Top Stories

February 11, 2019

Responsible Investment

Verizon to spend $1 billion to help the environment

Telecoms giant Verizon has borrowed $1 billion via a green bond, agreeing to spend the proceeds only on projects with a clearly positive environmental impact. The company is looking to fund some of its recent environmental commitments using lower-cost bonds that appeal to a growing block of environmentally-sensitive investors. New projects will include both those that add solar and hydrogen fuel cell electricity production at existing properties, as well as investing in larger solar and wind farms in areas near its large facilities. In addition to the power projects, Verizon is also planning on spending some of the proceeds to improve the efficiency of its buildings by, for example, adding energy-saving LED lighting and installing sensors to reduce heat and lighting. Some money will also be spent on the company’s reforestation program, a commitment to plant 2 million new trees by 2030 including 250,000 in areas hit by the series of major hurricanes in 2017 like Puerto Rico and Miami. (Fortune)

Read more: Mike Tuffrey’s blog from 2014 ‘Green bonds – steps towards a green economy

Chevron announces emissions cut target aligned with Paris agreement

Chevron vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Paris accord on climate change, potentially averting a shareholder rebellion at its annual general meeting. The U.S. oil major pledged to reduce air pollution intensity by 25 to 30 percent by 2023, as recommended in the Paris agreement that took effect in 2016. The target applies across the company’s global portfolio, including assets in which it owns stakes but is not lead operator. The metric will also be a factor in determining employee bonuses, Chevron said in a report published last week. Although the reduction targets won’t apply to emissions created by consumers using Chevron products — a key demand from environmentalists and activist investors — the move is a significant policy shift for Chevron. Chevron’s decision may defuse an investor proposal to be considered at its annual meeting this year. Shareholders As You Sow and Arjuna Capital asked the oil supermajor to adopt the Paris targets, including the use of Chevron’s products by consumers. (Washington Post)


Selfridges launches suit bags made from plastic bottles

Shoppers buying high-end suits, dresses, and coats in Selfridges can now take home their purchases in garment covers made from recycled plastic bottles, after the retailer announced the roll-out of new eco-friendly suit bags across its stores. The suit bags and garment covers have been supplied by reusable bag company Jutexpo, which specialises in turning recycled plastic bottles into fabric. The Jutexpo covers are made from a fabric using 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and are certified to the Global Recycling Standard. The firm said its specialist ‘HALT’ process turned the bottles into a durable fabric called rPet “which is strong, durable and can be wiped clean”. Selfridges estimates the move will result in more than 220,000 plastic bottles being recycled from post-consumer waste during the first six months of the roll out. The garment covers have been rolled out in stores since the beginning of January and are now available in all Selfridges outlets, the firm said. (Business Green)*


Corporate reporting ‘fails to provide meaningful impact information’

Corporate non-financial reporting does not allow investors to understand companies’ impacts and “by extension their development, performance and position”, according to a report by the Alliance for Corporate Transparency, a group of leading civil society organisations and experts. The research project set out to analyse how European companies implemented requirements of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and recommend how it could be improved. The group analysed reporting by 105 European companies and found that although majority of companies acknowledged the importance of environmental and social issues in their reports, “more often than not” the information was not clear in terms of concrete issues, targets and principal risks, the alliance said. The solution, according to the group, is for EU rules on non-financial reporting to be more specific about what companies should disclose. “The results of our research suggest the need for the standardisation of disclosure and clarifications on when companies ought to report such information with respect to several key issues,” the report added. (IPE)


Drax begins capturing biomass carbon emissions in ‘world first’

Drax, a British electrical power generation company, has begun capturing carbon emissions from one of the four biomass units at its power station in Yorkshire, UK. The company claims the trial of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the first of its kind anywhere around the globe and could eventually enable Drax to become the world’s first “negative emissions” power station. “Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project,” Drax Group’s chief executive Will Gardiner said. “The successful deployment of BECCS requires us to identify ways in which the carbon dioxide we’re now capturing can be stored or used in other processes and we’re working with the government and other businesses on that,” Gardiner added. The £400,000 pilot project is being undertaken in partnership with C-Capture which installed and commissioned a demonstration carbon capture and storage unit at the power station in November. Its propriety solvent is being used to isolate carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is burnt to generate electricity. (Edie)

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Image source: Solar Farm by Kevin Dooley on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.