The UK’s carbon emissions are rebounding fast as the country returns to work following lockdowns, Barclays funnels £1.5 billion into Europe’s biggest coal companies in one year, and Tesco partners with zero waste firm Loop to trial reusable packaging for its online customers. Meanwhile, a project that uses captured CO2 to make animal feed is among nine sustainable food schemes to share £24 billion in government funding, a survey finds most UK businesses have cut sustainable investment due to coronavirus and West Berkshire Council launches the UK’s first local government green bond. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.
‘Carbon savings’ from Covid-19 lockdown halve within weeks
The UK’s carbon emissions are rebounding with the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures, causing the ‘carbon savings’ from lockdown to halve within weeks.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and transport industries climbed last month as more people returned to work, raising demand for fossil fuels from record lows in April when strict lockdown measures were in place, according to new data.
An analysis by Sia Partners shows that the UK’s carbon emissions fell by 36 per cent in the first four weeks of the lockdown compared to the most recent official carbon emissions data collected in 2018.
But by June Britain’s total emissions savings had dwindled to a 16 per cent drop as more cars returned to its roads and demand for energy began to rise.
Barclays lent £1.5bn to Europe’s biggest coal companies in the past year
Barclays has funnelled €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) into Europe’s biggest coal companies in the past year, a new report has found.
The British bank, which announced a plan in March this year to reach net zero emissions by 2050, remains one of the biggest funders of Europe’s top eight coal utilities, according to the report.
The energy utilities are responsible for half of all EU coal-based CO2 emissions, researchers from Europe Beyond Coal found.
Barclays’ new coal policy prohibits financing to clients that generate half of their revenues from thermal coal as of 2020, decreasing to 30 per cent in 2025, and 10 per cent in 2030.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “These loans predate our enhanced restrictions so the claims made are out of date and are also based on flawed assumptions.” However, ShareAction, one of a group of campaigning organisations that makes up Europe Beyond Coal, said Barclays was a long way from aligning its fossil fuel financing with the Paris Climate Agreement.
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Zero-waste shopping scheme launches in UK
Tesco is trialling a scheme in the UK where online shoppers will receive their products in reusable packaging.
The supermarket giant is joining forces with zero waste shopping platform Loop.
The trial covers 150 items, delivered in reusable containers for which consumers pay a deposit.
Greenpeace says rising demand for home deliveries due to the lockdown gave “a real opportunity for innovation in reusable packaging”. Tom Szaky, the chief executive of Loop, said the UK service would start off as a pilot, but would be delivering to the UK mainland, excluding Northern Ireland.
Customers can apply for the service by clicking on a link on the Tesco website, and will then be able to order their delivery, which will come in a bag via courier firm DPD.
After using the products, which include Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Persil washing liquid, Coca-Cola, and Danone yoghurt, customers ask for DPD to come and pick up the empties in the bag.
These are then cleaned by hygiene and food safety firm Ecolab in certain DHL warehouses, and then returned to be reused.
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Animal feed made from captured CO2 gets government funding
The UK Government has unveiled a £24 million funding pot for innovations aimed at transforming the food system, including a project using captured CO2 to manufacture animal feed.
The funding, part of UK Research & Innovation’s (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for Transforming Food Production, is being split between nine UK-based projects.
Among them is REACT-FIRST, a project working to take the carbon captured from Drax’s biomass plant in Selby, North Yorkshire, and use it to produce feed for fish and poultry. The carbon and protein components in traditional animal feed are usually accounted for by soy or fishmeal – linked to deforestation and overfishing respectively – and by grains, which require arable farmland and much water to produce.
Leading the project is Nottingham-based biotech scale-up Deep Branch Technology. Once the feed is produced, it will be trialled in fish and poultry supply chains by Sainsbury’s and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.
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Majority of UK businesses cutting environment investment due to coronavirus
The majority of businesses in the UK have cut, or are planning to cut, their investment in sustainability initiatives due to Covid-19, a survey has found.
The poll of 200 British businesses has found that 60 per cent have either decreased their investment in sustainability initiatives as a result of Covid-19, or are planning to do so.
Cloud finance firm Ivalua asked companies within the procurement, supply chain and finance professions for an overview of how their priorities and remits had changed since the start of March.
Almost all (95 per cent) said their business had developed short-term plans to address environmental concerns in their direct operations and supply chains pre-pandemic. But the majority voiced concerns that these plans now face delays or downscaling as a result of the economic impacts of Covid-19.
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UK’s first local government green bond launched
The UK’s first local government green bond has been launched by West Berkshire Council in a bid to to raise £1 million from residents for solar panel installations.
The funding will pay for solar panels on five council-owned buildings, as the local authority pushes towards its goal of net zero emissions within the next decade.
The green bond, offering low risk returns of 1.2 per year over 5 years, has been launched using a Community Municipal Investment (CMI) framework developed by ethical investment platform – and Good With Money ‘Good Egg‘ Abundance. It marks the first of six pilot schemes the firm hopes to roll out with other UK local authorities in a bid to “supercharge the green economy”.
Bruce Davis, co-founder and managing director of Abundance Investment, said: “150 years since the first local authority investments were sold directly to the public by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Goschen, Community Municipal Investments opens a new chapter for financing local council investment in vital local infrastructure.
“Working with several councils, Abundance has drawn on the best of this legacy to create an innovative model for the 21st century which provides a powerful tool for tackling the major challenge of our time: climate change.”
Warrington and Leeds councils are set to follow suit with their own green bond issuances via Abundance later this year, with all the CMIs used to finance rooftop and ground-mount solar panels.