Top Stories

February 11, 2021


'Historic step' as European Parliament approves green recovery fund

Lawmakers in the European Parliament have voted to pass the EU's €672.5 billion recovery and resilience facility, unlocking unprecedented funding to help Europe "build back better" after the COVID-19 crisis. With the Parliament’s green light, €265 billion from the total will be released for the green transition in the form of grants and loans handed out to EU countries. The facility, made up of €312.5 billion in grants and €360 billion in loans, is designed to help countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and navigate the green and digital transition. The recovery and resilience facility is the biggest component of the EU’s €75 billion Next Generation EU recovery package, the largest EU programme ever developed. (Edie)


Green sector launches work scheme to improve diversity

A group of leading environmental organisations including Friends of the Earth, Client Earth and the RSPB will take part in a scheme that will offer 118 unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds from predominantly ethnic minority backgrounds roles in the UK’s environmental sector. The aim is to diversify the UK’s green sector, where only 3.5% of professionals identify as from a minority, according to Students Organising for Sustainability UK. The selected candidates will be helped to find positions over the coming months. Each six-month placement will be paid and offer training and career support. It is hoped that more than half of the placements will become full-time positions. (The Guardian)


Macquarie raises €1.6bn for clean energy fund as investors flock to low-carbon assets

A clean energy investment fund owned by Australian investment bank Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has outstripped expectations, raising more than €1.6 billion for low carbon projects. Strong interest in the fund from 32 investors – ranging from pension funds, local government pension schemes, insurers, and sovereign wealth funds – propelled the fund past its minimum investment target of €1 billion. The largest portion of capital was raised from investors in Europe. The 25-year closed-end fund will invest in a diversified portfolio of assets, including platforms and under-construction and operational wind and solar projects in multiple countries. It owns a 10% stake in the 576MW Gwynt y Môr wind farm off the coast of Wales and a 50% stake in a 268MW portfolio of operating residential rooftop solar projects across the US. (Business Green)


Shell claims its carbon emissions peaked and unveils 2050 net-zero plan

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has outlined its new accelerated plans to transition to cleaner energy, claiming that its oil production and total carbon emissions have already peaked. The firm estimates its total carbon emissions to have peaked in 2018 at 1.7 gigatons per annum, and its total oil production peaked in 2019.  Announcing its new plan, Shell said it aims to reduce net carbon emissions by 6%-8% by 2023 against 2016 levels, with a goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. The company had previously only committed to reducing its net carbon emissions by 65% by 2050, from a 2016 baseline. The announcement follows mounting pressure on the oil and gas industry to move away from fossil fuels, with big players hitherto being slow to address the climate crisis. (CNBC)


Rise of the chief sustainability officer in the finance sector predicted

The role of chief sustainability officer (CSO) will become more common across the finance sector, as firms step up efforts to align operations and financial activity with environmental and social goals, predicts a study from Deloitte UK and the Institute of International Finance. According to the study of over 80 sustainability professionals in the finance sector, nearly all believed the CSO role would "grow in prominence" over the next two years as firms work to mitigate climate risks and align their operations and investments with global climate goals. The report highlighted that a strong working relationship between CSOs and their CEOs was the “cornerstone of effectiveness” in the role with mandates including helping the organisation to reshape its responsible business strategy and align management teams with the sustainability agenda.  (Business Green)

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2021 Actions for Business