Maitland/AMO – Our Weekly Update: 13 September 2018

13th September 2018

In Business

  • HIGHWAY TO THE FUTURE? A coalition of UK businesses, including Energy UK and Aldersgate Group, have called on the government to provide detailed policy action to back its electric vehicle ambitions. The coalition has expressed concerned government is not doing enough to support necessary changes to infrastructure. This week the energy supplier SSE claimed its public charge point rollout was being frustrated by local bureaucracy in London.
  • SMART ACT: Green Alliance has launched a new Tech Task Force to tackle the UK’s north-south divide though smart technologies that help deliver clean growth and increased resource efficiency. Members include Innovate UK, Schneider Electric and GAMBICA. The taskforce has said it hopes to fill a “policy vacuum” where Brexit has capitalised government time.
  • NEW THREADS: H&M have released their eight Conscious Exclusive collection, a recurring series of premium clothing that focuses on sustainable fashion. The collection includes a recycled cashmere jumper and velvet made of recycled polyester.
  • SENT OFF: A new documentary has raised concerns that there is no viable plan to recycle the huge number of new artificial-grass football pitches the English Football Association is investing in. A Dutch investigation discovered two enormous dumps of worn-out plastic pitches by companies tasked with recycling them. Currently there is only one recycling plant in Europe that can properly break down and purify the different elements in the pitches.
  • DARK SKIES: British Airways has been named the most polluting transatlantic airline. A study by the International Council on Clean Transportation criticised the company’s over-reliance on “inefficient” long-haul aircraft.

In Politics

Brexit Update

  • FARMER GREEN: Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has unveiled a new Agriculture Bill which will help support farmers following Brexit. The bill confirms plans for an Environmental Land Management system that Gove argues will revolutionise environmental protection and bolster a ‘Green Brexit’. The new Environmental Land Management system is intended to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy Direct Payments system.
  • LIVING DEATH: Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, has accused the Conservatives of building a “Brexit based on lies” after Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, appeared to backtrack on banning live animal exports by suggesting he was only looking to “restrict” them.
  • ENDANGERED MIGRANTS: 14 of Britain’s overseas territories have said they fear migrating whales, turtles and penguins could be at risk after Brexit. Territories such as the Falkland Islands cannot access most domestic and international funding streams due to their unusual status. The EU has supported roughly a third of their conservation efforts.

  • EMITTING ZERO: Theresa May opened the world’s first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit with a pledge to accelerate the development of low emission vehicles with £106 million in R&D funding and industry-led investment totalling £500 million: “I want to see Britain, once again, leading from the front and working with industries and countries around the world to spearhead change.”
  • NETTING ZERO: A cross-party coalition of 132 MPs and 51 peers have called on Theresa May to adopt a net zero emission goal. The government has said it will instruct the Committee on Climate Change to investigate whether such a target should be set later this year.
  • INVESTING ZERO: Ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York, and Sadiq Khan , Mayor of London, called on cities to join them in divesting assets away from fossil fuels. The mayors commented: “We must use our economic might to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Taking this kind of action now could help us make a crucial difference to the people we represent and the future of our planet.” New York City alone will invest $4 billion of its pension funds into climate-change solutions over the next three years.

In Innovation 

  • GREEN WASHING: VClean Life, an environmentally friendly dry cleaners, have opened a new facility in London. Customers can drop off clothing at 24-hour VDrop machines across London and the UK before collecting them the following day. VClean Life have said they hope this marks an industry-wide shift away from using perchloroethylene solvents.
  • TAXI! The UK’s first fully-electric flying taxi – eVTOL – has successfully completed its maiden test-flight. The taxi takes off and lands like a helicopter, but cruises like a plane. It is part of Vertical Aerospace’s project to provide zero emission air travel between cities within the next four years.
  • RIDING ON THE WIND: The world’s largest offshore windfarm has officially opened in the Irish Sea. The Walney Extension, situated off the Cumbrian coast, spans the size of 20,000 football pitches and has the capacity to power the equivalent of 590,000 homes.

In Peril

  • TOXIC DEPTHS: Modelling by Newcastle University to track plastic in the ocean has concluded the vast majority is hidden below the surface, including millions of tons buried in the seabed every year. The study suggests there are as-yet unrecorded “garbage patch” off the coast of Nigeria and in parts of the deep ocean trenches.
  • BURNING ISSUE: Climate Scientists have denounced the EU’s decision to categorise burning wood as a renewable energy source. In a paper published in Nature Communications, the scientists argue the decision will result in forest devastation and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
  • POURING DATA: A new study published in Environmental Research Letters has found warming oceans are affecting the world’s rainfall.  Rain in the Amazon rainforest has increased 180–600 mm (7–24 inches) in the past few decades. The authors put this down to the increased temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.

In Investment

  • INVESTING IN CHANGE: A new report into divestment by Arabella Advisors calculates investors with $6.2 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels. This is up from $5.2 trillion in 2016. The report praises Ireland, the first nation to divest, and insurance industry for leading the charge against coal, oil and gas.
  • INVESTING IN THE FUTURE: Investors including Aviva, Schroders and Legal & General Investment Management have announced they will pressure governments, including the US, to adhere to their Paris Agreement pledges. While this week the City of London Corporation pledged to invest £2 million in the UK’s new Green Finance Institute.
  • INVESTING IN DISCLOSURE: A survey carried by HSBC has revealed ESG investment is considered mainstream, but less than 10 percent of senior executives at companies looking to raise funds, and large-scale institutional investors, are aware of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This week ShareAction released the first in a four-part report assessing the global pensions sector’s response to the recommendations of the TCFD. The Asset Owners Disclosure Project ranks the world’s 100 largest pension funds on their approach to climate-related risks and opportunities. The only pension funds to receive the highest rating of AAA were Fjärde AP-Fonden (AP4) and Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR).
  • INVESTING IN ETHICS: Nutmeg, the largest robo-adviser in the UK, has said the subjective nature of ethical investing, including the different definitions used, make it currently too difficult to put together an ethical portfolio. However other robo platforms, including PensionBee and Wealthsimple, have argued that having a transparent method for selecting ethical funds for “ready-made portfolios” was more important than having a single definition agreed by all.

Action of the Week 

Google is to expand its street-by-street air pollution mapping program. 50 of Google’s Street View cars will be outfitted with internet-connected air quality sensors produced by San Francisco-based startup Aclima.