Top Stories

April 20, 2021


UK to toughen targets on greenhouse gas emissions for next 15 years

The UK is to toughen its targets on greenhouse gas emissions for the next 15 years, the first major developed economy to do so. Following recommendations of the government’s statutory climate advisors, the new target will aim for carbon dioxide to be cut by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, an increase from the current target of a 68% reduction by 2030. The move is intended to spur further action by other governments, ahead of vital UN-backed COP26 climate talks. At Cop26, nations will be asked to set out national plans for carbon curbs over the next 10 years. These nationally determined contributions form the bedrock of the Paris Agreement, but current plans from most countries are considered too weak to fulfil the aims of the 2015 Paris Accord. (The Guardian)


ExxonMobil floats $100 billion government-backed carbon capture hub

Oil and gas multinational ExxonMobil has proposed a $100 billion hub to capture carbon dioxide emissions along the US but warned that government funding would be required to pay for and develop it. In what would be the world’s biggest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, Exxon – with private and public partners – would build a facility to collect emissions from refineries, petrochemical plants and other industrial facilities along the Houston Ship Channel. Such a facility could bury 50 million tons of CO2 a year beneath the Gulf of Mexico by 2030, more than all CCS projects currently operating globally. Exxon believes that this figure could double by 2040. The company is calling for government and private-sector funding, as well as enhanced regulatory and legal frameworks that enable investment and innovation. (Bloomberg*)


Barclays pulls out of underwriting debt deal to fund Alabama prisons

British multinational investment bank Barclays has pulled out of underwriting an $840 million debt deal by US private prison company CoreCivic to fund the building of two prisons in Alabama, after the bank came under scrutiny for its involvement. The decision follows the release of a letter last week by a group of about 30 investors and activists, opposing the fundraising and urging banks and investors to refuse to purchase securities whose purpose is to “perpetuate mass incarceration”. The letter called on Barclays to pull out of the deal altogether. In response to its involvement in the deal, sustainable industry groups the American Sustainable Business Council and Social Venture Circle terminated Barclays’ membership, and returned $15,000 in sponsorship and membership dues to the bank. (Financial Times*)


Toyota to review industry associations as part of 2050 net-zero strategy

Japanese car manufacturer Toyota will review the industry associations it belongs to, as part of its commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The company will review public policy engagement activities through its company and industry associations to confirm they are consistent with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, and disclose assessment and actions by the end of 2021. Toyota was the lowest-scoring carmaker on climate think tank InfluenceMap’s scorecard for policy engagement against Paris-aligned benchmarks, noting a history of lobbying against fuel standards in the US and against UK phaseout dates for the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. Toyota also plans to achieve its 2050 net-zero goal by developing a range of electric vehicles and working with governments and other sectors to accelerate their rollout. (Edie)


Biodiversity critical to help UK reach goal of net-zero by 2050

Peatlands, woodlands and coastal marine habitats are all vital in helping the UK reach net-zero emissions by 2050, but efforts need to be made to improve biodiversity conservation and restoration. According to research by Natural England, the UK’s peatlands and native woodlands have the greatest capacity to store carbon and lead the fight in responding to the climate crisis. When healthy, peatlands can soak up carbon “indefinitely”, and a hectare of native woodland can simultaneously improve biodiversity and capture carbon equivalent to 13 flights between London and Rome each year. The findings come days after the Woodland Trust’s review of the state of Britain's native woods and trees, which found only 7% are in a good condition, and declared British woodlands are 'at crisis point'. (Edie; BBC News)

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