The UK government has announced it will invest £500 million in green technologies to help tackle climate change as Glasgow wins its bid to host COP26 – the United Nations climate summit – in 2020. Meanwhile, Gucci becomes completely carbon-neutral, Sainsbury’s launches refillable lines to halve its plastic packaging and a new report reveals the world is losing an area of forest the size of the UK every year. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
UK government to invest £500m in green technologies
The UK government is to invest more than £500 million in green technologies to help combat climate change.
A £400 million fund has been announced to develop electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The first £70 million is allocated for 3000 charge points, which will more than double the number across the UK to 5000.
Rapid charge points are able to recharge a family car in 20 minutes – existing technology means that this can currently take 40 minutes. The government said that it hopes to make the reality of driving electric vehicles easier and more accessible for people across the UK.
A further £142.9 million will be invested to combat air and water pollution and increase sustainability. In June, the UK government became the first G7 nation to write into law a target for “net zero” emissions.
COP26: Glasgow to host UN climate change summit 2020
A major United Nations climate change summit will take place in Glasgow.
The UK has won the bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties – known as COP26 – following a partnership with Italy.
Up to 30,000 delegates are expected to attend the event at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) at the end of next year. The meeting is designed to produce an international response to the climate emergency.
The UK will host the main COP summit while Italy will host preparatory events and a significant youth event, as part of the agreement.
Claire Perry, UK nominated president for COP26, said: “In 2020, world leaders will come together to discuss how to tackle climate change on a global scale – and where better to do so than Glasgow, one of the UK’s most sustainable cities with a great track record for hosting high-profile international events.”
Gucci goes carbon neutral to help tackle climate crisis
Gucci has announced it has become an entirely carbon-neutral company.
The achievement is part of the Italian fashion brand’s new climate strategy, which stretches from its supply chain to its fashion shows. It comprises of a mixture of reduction, elimination and offsetting what it calls “unavoidable emissions”.
“The more time that goes by, the more reports from the scientists are clear – the planet has gone too far,” said Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri.
By incorporating its entire supply chain into its strategy, which includes external businesses such as the tanneries, Bizzarri says the brand is targeting the part of its production that causes the most damage. The company says its early supply chain currently accounts for 90 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions.
Gucci is to partner with Redd+ (a UN project to reduce emissions from deforestation) on four projects that support forest conservation in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia to offset carbon emissions it cannot eliminate.
Sainsbury’s to launch refillable lines in bid to halve plastics packaging
Sainsbury’s is to launch refillable versions of products such as milk and fizzy drinks as it strives to halve the amount of plastics it uses for packaging by 2025.
The 2025 target, set in 2018, will see the supermarket reduce its annual plastic use for packaging to 60,000 tonnes or less, compared to 12,000 tonnes in 2017.
Since setting the goal, Sainsbury’s has begun removing plastic packaging from products such as tampons and phasing out single-use plastic bags from its fruit, vegetable and bakery aisles.
The firm’s chief executive Mike Coupe has now confirmed Sainsbury’s will start offering refillable versions of some of its best-selling lines over the next five years.
These will include milk, which will be housed in glass bottles with either refill stations or flexible plastic bags offered in stores, as well as water, fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has installed vertical farming technology at one of its busiest London stores, in a bid to engage shoppers with the ways in which farmers are innovating in light of climate challenges.
World losing area of forest the size of the UK each year, report finds
An area of forest the size of the UK is being lost every year around the world with devastating effects on the climate and wildlife.
The rate of loss has reached 26 million hectares (64 million acres) a year, a report has found, having grown rapidly in the past five years despite pledges made by governments in 2014 to reverse deforestation and restore trees.
Charlotte Streck, co-founder and director of Climate Focus, the thinktank behind the report, said: “We need to keep our trees and we need to restore our forests. Deforestation has accelerated, despite the pledges that have been made.”
The New York declaration on forests was signed at the UN in 2014, requiring countries to halve deforestation by 2020 and restore 150 million hectares of deforested or degraded forest land.
But the rate of tree cover loss has gone up by 43 per cent since the declaration was adopted, while the most valuable and irreplaceable tropical primary forests have been cut down at a rate of 4.3 million hectares a year.