£250m to clean up steel as Mitsubishi invests £41m in UK solar start-up

Written by Lori Campbell on 2nd Sep 2019

The UK Government has pledged £250 million to help the steel industry clean up its emissions, Mitsubishi invests £41 million in a UK start-up bringing off-grid energy to homes in Africa, and the world’s largest urban farm is set to open on a rooftop in Paris. Meanwhile, a new Oxfam report for its #SecondhandSeptember campaign reveals we buy two tonnes of clothes every MINUTE, and Friends of the Earth rolls out a peer-to-peer network for women to take climate action with their finances. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week. 


Steel makers to get £250m to clean up the industry

The UK steel industry is to get £250 million of government funding to help clean up its emissions.

The ‘Clean Steel Fund’ is part of ministers’ pledge to hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Businesses will be encouraged to match the funding, which could also support other methods to reduce emissions, such as alternative fuels including biomass, industrial carbon capture, and finding uses for the heat generated in making steel.

A further £100 million is to be spent to develop the production of hydrogen, which emits no greenhouse gas when burned. There is also £40 million for smaller projects, including £150,000 for a Scottish gin distillery heated by hydrogen instead of natural gas, reducing emissions by the equivalent of 18 cars.

Meanwhile, the UK has confirmed it will double its contribution to the global fund aimed at tackling climate change in developing countries to £1.44 billion.


Mitsubishi invests £41m in UK solar start-up

A British solar power start-up bringing off-grid energy to homes in Africa has sealed a $50 million (£41 million) investment deal with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation.

Chiswick-based Bboxx, which provides solar installations in pay-as-you-go instalments, was founded in 2010. Its technology helps people in areas with very little energy infrastructure to gain access to local power and pay for it from an app on their smartphone.

The company was named after its technology, which takes the form of a small “battery box”. One end of the box plugs into a solar panel while the other end contacts electrical sockets. Bboxx has already installed around 200,000 home systems. The company said it plans to use the funds to expand its product in Asia.

More than 490 million people in Africa lack access to regular grid power, but the falling cost of solar energy has made it an increasingly attractive energy source for remote areas. This has led to Bboxx businesses in Nigeria and Rwanda and a deal to supply solar energy to thousands of people with France’s EDF in rural Togo.


World’s largest urban farm set to open – on a Paris rooftop

The world’s largest urban farm is set to open on a Paris rooftop next year – with the aim of feeding thousands of people every year.

More than 150,000 square feet of flat roof above a cultural complex in the south west of the French capital is being transformed into the world’s largest urban farm and Europe’s biggest green roof.

Managed by a team of 20 gardeners, the organic sanctuary will grow 30 different plant species. Agripolis, the urban farming company behind the project, says the site will produce about 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of fruit and vegetables every day in high season.

The project has been designed around a specialised aeroponic “vertical farming” technique which uses no pesticides and very little water.


UK Shoppers buy two tonnes of clothes every MINUTE, reveals new report

Oxfam is urging shoppers to say ‘no’ to new clothes during September in a bid to tackle the blight of fast fashion on the environment.

The Second-hand September campaign comes after a study commissioned by the charity revealed that more than two tonnes of clothing is bought every minute in the UK. Coinciding with London Fashion week starting September 13, Oxfam urges consumers to only buy from charity shops for the month, preventing more clothes from ending up in landfill.

According to Oxfam, if everyone in the UK took part in Second-hand September the country would save the same amount of emissions as flying a plane around the world 900 times. Each participant is also set to save £75, which is the average spend on clothing per month.


Friends of the Earth rolls out peer-to-peer network for climate change

Friends of the Earth is to roll out a peer-to-peer network for women to take climate action with their finances.
A pilot project, Ownit1.5, led to hosts and participants taking positive actions with a minimum collective value of £257,000 plus a further £608,000 of actions planned.

The charity worked with peer group education specialists Enrol Yourselfto train 16 volunteer hosts in London and Bristol. More than 50 women to take part, round their kitchen tables, in cafés and in their workplaces.

These actions included switching pension provider or bank accounts, taking out sustainable investments, switching mortgages and changing energy supplier. Friends of the Earth now plans to roll out the project, supported by leading impact investors Ethex, to a wider audience.

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