Coronavirus curbs carbon as clean energy rockets

Written by Lori Campbell on 16th Mar 2020

The coronavirus health crisis is cutting global carbon emissions faster than any other policy as planning applications for UK clean energy projects hit a record high. Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest fund manager LGIM launches its first fossil fuel-free pension fund after bowing to client pressure, Ethex partners with Low Carbon Hub to raise £1.5 million for renewable projects and Greenpeace warns Europeans must eat 70 per cent less meat by 2030 to save the planet. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief. 

Coronavirus causing fall in global CO2 emissions

The coronavirus health crisis is reducing carbon emissions more than any other policy, reveals new analysis.

Campaigners are now calling for governments around the world to act with the same urgency on climate as on the coronavirus.

The deadly virus outbreak, which has killed more than 6,400 people and infected more than 87,000, has caused alarm around the world. It has shown how political and corporate leaders can take radical emergency action on the advice of scientists to protect human wellbeing.

In China – the source of the disease and the world’s largest carbon emitter – the actions taken by authorities have inadvertently demonstrated that hefty 25 per cent carbon dioxide cuts can bring less traffic and cleaner air with only a small reduction in economic growth, according to a study by Carbon Brief.

If this trend continues, analysts say it is possible this will lead to the first fall in global emissions since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Even a slowdown in CO2 could buy time for climate action and, more importantly, inspire long-term behavioural changes – particularly in travel.

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Planning applications for UK clean energy projects hit new high

New renewable energy projects applying for planning permission hit a four-year high in the UK last year as energy companies race to meet rising demand for clean electricity.

There were 269 planning applications for new wind, solar and bioenergy projects in 2019, up from 204 the year before, according to an analysis of government data by energy consultancy PX Group.

The jump in applications last year was the biggest annual increase in recent years and 75 per cent higher than the number of annual planning submissions three years ago. There were just 154 submissions in 2016, rising to 185 in 2017.

The consultancy said there was a growing appetite among energy companies for new renewable projects to help cut carbon emissions and reach the UK’s climate goals.


Here’s how to invest in clean energy 


LGIM launches its first fossil fuel-free pension fund after pressure

The UK’s biggest fund manager is to launch its first fossil fuel-free ethical pension fund this year after bowing to client pressure.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) – one of the most outspoken fund managers over the climate crisis – made the decision after a number of clients raised concerns that stocks such as Shell were still being included in its range of ethical funds.

Those clients include PensionBee, an online pension provider that handles £750 million of client assets for more than 75,000 customers. PensionBee is expected to be among the new fund’s first investors.

It wrote to LGIM last year after being inundated with questions from its own customers about the fact that Shell was among the top 10 holdings in one of the investment firm’s ethically focused Future World funds. PensionBee is believed to be one of the fund’s top five owners, with more than £60 million invested.


Find out how to change your own pension for Good with our Good Guide to Pensions


Ethex partners with Low Carbon Hub to raise £1.5m for renewable projects 

Impact investing platform Ethex has today launched a new opportunity to invest in the Low Carbon Hub’s (LCH) Community Energy Fund.

The fund, which aims to raise £1.5 million by June, aims to increase the generation of green energy and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon energy system. The fund will grow LCH’s portfolio of renewable energy generation projects including rooftop and ground mounted solar panels, energy efficiency projects, and smart grids and energy storage. 

It will enable LCH to generate 4.4 GWh of green electricity, enough to power 1,447 homes and save 1,244 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Over its lifetime the LCH portfolio of renewable energy installations is expected to deliver £2.5 million towards community projects that tackle climate change and £1.7 million savings on electricity bills.

With a minimum investment of £250, UK investors are offered a target interest rate of four per cent, rising to five per cent by the fourth year of investment.  


The rise of community energy, and how to invest in it


Europeans must eat 70% less meat by 2030 to save the planet, says new report

Environmental group Greenpeace has warned that Europeans must be eating 70 per cent less meat by 2030 if the world is to meet its climate targets.

People in Europe eat 1.58 kg of meat per week, which has serious effects on the climate. Among Europeans, the French are the sixth-biggest meat consumers, getting through 83 kilos per year per person. By comparison, the Spaniards eat more than 100 kilos of meat, while Bulgarians only eat 58 kilos.

The world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, recommends that in 2050, people should be consuming a maximum of 300 grams of meat per week, for both health and climate reasons.

NGO Greenpeace goes further, proposing a law that aims for a 70 per cent reduction of meat consumption by 2030. It says this would need to reach 80 per cent by 2050.