Young activists from around the world are staging ‘Mock Cop26’ talks to urge global leaders to act on climate change as Boris Johnson announces £500 million in grants to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles. Meanwhile, a new study finds that just one per cent of the world’s population causes half of carbon emissions, Trump uses the last weeks of his presidency to rush through environmental rollbacks, and Unilever sets an ambitious €1 billion sales annual target for plant-based foods. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.
Young people hold ‘Mock Cop26’ climate talks
Young activists from across the globe are staging a virtual “Mock Cop26” to urge world leaders to act on climate change.
The event involving more than 350 young delegates from 150 countries is taking place over two weeks in the absence of the official Cop26 climate conference that was due to be held in Glasgow this month.
The key United Nations summit has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic until November 2021.
The youth-organised Mock Cop26 will mirror the process of the official summit, with each country’s delegation delivering a speech sharing the concerns of young people in their country and their vision for climate action.
They will also hear from leading climate scientists, economists and health professionals and will work towards producing a final collective statement outlining what leaders should agree to at Cop26, organisers said.
It will address what young people should do in the absence of sufficient global ambition to tackle the climate crisis. Delegates are also calling for young people to be part of every Cop26 country delegation so their views are heard.
Drivers to be offered grants to buy electric cars
Motorists will be offered more than £500 million in grants to encourage them to switch to ultra low carbon vehicles, the government has said.
It follows the Prime Minister’s decision to bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by a decade to 2030, in an effort to reach the UK’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The measures are part of Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” designed to reset his Government amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan also involves an entire UK town switching to hydrogen power by the end of the decade, with all homes and businesses heated solely by the technology.
Mr Johnson claimed the 10-point plan, costing the Treasury a total of £12 billion, would create 250,000 jobs across the UK and help the country to “build back greener.” It is part of a “levelling up” agenda he pledged following his electoral landslide last year.
1% of people cause HALF of global aviation emissions
Frequent-flying “super emitters” who make up just one per cent of the world’s population cause half of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018, according to a new study.
Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100 billion (£75 billion) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, the researchers estimated. The analysis draws together data to give the clearest global picture of the impact of frequent fliers.
Only 11 per cent of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4 per cent flew overseas. US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among wealthy countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the study reports.
The researchers said the study showed that an elite group enjoying frequent flights had a big impact on the climate crisis that affected everyone.
It comes as the Sustainable Aviation coalition calls on the government to step up investment in areas that are crucial to achieving zero emission flying.
Trump rushes through environment rollbacks
Donald Trump is using the final weeks of his US presidency to rush through a procession of environmental protection rollbacks.
Trump has yet to acknowledge his election loss to president-elect Joe Biden but his administration has been busily finishing off a host of regulatory moves to lock in more oil and gas drilling, loosened protections for wildlife and lax air pollution standards before the Democrat enters the White House on 20 January.
Trump’s interior department is auctioning off drilling rights to America’s last large untouched wilderness, the sprawling Arctic National Wildlife Refuge found in the tundra of northern Alaska, and opening the way for drilling around the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park. It has also targeted a linchpin environmental law, known as the National Environmental Policy Act, to allow more logging and road-building in national forests.
Richard Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University, said: “The actions of the exiting administration will have “extremely damaging environmental consequences.”
Unilever sets target of €1bn in annual sales of plant-based foods
Unilever has set a target of €1 billion (£900 million) in annual sales of its plant-based foods through some of its best-known brands, as it seeks to cash in on the growing number of consumers reducing their meat and dairy intake.
The estimated five-fold sales growth over the next five to seven years will be driven by new products from ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’ meat-free label, and boosted by expansion of dairy-free ice cream and mayonnaise ranges from Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Magnum and Wall’s.
The new global target is part of the food giant’s new “Future Foods” initiative, which it says aims to help people eat more healthily, while reducing the environmental impact of the supply chain.
Unilever is also unveiling plans to halve food waste across its operations by 2025 – five years earlier than its previous target.