Wildfires torch western US as pensions promise net zero

Written by Lori Campbell on 19th Jul 2021

Major wildfires have torched 1.1 million acres across western US states, with 1,300 firefighters still battling to get them under control, as 14 UK pension funds commit to net zero investment portfolios. Meanwhile, Shell and Scottish Power team up in a bid to build floating wind farms off the coast of Scotland, new data shows flights in the UK are cheaper than trains despite producing SIX times more Co2, and the UK’s first dedicated electric vehicle charging scheme – Co Charger – launches a £250,000 share offer. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.


Wildfires torch 1.1 million acres across western US

Major wildfires have torched 1.1 million acres across 13 western states in the US, as 1,300 firefighters battle to get them under control.

The largest of the fires – Bootleg – had torched more than 300,000 acres (an area the size of Los Angeles) in Oregon, destroying 20 houses and threatening 2,000 structures.

It is one of at least 80 large wildfires burning across the US west coast and nearby states amid scorching temperatures of more than 49.6C. Montana has reported the most large wildfires with 18, and Idaho is close behind with 17. Bootleg has been burning in the Fremont-Winema National Forest on the Oregan border with California since July 6.

The unprecedented heatwaves and fires in the US of recent years have been largely attributed to climate change. It comes as at least 180 people have been killed and tens of thousands of homes destroyed in flash floods across Western Europe.

14 major UK pension funds commit to net zero investments

The chairs of 14 major UK pension firms collectively managing £267.9 billion in assets have formed a new net zero alliance, pledging to align their investments with the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious climate target.

Led by the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability project, the Net Zero Statement of Support marks first time a number of funds have pledged to bring investments in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Among the signatories are five schemes that are making their intention to set net-zero targets public for the first time – HSBC Bank Pension Trust (UK) Limited, Barclays UK Retirement Fund, Unilever UK Pension Fund, Tesco PLC Pension Scheme, and Pennon Group Pension Scheme.

The others are the BT Pension Scheme, the Brunel Pension Partnership, the Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia, the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, the Environment Agency Pension Fund, the Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund, the Atos UK 2019 Pensions Scheme, Nest, and the Scottish Widows Master Trust.

Make sure your own pension is climate-friendly with our Good Guide to Pensions

Scottish Power and Shell bid for North Sea floating windfarm

Oil giant Shell and Scottish Power have teamed up in a bid to develop large floating wind farms off the coast of north east Scotland.

They will bid jointly in an auction of 15 seabed locations for the next generation of wind farms. The firms say Scotland could be at the forefront of the renewable energy sector, potentially providing power for a quarter of the UK domestic market – eight million homes.

The auction could net the Scottish government up to £860 million. Crown Estate Scotland, a public corporation following Scottish government policy, manages the seabed, and is overseeing the auction for the right to develop the selected sea areas.

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Community EV charging scheme launches 250k funding bid

The UK’s first electric vehicle (EV) community charging scheme – Co Charger – has launched a £250,000 share offer through positive impact platform Ethex.

Founded in November 2020, Co Charger is an app that enables people who cannot charge a vehicle at home to do so within a short walking distance. It allows EV owners who have a charge point at home to rent it out to people in their neighbourhood for an agreed price.

Co Charger, which is affiliated with eco car hire company Co Cars, aims to help create greener, calmer, and more connected towns and cities by tackling one of the major barriers to EV uptake in the UK – the issue of charging.

The app currently has 3,700 users with a target to grow to more than 500,000 by 2025. As part of this goal, Co Charger aims to reduce CO2 emissions by over 100,000 tonnes by the end of 2022, helping to reduce the eight million deaths a year attributed to air pollution.

Funds raised through the share offer will enable Co Charger to recruit new staff and pay for the technical development and marketing needed to expand the platform. Minimum investment is £1,000 as as with all investments, capital is at risk and returns are not guaranteed.

Top 7 electric cars for families

Flights cheaper than trains despite producing SIX times more Co2

Domestic flights are cheaper than train travel in the UK despite their carbon emissions being six times higher, according to new research.

The ‘snapshot’ study by consumer champion group Which? found that travellers looking to cut their carbon footprint by swapping plane for train face a hefty penalty.

It discovered that rail fares were, on average, 49 per cent more expensive than the same journey by plane. Which? looked at 10 UK routes departing between 3 and 8 August, 2021, and compared the two modes of transport in terms of both price and carbon footprint. Eight of the 10 were cheaper when flying.

The biggest fare difference was on a Birmingham to Newquay route – a return flight cost £67 while the train was priced at £180. Meanwhile, the air travel option was calculated to produce nearly six times (5.7) the amount of CO2e emissions: 156kg per person compared to just 27kg by train.

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