Top Stories

March 04, 2021


UK Government pledges to put green investment ‘at the heart’ of 2021 budget

The UK Government has pledged to put green investment ‘at the heart’ of the UK's economic recovery. Announcing the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed details of a Net-Zero Innovation Fund which will provide funding for low-carbon technologies and systems, and elaborated on how the National Infrastructure Bank will support the UK's net-zero goals. The Budget also includes funding for Scotland’s transition away from oil and gas, a support scheme to help retail investors develop green savings bonds, and offshore wind and hydrogen supports. However, the Government faces criticism from green economy experts for freezing the fuel duty for the 12th consecutive year, and omitting key enablers of the Government's net-zero strategy, including its electric vehicle infrastructure plan and the Green Homes Grant energy efficiency scheme. (Edie)


P&G launches refillable shampoo bottles in the UK

FMCG giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has launched a refill format that uses 60% less plastic across several of its most popular shampoo brands in the UK. The new format includes selected brands Aussie, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences and Pantene lines in the UK, and is being rolled out across retailers Boots, Waitrose & Partners and Superdrug. The design consists of a reusable aluminium bottle and refill pouches, which P&G claims use 60% less plastic per millilitre of product than traditional shampoo bottles, and can be recycled through kerbside collections. The company is aiming to launch the refillable bottles across all European markets in which it operates by late 2021. (Edie)


Australia unveils national plan to curb plastic waste and pollution

Australia has launched a National Plastics Plan, embedding 38 actions to tackle mounting plastic waste and pollution. By July 2022, Australia aims to have phased out plastic packaging products that fail to meet compostable standards, as well as polystyrene used in loose and moulded forms for a wide range of consumer goods. The plan also rules that by December 2022, polystyrene should disappear from food and beverage containers, and PVC packaging labels should also have been phased out. The government aims to have microfibre filters fitted to all washing machines sold in Australia by 2030, and plans to initiate an “industry-led cross-sectoral stewardship taskforce” to curb waste levels from cigarette butts. (The Guardian)


US Energy Department readies $40 billion in loans to boost clean energy

The US Energy Department is getting ready to reactivate its loan programme office, which went mostly unused in the last four years and has more than $40 billion in funds to boost the country’s transition to clean energy. The Department hopes to invest in advanced wind, solar, hydro power, advanced vehicles, geothermal and nuclear reactors, although no clarification has been provided on when the loans would be offered. US Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, said the department has created an office of energy jobs which will create jobs for underprivileged communities, including “communities of colour living with the toxic legacy of air pollution”. The Energy Department’s loans are part of President Joe Biden’s push to decarbonize the US economy by 2050. (Reuters; AP News)


Equivalent of Covid-19 emissions drop needed every two years to meet Paris goals

Carbon dioxide emissions must fall by the equivalent of emission reductions reached in 2020’s global lockdown every two years over the next decade for the world to keep within safe limits of global heating, research has shown. Lockdowns around the world led to a 7% fall in emissions in 2020, equating to 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2, but reductions of 1 to 2 billion tonnes are needed every year over the next decade to keep temperature rises within 1.5◦C or 2◦C of pre-industrial levels. Since lockdowns were eased in many countries, there is a strong possibility that emissions will rise above 2019 levels, severely damaging the prospects of fulfilling the Paris goals. The paper urges governments worldwide, including from low-income countries, to prioritise emission reduction measures in their recovery packages. (The Guardian)


2021 Actions for Business