UK ties with fossil fuels as pensions law hailed

Written by Lori Campbell on 5th Oct 2020

Fossil fuel firms were given a series of private meetings with UK government officials about the COP26 global climate talks to be held in Glasgow, as Pensions Minister Guy Opperman welcomes plans to force pension schemes to report on climate risk in 2022. Meanwhile, the NHS is to roll out electric ambulances as it becomes the first health service to eliminate its carbon footprint by 2045, Credit Suisse raises £163 million for a ‘world first’ ocean health impact fund, and McDonald’s launches a ‘Sustainable MacFries Fund’ to improve the resilience of British potato farmers. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief. 

UK held private talks with fossil fuel firms about Cop26

Fossil fuel firms have had a series of private meetings with UK government officials in an attempt to be part of next year’s crucial global climate talks in Scotland.

Documents show that some of the world’s biggest polluting corporations have been lobbying the government, offering money in return for exposure at Cop26 and in one case saying they could act as an intermediary between UK officials and other governments around the world.

Jess Worth, of Culture Unstained, which obtained details of the meetings under freedom of information legislation, said: “Those organising Cop26 say they want partners that are ‘driving positive change towards a lower carbon world’ but these firms are the ones investing billions in getting new fossil fuels out of the ground just when we need to be phasing them out.”

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Pensions Minister welcomes landmark climate risk reporting measures

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has welcomed Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plans to usher in landmark climate risk reporting measures in 2022.

In a letter to the minister, the FCA outlined a timeframe to align its climate risk reporting requirements with those flowing from the Pension Schemes Bill, currently making its way through the House of Commons.

The move means asset managers and FCA-regulated pension schemes are forced to report on their assets’ climate risks in line with recommendations from the internationally recognised Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Mr Opperman said: “The FCA’s commitment highlights the coordinated approach we are taking to address the dangers of climate change, while also using it to seize green opportunities. The UK was the first major economy to commit to reaching net zero by 2050 and it is vital we continue to build on this momentum.”

It comes as Aviva commits to ensuring that all companies held in its auto-enrolment default pension funds generate net-zero emissions by 2050, and urges the Government to make this a unified commitment across the sector.


It’s your pension – own it! Here’s how to find out where your pension is invested


NHS to roll out electric ambulances in net zero plan

The NHS is to swap to electric ambulances as it becomes the first health service to eliminate its carbon footprint by 2045.

Four per cent of the UK’s entire greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the NHS, and when patient and visitor transport and supply chains are included, its annual output is roughly the same as all of Slovenia.

To combat this, it plans to develop and test the world’s first hydrogen–electric hybrid double-crewed ambulance by 2022. The zero-emissions vehicles will then be rolled out across the rest of its fleet, along with fully electric ambulances, by 2032.

It comes as West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) announced trials of the UK’s first all-electric ambulance, which has a top range of 75 mph and a range of 105-110 miles and is powered by lithium-ion batteries in the underside of its floor pan. WMAS has already built the lightest ambulances in the country using aircraft-style technology.


How renewables can make you money as the world aims for net zero 


Credit Suisse raises $212m for ‘world’s first’ ocean health impact fund

Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse has partnered with Rockefeller Asset Management to launch a ‘world’s first’ fund that will solely finance projects improving ocean health.

The ‘Ocean Engagement Fund’ is said to be the first impact fund of its kind, as it is solely dedicated to and fully aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life Below Water. The Goal includes targets to address issues such as overfishing, marine pollution and acidification, and to boost conservation and restoration.

Between 30 and 50 businesses will be backed by the fund, which has raised $212 million (£163 million) pre-launch. Non-profit The Ocean Foundation will advise Credit Suisse and Rockefeller Asset Management on which companies to include in the portfolio. It will also provide best-practice learnings on engaging with portfolio businesses to steer them away from practices which harm the oceans, going beyond ‘doing less bad’ and achieving a net-positive impact on marine habitats.


What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?


McDonald’s launches ‘sustainable McFries Fund’

McDonald’s has launched a ‘Sustainable MacFries Fund’ to improve the resilience of British potato farmers.

The Sustainable MacFries Fund has been set up in partnership with McDonald’s supplier McCain. It will also collaborate with the Walmart Foundation, WWF and Cargill in the US to improve land use practices.

It aims to support British potato farmers to use new techniques and technology that will improve soil quality and water management. A separate partnership between McDonald’s and the Prince’s Countryside Fund will also help farmers make decisions about their future.

McDonald’s and McCain will provide £1 million in grants to growers. Farmers will be educated and trained in improving soil structure while using new infiltration tines for MacFry planters. The technology will increase the uptake of water in both the soil and roots.


What is sustainable investment? Here’s a two-minute explainer