Top Stories

June 01, 2022


Virgin Money launches £200m fund for farmer emissions

Financial services company Virgin Money has launched a £200 million fund to help UK farmers make the transition to net-zero agriculture. Dubbed the ‘Agri E Fund’, it aims to offer lower cost loans that can be used to invest in measures which reduce on-farm emissions, such as installing renewable power sources, energy efficiency initiatives and other decarbonisation efforts. It claims the fund is the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to supporting farmers with the investment and carbon audits required to help them achieve net-zero. The loans are available with 0% arrangement fees when a farmer completes a carbon audit and is borrowing over £50,000. Farming accounts for approximately 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions, but its significant land use creates opportunities to capture and store carbon. (Business Green)*


UK CEO remuneration recovers to pre-pandemic levels

Pay for UK bosses has bounced back to pre-Covid levels as company boards shed pandemic-era pay restraints and cash in on bonus plans, according to financial service company Deloitte’s 2022 AGM-season report. Overall pay for chief executives in the FTSE 100 has reached a median average of £3.6 million, similar to the level struck in 2018 and near the record high of £4 million in 2017. CEO wages fell to £2.8 million in 2020 after bosses cut their pay during the pandemic. This was also a period when many companies set bonuses for 2022, which typically reflected pessimism about prospects for Covid-hit companies that instead went to grow strongly, boosting payouts. Deloitte found one-fifth of FTSE100 companies used so-called negative discretion to reduce agreed increases for their bosses owing to the extent of the pay rises.(Financial Times)*


Queen’s jubilee tree planting sponsors ‘linked to deforestation’

Campaign group Wild Card has accused the Queen’s jubilee tree planting scheme of being sponsored by companies with links to deforestation. The Queen’s Green Canopy scheme is dedicated to developing a network of 70 ancient woodlands across the UK to identify ancient trees to “celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service”, aimed at reforesting the UK. However, campaigners say that some of the scheme’s “platinum” sponsors have links to deforestation. These include fast-food chain McDonalds, which has been linked to deforestation in Brazil, and private banking company Coutts which invests in various companies that Wild Card accuses of profiting from deforestation. Campaigners argue “the number of trees this scheme might help to plant is a tiny fraction of the number the scheme’s corporate sponsors have helped to destroy.” (The Guardian)


US says it will cut costs for clean energy projects on public lands

The Biden administration has announced it will substantially reduce the cost of building wind and solar energy projects on federal lands to help spur renewable energy development. The new policy comes after years of lobbying from clean power developers who argued that lease rates and fees for facilities on federal lands were too high to draw investment. In a statement, the Department of the Interior said rents and fees for solar and wind projects would fall by about 50%. The administration also said it would boost the number of people processing renewable energy environmental reviews and permit applications through the creation of five coordinating offices. The offices are expected to improve coordination with other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of agriculture, energy and defence. (Reuters)


Asset managers commit $16 trillion of assets to net-zero target

New analysis from the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative has found that asset managers have so far committed $16 trillion of assets to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. This represents 39% of their total assets. The initiative now has 273 signatories, including the likes of AXA Investment Managers, Aviva Investors and Columbia Threadneedle. Signatories must set interim targets for 2030 and review those goals every five years so that the proportion of assets covered by their net-zero pledge is increased up to 100%. In its latest report, the group said members manage a total of $61 trillion. Twenty-four of the group’s signatories have tied 100% of their assets to the target, while 19 others have committed more than 75% of the funds they manage. (Reuters)

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