Investors back green bonds with a 17 per cent rise in the market in the first quarter as David Attenborough stars in an updated version of Wind in the Willows showing the beloved characters suffering in today’s polluted world. European parliament votes to ban single-use plastic, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell three per cent in 2018, and solar-powered ‘forecourts’ for electric cars are being trialled to replace petrol stations. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Investors back green bonds, with a 17 per cent rise in first quarter
Investors have been putting their money behind bonds to finance renewable energy and other green projects at the start of this year, according to new figures.
More than 80 so-called green bonds were issues globally in the first quarter of 2019, raising $36.13 billion (£28 billion), data from law firm Linklaters shows. This is a 17 per cent rise from the same period last year and marks the best first quarter in six years for the green bonds market.
US bonds raised the most cash – $9.2 billion (£7.03 billion) over 14 bonds – followed by France’s $4.8 billion (£3.67 billion) from five bonds. UK investors came 13th on the list, raising just under $1 billion (£760 million) from two bonds.
David Attenborough joins all-star cast in new Wind in the Willows with eco-warning
Wind in the Willows has been updated in a cartoon film reflecting the devastating impact our rubbish is having on the environment.
The updated version of the classic children’s tale shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture. Many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up.
Narrated by British stars including Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, and Alison Steadman it highlights damage to the environment from litter as well building motorways through the countryside and the loss of habitats for wild animals such as ponds.
The film has been released by the Wildlife Trusts to highlight environmental damage and call on politicians to do more to protect the environment. After premiering at the Bafta award ceremony, it will now be screened at 500 cinemas as well as on social media.
European parliament votes to ban single-use plastics
The European parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part of a sweeping law against plastic waste.
The vote by MEPs paves the way for a ban on single-use plastics to come into force by 2021 in all EU member states. The UK would have to follow the rules if it took part in and extended the Brexit transition period because of delays in finding a new arrangement with the EU.
As well as targeting the most common plastic beach litter, the directive will ban single-use polystyrene cups and those made from oxo-degradable plastics that disintegrate into tiny fragments. The EU is also tackling the scourge of wet wipes that help to clog sewers in the form of “fatbergs”.
UK’s greenhouse gas emissions falling
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 3 per cent in 2018 as pollution from the energy sector continued to decrease, provisional government figures show.
Emissions of the gases that drive climate change have fallen for six years in a row and are now 44 per cent below the UK’s 1990 baseline. Emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are at the lowest level since before the start of the 20th century when Queen Victoria was still on the throne, government officials said.
The fall was mainly due to a 7 per cent reduction in pollution from energy suppliers, as the power sector continues to switch away from coal to low-carbon technology such as renewables.
There was also a 3 per cent drop in emissions from transport, which have barely fallen since 1990 and now make up the biggest share of the UK’s climate pollution.
Solar powered charging stations for electric vehicles
A new generation of solar-powered ‘forecourts’ for electric cars is being developed across the UK to eventually replace petrol stations.
Plans have been drawn up for a network of more than 100 forecourts tailored to charge cars, vans and buses quickly. They will have space for 24 charging bays and “airport-style” lounges that motorists can use while they wait.
Gridserve, the green energy company behind the plan, said that drivers will be able to reserve spaces in advance using an app to avoid long waits and that smaller vehicles could be charged in less than ten minutes.
The company has secured 80 sites on busy roads and near powerful grid connections. New solar farms will be built next to most forecourts to supply energy directly. Work is due to start on the first two sites in York and Hull this year.