New climate body as pupils in pollution risk

Written by Lori Campbell on 21st Jun 2021

Leading scientists launch a global climate group modelled on the success of Covid-19 initiative Independent Sage, as  campaigners warn that a quarter of British children are attending schools where air pollution is worse than the World Health Organization (WHO) limit. Meanwhile, the UK’s first infrastructure bank opens in Leeds, Volvo is to make cars without using fossil fuels by 2026, and a coalition of heavyweight investors accuse big businesses including Amazon, Facebook and Tesla of failing to report data on climate change to their shareholders. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.

New climate body modelled on Covid-19 initiative

Leading climate scientists have launched a new independent group to advise, warn and criticise global policymakers about environmental crises.

The new Climate Advisory Group is inspired by Independent Sage, the cluster of British scientists who have held UK ministers and civil servants to account for their lack of transparency and mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Headed by former UK chief scientific adviser Sir David King, the group comprises of 14 experts from 10 countries and every continent. It aims to provide the global public with regular analysis about efforts to tackle the global heating and biodiversity crises.

It will issue monthly updates about the state of the global environment at meetings that will be open to the media and the public. These will be chaired by the BBC presenter Ade Adepitan.

The move comes as Phoenix in the US endures a 46C heatwave, with doctors warning of third-degree burn risk.

Quarter of UK pupils in schools with air pollution over WHO limit

Millions of British children attend schools where air pollution is worse than the World Health Organization (WHO) limit, campaigners have warned.

More than a quarter of schools, from nurseries through to sixth-form colleges, are in areas with high levels of small particle pollution, according to new analysis. Global Action Plan (Gap), the charity behind the research, says this means an estimated 3.4 million children are learning in an unhealthy environment.

Tiny pollution particles, called PM2.5, are particularly dangerous as they not only harm the lungs but can pass into the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. Young, developing bodies are especially vulnerable and dirty air has already been linked to increased asthma, obesity and mental disorders in children.

The data comes as a new report published in scientific journal J finds that Covid-19 deaths in England’s first wave were 70 per cent higher in areas with worst air pollution.

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Chancellor opens UK’s first infrastructure bank

The UK’s first infrastructure bank set up to channel billions of pounds into levelling up regional growth and tackling climate change has been opened in Leeds by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

In the March Budget, Mr Sunak said the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) would support regional economic growth and help get rid of the north-south divide.

UKIB will invest in key infrastructure projects in sectors such as clean energy and transport in every region and nation of the UK, according to the government.

Mr Sunak said UKIB would “accelerate our ambitions for tackling climate change while creating new opportunities across the UK”.

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Volvo to build cars without fossil fuels

Volvo plans to build cars using steel made without fossil fuels on a commercial scale by 2026.

The Swedish carmaker has signed a deal with steelmaker SSAB to use new technology that replaces coal with hydrogen in a crucial part of the car-building process.

Steel is a large contributor to global carbon emissions and is widely seen as one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. Blast furnaces use huge amounts of energy, while carbon dioxide is also released when coking coal is used to remove oxygen from iron ore.

Volvo estimates the steel in its petrol and diesel cars accounts for 35 per cent of carbon emitted during production. The figure is 20 per cent for Volvo’s electric vehicles, which use significantly more energy in making batteries, although over the lifetime of an electric car, average resource and energy use is expected to be significantly lower.

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Heavyweight investors demand big businesses reveal climate risk

A coalition of heavyweight investors are demanding that 1,320 companies make clearer disclosures on climate risk.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which represents asset managers and financial institutions with $17 trillion (£12.25 trillion) of combined assets, accuses the firms – including Amazon, Facebook and Tesla – of failing to report data on climate change to their shareholders.

Fears that climate change will result in catastrophic environmental damage are fuelling demands by institutional investors and regulators for companies to accelerate their efforts to reach the goal of a net zero carbon emissions economy.

More than 4,700 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to be produced by the 1,320 targeted companies. This is more than the entire EU, according to CDP.

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