of its electricity demand from renewables, with the council accelerating towards a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.

In Investment

  • BARCLAYS ESG REPORT: Barclays announced its ambition to become a net zero bank by 2050 in its ESG report, pledging to align both its own business as well as its entire financing, investing, and lending portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement within the next 30 year, targeting at least £100bn green financing by 2030.
  • ESG OUTPERFORMS IN COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Research from HSBC finds that within the stock market turmoil, shares of companies focused on climate change or ESG issues – environmental, social and governance – outperformed as the virus spread.

In Research

  • BNEF HYDROGEN ECONOMY OUTLOOK: Bloomberg NEF published its Hydrogen Economy Outlook report on Monday, detailing how producing hydrogen using wind or solar-powered electrolysis has, in the past, proven more expensive than traditional, non-renewable methods of artificial production. Large-scale, global deployment of renewable hydrogen across the energy, transport and industrial sectors could reduce their annual emissions by up to 34% by 2050 – at a “manageable cost”.
  • THE BURNING QUESTION REPORT: A new report by international development and relief agency Tearfund has found that Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever are responsible for half a million tonnes of plastic pollution that is burnt or dumped annually in six developing countries (China, India, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria), enough to cover 83 football pitches every day.

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