Students across the globe walk out of classes to demand politicians take urgent climate action as Shell links the pay of its top executives to carbon reduction targets. Chancellor Philip Hammond’s mini-budget receives a lukewarm response from the environment sector, and the UN launches a global alliance for sustainable fashion to combat the environmental impact of ‘fast fashion’. Meanwhile, a farm in the US is growing biodegradable coffee cups in a bid to reduce plastic waste. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Students worldwide skip classes to demand climate action
Students across the globe walked out of classes on Friday to demand that politicians take urgent action on climate change.
The coordinated protests, across 125 countries, were organised on social media under the ‘Fridays for Futures’ banner. They were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activisit Greta Thunberg who is in her 30thweek of striking on Fridays.
Organisers said there was more than 2,000 protests worldwide, with around one million students taking to the streets to demand change. Thousands of students in the UK skipped school to take part in the strikes, saying there is “no point” in learning when their future is at risk.
Shell to pay top execs in line with low-carbon progress
Royal Dutch Shell is to link the pay of its 150 most senior executives with its progress towards carbon reduction.
The move, which was confirmed in the oil and gas giant’s annual report, begins with “immediate effect”, following months of pressure from investors.
Effective from 1 January 2019, Shell has committed to reduce its carbon footprint by two to three per cent in three years from its 2016 levels. This includes direct emissions such as extraction processes and operations, as well as indirect emissions from consumer use of its products. The measures have been welcomed by investor group Climate Action 100+, which has been lobbying Shell for months to set decarbonisation goals.
Budget receives lukewarm response from environment sector
Chancellor Philip Hammond received a lukewarm response from the environment sector to his mini budget, with experts saying he didn’t go far enough to save the planet from climate change.
Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, accused the chancellor of “fiddling in the margins while the planet burns.. it’s little wonder the UK is likely to miss future climate targets.”
Proposals for a new ‘Future Homes Standard’, which will ensure all new homes are built without fossil fuel heating by 2025 were welcomed by the domestic energy sector as a step forward.
But Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT, said it doesn’t go far enough. She said: “We should also be looking at how we can better incentivise new housing developments to incorporate clean energy technologies such as solar PV or wind turbines, combined with storage capacity.”
UN launches alliance for sustainable fashion
The United Nations has launched an alliance for sustainable fashion, which aims to stop environmentally and socially destructive practices in the industry.
The ‘UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion’ as announced on Thursday at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. It comes after reports revealing that ‘fast fashion’ is responsible for eight to 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and martime shipping combined.
UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadya Hutagalung said the alliance will promote the development of new sustainable fibers that have a low impact on the environment.
The alliance currently has eight member organisations including world bank group Connect4Climate, the International Labour Organisation, ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, the UN Development Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, UN Environment, UN Global Compact and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
Meanwhile, Primark has launched a new range of jeans made from 100% sustainable cotton.
Biodegradable coffee cups being ‘grown’ to reduce plastic waste
The reusable cups are made from gourds, a fruit in the pumpkin family, which are grown inside 3D printed moulds to make them the perfect coffee-cup shape when picked. The fast-growing squashes were used hundreds of years ago as drinking containers, as their waxy outer shell can be dried out and used to hold liquids.
The cups are grown by architecture and design company Creme at a farm near New York. They are in the design phase and not currently for sale, but Creme has had inquiries from companies in the UK and around the world.