Top Stories

March 25, 2021


Big banks provided over $3trn in finance for fossil fuels since Paris Agreement

The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8 trillion of financing for fossil fuel companies since the 2015 Paris climate deal, according to a report by a coalition of NGOs, including Rainforest Action Network and Reclaim Finance. JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America were the top financiers over the 2016-2020 period. UK bank Barclays provided the most fossil fuel financing among all European banks and French bank BNP Paribas was the biggest in the EU, despite its strong stance on restricting financing coal, fracking and tar sands. The report warns the pledges to become net-zero by 2050 made by 17 of the 60 banks are “weak”, with some banks having policies blocking finance for coal, but dedicating two-thirds of funding for oil and gas. (The Guardian)


Net-zero emissions targets adopted by one-fifth of world's largest companies

One in five of the world’s 2,000 largest publicly listed companies have now committed to a net-zero emissions target to help tackle climate change. A report by the UK-based environmental organisations Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit and Oxford Net Zero shows that companies representing nearly $14 trillion in sales have promised to cut their planet-heating emissions to net-zero by 2050. It also found countries representing 61% of global emissions have announced net-zero targets. However, similar to yesterday’s Climate Action 100+ benchmark the research revealed many pledges are yet to be backed up by transparent and robust steps. Only 20% of targets by governments and companies meet the basic criteria for credible net-zero plans set out by the UN-backed ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which could be an indicator of greenwashing. (Reuters)


Key UK financial regulators mandated to consider climate issues

All of the UK's principal financial regulators now have an explicit mandate to consider climate-related risks and trends in their decisions, after the UK Chancellor officially updated the remits of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Committee. The Chancellor instructed the financial watchdogs to consider implications for the UK's 2050 net-zero emission ambition in all future decisions and planning, in a bid to mobilise private finance towards sustainable growth. Climate change is now listed among seven key considerations for the regulators charged with supervising banks and other financial services firms. The move comes just weeks after the Chancellor similarly for the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee and Financial Policy Committee. (Business Green)


Northern Gas Networks and Hitachi UK launch green bonds

Northern Gas Networks has launched its first green bond, in a bid to raise capital to prepare for hydrogen heating. The bond has a ten-year term and is aiming to raise £1 million, which will be used to support the company to create gas infrastructure that is more efficient in readiness  for the hydrogen transition in the coming years. The firm is targeting net-zero ahead of the national deadline and is planning to trial 100% hydrogen in an unoccupied section of the network by the end of 2021. Separately, financial services giant Hitachi Capital UK has issued a $40 million bond with a three-year term, that will be used to fund projects like electric vehicle leases, charging infrastructure and renewable energy generation. (Edie)


Trade unions call for greater regulation on AI use in the workplace

The UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned about “huge gaps” in UK employment law over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) at work. The TUC warns increasing reliance on automated decision-making could lead to workers being “hired and fired by algorithm”, and that new legal protections are needed to avoid machines making life-changing decisions. The union body is calling for an obligation on employers to consult unions on the use of “intrusive” AI at work, the legal right to have a human review decisions, and the legal right to “switch off” from work and not be expected to answer calls or emails. Additionally, it is calling for changes to UK law to protect against discrimination by algorithm, as past uses of AI have shown it can be racially biased. (BBC News)


2021 Actions for Business