Storm Ciara brings snow as Nationwide rewards eco-homes: GWM news brief

Written by Lori Campbell on 10th Feb 2020

Storm Ciara is set to continue with snow and ice following flooding and gales, as Nationwide offers cut-rate mortgages and loans for eco-friendly households. Meanwhile, BlackRock faces scrutiny from environmental groups over deforestation and human rights, Lloyds commits to net-zero fleets and 100% clean electricity and scientists warn bumblebees face mass extinction due to the climate crisis. 

Storm Ciara: Disruption continues with snow and ice set to hit

Storm Ciara is set to continue this week with snow and ice following widespread flooding and gale-force winds.

More than half a million homes lost power as the storm swept the UK over the weekend and yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and wind are now in force for many areas. Flooding and debris have already caused havoc on the roads and rail, and forecasters are saying some areas could see blizzards and up to 20cm (8 inches) of snow.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said the government “stands ready to support where it can” and hundreds of environment agency staff were helping with the clean-up.

The extremest weather comes after January this year was the warmest since records began.

Discover the opportunities of investing in a changing climate with our Good Investment Review 

Nationwide offers cut-rate mortgages for green households

Nationwide is earmarking £1 billion to give customers reduced-rate green mortgages and loans for eco-home improvements.

Homeowners will be offered loans of up to £25,000 to upgrade their existing houses and flats. Interest rates on the loans will start from just one per cent for the first two years.

Nationwide is the first big mortgage lender in Britain to offer cheaper deals for customers who go green. It is expected that others will follow suit, as City regulators are putting pressure on banks and building societies to help customers make their properties more energy efficient.

Improvements that could qualify for the loans include insulation, solar panels, a new eco-friendly boiler, biomass heating, an electric car charging point and energy efficient windows. Homebuyers who opt for a new build with a grade A energy performance certificate can apply for a special preferential rate ‘green’ mortgage.

BlackRock faces scrutiny over deforestation and human rights

BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, is under pressure from environment groups to take action on deforestation and human rights issues.

A new analysis of BlackRock by Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth highlights huge weaknesses in its approach to agribusiness – the second leading driver of the climate crisis after fossil fuels.

BlackRock quietly released a new statement on agribusiness just weeks after it rolled out new policies on climate change and sustainability. The company has been under sustained pressure from climate activists, investors, legislators, and thought leaders for BlackRock’s role as a major investor in the agribusiness commodities most responsible for deforestation.

Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth say BlackRock fails to explain how it will adhere to international human rights norms and hold companies accountable for ongoing climate emissions, deforestation, land grabbing, and broader human rights violations.

Find out how to invest for the Good of the planet in our Good Guide to Impact Investing

Lloyds commits to net-zero fleets and 100% clean electricity

Lloyds Banking Group has signed all of The Climate Group’s business sustainability initiatives, committing it to use net zero fleets, source 100 per cent renewable electricity, and improve its energy productivity.

Although Lloyds already powers its operations with 100 per cent renewable electricity, it says it has joined the RE100 scheme to source more energy from projects that result in additional generation capacity. This is likely to mean using Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) which finance the installation of new wind and solar projects.

Under EV100, which aims to make electric vehicles (EVs) the new norm in business fleets, Lloyds will shift to net-zero models across its colleague and customer fleets by 2030. Any residual emissions from remaining petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles will be offset.

The EP100 initiative binds signatories to either double their energy productivity, make their buildings net-zero carbon or implement an energy management system, based on which of these actions is most relevant to their business model. Lloyds has pledged to the first and third commitments and will install energy management systems in all buildings by 2030.

To date, only five other organisations have signed all three of The Climate Group’s business initiatives.

How to fill up your ISA allowance with renewable energy alternatives

Bumblebees face mass extinction amid ‘climate chaos’, warn scientists

Bumblebees – the world’s most important pollinators – are facing extinction due to the climate crisis and other human activity, say scientists.

A new study reveals bumblebees are disappearing at rates “consistent with a mass extinction” and are on course to be completely wiped out in just a “few decades”.

The research by scientists at the University of Ottawa in Canada found that in a single human generation, the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in a given place has declined by an average of more than 30 per cent. It concludes that the climate crisis largely to blame.

First author Peter Soroye said: “We have now entered the world’s sixth mass extinction event, the biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended the age of the dinosaurs.

“We’ve known for a while that climate change is related to the growing extinction risk that animals are facing around the world … so, to stop this, we needed to develop tools that tell us where and why these extinctions will occur.”

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