Not-so-green recovery as Brits clueless on carbon

Written by Lori Campbell on 15th Mar 2021

Less than a fifth of money spent by major economies on the recovery from Covid is ‘green’, according to a new UN report, as most Brits say they have ‘no idea’ of the scale of carbon emitted by their pensions investments. Meanwhile, Tesco is to start recycling soft plastics such as crips packets and bread bags, a new certification is being offered to finance professionals who want to bolster their sustainable credentials, and workplace pension scheme Nest has partnered with Octopus renewables for a £1.4 billion green energy push. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.

Less than a fifth of Covid recovery cash is green, says UN

Less than a fifth of the money spent by major economies on long-term Covid recovery measures can be considered ‘green’, a new United Nations report has found.

An analysis by the UN Environment Programme and the University of Oxford reveals that only a small number of countries have significantly increased spending on measures to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and nature loss since the start of the global pandemic.

The world’s 50 largest countries announced $14.6 trillion (£10.5 trillion) in spending in 2020 – of which just $368 billion (2.5 per cent) went towards green initiatives, the report says.

Around $1.9 trillion of the total was spent on long-term Covid recovery measures. Of this, $341 billion (18 per cent) went towards green recovery measures.


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Most Brits clueless on pension emissions

Almost all Brits (99.5 per cent) have no idea about the scale of carbon emitted from their pension’s investments, a new report shows.

Research from Cushon, a UK-based fintech, reveals the average UK pension pot finances the Co2 equivalent of nine family cars.

While the average carbon emissions per person in the UK has reduced in the last 25 years from 9.3 tonnes to 5.9 tonnes, Cushon says the way we invest our pension pots has remained relatively unchanged. The average pension now finances 23 tonnes of Co2 – nearly four times our personal emissions.

Earlier this year Cushon launched what it calls the world’s first ‘net zero pension’, accelerating a drive by the industry to green investment portfolios and reduce holdings in polluting industries.

The new research shows 62 per cent of British adults say they would engage more with their pension if they knew their money was making a positive impact on climate.

It comes as major pension funds with assets worth a combined £870 billion – including those of the Church of England, Lloyds Banking Group and the National Grid – have committed to cutting the carbon emissions of their portfolios to net zero by 2050 or earlier.


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Tesco to recycle plastic bread bags and crisp packets

Tesco is rolling out collection points for soft plastic packaging that is notoriously difficult to recycle such as like crisp packets, pet food pouches and bread bags.

The supermarket chain is aiming to establish a nationwide recycling network for these harder to process plastics, which currently end up largely in landfill.

The recycled material will be used to package food, household and beauty products, Tesco said.

The supermarket said it prioritised reducing the plastic packaging it used, but that the new service would also have “a real impact”.

“Where plastic serves an important purpose such as reducing food waste, these new recycling points make sure that every piece can be easily recycled,” said Sarah Bradbury, Tesco’s director of quality.

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CFA offers new certification in sustainable investing

The body that grants the prestigious title of ‘chartered financial analyst’ is offering a certification for finance professionals who want to bolster their sustainable investing credentials.

The CFA Institute’s ‘ESG’ (environmental, social and governance) certificate will be available globally from today (Monday). It requires candidates to complete 130 hours of self-directed study and pass an exam lasting two hours and 20 minutes.

Margaret Franklin, president and chief executive of the CFA Institute, says there is an “astronomical gap” between the soaring demand for sustainable investment products and the limited number of people with the expertise needed to create them. She said: “The nature of portfolio management is changing, and so the real strategy is to make sure that we have those learnings available for the investment professional.”

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Nest teams up with Octopus for £1.4bn green energy push

Government-backed workplace pension scheme Nest has partnered with Octopus Renewables for a £1.4 billion green energy push.

The deal will allow Nest to invest its members’ savings in renewable infrastructure projects, such as solar and offshore wind farms in the UK and across Europe.

The scheme has estimated £250 million will be committed this year, rising to a potential £1.4 billion investment by 2030.

Octopus Renewables will arrange investment deals directly with the owners of renewable infrastructure projects, negotiating deals so Nest members are rewarded for injecting new funding.

Octopus Renewables is the largest investor of utility scale solar power in Europe, managing a global portfolio valued at more than £3 billion.