MI6 spies on polluters as BA goes jet zero

Written by Lori Campbell on 26th Apr 2021

British secret agents have begun “green spying” on the world’s biggest polluting countries to ensure they stick to their climate promises as British Airways pledges to power 10 per cent of its flights with sustainable jet fuel by 2030. Meanwhile, financial companies could be ordered by the Treasury to add ‘climate labels’ to their products, president Joe Biden commits to cutting US carbon emissions in half by 2030 and the UK’s overall carbon footprint is down 17 per cent following the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.

MI6 ‘green spying’ on world’s biggest polluters

British secret agents are “green spying” on the world’s biggest polluting countries to make sure they keep their climate change promises, the head of MI6 has revealed.

Richard Moore said the Secret Intelligence Service had begun to monitor large industrialised countries to support what he described as the “foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country and for the planet.”

It comes as the UK prepares to host the major COP26 climate change summit later this year.

Mr Moore, who is known as C, told Times Radio: “Where people sign up to commitments on climate change, it is perhaps our job to make sure that actually what they are really doing reflects what they have signed up to.

“As somebody used to say – ‘trust, but verify’. “On climate change, where you need everyone to come on board and to play fair, then occasionally just check to make sure they are.”

British Airways to power 10% of its fleet with sustainable fuel

British Airways owner IAG has become the first European airline group to commit to powering 10 per cent of its flights with low emission aviation fuel by 2030.

The group says it buy one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel per year enabling it to cut its annual emissions by two million tonnes by 2030. This is equivalent to removing one million cars from Europe’s roads each year.

Sustainable jet fuel produces at least 70 per cent less carbon emissions than fossil fuel.

IAG has pledged to invest $400 million (£287 million) in the development of sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years.

It is partnering with sustainable aviation fuel developers, LanzaJet and Velocys to build Europe’s first household waste-to-jet fuel plant in the UK which will start operations in 2025.

The group is also investing in tech innovator ZeroAvia to speed up the development of hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, which it says has the potential to enable IAG to reach zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050.

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Financial products could be ordered to carry ‘climate labels’

The UK financial system must be overhauled to make the transition to net zero by 2050 possible, says a new HM treasury report.

The two-year review recommends sweeping changes to tackle greenwash and empower consumers, including ordering financial firms to add ‘climate labels’ to their products.

It states that “financial products should be clearly labelled to allow consumers to assess their relative climate impacts and to make choices accordingly” and says HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should consult on making these green labels mandatory and easy for consumers to understand.

It also advises that the FCA be given the appropriate powers to prevent the ‘greenwashing’ of financial products.

The ‘Net Zero and the Future of Green Finance’ report was commissioned by former Chancellor Philip Hammond in 2019 to scrutinise the role of HM Treasury, regulators, and financial services in supporting the Government’s climate change commitments.

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US pledges to halve carbon emissions by 2030

The US has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

This new target, unveiled by president Joe Biden at a virtual summit of 40 global leaders, doubles the country’s previous promise.

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” President Biden said at the summit’s opening address.

“We must try to keep the Earth’s temperature to an increase of 1.5C. The world beyond 1.5 degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes – tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods.”

However, the leaders of India and China – two of the world’s biggest emitters – made no new commitments.

UK’s carbon footprint down 17%

The UK’s overall carbon footprint has fallen by 17 per cent, thanks largely to the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has found.

Lockdown restrictions have reduced the amount of travel people have been doing, which is the largest contributor to an average footprint.

But Brits were adopting more eco-friendly lifestyles even before the Covid-19 outbreak, research by environmental organisation WWF and the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York shows.

The WWF’s carbon footprint poll showed a huge 25 per cent rise in people moving to plant-based (vegetarian or vegan) diets between February 2019 and October 2020.

The number of people who changed to 100 per cent renewable energy almost doubled from 12 per cent to 21 per cent. That move alone could reduce each individual’s footprint by an average of 2.9 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, a significant saving from an annual average of 13.9 tonnes.

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