COP25 ends in compromise as nuns take on BlackRock: GWM news brief

Written by Lori Campbell on 16th Dec 2019

The longest-ever United Nations climate talks end in Madrid with a compromise deal as 9,000 nuns take on the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, to do more to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the world’s first fully-electric flight takes off in Canada, McDonald’s launches a fully-vegan meal in the UK and the Drax power plant plans to be the world’s first carbon-negative business by 2030. 


Longest ever climate talks end with compromise deal

The longest United Nations climate talks on record ended in Madrid with a compromise deal.

After two extra days and nights of negotiations, delegates at the COP25 talks finally reached agreement on the key question of increasing the global response to curbing carbon.

All countries will need to put new climate pledges on the table by the time of the next major conference in Glasgow next year. Divisions over other questions – including carbon markets – were delayed until the next gathering.

All parties will need to address the gap between what the science says is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change, and the current state of play which would see the world go past this threshold in the 2030s.

Supported by the European Union and small island states, the push for higher ambition was opposed by a range of countries including the US, Brazil, India and China.

However a compromise was agreed with the richer nations having to show that they have kept their promises on climate change in the years before 2020.


Nuns take on BlackRock over climate crisis

An investment fund representing 9,000 nuns has slammed the multitrillion-dollar investment group BlackRock for failing to tackle the climate crisis.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas called on the world’s largest asset manager, which has $7 trillion (£5.25 trillion) of assets, to use its power to push companies into doing more to reduce emissions.

The intervention, via the Mercy Investment Services fund, adds to mounting pressure on global asset owners to think more radically on climate issues.

Mercy Investment Services filed a joint shareholder motion with a group of investors before BlackRock’s annual meeting.

‘World’s first’ fully-electric commercial flight takes off

An 100 per cent electric-powered seaplane has taken flight in Vancouver, Canada, in a “world first” for the aviation industry.

The short test flight by Harbour Air and magniX involved a six-passenger aircraft fitted with an electric motor. The companies said it was a first step to building the “world’s first all-electric commercial fleet”.

The push to electric could help slash carbon emissions in the high-polluting aviation sector. “This historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation – the electric age,” Harbour Air and magniX said in a statement.

Launched at the Paris Air Show earlier this year, Australian company magniX said its propulsion system aims to provide a “clean and efficient way to power airplanes”.


McDonald’s launches fully vegan meals in UK

McDonald’s is joining the fast food vegan craze with a new ‘Veggie Dippers’ meal – vegan nuggets served with chips and a soft drink – launching in January.

It follows rivals KFC and Greggs in introducing vegan options. Animal rights activists Peta said a vegan meal is “the very definition of a happy meal”. However, it said it would continue to campaign for McDonald’s to bring its McVegan burger, which is available in Finland and Sweden, to the UK.

McDonald’s new dippers are made of rice, red peppers, tomato pesto and split peas, fried in breadcrumbs.

The product will be fried separately from products containing meat, a spokesman said, and served with McDonald’s UK chips, which are vegan-friendly.

The move comes as restaurants are capitalising on increasing demand from UK customers for vegetarian and vegan food options. McDonald’s said in the last 12 months it had seen an “80% uplift” in customers ordering vegetarian options.


Drax aims to be world’s first carbon-negative business

An energy company once labelled western Europe’s worst polluter is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-negative business within a decade.

The owner of the once coal-fired Drax power plant is the first company in the world to set out plans to absorb more carbon emissions from the air than it creates by 2030.

The bold ambition will build on its work to transform the Drax plant in North Yorkshire from one of the dirtiest power stations to a renewable energy giant and a pioneer of carbon capture.

For decades the UK’s largest single power plant pumped millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning coal to make electricity. In recent years Drax has converted its huge coal generation units to run on renewable biomass, or wood pellets.

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