Top Stories

February 22, 2019

Sustainable Foods

Start-up that turns insects into animal feed raises $125 million

A French agritech start-up Ynsect that turns mealworm larvae into fish and animal feed has raised $125 million, in the single largest agritech investment round outside the US. Ynsect breeds insects and turns them into feed for fish, pet food and fertiliser through an entirely automated production process that is controlled by artificial intelligence. The $125 million funding round, which takes the start-up’s total investment to date to $175 million, was led by Astanor Ventures, a Brussels-based venture capital firm. Other investors include London-based Talis Capital, and BPI Large Venture in Paris. Ynsect said it would use the fresh funds to build an insect farm in northern France, which will have the capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes of protein a year, up from the current production of “several hundred” tonnes. The company said it had signed a total $70 million worth of contracts with various feed, pet food and fertiliser companies, and was in talks with other potential customers. (Financial Times)*

Read more: ‘A question of sustainability… Investors eye plant-based shift to alternative proteins’


UK investor body to apply red warning if a company’s board lacks women

Britain’s top companies face a red warning if they don’t have more than one woman on their board, the Investment Association (IA) said on Thursday, adding to pressure for more female representation at top levels of management. The body which represents big asset managers said it was expanding its traffic light system which guides big investors on whether a company is complying with best practice in areas of governance such as executive pay. The IA said it would apply a red alert to a top 350 listed company if there are none or only one woman on the board. A red top represents the highest level of warning and is reserved for companies where shareholders should have the most serious concerns, the IA said, though it has no formal power over how investors vote on company policies. An amber top would be applied where there is more than one woman, but less than 25 percent of the board are women. (Reuters)

Climate Change

Climate change ’cause of most under-reported humanitarian crises’

Climate change was responsible for the majority of under-reported humanitarian disasters last year, according to analysis of more than a million online news stories, a report by humanitarian agency Care International found. The Care report links climate change to civil disasters in Sudan, Chad, the Philippines, Madagascar and Ethiopia, and says it played an exacerbating role in Haiti. Whole populations were affected by food crises in countries ravaged by drought and hurricanes such as Ethiopia and Haiti, yet neither crisis generated more than 1,000 global news stories each. In Madagascar, more than a million people went hungry as corn, cassava and rice fields withered under drought and severe El Niño conditions but their suffering sparked few headlines. Nine of the 10 most neglected tragedies occurred in countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states. Asad Rehman, the executive director of London-based charity War on Want, blamed a “climate change reporting that prefers pictures of polar bears to those we are killing with our inaction”. (Guardian)

Sustainable Development

Development bank investments could halt emissions rises in developing nations, report finds

By funnelling concessional finance into low-carbon projects in developing nations, development finance institutions could halt the rate of emissions growth across such countries altogether, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Concessional finance is typically provided under timescales and terms that are more generous than market loans and is achieved either through low interest rates or by grace periods, or a combination. Commissioned by the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), the report examined how such financial support can be used to lower the cost of clean energy in developing nations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. According to BNEF, concessional finance from CTF and multi-lateral development banks worth $6.2billion in total, was instrumental in spurring the development of several key policy advancements across the five nations. Chile, for example, has introduced reverse auctions for clean power-delivery contracts and a carbon tax framework since Climate Investment Funds, the body which operates CTF, first invested in one of its projects. (Edie)


Norway starts payments to Indonesia for cutting forest emissions

Almost a decade after Norway signed a $1 billion deal with Indonesia to help protect its tropical forests, the first payment for reduced emissions will be made after deforestation rates fell, environmentalists and government officials said. Indonesia imposed a moratorium on forest-clearing under the 2010 climate deal, with payments linked to the Southeast Asian nation’s progress on lowering planet-warming emissions from felling trees, which release carbon when they rot or are burned. Indonesia confirmed last week that carbon emissions from deforestation declined in 2017. Once independently verified, payments for about 4.8 million tonnes of avoided emissions will be made, the Norwegian embassy statement said. No details were provided on the payment amount, although green groups estimate the figure to be about $20 million. New measures introduced by the Indonesian government, including a ban on destroying primary forests and peatlands, and limiting palm oil expansion were critical, said Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Ola minister Elvestuen. (Reuters)

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Image source: Sunbathing Cricket by Alison Day on FlickrCC BY-ND 2.0.