Maitland/AMO – Our Weekly Update: 20 September 2018

20th September 2018

In Business

  • WALK UPON ENGLAND’S MOUNTAINS GREEN: The first Green Great Britain Week is just a month away. On October 15th the government will launch a week of events to promote the opportunities that come from clean growth as well as raise awareness of how businesses and the public can contribute to tackling climate change.  You can download a Green GB Week toolkit here.
  • RENEWED ACTION: A group of 11 businesses including Tesco, Siemens, Landsec and Sky have pledged to source 100% renewable power for their London facilities by 2020. The companies, which collectively employ more than 165,000 people in the capital, have also committed to electrify their London-based transport fleets by 2025 to support the targets of the new London Environment Strategy.
  • CAUGHT OUT: A leaked memo from BusinessEurope suggests Europe’s biggest employer association will challenge any new EU climate change commitments. The commission recently announced it was considering setting more ambitious goals in November. BusinessEurope’s members include household names in the energy and technology sectors, many of which have in the past spoken of their commitment to action on climate change.
  • SPIN CYCLE: The fashion industry is responsible for more than a third of all micro-plastics in the oceans according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. ‘Engineering Out Fashion Waste‘ called on the government and the fashion industry to incentivise the development of more environmentally-friendly fibres and tackle textile-related plastic waste as “a matter of urgency”.
  • SHELL, SHOCKED: Shell has announced a new target to cut methane emissions from its operations, calling the initiative a “critical part” of its efforts to halve the carbon footprint of its energy by 2050.

In Politics

  • TACKLING NH3: The government’s Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership has launched a new £3 m programme to support farmers and landowners reduce ammonia emissions. The farming industry is estimated to be responsible for 88 % of all UK emissions of ammonia.
  • FRACKED DOWN THE MIDDLE: Shale gas explorer, Cuadrilla, has accused Labour of unnecessarily politicising the search for shale gas, it has also said Labour is not united on its proposed fracking ban.
  • COUNTING DOWN: The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has published a series of briefing papers on the transition to a net zero emission economy. The new reports consider how to develop new negative emission industries and the likely impact on businesses and employment.
  • EIFFEL BELOW: France has missed eight out of nine climate targets for 2017. Compiled by NGOs, Climate Action Network and the Network for Energetic Transition, the scorecard aims to provide the public and politicians with a tool to keep track of France’s progress on climate change.
  • GIVE ME A (POWER) LINE: EU energy ministers have agreed to pool efforts to increase the use of hydrogen in transport and power. This week Germany launched the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train. The emission-free train can reach speeds of 140 km per hour by using fuel cells that can convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity.

In Innovation 

  • ALL ABOARD: UNESCO has launched a new travel platform “World Heritage Journeys” to promote sustainable tourism in the EU. Developed in collaboration with National Geographic and supported by the EU, the platform features 34 selected World Heritage sites spread across 19 European Union countries.
  • CLOUD NINE: Software firm SAP UKI has launched a platform that will forecast trends plastic purchasing and recycling. The Plastics Cloud platform was inspired by widespread confusion amongst businesses and consumers as to what types of plastics can be recycled. It is hoped the platform will enable users to reduce their plastic waste output by highlighting demand for certain types of plastic.
  • JUST KEEP SWIMMING: A malleable “soft” robot jellyfish will be used to monitor delicate ocean environments. The robot’s softness means it should be able to move through fragile ecosystems without causing damage.

In Peril

  • TOXIC FUMES+++: This week three studies have explored the harm air pollution causes during all stages of life. Researchers from King’s College London and UCL have linked air pollution to dementia in the UK. The study calculated one in 14 cases of dementia may have been caused by air pollution. A separate study by Queen Mary University has found that London’s schoolchildren are absorbing a disproportionate amount of black carbon particles during the school day. Children armed with monitors recorded a surprising amount of pollution in their classrooms as well as routes to and from school. Another Queen Mary University study into pregnant women found particles of air pollution lodged in their placentas.
  • SAFE SPACE: Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist of the National Geographic Society and Ya-Ping Zhang, a Chinese Academy of Sciences biologist, have called for formal protections for at least half of the world’s oceans and lands to prevent a mass extinction crisis. In a joint editorial in the journal Science, the scientists’ write: “This will be extremely challenging, but it is possible…anything less will likely result in a major extinction crisis and jeopardise the health and well-being of future generations.”
  • GREASED PALMS: Greenpeace has accused UK companies who use palm oil of doing “shockingly little” to find “clean” palm oil despite pledging to have done so by 2020. The campaign group has said its “now or never” for orangutans who are being killed at a rate of 25 a day in Indonesia. Deforestation is also putting elephants, birds of paradise, rhinos and tigers in danger.
  • WASHED UP: A new study has found half of nearly 10000 dead baby turtles found in eastern Australia had stomachs full of plastic. Scientists found turtles have a 50 % probability of death after consuming 14 pieces of plastic.

In Investment

  • NO LONGER ERR-ING: Dutch bank, ING, has said it will start assessing its $600 bn lending portfolio based on climate impact. The policy, the first of its kind for a major bank, is seen as the first step to shifting the entire portfolio to align with the Paris climate agreement. The bank will put pressure on clients who do not confirm to the climate goals of the agreement.
  • LOGGING OBJECTIONS: A group of 44 global investors, who collectively manage $6.4 trn, have called on food companies which source beef from South America to mitigate deforestation risks from their supply chains.
  • REPORT CARD: Campaign group, ClientEarth, has accused the UK’s big four accountants of failing to flag climate risks. ClientEarth commented: “The Big Four all talk a big game on climate risk reporting. We want to know how they’re putting it into practice in their core audit work. Investors should be asking the same question.” The environmental group has also reported EasyJet, Balfour Beatty, EnQuest and Bodycote to the Financial Reporting Council for failing to address climate change threats in their latest annual reports.
  • BEST OF THE BEST:S&P Dow Jones Indices and RobecoSAM, the investment specialist focused exclusively on sustainability investing, have announced the results of the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review. Salesforce.com, Schlumberger Ltd and Diageo PLC are the three largest additions.
  • BEST OF THE VERY BEST: Nearly 400 investors with over $32 trn in assets have signed up to “The Investor Agenda”, a new global investment initiative focused on accelerating action on climate change. Investors are encouraged to report their actions to mobilise low carbon investment. The Investor Agenda also calls for increased ambition across four key areas – investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure, and policy advocacy.

Environmental Instillation of the Week 

Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya is famous for her fog sculptures. Her most extensive exhibition yet, Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace, is taking place Boston’s parks as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. The fog sculptures are created by forcing pure, pressurised water through a narrow pin that makes it scatter into droplets  15-to-20 microns wide. Nakaya positions the nozzles based on weather patterns. Having used meteorology to craft her fog sculptures for over 50 years, she says she has witnessed weather become more and more extreme.