The world’s biggest investment banks have poured BILLIONS of pounds into fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate change agreement, reveals a new study, as renewable electricity officially overtakes fossil fuels in the UK for the first time. Meanwhile, a major new report finds that most British retirees are under financial strain, clothing brand Finisterre switches to water-soluble ‘plastic’ bags and the NHS vows to halve single-use plastic from catering. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Top investment banks investing billions in fossil fuels
The world’s biggest investment banks have poured more than $700 billion (£557 billion) into fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate change agreement, according to new figures.
Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase is the top funder, having provided $75 billion (£61 billion) to companies expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration.
The New York bank is one of 33 powerful financial institutions to have provided an estimated total of $1.9 trillion (£1.5 trillion) to the fossil fuel sector between 2016 and 2018.
The data, compiled by Rainforest Action Network, shows the most aggressively expanding coal-mining operations, oil and gas companies, fracking firms and pipeline companies have received $713.3 billion (£568 billion) in loans, equity issuances and debt underwriting services from 2016 to mid-2019.
Other top financiers of fossil fuel companies include Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Meanwhile, new research by Islamic bank Al Rayan has revealed nine out of 10 Brits don’t know if their bank invests in unethical industries.
Renewable electricity overtakes fossil fuels in UK for first time
Renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time over the last quarter, according to new research.
The renewables record was set in the third quarter of this year after its share of the electricity mix rose to 40 per cent.
It is the first time that electricity from British windfarms, solar panels and renewable biomass plants has surpassed fossil fuels since the UK’s first power plant fired up in 1882.
The new milestone confirms predictions made by National Grid that 2019 will be the first year since the Industrial Revolution that zero-carbon electricity – renewables and nuclear – overtakes gas and coal-fired power.
Majority of British retirees are under financial strain, finds major new study
Almost two-thirds of British retired people say they are suffering from financial problems, reveals a new study.
Interactive Investor’s Great British Retirement Survey found that more than half of retirees or people approaching retirement don’t know how much debt their partner has and that almost a third (31 per cent) don’t know how much their partner earns.
A third (32 per cent) of those in a relationship only talk about money with their partner once a month.
The study raised the need to address the ‘gender agenda’. Men are twice as likely to work into retirement for enjoyment (34 per cent versus 14 per cent) and women more likely to do so for the money (41 per cent versus 20 per cent). Meanwhile, retired women are more than twice as likely as men to say they are ‘just getting by’ financially.
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Clothing brand Finisterre switches to water-soluble ‘plastic’ bags
Outdoor clothing brand Finisterre is switching to bags that naturally break down in soil and in water, as part of its mission to eliminate all of its plastics packaging.
Produced by innovative polymer firm Aquapak Polymers, the bags are designed to decompose in industrial composting conditions and in nature – whether that’s in soil or warm water.
According to Aquapak Polymers, the decomposition process is “harmless”, producing no toxic by-products and creating no microplastics. Instead, the bags, made from adapted polyvinyl alcohol, are designed to become “non-toxic biomass”.
The innovative bags will be introduced to select lines within Finisterre’s knitwear range this month, with a company-wide roll-out set to be completed in February 2020.
“The science behind our products is a solution to the world’s plastic crisis and we are delighted that Finisterre is our first adopter in the European fashion world,” Aquapak Polymers’ chief executive officer Mark Lapping said.
NHS vows to halve single-use plastic from catering
NHS England has pledged to halve the plastic items it uses in catering operations each year.
The move will take 100 million single-use plastic items out of circulation annually.
The body says it will remove “avoidable” plastic straws and drinks stirrers from April 2020, with the phase-out to be extended to “avoidable” cutlery, plates and cups before April 2021.
During 2018, these items accounted for the majority of the 200-plus million plastic items used across NHS England’s catering. The 12-month period saw the organisation order more than 163 million plastic cups, 16 million pieces of plastic cutlery, 15 million straws and two million stirrers.