Australia faces a new crisis with heavy flooding following the fires as Microsoft pledges to go ‘carbon negative’ by 2050. Meanwhile, the National Grid launches a €500m green bond for British businesses, new data reveals the UK’s green economy has been shrinking since 2014 and Asda trials a new ‘sustainability store.’
Australia crisis: floods follow fires
After devastating bushfires across Australia, the country now faces a new threat – flooding.
The fires have torched more than 10 million hectares of land and killed an estimated one billion animals. Now heavy rain and thunderstorms have left parts of Australia’s East Coast underwater while elsewhere, fires continue to burn.
New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are on flood watch, and flood warnings are in place for the Orara and Bellinger rivers on the north coast.
Severe thunderstorm warnings are in place in across parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning of damaging wind and heavy rainfall. A strong wind warning has been issued for the Byron, Illawarra and Batemans Coast regions. Residents have been asked not to attempt to get through the flood waters and to stay inside if at all possible.
Meanwhile, bushfire pockets are still burning across southeast Australia, with the state of New South Wales suffering the worst damage to date.
Microsoft to go ‘Carbon Negative’
Microsoft has pledged to remove “all of the carbon” from the environment that it has emitted since it was founded in 1975.
Chief executive Satya Nadella says he wants to achieve the goal by 2050.
The company aims to become “carbon negative” by 2030, removing more carbon from the environment than it emits. This goes further than its cloud-computing rival Amazon, which intends to go “carbon neutral” by 2040.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said: “When it comes to carbon, neutrality is not enough. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.”
The company also announced it is setting up a $1 billion (£765 million) climate innovation fund to develop carbon-tackling technologies.
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National Grid launches €500m green bond
The National Grid has launched its first ever €500 million (£430 million) green bond to finance UK projects that have a positive impact on the environment.
The funds could be used to boost efficiency of the grid and help reduce electricity losses, finance clean transport infrastructure, such as the electrification of railways as well as support the connection infrastructure of wind farms to the grid.
Other potential areas cover environmentally sustainable management, such as substituting overhead lines for underground cables and pollution prevention and control.
The green bond is part of National Grid’s Green Financing Framework and the projects will be evaluated and chosen by its Green Financing Committee.
UK green economy is shrinking
Britain’s green economy has been shrinking since 2014, sparking concern that the government will miss targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The number of people employed in the “low carbon and renewable energy economy” declined by more than 11,000 to 235,900 between 2014 and 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Green businesses fared little better, seeing their numbers drop from an estimated 93,500 to 88,500 over the same four-year period.
The ONS said there was a small increase in the number of people employed in the green economy between 2016 and 2018, but this was not enough to offset a huge drop in the number of jobs and businesses between 2014 and 2016.
Solar panel installers were among the many businesses connected to the industry that went bust after the Treasury cut subsidy payments by 65 per cent in 2015 before abolishing them altogether last year.
Find out how to make your money work for the planet, in our Good Guide to Impact Investing
Asda trials refills at ‘sustainablility store’
Asda is launching a “sustainability store” where shoppers can fill their own containers with food.
Customers at a Leeds branch will be able to use refill stations for own brand rice and pasta, as well as Kellogg’s cereals and PG Tips tea.
Asda is the latest major supermarket to launch an initiative to cut down on plastic packaging. UK supermarkets are responsible for 58 billion pieces of plastic a year, according to Greenpeace.
Asda uses about 65,000 tonnes of plastic a year. The “sustainability store” will open in May at the Asda Middleton site in Leeds.
Chief executive Roger Burnley said: “We will be testing and learning from the customers in Middleton to understand how we can reduce our environmental impact. Our first priority will be to look at how we can reduce and remove plastic.”