Top Stories

October 20, 2022


Next pandemic may come from melting glaciers, new data shows

The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new scientific research. Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers. The findings imply that as global temperatures rise due to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles. Researchers added that climate change is predicted to alter the range of existing species, potentially bringing new hosts into contact with ancient viruses or bacteria. (The Guardian)


Barclays & Oxford University announce agri-climate partnership

UK bank Barclays has announced a major three-year partnership with Oxford University’s Sustainable Finance Group and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment. The partnership aims to help reduce emissions across the UK agricultural industry. The project is expected to provide better emissions data from the farming industry and establish decarbonisation pathways that would allow financial institutions to better support the agriculture sector’s transition towards more sustainable practices. Barclays said that securing accurate emissions data from farms would make it easier for the financial sector to back projects that can curb agricultural emissions and enhance climate resilience, while also boosting yields and maintaining food security. The bank added that the outputs from its project would be made publicly available, allowing other financial institutions to calculate their agriculture-related portfolio emissions. (Business Green)*


New coal mines ‘effectively uninsurable outside China’, says report

Insurance capacity available for coal power outside of China is “dwindling” due to almost two-thirds of reinsurers introducing time-bound coal exit policies, analysis has found. Conducted by campaign organisation Insure Our Future, the analysis looks at the fossil fuel exclusions and exit policies of the 30 biggest insurance firms in terms of the scale of their historic fossil fuel insurance. It reveals that 62% of the firms offering reinsurance in the energy sector, by market share, have published exit policies. Allianz, AXA and Axis Capital are ranked as the firms with the strongest coal exit policies. This trend among insurers means that the global insurance capacity available for coal now accounts for just one-tenth of the capacity available for the entire global power sector. (edie)


High gas prices spur $70bn in green hydrogen investment

A newly published report has found that soaring gas prices have made hydrogen produced from fossil fuels increasingly uneconomic and spurred more than $70 billion in new investments of green hydrogen. Made using electrolysers powered by renewable energy to split water from oxygen, green hydrogen has been touted as key to decarbonising industries that rely on coal, gas and oil. Gas prices have soared more than 70% on international markets since the start of the war in Ukraine, making the cost of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels more expensive than green hydrogen. In Europe, fossil-fuel hydrogen asset owners will see their costs of production rising by roughly 50% more than average hydrogen costs to $7.60/kg. This puts more than $100 billion worth of existing fossil hydrogen assets at risk of becoming stranded by 2030, the report warns. (Reuters)


Shareholder group wants Tesla to link Musk's pay to ESG metrics

Retail activist shareholder platform Tulipshare has called on automotive company Tesla to tie its executive pay to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, saying it will file a shareholder resolution. Tulipshare said a decision by S&P Dow Jones Indices in 2021 to oust Tesla from a widely followed ESG index showed the company faces reputational and legal risks that investors will not tolerate. To date, most of Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk’s pay has been tied to financial performance. In April 2022, Musk met goals worth a combined $23 billion. Tesla faces a series of lawsuits involving alleged widespread race discrimination and sexual harassment, including one by a California civil rights agency. Tesla representatives did not respond to requests for comment. (Reuters)

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