Top Stories

May 06, 2020

Climate Change/ Policy

Coronavirus: UK warned to avoid climate change crisis

The UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis, the government’s advisers have warned. The Committee on Climate Change has recommended that ministers ensure funds earmarked for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions. They also say the public should work from home if possible and investment should prioritise broadband over road-building. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the committee says jobless people should be re-trained for work in geographically-spread labour-intensive “green” industries such as home insulation; tree-planting; and peatland restoration. The letter also tackles broader social themes of fairness and risk. It says the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted inequalities, with poorer people more in danger. The committee notes: “The response to the pandemic has disproportionately affected the same lower-income groups and younger people – who face the largest long-term impacts of climate change. The government will reply later, although the Energy Secretary Alok Sharma has already spoken in favour of a green recovery to the recession. (BBC)


Albert launches contract-based sustainability initiative for film and TV industry

Albert, the Bafta-backed group that campaigns to promote sustainability best practices across the film and television industry, has this week launched a new initiative that encourages stars to write environmental conditions into their contracts. Albert’s ‘green rider’ encourages sought-after talent in the film and TV industry to mandate particular environmental measures on set, for example the prioritisation of costume hire over fast fashion purchases or the procurement of low-energy lighting and plant-based catering services. ‘Riders’ are clauses in actors’ contracts that have been historically been used to demand on-set luxury items or specify transport preferences. The group hopes that actors, writers, and other film and TV talent will embrace the concept of green riders to encourage the “carbon-intensive” screen industry to cut its emissions and reduce its environmental impact. Albert plans to run webinars with casting and talent networks to demonstrate how the rider can be used and has made a ‘green rider’ template that is available on its website. (Business-Green)

Sustainable Investment

Financiers join EU ‘green recovery alliance’

More than 50 CEOs from the banking and insurance sector have joined the “green recovery alliance” in the European Parliament. The alliance was launched last month at the initiative of Pascal Canfin, a French centrist MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s committee on environment and public health. At the time, it included 12 environment ministers, 79 MEPs, 37 CEOs and business associations, as well as environmental groups, trade unions and think tanks. It can now also boast more than 50 signatories from the world of finance, including AXA, Allianz, BBVA, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Groupama Asset Management, Nordea Life & Pension, PensionDanmakr, and Santander. Signatories of the alliance say they are committed to supporting post-pandemic “stimulus transformation plans” that put the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss at the centre of Europe’s economic policy. Investors also had a warning for governments rushing to bail out polluting companies. “Recovery plans that exacerbate climate change would expose investors and national economies to escalating financial, health and social risks in the coming years,” they said. (Edie)

Climate Change/ Strategy

Total commits to net-zero emissions by 2050 following investor pressure

Oil giant Total has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 across its operations and products, covering Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The energy company will target a 60% reduction at least in the carbon intensity of its energy products used by customers. Oil and gas capex allocation will also be assessed and scrutinised to ensure that projects and spending are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Total’s targets will be revisited every five years with scope for change based on policy and market trends, and the company will advocate for policies that support the net-zero transition across all countries and sectors. Total agreed to the commitment following extensive conversations with the Climate Action 100+ coalition consisting of more than 450 investors with more than $40 trillion in assets under management. However, Total was named amongst the oil and gas companies that have spent £40.5 billion on investment projects that undermine the Paris Agreement, according to think tank Carbon Tracker. (Edie)


Economic development racking up unpayable debt to nature, researchers warn

Many parts of the world may not have enough suitable land for green efforts to make up for the environmental damage caused by planned development like clearing forests for new roads or more plantations, researchers have warned. In Indonesia, for example, planting new vegetation to compensate for biodiversity losses from proposed mining and palm oil projects would require twice the amount of land available. The paper is based on a principle of biodiversity offsetting. In the southeast African nation of Mozambique, making up for new roads and mining operations that would hurt rare vegetation would mean conserving much more land than currently available. As countries around the world emerge from lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, environmental experts have said protecting nature should not take a back seat. (Eco-Business)

Image source: High-angle photography of green trees photo by Spencer Watson on Unsplash