Top Stories

September 17, 2020


World misses all UN biodiversity targets

The world is set to miss all its targets to safeguard biodiversity and halt the destruction of ecosystems that are critical to slowing climate change, according to an alarming report published today by the UN Convention of Biological Diversity. A decade ago, countries adopted a series of 20 biodiversity objectives, the new study, serves as a report card on these goals, and finds that none have been met in full, while just six were deemed to be “partially achieved”. Some progress was also made towards tackling invasive species, with around 200 successful eradications of alien species on islands logged by the report. However, $500bn of harmful subsidies for agriculture, fossil fuels and fishing have not been eliminated, meaning governments are continuing to directly drive environmental degradation. Earlier this month, a WWF assessment estimated that since 1970 close to 70 per cent of wild animals, birds and fish have been eradicated.  (Business Green)


Plug-in hybrids are a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, according to new report

Carbon dioxide emissions from plug-in hybrid cars are as much as two-and-a-half times higher than official tests suggest, according to new research from pressure groups Transport & Environment and Greenpeace. The official tests indicate that plug-in hybrids emit an average of 44g per km of CO2, however the analysis suggest the real figure is closer to an average of 120g per km. According to these figures a plug-in hybrid would only deliver an emissions reduction of about a third on a typical petrol or diesel car – far less than the official estimates. Transport and Environment’s analysis says a key problem with plug-in hybrids is that so many owners rarely actually charge their cars, meaning they rely on the petrol or diesel engine. The new research is published as the government considers whether to bring forward a proposed ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and conventional hybrid cars from 2035 to 2030. (BBC)

Policy & Research

Carbon prices to climb 50% over next decade following raised EU climate targets

According to Refinitiv Carbon Research, if the EU proceeds with increasing its climate ambitions from a 40% reduction in emissions to 55% by 2030, carbon prices will increase as a result. The research suggests that the average carbon price between 2021 and 2030 will surpass €30. Beyond 2030, the price would increase again to beyond €50. In comparison, the EU carbon price reached €15 in May 2020, as a result of the coronavirus, its lowest level since 2018. Earlier this week, more than 150 businesses and a group of investors with €33trn in assets under management called on the European Union (EU) to back the ambitions set out in its Green Deal by committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the EU would back the proposed 55% reduction. (Edie)

Sustainable Investment

Novartis ties bond sale to malaria treatment access in sustainability push

Pharmaceuticals company Novartis has raised 1.85 billion euros from the sale of a bond on which interest payments will rise if the drugmaker fails to expand access to medicines and programmes to combat malaria and leprosy in a number of developing countries. Investors are increasingly pushing companies to improve their track record on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues while sustainable investing grows in popularity, spurring an increase in sustainable debt issuance year after year. Italian utility Enel pioneered the structure in late 2019, tying interest payments to key performance indicators (KPI), and Brazilian pulp and paper maker Suzano sold a heavily oversubscribed $750 million carbon emissions-linked bond less than a week ago. Unlike green bonds – the biggest financing vehicle in the sustainable investment space which links funds to specific environmentally-focussed projects – sustainability-linked bonds are tied to goals at the company level. (Reuters)

Technology & Innovation

Device to curb microplastic emissions wins James Dyson award

A device that captures microplastic particles from tyres as they are emitted – and could help reduce the devastating pollution they cause – has won its designers a James Dyson award. The Tyre Collective, a group of masters students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, scooped the UK prize of the international competition with their solution for the growing environmental scourge of tyre wear caused by road transport. Every time a vehicle brakes, accelerates or turns a corner, the tyres wear down through friction and tiny particles become airborne. This produces 500,000 tonnes of tyre particles annually in Europe alone. Globally, it is estimated tyre wear accounts for nearly half of road transport particulate emissions. It is also the second-largest microplastic pollutant in the oceans after single-use plastic. The award, which is in its 16th year, operates in 27 countries and is open to university students and recent graduates studying product design, industrial design and engineering (The Guardian)