David Attenborough’s shocking new documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts’ reveals the devastating impact of humans on the planet, as California governor Gavin Newsom warns that the US West Coast wildfires are fuelled by climate change. Meanwhile, the EU explores green bonds to aid the economic recovery from Covid-19, investors managing £36 trillion in funds demand that the world’s biggest polluters back net zero, and the Church of England invests £600 million in the ‘first ever’ climate change index. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.
David Attenborough’s ‘Extinction’ gives stark climate change warning
David Attenborough’s new documentary, Extinction: The Facts, makes a stark warning about climate change in the wake of coronavirus.
The landmark BBC One programme, which aired last night (13 September), sees the naturalist examine biodiversity loss, which threatens food and water security, undermines humans’ ability to control the climate, and places us at greater risk of pandemics.
“We are facing a crisis”, he warns, “and one that has consequences for us all.” The one-hour show reveals the heartbreaking consequences of the damage our species has wrought on the natural world.
It reveals that of the estimated eight million species on Earth, a million are now threatened with extinction. And since 1970, vertebrate animals – birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians – have declined by a shocking 60 per cent. The programme shows the coroanvirus pandemic as the most immediate example of the risks of our ever-increasing encroachment into the natural world.
Sir David does leave the viewer with cause for hope. “His aim is not to try and drag the audience into the depths of despair,” says series director Serena Davies, “but to take people on a journey that makes them realise what is driving these issues we can also solve them.”
US wildfires fuelled by climate change, says California governor
The deadly wildfires sweeping across the US West Coast show that the debate around climate change is “over”, says California Governor Gavin Newsom.
“Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes,” he said. Fires have been raging in California, Oregon and Washington for three weeks, fanned by winds amid record heat. The blazes have burnt millions of acres, destroyed thousands of homes, and killed at least 25 people.
The fires have burnt a total 4.5 million acres – an area larger than Connecticut and slightly smaller than Wales – in recent weeks, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The governor, a Democrat, said: “The debate is over, around climate change. This is a climate damn emergency. This is real and it’s happening.”
EU explores green bond to fuel Covid-19 recovery
The European Commission is looking to issue green bonds for the first time, as investors and politicians call on Brussels to raise sustainable debt to fund Europe’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
Johannes Hahn, commissioner for the EU budget, said Brussels is “exploring the possibility” of selling sustainable bonds as part of an unprecedented €750 billion (£691 billion) borrowing spree that is expected to begin early next year.
Green bonds are a way of raising money for environmentally friendly purposes. Issuance has exploded in recent years, with a total of $263 billion (£204 billion) sold globally last year, according to figures from Moody’s. This is up from less than $1 billion (£0.8 billion) a decade ago.
“The commission is exploring the possibility to issue part of its bonds in formats that demonstrate its commitment to sustainable finance – including social and or green bonds,” said Mr Hahn.
Investors demand world’s biggest polluters back net zero plan
A group of investors that collectively manage more than US$ 47trillion (£36 trillion) in assets has demanded the world’s biggest corporate polluters back plans to reach net-zero emissions or be held accountable.
Climate Action 100+, an initiative supported by 518 institutional investor organisations across the globe, has written to 161 fossil fuel, mining, transport and other big-emitting companies. The letter includes 30 climate measures and targets, which the companies will be analysed against in a report to be released early next year.
It is the latest step in a campaign by climate-concerned shareholders to force business leaders to explain how their targets and strategies will help reach the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.
The targeted companies are responsible for up to 80 per cent of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. They include mining giant BHP, which last week promised to reduce emissions from its operations by 30 per cent over the next decade after sustained pressure from activist shareholder groups.
Church invests £600 million in climate change index
The Church of England Pension Fund has invested £600 million in the “first global index” that bridges passive investments with companies making headway on climate issues.
The Church’s pension fund co-created the FTSE TPI Climate Transition Index Series with FTSE Russell, the index provider, and the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), an organisation backed by asset owners that is focused on climate transition.
The index combines FTSE Russell and TPI analysis on company exposure to five climate issues: green revenues, fossil fuel reserves, carbon emissions, management quality and carbon performance assessments.
Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the pension scheme, said the index series means passive investors will be able to play their part in supporting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The Church of England Pensions Board will no longer be invested in several household names in the oil industry,” he said. “The index leaves open a path for any one of these excluded companies to transition in line with the Paris Agreement and claim their place in the index at a later date.”