Polluters punished as EU agrees on green finance: GWM news brief

Written by Lori Campbell on 9th Dec 2019

A new report reveals polluting firms could lose 43 per cent in value due to climate change policies, as the EU reaches an historic agreement on green criteria for finance. Meanwhile, weed-killing robots are being trialled by The National Trust to reduce pesticides and cut carbon emissions, BP takes a 50 per cent stake in solar firm Lightsource, and Marks and Spencer rolls out in-store vertical herb farms. 


Polluting firms to ‘be hit by climate policies’

Carbon-intensive firms are set to lose 43 per cent of their value thanks to policies designed to combat climate change, reveals a new report.

Meanwhile the most progressive companies will see a rise of 33 per cent in their value. The forecast was commissioned by the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

The study suggests major winners and losers will emerge in big sectors such as transport and energy.

Car makers with the swiftest transition to electric vehicles (EVs), for example, are projected to increase in value by 108 per cent, according to the study by Vivid Economics. Meanwhile, manufacturers slow to move to EVs will see their value fall, as governments pledge to phase out petrol and diesel models faster to meet climate targets.

The study predicts that the world’s largest listed coal companies could fall in value by 44 per cent while the 10 biggest firms in oil and gas could lose 31 per cent of their current value. Electric utilities with the strongest strategy for renewables could see values increase by 104 per cent, while laggards could see them fall by two-thirds.

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EU reaches agrees historic green criteria for finance

MEPs and the Finnish presidency of the EU Council have reached agreement on which economic activities can be officially considered ‘green’. The milestone, which comes after 18 months of negotiation, paves the way for billions of euros to be invested in the fight against climate change.

European Commission vice-president for finance, Valdis Dombrovskis, tweeted: “A major success ahead of COP25 and for our Sustainable Finance Strategy.”

The deal, which still needs to be confirmed by EU member states and the European Parliament, came as an “unexpected early Christmas present,” said green NGO Transport & Environment.

“The EU’s green standard will mean people can no longer be sold fake green investments. If we want to halt climate change we need money to be flowing towards good things such as electric mobility or hydrogen and not towards diesel, gas and dirty biofuels,” said Transport and Environment’s executive director William Todts.

The taxonomy plays a crucial role in Europe’s ‘Green Deal’, as it will help to attract billions of euros needed for the sustainable transition and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


Weed-killing robots trialled by the National Trust

National Trust estate is trialling weed-killing robots to reduce pesticides and cut carbon emissions from tractors.

Farmers at The Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire are testing whether a robot called ‘Tom’ can accurately map the exact location of weeds. It will allow farmers to apply herbicides only to areas where there are weeds rather than spraying large areas.

Two further robots, Dick and Harry, are in development. One will zap weeds with an electrical charge while the other will be used for precision planting.

Callum Weir, farm manager, said: “This robot can map every centimetre of the field and give me recommendations for different parts of the field. “Instead of me looking at applications from a field scale, I will go to a metre-squared scale. That means I can be much more precise in the applications that I apply, the operations that I do, saving fuel, saving fertiliser and increasing biodiversity.”

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BP boosts stake in solar firm

BP has increased its stake in the British solar venture Lightsource as it plans to power its offices with renewable energy from next year.

The new 50:50 deal comes almost two years after BP made its return to the solar market by snapping up a 43 per cent stake in Lightsource for £200m.

BP will increase its stake in the company by buying new shares for an undisclosed price to help accelerate Lightsource BP’s solar power targets.

BP’s fresh investment comes as environmental lawyers prepare to take action against a multimillion-pound BP advertising campaign.

ClientEarth says the company is misleading the public with claims of being committed to a low-carbon future. The charity is calling for the ads to be banned unless they include a health warning that BP’s oil and gas spending is contributing to the climate crisis.

Marks and Spencer rolls out in-store vertical herb farms

Marks and Spencer is rolling out sustainable vertical herb farms across its London stores following a successful pilot.

M&S partnered with Berlin-based urban food production company Infarm in September, launching a farming unit in its Clapham Junction branch.

Infarm’s technology creates a controlled mini eco-system in glass cabinets, where the “optimum amount of light, air, and nutrients” are managed so that herbs and plants grow efficiently and healthily.

It means foods are grown in-store and can be harvested and sold without any transport or distribution costs. “Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one,” said Infarm.

Having seen success in Clapham, M&S is now launching vertical farms in six other London shops: Bromley; Ealing, Kensington; Marble Arch; Stratford; and in its Kings Road branch. Next year, M&S plans to introduce the technology to other stores.

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