Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 7 May 2020

7th May 2020

This week we launched ‘In the Hot Seat’, a new fortnightly series where we tackle some of the biggest questions facing sustainability professionals across a range of industries. We’ll also explore what sustainability means and how it is interpreted across different sectors and geographies.

Kicking off our series, we welcomed Shami Nissan, Head of Responsible Investment at Actis, a leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America, to hear more about how private equity can tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals. When talking about the relationship between sustainability and responsible investing, Shami noted: “To protect and maximise returns from our investments we need stable and inclusive societies whose essential needs are being met and we require environmental sustainability to harness our resources. These foundations will deliver economic prosperity needed to safeguard returns.”

We couldn’t agree more. To read the full interview, click here.

Maitland/AMO Sustain Team

COVID-19 and companies:

McDonalds will open 15 UK restaurants for delivery only on 15th May. Perspex screens and floor markings will be introduced in specific areas and all employees will be asked to confirm they are fit and able to work. Contactless thermometers with temperatures will be taken on arrival at work for every shift.

In an open letter from Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky, the business announced that nearly “1,900 teammates will have to leave Airbnb” and investment in activities such as in Transportation and Airbnb Studios, Hotels and Lux have been postponed.

  • Gilead Sciences have donated their entire stockpile of Remdesivir to the US government to aid coronavirus efforts

Gilead Sciences, manufacturers of the drug Remdesivir, have announced that they will be donating their entire stockpile to the US government. The drug will be used to help coronavirus patient recovery. CEO Daniel O’Day said: “We’ve donated the entire supply…because we acknowledge and recognize the human suffering and want to make sure nothing gets in the way of this getting to patients”.

Magicians and comedians have become the latest sectors to offer online services during lockdown. Technology-themed magic duo Digital Deception have launched AlakaZOOM – live, interactive entertainment for virtual meetings and corporate webinars.

COVID-19 and climate change:

Whilst lockdown has helped reduce air pollution, road traffic and birdsong populations, charity Ocean Conservation has warned that the pandemic may still be hurting the environment through “much higher numbers” of plastic waste making its way into the oceans. The charity has drawn attention to the high levels of PPE being used as well as the plastic being produced the food industry through increased takeout.

New research from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has shown improvement in air pollution levels due to lockdown restrictions has resulted in 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in Europe.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, and Baroness Brown, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining their recommendations on how effective climate policy can and should play a part in the UK’s recovery plan. The full letter can be found here.

The UK Government has commissioned an independent, global review on the economics of biodiversity. Led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Review has published its interim findings, noting that COVID-19 “underscores the importance of biodiversity for our health and that of the global economy.”

COVID-19 and communities:

  • British Red Cross research shows that 43m people have engaged in acts of kindness since lockdown

The British Red Cross’s research has shown that over 43m people in the UK have done something kind for others since the beginning of lockdown.

Alex Skailes, Director at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School, outlines the three main challenges facing charities and how they can survive the current crisis.


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

In Business

  • SMARTER SMARTPHONE: Fairphone, ethical smartphone manufacturer, has launched their Fairphone 3 model with an updated privacy operating system – the /e/OS operating system as opposed to the original offering of stock Android.
  • TOTAL PLEDGES NET ZERO: French oil major Total has pledged to reach net zero across operations and production by 2050. The company has also announced it is committed to reaching net zero in energy products used by its European customers by 2050 as well.
  • WOODEN WIND TURBINE: Industrial design firm Modvion has erected a 30m wooden wind turbine tower in Sweden that is “stronger than steel”. The pilot project was built for the Swedish Wind Technology Centre for research purposes.
  • THE BIG APPLE TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE: The New York State Department of Financial Services has appointed Nina Chen as the Department’s first-ever Sustainability and Climate Initiatives Director. Ms Chen was formerlyDirector of Conservation Investments with The Nature Conservancy.
  • COAL TO GAS: One of the UK’s last operating coal plants will be converted to run on gas. Czech energy group EP UK Investments has confirmed a 10-year contract for gas generation at Kilroot power station in Northern Ireland.

In Investment

  • HUMAN, RIGHT?: The Investor Alliance for Human Rights, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, and the International Service for Human Rights have co-authored a new report called Safeguarding Human Rights Defenders offering practical guidance for investors on how to advance human rights performance.
  • WESTPAC SEVERS TIES: Australian bank Westpac has become the latest investor to signal that it will halt working with the thermal coal mining sector announcing in its climate strategy that while it would support existing thermal coal customers it also had “a commitment to reduce our exposure to zero by 2030″.
  • OCTOPUS ENERGY SELLS STAKE: Octopus Energy has agreed to sell a 20% equity stake to Australia’s Origin Energy for £300m. Octopus claims that the deal will enable them enable them to expand their customer base and increase investment in green energy technology and research.
  • BARCLAYS DEAL: Barclays as picked up a “significant” equity stake in SaveMoneyCutCarbon, a digital energy efficiency platform and consultancy, for an undisclosed deal. This is its first eco-investment since pledging to become net zero by 2050.
  • SHIPSHAPE: The Climate Bonds Initiative has launched new sector guidance on low carbon shipping.
  • MINING FOR CHANGE: The Transition Pathway Initiative has published a discussion paper on the Carbon Performance of the mining sector.

In Research

  • GREEN BOND GROWTH: Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have published their annual Emerging Market Green Bond Report. The report finds that in 2019, emerging market green bond issuance rose 21% to $52 billion, with China the largest issuer.
  • TOO HOT TO HANDLE: A new study has shown that one billion people will be forced to manage in unsufferable heat, or be displaced, for every additional 1C increase in the global temperature level. The paper, by scientists including those at Exeter University, has shown that areas that currently house a third of the worldwide population will be as hot as the hottest areas of the Sahara by 2070.


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