Wildfires wipe out species as Shell falls short on green targets: GWM news brief

Written by Lori Campbell on 6th Jan 2020

Australia’s wildfires wipe out half a billion animals and turn glaciers black, Shell looks set to miss its own green energy targets while continuing to invest heavily in fossil fuels, and William and Kate launch a global prize to tackle climate issues. Meanwhile, Co-op rolls out the biggest-ever range of own-brand vegan products and Vogue Italia removes all photographs from its new ‘sustainability issue’.


Australia wildfires: Half a billion animals and plants killed as glaciers turn black

The wildfires ravaging Australia have wiped out almost half a billion animals and plants – including entire species – and turned glaciers in New Zealand black.

Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate that around 480 million creatures have been killed in the crisis, including 8,000 koalas. It is feared that 30 per cent of the koala colony in New South Wales has been destroyed as 10 million acres of land burnt to the ground in the state.

Across the Tasman Sea, smoke from the wildfires is turning New Zealand’s glaciers black and staining snow brown. The new crisis is speeding up the demise of New Zealand’s 3,000 glaciers, which are already melting due to global warming.

The death toll from the wildfires is at 24, with 2,000 homes destroyed and over five million hectares (12 million acres) of land torched across Australia since the blazes began in September.

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Shell set to fail on green energy targets

Royal Dutch Shell looks set to fail on its green energy pledge, with spending on low-carbon energy and electricity well below its own targets.

The Anglo-Dutch company committed to investing $4 billion (£3.04 billion) to $6 billion (£4.6 billion) in green energy projects between 2016 and the end of 2020. However, since launching its ‘green energies’ division in 2016 Shell has spent just $2 billion on building a low-carbon energy and electricity generation business.

In the same four years the company spent more than $120 billion (£91.5 billion) developing fossil fuel projects and set out plans to increase its total spending to $30 billion (£22 billion) a year in the early 2020s.

Its slow progress with green energy plans will raise concern that oil companies are not moving fast enough to help tackle the climate crisis.

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William and Kate launch prize to ‘repair the Earth’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have launched a global prize to tackle climate issues, pledging “a decade of action to repair the Earth”.

Five winners will receive the Earthshot Prize every year between 2021 and 2030. The cash prize will be for individuals or organisations who come up with solutions to environmental problems.

Prince William said the world faces a “stark choice” to continue “irreparably” damaging the planet or “lead, innovate and problem-solve”. The announcement was made in a video narrated by Sir David Attenborough posted on social media.

The veteran broadcaster and naturalist said the prize would go to “visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time”. A series of challenges will be set, aimed at finding at least 50 solutions to the “world’s greatest problems” including climate change and air pollution.


Co-op announces ‘biggest ever’ roll out of vegan products

Co-op is launching a new range of vegan food for 2020 in the ‘biggest ever’ rollout of own-brand vegan products by a supermarket.

The new range, called Gro, will hit the shelves this month to coincide with Veganuary. From Wednesday 8 January, selected Gro items will be on offer in 2,000 Co-op stores and up to 4,000 independent retailers across the country.

The range features 35 meat-free dishes, including the Kashmiri Spice Pizza, a stone-baked pizza garnished with spiced cauliflower and red chillies; Chilli Con Nachos; Spicy Squash and Mexican Bean Salad and the Vegan Steak Bake, which is due to be launched on 22 January.

According to research compiled for Co-op’s 2018 Ethical Consumerism report, the vegetarian and plant-based food market recently topped £1 billion, more than doubling over the past two decades.

Meanwhile, Greggs has confirmed the launch of its new Vegan Steak Bake, which is available from some stores on Thursday.

It comes as sales of pork and beef plunged in 2019, with more people than ever choosing a meat-free diet. Almost four million fewer animals were eaten in the first half of last year.

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Vogue ditches exotic photoshoots for sustainability issue

Vogue Italia has ditched carbon-intensive photoshoots in favour of fashion illustrations for its first issue of the new decade.

The January issue was produced without photographs in an effort to reduce the environmental impact associated with staging fashion photo shoots around the globe.

Editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti said it’s believed to be the first time a Vogue magazine has gone photo-less since photography was invented. The initiative is part of Vogue’s new environmentally-focussed mission statement, which was signed last month by the editors of all 26 editions of the Conde Nast publication.

Vogue Italia’s September issue, typically Vogue’s biggest of the year, showed how large a fashion magazine’s carbon footprint really is. It includes 20 flights, 12 train journeys, 40 cars, 60 international deliveries, lights on for 10-hours straight and large amounts of food waste and plastic wrapping.

The new issue features eight different illustrated covers that involved no travel, and articles about clothes “reborn” from scrap fabric and hand-me-downs.

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