Top Stories

September 10, 2019

Sustainable Investment

Sharp rise in number of investors committing to divesting in fossil fuel stocks

The number of institutional investors committed to cutting fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios has risen from 180 in 2014 to more than 1,100 now, according to a report from environmental organisation Fossil fuel divestments have increased dramatically since the 2015 Paris agreement on combating climate change. In 2014, investors with a total $52 billion in assets under management had agreed to shed their fossil fuel holdings. Now that group represents more than $11 trillion in total assets, although this headline figure represents the total assets being pledged to divest, rather than money specifically being pulled away from fossil fuel companies. More than 900 additional investors, including asset managers, pension providers and insurers, have pledged to divest since the year before the Paris accord. The divestment pledges have started to have material effect, with Royal Dutch Shell listing divestment campaigns as a material risk in its latest annual report. (Financial Times)*

Energy/Climate Change

UK bus firms vow to buy only ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles from 2025

UK bus operators have pledged to buy only ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles from 2025 as they called on the government to outline a national strategy to encourage more people to use buses. The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents most bus operators in the UK including the big five firms – Arriva, FirstGroup, Go Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach – said the bus industry could help to address the climate crisis if the right government support was in place to make the transition. The CPT said it wanted lower fares for jobseekers and apprentices, smart ticketing and innovative and sustainable solutions for rural areas. While bus travel remains the most popular form of public transport, with around 4.4 billion journeys a year are made by bus, passenger numbers in Britain have flatlined after declining central funding led to fewer services and higher fares. The CPT is targeting one billion more passenger journeys by bus by 2030 which, coupled with ultra-low emission vehicles, it says will help the fight against climate change. (Business Green)

Policy and Research

Juul ‘ignored law’ in US e-cigarette adverts

US regulators have sent a warning letter to Juul Labs, saying the e-cigarette company violated US law by promoting its products as safer than traditional cigarettes. Juul said it was reviewing the FDA concerns and will “fully cooperate”. The company, which has long promoted its nicotine pods as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, must provide a written response to the FDA within 15 days. Acting FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless said companies must present scientific evidence before marketing products as less risky than tobacco. Michigan last week became the first state in the US to ban flavoured e-cigarettes. The move came as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed it was investigating five deaths associated with use of vaping products. In addition, the agency said it is examining more than 450 cases of lung illnesses. Federal officials have been pushing Juul – the biggest player in the US e-cigarette market – to modify its marketing since last year, amid a startling increase in youth vaping. (BBC)

Climate Change

World ‘gravely’ unprepared for effects of climate crisis – report

The world’s readiness for the inevitable effects of the climate crisis is “gravely insufficient”, according to a report by the Global Commission on Adaptation, with contributions from Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and heads of global climate and environment divisions. According to the report, this lack of preparedness will result in poverty, water shortages and levels of migration soaring. It makes calls for a trillion-dollar investment to avert “climate apartheid”, in which the impacts of climate change are felt most greatly by the poorest in society. The cost of this investment would be far smaller than the eventual cost of doing nothing in the face of climate change, according to the report. The study goes further to state that the size of the investment may not be the greatest obstacle, but rather political leadership. Among the most urgent actions recommended are early-warning systems of impending disasters, developing crops that can withstand droughts and restoring mangrove swamps to protect coastlines, while other measures include painting roofs of homes white to reduce heatwave temperatures. (The Guardian)


UK public unlikely to change habits despite concerns about environment

People are reportedly reluctant to adopt environmentally friendly lifestyle changes despite claiming to care more about damage to the natural environment than ever before, according to a survey from government adviser on the natural environment, Natural England. Looking at a proportion of the UK public, the study showed younger people are most likely to adapt their behaviour, with 19 percent of 16 – 24 years olds stating they intend to make lifestyle changes. A further 25 percent stated they want to do more but don’t know how or find it difficult. People aged over 65 were least likely to make changes with 39 percent saying they are happy with their current lifestyle and would not be likely to change it. The findings come as awareness of environmental challenges, such as climate change and plastic pollution is on the rise, suggesting a discrepancy between what awareness and action. (edie)


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Image Source: New York Times newspaper by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.