Top Stories

September 01, 2020


Businesses urged to harness ‘nature-based solutions’ to combat climate emergency

A new report has urged businesses to trial and pilot ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS) in helping them reduce environmental impacts while helping the surrounding areas improve resiliency against a range of climate risks. The report, titled ‘Nature based solutions to the climate crisis’, was developed by the Ignition project, a collaborative group of organisations aimed at developing NBS. Key findings listed in the report include lining urban streets with trees, which can reduce air temperatures by 3C, and adding green roofs and green walls, which can deliver energy savings of 7% and 8% respectively. On the socio-economic front, the report found that green spaces can help improve property values by up to 9.5%. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget has promised a £640m Nature For Climate Fund. The Fund will back tree planting and peatland restoration projects across England, in order to spur carbon sequestration in line with the Government’s 2050 net-zero target. (Edie)

Supply Chain

Auditors raised minimum-wage red flags at Boohoo factories

An investigation by The Guardian has identified that the fast-fashion retailer Boohoo has been selling clothes made by at least 18 factories in Leicester that audits say have failed to prove they pay the minimum wage to workers. Third-party audit reports produced over the past four years make claims of “critical” issues over record-keeping and working hours at the time they were written, suggesting that in parts of the supply chain workers may be paid as little as £3-£4 an hour. Eight of the 18 companies denied some or all of the claims set out in the audits, with some calling them historical or saying they did not represent typical standards. Concerns over the Boohoo’s supply chain have been raised repeatedly over the years by campaign groups, the media and MPs. The Manchester-based brand had £1.5bn wiped off its share price in two days in July amid growing investor concern over practices within its supply chain. (The Guardian)

Climate Change

Climate change and agriculture driving record levels of deforestation, WWF report finds

Climate change and agriculture are fuelling record levels of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, with fires in the area 33% higher over that last 12 months than the previous year, according to new analysis from WWF and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The findings confirm that deforestation has steadily increased in the Brazilian Amazon. The report notes that fires in the Brazilian Amazon for this year are more than 52% higher than the ten-year average and 24% higher than that for the past three years. As such, WWF is calling for the banning of deforestation in the Amazon for the next five years. A lack of policy support or ambitious action from corporates involved in agriculture has led to an area of tree cover the size of the UK being lost globally each year between 2014 and 2018. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent landmark report on land use and climate change also warned that land use is a “major contributor” to climate change and must be radically transformed. (Edie)


Humans’ construction ‘footprint’ on ocean quantified for first time

In a world-first, the extent of human development in oceans has been mapped though a study by the University of Sydney and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. The findings reveal an area totalling approximately 30,000 square kilometres—the equivalent of 0.008 percent of the ocean—has been modified by human construction. The extent of ocean modified by human construction is, proportion-wise, comparable to the extent of urbanised land, and greater than the global area of some natural marine habitats, such as mangrove forests and seagrass beds. The oceanic modification includes areas affected by tunnels and bridges; infrastructure for energy extraction (for example, oil and gas rigs, wind farms); shipping (ports and marinas); aquaculture infrastructure; and artificial reefs. The research also projected the rate of future ocean footprint expansion, for example, infrastructure for power and aquaculture, including cables and tunnels, is projected to increase by 50 to 70 percent by 2028. (Phys)


Defra announces plan to double 5p plastic bag charge and extend levy to all retailers from next year

The UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that the 5p charge on plastic bags is being doubled to 10p and will be extended to all retailers in England from April next year. To date only retailers employing 250 or more staff have had to impose the 5p charge but when the rules are tightened from April 2021, any retailer in England, large or small, will also have to comply with the rules. Since the 5p bag charge was introduced five years ago – spearheaded by the Lib Dems in the coalition government – the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014, government statistics show. The move comes hot-on-the-heels of the government’s consultation on its planned plastic tax, which will impose a new tax on producers and retailers who use plastic packaging. (Business Green)


Image source: Bosco Verticale, Milan by Victor Garcia on Unsplash.