Top Stories

December 17, 2021


M&S signs £850m loan linked to achieving net-zero targets

British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has signed a new £850 million revolving credit facility (RCF) with BNP Paribas that will offer discounted interest rates based on performance against four key areas of M&S’s net-zero strategy. The RCF will run until 2025, and will allow M&S to benefit from the discount rates if they deliver across four net-zero metrics – namely zero deforestation, sustainable fibre sourcing, packaging reduction and reducing property-based emissions. In September, M&S refreshed its iconic Plan A sustainability strategy to encompass a new commitment to reach net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain and product category by 2040. The retailer has since confirmed that Plan A will involve a headline commitment to becoming net-zero across Scope 3 emissions by 2040. (edie)


Experts warn over post-Brexit UK rule changes on chemicals

Proposals published on the Defra website show the UK government is planning to change regulatory requirements on key chemicals, in what experts fear could be the first move to a weaker post-Brexit safety regime for toxic substances. The proposals would change the way “substances of very high concern”, including potential toxins and carcinogens, and chemicals that persist for a long time in the environment, are dealt with. Under the new proposals, which are no longer required to go through parliamentary vote or public consultation, companies will be allowed to submit information on “substances of very high concern” on a voluntary basis, but will no longer be obliged to do so. The proposals will also reduce the criteria for substances to go on authorities’ watchlists, meaning a smaller number of notifiable chemicals will be analysed. (The Guardian)


Global demand for coal could hit all-time high in 2022

Coal power is on track to hit a new global record this year after an economic rebound that could drive worldwide coal demand to an all-time high in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The watchdog claims the amount of electricity generated from coal power plants has soared by 9% in 2021 after a surge in fossil fuel demand to fuel the recovery from Covid lockdowns, with the surge outpacing the growth in low-carbon sources. The global gas supply crunch has also reignited demand for coal, which rose by 6% overall this year, including cement and steel making. Although the total falls short of record levels of demand in 2013 and 2014, the IEA warned that without a policy intervention that high could be surpassed next year.  (The Guardian)


Singapore Exchange to mandate climate and diversity disclosures

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has announced a new series of sustainability and transparency-related rules for issuers, including its roadmap for mandatory climate disclosure and reporting on board diversity policies and progress. Citing “urgent demand” from lenders, investors and other key stakeholders for climate-related disclosures, SGX will require all issuers to disclose against the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) on a “comply or explain” basis from FY2022, with mandatory reporting beginning for other sectors from 2023 and 2024. Beginning in 2022, all issuers will also be required to set a board diversity policy, covering aspects including gender, skill and experience, and to describe diversity targets, plans, timelines and progress in their annual reports. Additionally, the SGX will require all company directors to undergo a one-time training on sustainability. (ESG Today)


United Airlines, Alaska Air invest in zero-emission hydrogen ZeroAvia

Hydrogen-electric aviation solutions start-up ZeroAvia has raised $35 million in its most recent funding round, aimed at helping the company develop its zero-emission powertrain system for regional aviation. New investors in the round included United Airlines and Alaska Air Group, joining existing investors including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, AP Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, and Shell Ventures. ZeroAvia focuses on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions to address a variety of markets, initially targeting a 500-mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft used for commercial transport, cargo, agriculture, and more. In 2020, the company completed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of commercial-grade aircraft. Both United and Alaska Airlines have announced initiatives to invest in low-carbon aviation solutions. (ESG Today)



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B4SI Annual Review 2021