Global businesses smash clean energy record as investors turn up the heat on fast food giants over climate change. Meanwhile, UK asset managers face a tougher and greener stewardship code, the EU proposes a ban on 90 per cent of microplastic pollutants, and Selfridges launches a new insect-based food range. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Global businesses smash record for clean energy
Big businesses bought a record amount of clean energy in 2018 – more than doubling the previous record.
New figures from BloombergNEF (BNEF) reveal that global corporations bought 13.4GW of renewable energy through power purchase agreements in 2018 – smashing the previous record of 6.1GW set in 2017.
The Corporate Energy Market Outlook shows that 121 companies across 21 countries signed up to buy clean energy last year.
Jonas Rooze, head of corporate sustainability for BNEF, said businesses are becoming a major player in the clean energy market. He said: “Corporations have signed contracts to purchase over 32GW of clean power since 2008, an amount comparable to the generation capacity of the Netherlands, with 86 per cent of this activity coming since 2015 and more than 40 per cent in 2018 alone.”
Investors turn heat up on fast food chains over climate change
An investor coalition worth $6.5 trillion (4.97 trillion) is demanding tougher action on greenhouse gas emissions and water usage from six of the world’s largest fast food chains.
They want fast food giants including McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Domino’s to do more to address greenhouse gas emissions and water use in the animal agriculture industry.
The group includes some of the world’s largest and most influential institutional investors, including Canada’s BMO Global Asset Management, UK-based Aviva Investors, and Dutch investment giant Aegon Asset Management.
In letters to the executives of Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Burger King owners Restaurant Brands International, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Wendy’s Co. and Yum!, the investors call for quantitative, time-bound greenhouse gas targets to be published for their meat and dairy supply chains.
They also want public reporting on those targets annually, and a scenario analysis demonstrating how their business strategy would cope under differing climate scenarios.
Tougher and greener stewardship code for UK asset managers
Regulators have unveiled a new draft stewardship code that will hold some of the country’s most powerful investors to account over climate risk and other environmental issues.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) set out major revisions which will require asset managers to explicitly take environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into account when investing.
These could include climate change as well as the treatment of customers and suppliers of companies in which they are investing.
The revision also proposes that asset managers state their values and culture policies, and report publicly each year on how their activities achieved them.
David Styles, FRC director of corporate governance, said: “It’s a substantial change. This code, hopefully, is as groundbreaking as when we launched the first one.”
The revisions are being put to public consultation until March with a final version published in July.
EU proposes ban on 90 per cent of microplastic pollutants
The EU is calling for a ban on 90 per cent of microplastics in an attempt to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in 20 years.
Each year Europe releases a bulk amount of microplastics six times bigger than the Great Pacific garbage patch into the environment – the equivalent of 10 billion plastic bottles.
The European Chemicals Agency (Echa) is proposing a phasing out that would remove 36,000 tonnes a year of “intentionally added” microplastic fibres and fragments, starting in 2020.
Cosmetics, detergents, paints, polish and coatings would all require design overhauls, as would products in the construction, agriculture and fossil fuels sectors.
The draft law targets microplastics that are not necessary but have been added to products by manufacturers for convenience or profit.
Selfridges launches insect food range
Department store Selfridges is to stock a range of insect-based foods as the market for sustainable protein grows.
The new line of pasta, protein bars and granola snacks, all made using insect flour, was launched in its food halls last week.
The products, designed exclusively for Selfridges by French artisan brand Jimini’s, includes basil-flavoured fusilli pasta, pumpkin seed granola and dark chocolate protein bars. They are all made using either ground buffalo worms or cricket-based flour.
Selfridges says it is responding to growing concerns around the sustainability of traditional protein such as beef, eggs, pork and poultry as well as consumer demands for new and innovative protein-heavy foods.
The products will initially be sold on a trial basis through Selfridges’ pop-up “bug bars” but could become a permanent offering if they prove popular.