Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 8 January 2021

8th January 2021

President-elect Biden’s climate change agenda was given a significant boost this week as the Democrats won Tuesday’s two Senate runoff elections in Georgia to secure the Senate. Biden’s climate action pledge includes an ambitious $2 trillion economic plan that would aim to accelerate a clean-energy transition, cut carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

 

Many US states have already begun the process of significantly increasing the rollout of renewable energy generation, with 2021 shaping up to be a productive year for the country’s burgeoning offshore wind industry, despite the economic setbacks of the pandemic. For example, the Massachusetts state legislature kicked-off the year by increasing its offshore wind target to 5600MW, whilst also raising the state’s renewable portfolio target to 40% by 2030. Under Joe Biden, it is likely such targets will be replicated at the state level across the country, which would result in a notable boon to the global clean energy supply chain.

 

Finally, Maitland/AMO Sustain would like to wish a Happy New Year all our readers! To start the year, next week we will be launching a new In the Hot Seat series, with an exciting line-up of interviewees who will be sharing their thoughts on the year’s hottest trends in sustainability.

 

We would also like to remind you of the other monitors produced by Maitland/AMO on a regular basis, including:

 

  • Private Equity Monitor – an overview of everything that is going on in the world of private equity, from the hottest deals to the latest news on fundraising and who’s going where
  • Morning Monitor – a daily overview of the financial markets, including company reporting and market moves

 

You can sign up for either of these at the foot of our homepage, or by emailing monitors@maitland.co.uk.

 


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

In Business

  • IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Winlaton, a village near Gateshead, is part of a project by Northern Gas Networks that will see the residents become the UK’s first public gas grid customers to benefit from natural gas blended with green hydrogen to power their homes. The HyDeploy demonstration scheme is set to start later this year.
  • GREENER GROCERIES: Tesco has announced that it permanently removed one billion pieces of plastic across its UK business last year, successfully meeting its November 2019 pledge.
  • VEGANUARY: Over 440,000 people have signed up to Veganuary this year. The number is the highest amount of participants the 31-day vegan challenge has ever seen.
  • HYDROGEN TRAIN: Arcola Energy is leading a project to develop Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train and has announced plans to showcase the finished model at the COP26 Climate Summit.
  • GATWICK CONTROVERSY: Gatwick Airport is under fire from campaigners over plans to upgrade its spare runways into a functioning second runway. Campaigners have accused the airport of being ‘callous to communities’ and warned of the severe environmental impacts of the decision.
  • GEOTHERMAL STEAMS AHEAD: United Downs geothermal plant in Cornwall has signed a landmark deal to supply electricity to Ecotricity. This will be the first time a house in the UK receives geothermal electricity.
  • HEALTHIER: Terracycle and pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi have partnered to launch a new recycling initiative in the UK that will enable customers to recycle their old empty medicine blister packets in pharmacies.
  • SUSTAINABLE COFFEE CHALLENGE: The Sustainable Coffee Challenge, whose 150 members include Walmart, McDonalds and Nescafe, collectively pledged to cut CO2 emissions by a minimum of 1.5 gigatonnes by 2050.
  • LENOVO OFFSET SCHEME: Lenovo has announced that it will be introducing a carbon offsetting scheme to customers worldwide, following a pilot run in the Nordics that successfully saw 26,000 metric tonnes of CO2 offset.
  • EXXON REVEALS ALL: Exxxon has revealed the carbon impact of its oil and gas products in its ‘Energy and Carbon Summary’, which showed the company’s value chain emissions totalled 730m metric tonnes of CO2 in 2019, making it one of the highest emitters of any major oil and gas company.

In Politics

  • NET ZERO HUB: The government has announced an £8m funding boost as part of its goal to establish the first net zero industrial hub in the UK by 2040. Funding has been awarded to projects across the UK, including Scotland and South Wales, to produce detailed decarbonisation roadmaps that will outline how they could utilise clean energy technologies to cut emissions over the next ten years.
  • ELECTRIC BUSES: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that Coventry and Oxford are developing business cases in the hopes of gaining £50m of funding to help switch their entire bus fleets to run on electricity.
  • INNOVATION FUND: The UK government has committed £213m for an innovation fund to upgrade and develop scientific and technological approaches to tackling Covid-19 and the climate crisis.
  • WHISKY FUND: 17 whisky distilleries have received the first part of funding as part of the Government’s Green Distilleries competition, which aims to help the sector go green.

In Investment

  • TRAFIGURA PLEDGE: Geneva-based trader Trafigura has announced a target to cut carbon dioxide emissions produced by its own operations by at least 30 per cent over the next three years, according to its annual sustainability report.
  • LOW CARBON HEAT: Legal & General has increased its commitment to protecting the environment through supplying debt finance to HeartRHIght, a renewables funding scheme, which supports the delivery of low-carbon air source heat pump technology to the social housing sector.
  • AIR PROTEIN: California-based Air Protein has raised $32m in funds to help the ‘vertical farm’ experts launch an innovation lab to accelerate product development.
  • THUMBS DOWN: BlackRock and Norges Bank Investment Management, two of the world’s biggest investors, voted against the directors of Top Glove, one of the globe’s largest manufacturers of Personal Protective Equipment, after more than a quarter of its workforce reportedly contracted Covid-19.
  • ESG IN 2021: The global health and economic challenges of 2020 have not slowed investor demand for sustainable investing, a new BlackRock survey has found. In fact, investors plan to double their allocations to sustainable products over the next five years, and 20 per cent said that the pandemic would accelerate their sustainable investing allocations.

In Research

  • OVER-FISHING ISSUES: A new report from the Marine Stewardship Council has warned of the dangers of over-fishing, which is depriving the global poor of protein to feed 72m people. The report suggests that similar conservation methods used to help the South Atlantic humpback whale population could be applied to help boost global fishery stocks.
  • HOT, HOTTER, HOTTEST: Analysis from the University of Bristol has suggested that UK summer temperatures could rise faster than the global average over the next four decades.