Heathrow runway ruled ‘illegal’ as coronavirus derails climate talks

Written by Lori Campbell on 2nd Mar 2020

Heathrow airport’s third runway is ruled illegal over climate change as the coronavirus threatens to derail crucial climate talks to be hosted in Glasgow. Meanwhile, Legal & General commits £21.6 million to funding houses for 250 homeless families, The Co-operative Bank becomes an official signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking, and new data reveals that two thirds of UK homes fail on energy efficiency targets. It’s the GWM Newsbrief.

Heathrow third runway ruled illegal over climate change

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal because of its contribution to climate change.

The court ruled that ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the urgent climate crisis. The ruling is a major blow to the project at a time when public concern about the climate emergency is rising fast and the government has set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050.

Prime minister Boris Johnson, who has opposed the runway, could use the ruling to abandon the project.

The government is considering its next steps but will not appeal the verdict. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity and levelling up across the UK. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment.”

Heathrow is already one the busiest airports in the world, with 80 million passengers a year. The £14 billion third runway could be built by 2028 and would bring 700 more planes per day and a big rise in carbon emissions.

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Legal & General to fund housing for 250 homeless families

Legal & General has committed £21.6 million to help fund new housing for 250 homeless families.

In a partnership with Croydon Council, the financial services giant will bring hundreds of houses and apartments back into use for families currently living in emergency accommodation.

With waiting lists for affordable homes reaching 1.1 million in England, and over 2,000 families requiring Temporary Accommodation in Croydon alone, Legal & General is aiming to create a blueprint for institutions and the public sector to work together to tackle the UK’s housing crisis.

Legal & General teamed up with Croydon Council last year, in a first for the sector. This innovative long-term investment model has enabled the council to meet its affordable housing needs while reducing the burden on the public purse. It could now be rolled out across other London Boroughs and UK local authorities

The latest announcement takes Legal & General’s total housing investment through the partnership to £66.2 million.


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Coronavirus threatens to derail crucial climate talks

Vital UN climate talks set to be hosted in the UK are under threat by the Coronavirus outbreak.

The COP 26 summit, to be hosted in Glasgow, is seen as one of the last chances to put nations back on track to avoid total climate breakdown.

While the talks will take place over a fortnight in November, the frantic round of global diplomacy required to reach a settlement is already under way and is being affected by the outbreak of the virus.

Campaigners fear that preparations are being hampered by both the travel restrictions and the urgent demands the outbreak is putting on governments’ time and resources.

Environmental group E3G is concerned that the UK has already got off to a slow start with the first Cop26 president, Claire O’Neill, having been sacked. Her replacement – the business secretary, Alok Sharma – was appointed just two weeks ago.


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The Co-operative Bank signs UN Principles for Responsible Banking 

The Co-operative Bank has become an official signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.

The principles, which were developed between banks worldwide and the United Nations Environment’s Finance Initiative, are a framework for a sustainable banking industry.

They set out the banking industry’s role and responsibility in shaping a sustainable future by aligning the banking sector with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

These principles enable a bank to embed sustainability across all its business areas. They also help it to identity where it can make the most positive impact towards a sustainable world and economy.

In 2007, The Co-operative Bank became the first bank to go ‘Beyond Carbon Neutral’ and in 2015, it was the first UK bank to sign the Paris Pledge not to fund the Coal industry, reinforcing its commitment to reducing the impact of global climate change.


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Two thirds of UK homes fail on energy efficiency targets

Nearly two thirds of UK homes fail to meet long-term energy efficiency targets, according to new data.

More than 12 million homes fall below the standard C grade on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). EPCs measure the efficiency of a house by looking at how well a property is insulated, glazed, or uses alternative measures to reduce energy use. Homes are given a grade between A and G, with A being the most efficient.

The new study of EPC data reveals householders spend more on energy bills and pump tonnes more CO2 into the atmosphere than necessary. The government has said it needs to go “much further and faster” to improve the energy performance of homes.

Experts say retrofit measures are needed because so many homes were built before 1990. Dr Tim Forman, a research academic at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Sustainable Development, said now only a national project of a scale not seen since World War Two, would be enough to help the UK meet its 2050 net zero carbon target, which was signed into law in June 2019.

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