The UK creates a ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas twice the size of England. However we join the world in failing to achieve gender equality by 2030. Meanwhile, Hong Kong raises $1 billion (£791 million) in its first green bond and the UK celebrates its first coal-free fortnight since the industrial revolution. Elsewhere, Good With Money editor Rebecca Jones joins a panel of top eco-finance experts to answer all your ethical investing questions at an interactive London event. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
UK creates ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas twice England’s size
An area nearly twice the size of England will become a ‘blue belt’ of protected waters after the government created 41 new marine conservation zones.
The newly-protected areas range from Studland Bay near Bournemouth, to the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast in Kent. They will cover 4,633 square miles (12,000 sq km) of marine habitat, eight times the size of Greater London. It will bring the total number of marine protected areas around the British coastline to 355.
The species and habitats that will benefit from the new protections include the short-snouted seahorse, the ocean quahog, ross worm reefs and blue mussel beds.
Not one single country set to achieve gender equality by 2030
Not one country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030, according to the first index to measure progress against a set of internationally agreed targets.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index “should serve as a wake-up call to the world”. Even the Nordic states, which score highly in the index, would need to take huge strides to fulfill gender commitments in the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which 193 countries signed up to in 2015.
The first-ever ‘SDG Gender Index’, developed by the Equal Measures 2030 partnership, found that 2.8 billion women and girls currently live in countries that are not doing enough to improve women’s lives.
The index measures progress in 129 countries, marking them from zero to 100 (with 100 meaning equality has been achieved) on 51 targets in 14 of the goals. These targets either specifically reference gender equality, or touch on issues that have a disproportionate effect on women and girls, such as whether women have access to mobile banking, or the internet, or a safe water source.
The average overall score for the 129 countries in the index – home to 95 per cent of the world’s women and girls – was 65.7, which is considered a poor result.
Hong Kong raises $1 billion in oversubscribed first green bond
Hong Kong has raised $1 billion (£791 million) from the sale of its first green bond, as it looks to establish itself as a global centre for green finance.
The five-year green bond, with a coupon (or interest rate) of 2.5 per cent, attracted over $4 billion (£3.2 billion) in orders from investors globally, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said. The proceeds from green bonds get earmarked for investment in environmentally friendly projects.
Wednesday’s bond is the first to be issued under Hong Kong’s HK$100 billion (£10 billion) green bond program to fund projects around clean transportation, air quality improvement and green buildings. It is one of the largest green bond schemes globally.
UK celebrates first coal-free fortnight for electricity grid
Britain has gone two weeks without using coal power for the first time since the industrial revolution, smashing its previous record of eight days set last month.
The milestone marks the only coal-free fortnight since the world’s first coal-powered plant opened in London in 1882. It comes just two years after the UK marked its first full day without burning the fossil fuel.
Fintan Slye, National Grid electricity system operator, said: “As more and more renewables come onto the system, we’re seeing things progress at an astonishing rate.”
However, a new report has revealed that the number of jobs in renewable energy in the UK has plunged by nearly a third in recent years.
Prospect, the union which covers much of the sector, has found a 30 per cent drop in renewable energy jobs between 2014 and 2017, as government cuts to incentives and support schemes started to bite. It also found investment in renewables in the UK more than halved between 2015 and 2017.
GWM teams up with top eco-finance experts at ethical investing event
Good With Money editor Rebecca Jones is to join a panel of top eco-finance experts to answer your ethical investing questions.
The free, interactive event in London (hosted by new app B Social) will reveal what, where and how our money contributes to the world and how we can be more in control of it.
The evening, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm tomorrow (June 4) at LABS House in London’s Bloomsbury Way, is open to all. Book your place here.