China tops carbon chart as UK shops halve emissions

Written by Lori Campbell on 10th May 2021

China emits more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than the entire developed world combined, a new study finds, as British retailers slash their emissions in half in a bid to beat sustainability targets. Meanwhile, UK firms are set to spend £16 billion on switching to electric vehicles this year, wind farms set a new clean energy record, and big British supermarkets, retailers and investors threaten to boycott Brazil over the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief. 

China’s emissions exceed all developed nations combined

China emits more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than the entire developed world combined, a new report reveals.

Research by the US-based Rhodium Group found that China emitted 27 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gases in 2019.

The US was the second-largest emitter at 11 per cent while India was third with 6.6 per cent, the think tank said. The Asian giant has more than tripled its emissions over the last three decades.

China has the world’s largest population, so its emissions per person are still far behind the US. However, the research said those emissions have increased too, tripling over the course of two decades. Scientists warn that without an agreement between the US and China it will be hard to avert dangerous climate change.

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Retailers halve carbon emissions

British retailers have cut their carbon emissions in half since 2005 and smashed environmental targets for the past year, according to new figures.

Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals that carbon emissions across leading firms in the sector have dropped by 49 per cent since 2005. It is a significant improvement on the industry’s target of a 25 per cent reduction over the period.

Carbon emissions in retail stores dropped by 46 per cent, while store delivery emissions tumbled by 84 per cent for the period. The targets form part of the BRC’s climate action road map, which saw more than 70 of the country’s biggest retailers pledge to improve their sustainability.

As part of the scheme, retail leaders have pledged to help the sector and its supply chain reach net zero by 2040.


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UK businesses to invest £16bn in EVs this year

British businesses are set to spend almost £16 billion on switching to electric vehicles (EVs) this year – 50 per cent more than the spending of last year.

A survey of 200 UK companies by Centrica Business Solutions found that two-thirds are on track to switch to a fully electric fleet by 2030 – when the UK Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel car sales will come into effect.

Despite Covid-19-related challenges, two-fifths (40 per cent) of the companies said they had added more EVs to their fleet between April 2020 and March 2021, with most of these businesses planning further additions this year. Just one in ten firms had downsized their EV fleet during the 12-month period.

When these findings are scaled to cover the entire UK private sector, the total EV spend in 2020-21 is £10.5 billion, rising to an estimated £15.8 billion for 2021-22. The figure covers pure electric and plug-in hybrid models.


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Windfarms set new clean energy record

Britain’s windfarms set a new clean energy record last week after the blowy bank holiday weather helped onshore and offshore wind turbines provide almost half of electricity.

High speed winds produced a new wind power record as turbines generated just over 17.6GW of electricity for the first time in the middle of Monday afternoon, enough to run more than 3.5m kettles.

Windfarms generated 48.5% per cent of the electricity grid in England, Scotland and Wales, which was more than gas plants, nuclear reactors and biomass burners combined. Gas plants powered 21.7 per cent of the electricity grid, while nuclear reactors generated 12 per cent and biomass power units contributed 6.1 per cent.


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Brazil boycott over deforestation

Major UK supermarkets, food suppliers, and investors have threatened to boycott Brazil’s products if its government fails to do more to protect the Amazon rainforest.

In an open letter to the Deputies and Senators of the National Congress of Brazil, the businesses – including Aldi, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Tesco – urge lawmakers not to pass a new proposal, known as a “land grabbers bill” by environmental groups – into law.

Under the new legislation, private-sector firms or individual asset owners would be permitted to transform lands that were occupied by local communities as recently as 2014. Under current rules, lands must have been vacant since 2011.

To receive the title to the land, new owners would not need an on-site inspection – another major change from current requirements. The bill would also enable those currently occupying land illegally to apply for formal ownership, while many green groups want to see such pieces of land made public once again.