Top Stories

September 16, 2020


New report shines light on the unequal impact of Covid on children’s lives

International non-profit organization Save the Children has released the largest global COVID-19 survey of its kind as part of its latest report, entitled Protect a Generation. The report reveals that the poorest children have been most at risk during the crisis and have disproportionately lost access to education, healthcare, and food. The survey asked 25,000 children and adults how the pandemic is affecting their lives and highlighted the ways the crisis has widened gender and wealth inequalities. Save the Children estimates that 9.7 million children will not be going back to school this year, and the new survey suggests many of the children missing out are girls living in poverty. Less than 1% of the children from poorer households who participated in the survey had access to remote learning, and of those who didn’t classify themselves as poor, only 19% had access. The organization wants to see more response efforts that prioritize children’s needs.  (Global Citizen)


Wildfire smoke causes record pollution in US state

Air quality in five major cities in Oregon was the worst on record as the state continues to be blanketed by thick smoke from wildfires ravaging nearly 5 million acres in the U.S., environmental officials in state said. The unprecedented wildfires, burning across a total of some 4.5 million acres (1.8 million hectares), have burned through towns in Oregon while also devouring forests in California, Washington and Idaho. Hardest hit is Oregon, where tiny bits of smoke and ash known as particulates have reached the highest levels on record in Portland, Eugene, Bend, Medford and Klamath Falls, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality said. The resulting blanket of ash and smoke has made the region’s air quality among the worst in the world. Satellite images show that some of the smoke from the fires, traveling on the jet stream at high altitude, has wafted east as far as New York and Washington, D.C., according to the National Weather Service. (Reuters)


Lego intensifies search for sustainable bricks

Danish toymaker Lego has announced it would invest $400 million over the next three years to step up efforts to produce its colourful bricks using sustainable materials instead of oil-based plastic. The investment will help Lego to reach a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2022 in terms of its production, as well as phase out single-use plastic in packaging by 2025 and replace plastic bricks with ones made from sustainable materials by the end of the decade. Lego’s search for a suitable alternative to oil-based plastic has proven difficult. Over the last five years, a team of more than 150 engineers and scientists have been testing many different plant-based and recycled materials. Lego uses some 90,000 tonnes of plastic in its products each year but since 2018 the company has made some of the less rigid parts of Lego sets, such as plants and trees, from bio-polyethylene, a type of plastic made from ethanol, produced using sugarcane. (Reuters)


ITV commits to net-zero emissions by 2030

British television channel ITV has built on a recent science-based targets announcement by committing to reaching net-zero emissions across the business by 2030. In August, ITV confirmed that it will aim to reduce scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 46.2% by 2030 and scope 3 emissions by 28%, both against a 2019 baseline. As part of the new net-zero commitment, ITV will require all programmes it produces and commissions to meet the British Academy Film Awards’ (BAFTA) ‘Albert certification’, an initiative which provides businesses and individuals across the broadcasting sector with resources to help them not only minimise the environmental impacts of their operations, but change the narrative around sustainability issues. In 2018, the organisation became a carbon neutral business, having reduced emissions by more than 52% over a five-year period and offsetting all direct emissions from business operations, travel and energy use. (Edie)


UK must invest in ‘net zero North Sea’ according to new report

A new era of net zero energy production has the potential to transform the North Sea into one of the world’s leading clean technology hubs, according to a major new report from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC). The wide-ranging plans hail the potential for the basin to become a test bed for next generation offshore wind turbines boasting larger blades and taller towers, saltwater electrolysis plants capable of slashing the cost of green hydrogen production, and the development of advance catalyst materials for the manufacture of hydrogen fuel. Delivering on the roadmap would cost as much as £430bn, but could generate more than £2.3tr in value to the UK economy, providing up to 200,000 jobs and significant manufacturing opportunities in the process. The news comes as the government is reportedly considering increasing support for floating wind turbines, hydrogen, and carbon capture technologies as part of a green recovery packaged and revamped net zero strategy. (Business Green)