Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 31 July 2020

31st July 2020

In this week’s edition of ‘In the Hot Seat’, we caught up with Sophie Robinson-Tillett, Editor of Responsible Investor, the award-winning sustainability publication, to talk journalism, fake news and sustainable finance.


When quizzed on how journalism can drive the sustainability movement, Sophie identified a couple of key responsibilities. “Journalism’s role is to identify and explain key developments and allow the growing number of newcomers to find their feet and cut through the noise. And, increasingly importantly, journalism should be calling out the nonsense in the sustainable finance world. Of which there is now plenty!”


Sophie also shared her thoughts on how journalists can tackle fake news. “There is a tendency to forget that you are there to help people understand what’s happening, not just to generate hits” said Sophie, before adding “people at the top of news organisations have a big role to play in making sure that journalists aren’t under pressure to publish things that aren’t well-researched and useful.” The full interview can be read here.


Enjoy the weekend sunshine.


Maitland/AMO Sustain Team

COVID-19 and companies:

Over 53,000 eateries across the UK have signed up to the UK government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme with eat-in diners able to save 50% (up to a maximum of £10) on food and non-alcoholic drinks on any Monday to Wednesday in August. A new official government online finder has been made available to help patrons find participating restaurants.

COVID-19 and climate change:

A new analysis from UK-based consultancy Vivid Economics has warned that many governments are not considering environmental targets and the net zero transition in their Covid-19 support and recovery packages, noting that whilst countries including the UK and Germany are offering green stimulus packages, others including the US and Russia are yet to deliver any specific ‘green’ packages.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has unveiled a series of infrastructure projects worth up to £1.5bn in order to help kickstart the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic. The support contains a handful of green infrastructure projects including improving the capital’s EV charging infrastructure and reducing water leakage.

A new study published in Environmental and Resource Economics from the London School of Economics has revealed that people are more likely to support wildlife conservation policies and wildlife conservation charities when the spread of COVID-19 is linked to the human depletion of nature and the environment.

New research from Lancaster University has shown that the UK’s coronavirus lockdown has had a disproportionate economic effect on BAME and migrant groups, with BAME migrants being revealed as three times more likely than their white non-migrant counterparts to have been made redundant during lockdown.

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

In Business

  • WAITROSE EV PUSH: The John Lewis Partnership has announced a pledge to eliminate the use of fossil fuel vehicles across its transport fleet by 2030 and will ramp up its use of EVs to support the surge in online orders.
  • CARBON FREE DIAMONDS: DeBeers is part of a consortium of gem firms that have committed to developing detailed plans to become ‘carbon neutral’, following increased demands from customers for responsibly sourced jewels.
  • PERI PERI AND PROGRESS: Nando’s has announced new sustainability commitments – hoping to achieve net zero carbon emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of its food by 2030. This includes expanding its plan-based menu offering and collaborating with experts to reduce the CO2 footprint of its chicken feed.
  • MICROSOFT HYDROGEN SUCCESS: Microsoft has successfully employed hydrogen power to power a row of its data centre servers for two consecutive days as part of the company’s efforts to find greener replacement technology for the diesel-powered backup generators it currently uses.
  • UNILEVER PRO H2O: Unilever has announced new water-based commitments as part of its €1bn ‘nature and climate fund’. The company will partner with the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG) and the Alliance for Water Stewardship on projects that support water management resilience in water-stressed countries.
  • RECYCLE AT PRIMARK: Primark has launched a nationwide recycling scheme to help shoppers to recycle all their clothing at 190 of their stores throughout the country. Irrespective of the brand, shoppers can drop off old textiles, footwear and bags to be transformed into new clothing and products including insulation and mattress filler with all profits being donated to UNICEF.
  • THE FORGE: Landsec is developing plans for the UK’s first net-zero carbon commercial building – The Forge, a 139,000 sq ft office development in Southwark, London.

In Politics

  • EXERCISE REVOLUTION: A new £2bn strategy to form a cycling and walking “revolution” has been announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Cycling and Walking Plan for England will include new protected bike lanes and cycle training for adults and children.
  • PENSIONS MINISTER BACKLASH: Over 60 civil society leaders consisting of MPs, climate experts, local councillors and others, have signed an open letter accusing the Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, of supporting continued investment in fossil fuels.
  • PAVING THE WAY: Cumbria County Council is partnering with asphalt specialist MacRebur on the UK’s first highway made from waste plastic. The project will use 240,000 single-use plastic bags that would have otherwise gone to landfill, and will span 3,000 square metres of road.

In Investment

  • BETTER BATTERY BOOST: Reusable battery specialist, Aceleron, has announced £2m of investment to help grow its business and increase development of EV and grid storage batteries that can be reused, repaired and upgraded.
  • MOODY’S MISSION: Credit rating giant Moody’s has expanded its sustainability vision with a new range of climate-aligned carbon reduction goals with a net-zero goal by mid-century. The company is also aiming to halve its 2019 operational and power emissions by the end of the decade.
  • 2020 STEWARSHIP REPORT: AXA Investment Managers has published its H1 2020 Stewardship Report, which has considered the impact of the pandemic on responsible investment.
  • PCAF AND BANK OF AMERICA: The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials has announced that Bank of America has joined its initiative to develop a common framework to assess financed emissions. Bank of America will help by providing its financing and risk management expertise.
  • SHORT SELLING AND RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT: AIMA and Simmons & Simmons have partnered to produce a paper the explores how short selling can be used in the context of responsible investment, detailing how hedge fund firms can use their investment abilities to help protect against undesired risks including climate risk.
  • HSBC ESG: HSBC has announced it is creating a dedicated team – the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Solutions unit – to help advise clients on how they can ‘build back better’ following the global coronavirus crisis.

In Research

  • FAIR FOOD: The FAIRR Initiative, a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the ESG risks and opportunities caused by intensive animal production, has published a new report and interactive Sustainable Proteins Hub. Appetite for disruption: a second serving covers FAIRR’s assessment of how 25 leading food companies are using protein diversification to drive growth and build climate-aligned portfolios.
  • EV 2030: New research from Deloitte has revealed that a third of all new cars sold round the globe could be electric by 2030, bringing the total number of EVs sold in a year to 31.1m worldwide.
  • WIND-WIN: A report from Imperial College London has researched UK offshore wind farms, noting that they could be the first in the world to pay money back to consumers following sharp drops in the cost of wind power as a result of declining technology costs and economies of scale.