ESG bonds rocket as UK hits one month coal-free

Written by Lori Campbell on 11th May 2020

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds rocket by 270 per cent as the finance community responds to the coronavirus crisis and the UK completes one month without coal power. Meanwhile, ministers plan for a cycling revolution as the UK edges out of lockdown, scientists predict that one-third of humans face living in “barely survivable” temperatures by 2070 if the world fails on climate action, and financial-planning app Lifetise launches a coronavirus money tool. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.

ESG bonds rise 270% as finance community assists Covid-19 response

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds have rocketed by 272 per cent from last year as investors and insurance firms respond proactively to the coronavirus pandemic.

Research from the Morgan Stanley Foundation reveals that the ESG bonds issued in April 2020 totalled a massive $48.5 billion (£39.2 billion).

The majority of these were focussed on supporting Covid-19 relief efforts, with 76 per cent of the finance coming from Sovereigns, Supranationals and Agencies (SSAs) that bridge the gap between government and private credit issuers.

While the total number of ESG bonds has increased modestly from 43 in March to 51 in April, their average size has increased by 160 per cent, from $583 million (£471 million) to $951 million (£769 million).


Find out which ethical funds work hardest to save the planet, in our new Good Investment Review


UK hits coal-free month due to lockdown

The UK has gone one full month without using coal power, as lockdown causes demand for energy to plummet.

The National Grid operator announced that as of 12am on Sunday, the country had completed 30 days, seven hours, and 36 minutes without coal power.

The record-breaking coal-free run is set to continue with a combination of blustery and sunny weather conditions forecast and lower energy demand due as Brits continue to stay home.

Meanwhile, energy supplier Drax has confirmed that low carbon energy sources provided around 70 per cent of the UK’s power during the month when coal was kept offline.

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Cycling revolution as UK edges out of lockdown

Pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and cycle-only streets are to be brought in to persuade Brits to change their travel habits as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.

It is hoped the £2 billion government initiative will deter people from using trains and buses.

Councils have been told to reallocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. The Department of Transport said it would help authorities such as Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle tracks, and Transport for London, which is planning a ‘bike Tube’ network above Underground lines.

Vouchers are to be given out for cycle repairs and plans are being developed for more bike-fixing facilities.

The lockdown has led to a 200 per cent surge in cycle-to-work schemes for key workers as “very strong” bicycle sales at Halfords this week saw its shares soar by 23 per cent.


If you do need to use your car, choose one of these eco-friendly car insurers 


One-third of humans face living in ‘barely survivable’ temperatures by 2070

One third of the world’s population will live in “barely survivable heat” by 2070 if action is not taken to stop climate change, reveals new research.

The scientific study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, predicts that average inland temperatures could climb by 7.5℃ in 50 years if greenhouse gas emissions are left to spiral out of control.

This could mean that 3.5 billion people – one third of the projected global population by 2070 – will live in regions with an average annual temperature of above 29℃. This is hotter than the Sahara desert and far beyond comfortable thresholds for human populations.

This heat would cause chaos in global food systems, push healthcare systems to breaking point, and prompt a massive wave of migration of people to cooler climates.


Use the most powerful tool you have – your pension – to combat climate change. Find out how in our Good Guide to Pensions.


Financial-planner app Lifetise launches coronavirus tool

Financial planning app Lifetise has launched a new tool to help Brits find the right support during the coronavirus crisis.

The free tool sets out a ‘personal action plan’ based on individual financial circumstances to show people what help they can get and where from.

Co-founder Caroline Hughes said: “Most people in the UK have been financially affected by Covid-19 in some way. Things have happened really quickly.. and it may feel like your money situation has changed almost overnight.

“For those dealing with furlough, or job loss, or work that has dried up in a self-employed business, or those worried about paying your mortgage or rent, we’d like to help them figure out what to do.”

Traffic to Lifetise has surged by 700 per cent since March as more people seek help with their finances. Earlier this year, the app – which began with tools to help Brits move home or afford childcare – smashed its crowdfunding target, raising more than £250,000 from around 470 investors.


See the Good With Money interview with LifeTise co-founder Caroline Hughes