Biggest carbon drop since WW2 as H&M smashes clothing take-back target

Written by Lori Campbell on 6th Apr 2020

The coronavirus pandemic sparks the ‘biggest drop’ in global carbon dioxide emissions since World War Two, high street chain H&M smashes its clothing take-back target early, and coronavirus prompts a sharp rise in savings plans. Meanwhile, a community energy collective creates a £100,000 Corona Crisis Fund, banking giant Barclays sets a 2050 net-zero climate policy and a study reveals social issues are top priority for ethical investors. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief. 

Coronavirus sparks biggest drop in CO2 since Second World War

The coronavirus pandemic is set to cause the biggest global drop in carbon dioxide pollution in more than 70 years, according to scientists.

Output of the polluting gas is on course to fall by more than five per cent from last year – the first dip since a 1.4 per cent reduction after the 2008 financial crisis.

Rob Jackson, chair of the Global Carbon Project, which analyses annual emissions, said: “I wouldn’t be shocked to see a five per cent or more drop in carbon dioxide emissions this year, something not seen since the end of World War Two. Neither the fall of the Soviet Union nor the various oil or savings and loan crises of the past 50 years are likely to have affected emissions the way this crisis is.”

The sharp reduction comes as countries around the world report dramatic improvements in air quality due to the effect of lockdowns, which have curbed travel and shut down industrial activity.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis has forced a postponement of crucial COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

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H&M smashes clothing take-back target early

The H&M Group has collected more than 29,000 tonnes of used clothing, surpassing its 2020 goal one year ahead of schedule.

The milestone, recorded in the high-street fashion giant’s latest Sustainability Performance Report, comes four years after the firm began collecting used garments. The new total represents a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in clothing taken back.

Once collected at in-store donation banks, around 50-60 per cent of the clothing deposited by the public is then resold.

The majority of the remainder is downcycled into things like insulation or, where recycling solutions exist, recycled into new textile fibres. For textile blends, which account for the vast majority of fashion items sold globally each year, solutions have not yet been commercialised and scaled up. To help achieve an answer to this, H&M’s charitable arm, H&M Foundation, is investing in a hydrothermal recycling process for textile blends.

Top 5 sustainable fashion innovations


Coronavirus prompts rise in savings plans

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a ‘significant rise’ in the demand for savings plans, reveals new figures.

Financial advisory organisation the deVere Group has reported a massive 28 per cent jump in enquiries about savings solutions during March.

Its CEO and founder Nigel Green said: “Since the coronavirus outbreak began to have an all-consuming international impact in late February/ early March, we noticed a surge in clients seeking advice on savings solutions.

“Then, when the coronavirus was officially declared a ‘pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation in the second week of March, savings planning enquiries further increased sharply.”

Top 6 ethical savings accounts for 2020

Community energy creates £100,000 coronavirus fund

A collective of local energy enterprises has created a £100,000 Corona Crisis fund to support those facing hardship in their communities.

The funds – taken from profits generated by community-owned solar arrays – were funnelled to local aid organisations including schools, food banks, and carer groups.

Those contributing to a Corona Crisis fund in their communities include Ferry Farm Community Solar, which serves Selsey and Sidlesham, Gawcott Solar CIC in Gawcott and Buckingham, Burnham and Weston Energy CIC and Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy. Three of the four raised investment through ethical platform Ethex.

Jake Burnyeat from Communities for Renewables (CfR CIC), said: “These rapidly deployed Corona Crisis Funds show the real value of communities having their own local energy enterprises: generating funds to deploy for the benefit of local communities as needs arise.”

Power to the people: top 3 community energy schemes


Barclays sets 2050 net-zero climate policy

Banking giant Barclays has committed to achieving net-zero emissions across its operations and investments by 2050.

Building on its existing commitment to source 100 per cent renewable energy globally by 2030, the strategy commits Barclays to achieving net-zero in its own operations and portfolios ahead of the Government’s 2050 national deadline.

Barclays has faced increasing pressure from green campaigners and investors over its financing approach, after a report last year by ShareAction revealed Barclays had invested more than $85 billion in fossil fuel projects. This makes it the largest European funder and sixth largest globally.

The new strategy also commits Barclays to providing £100 billion of green finance by 2030. Around £175 million of this will be allocated to “environmental innovation” by 2025.

ShareAction’s director of finance strategies Wolfgang Kuhn dubbed the publication of Barclays’ new strategy a “win for investor stewardship in the UK” and is now urging the British bank to flesh out – and deliver upon – its long-term ambition.

Social issues most likely to make investors go green

Social issues are the key factor for investors when deciding to switch to a socially responsible portfolio, reveals a new study.

The findings come as the coronavirus crisis throws a spotlight on social responsibility and the way our behaviour impacts the planet and society.

The sustainability and societal impact of investing in a business is measured by three central factors – environmental, social and governance (ESG). Digital wealth manager Nutmeg measured the importance of each one to UK investors.

Social issues, such as working conditions and human rights abuses, came out on top with more than half of investors (54 per cent) being “very likely” to change their high return portfolio if they found it didn’t support good societal practices.

Investors’ next priority, according to the study, is the environment, with 39 per cent saying they would be “very likely” to change their portfolio if their investments were bad for the environment. This would include funding businesses with heavy carbon emissions or creating pollution and waste.

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