Global talks for green recovery as airlines get no-strings bailouts

Written by Lori Campbell on 27th Apr 2020

Environment ministers from 30 countries are to meet in a two-day online conference to set out a ‘green recovery’ from coronavirus, as a report reveals airlines in Europe have applied for £11.3 billion in government bailouts with no binding environmental conditions attached. Meanwhile, banking giants Barclays and HSBC are blasted over £158 billion fossil fuel financing, ethical bank Triodos wins a top sustainable development award and Coca-Cola and Pepsi are failing on their pledges to reduce plastic. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief. 

 

Global coronavirus talks to focus on green recovery

Tackling climate change must be woven into the solution to the Covid-19 economic crisis, the UK will tell governments next week.

Environment ministers from 30 countries are to meet in a two-day online conference in a bid to make progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The ‘Petersberg Climate Dialogue’ will focus on how to organise a green economic recovery after the acute phase of the pandemic is over.

It will also aim to forge international agreement on ambitious carbon cuts despite the postponement of the key climate conference COP26 – previously scheduled for Glasgow in November but now without a date.

Alok Sharma, the UK Climate Secretary and president of COP26, said: “The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind. At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, we will come together to discuss how we can turn ambition into real action.”

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Airlines seek £11.3bn in bailouts with no environmental conditions

Airlines in Europe have applied for €12.8 billion (£11.3 billion) in government bailouts with no binding environmental conditions attached, new analysis reveals.

Companies including easyJet, Scandinavian Airlines and Tui have secured loans and other financial support amounting to €3.36 billion (£2.93 billion) since the pandemic began. A further €9.47 billion (£8.26 billion) is being sought by other airlines, according to data tracking by Transport & Environment, Greenpeace and Carbon Watch.

Before air travel came to a near halt in March, greenhouse gas emissions from the sector had reached record levels. But there are no binding environmental conditions being attached to any of the already agreed bailouts or future loans being sought.

The exception is Austria where transport minister Leonore Gewessler met a request for public funds by Austrian Airlines, part of the Lufthansa group, by saying any bailout should be linked to climate targets.


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Barclays and HSBC blasted over £158bn fossil fuel financing

Banking giants Barclays and HSBC have financed a combined £158 billion into the fossil fuel sector since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, reveals a new report. This is despite both organisations pledging to ramp up sustainable investment portfolios.

The new study from NGO 350.org and partners, names the two UK organisations as the top two fossil fuel financiers in Europe.

It shows that between 2015 and 2019, Barclays funnelled £91 billion into fossil fuel firms and projects, while HSBC contributed £67 billion over the same period.

NGOs are now calling on the banks to fully align themselves with a net-zero economy in a way that contributes towards a green recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus.


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Triodos Bank wins top sustainable development award

Ethical bank Triodos Bank has won a top award for sustainable development.

The bank – a Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ – is a 2020 winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, in the Sustainable Development category.

It was recognised for its strong sustainability ethos and leading the way in creating a more sustainable approach in the banking sector.

Triodos CEO Dr Bevis Watts said: “This award coincides with a significant moment in time for us all, including the financial sector, given the challenges of Covid-19.

“We hope that as society recovers, the learnings from this crisis provide an opportunity for all banks to refocus on their role in society and consider the long-term welfare of customers in all their investment decisions. Triodos will continue to play a key role in encouraging this transition.”

Meanwhile, savings and investment app Moneybox has signed the UN Climate Neutral Now pledge and achieved carbon neutral status. It has partnered with Alectro, a carbon analytics company, to help trace its carbon output and implement a programme to offset carbon emissions.


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Coca-Cola and Pepsi falling short on plastic pledges

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are not doing enough to reduce their global plastic waste footprint, according to a new report.

The charity Tearfund has published a league table revealing how the companies, and Unilever and Nestlé, are faring in their commitments set against a three-point plan.

The plan calls on companies to report by the end of 2020 the amount of single-use plastics in units and volume they sell country by country, reduce this by half by 2025 by moving to refillables and ensure by 2022 that one item is recycled for every single-use plastic item sold in developing countries.

While all the companies have published and committed to publishing annual global data on their plastic footprint, none have provided this information country by country.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola have not publicly committed to reducing this by 2025, or to invest in reusables or refillables as part of this reduction, Tearfund said in its analysis.

Dr Ruth Valerio, director of Tearfund, said: “The steps taken to date by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are a far cry from the action necessary to tackle a crisis of this magnitude.”