The first ever winners of Prince William’s Earthshot prize have been announced at a star-studded eco ceremony, as carbon emissions from the world’s richest countries rebound fast following Covid-19 lockdowns. Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex become “impact partners” and investors at sustainable investing firm Ethic, Europe sees its biggest ever private investment in green hydrogen, and Coventry trials new £3,000 grants for drivers to give up their cars in favour of public transport. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.
Earthshot prize: first ever winners announced
The first ever winners of the global Earthshot Prize masterminded by Prince William have been announced at a star-studded eco-friendly ceremony.
The five winners – each winning £1 million – include an Indian entrepreneur whose tractor-mounted technology converts crop residue into fertiliser and fuel, cutting air pollution, and a company in the Bahamas that grows new, extra-resilient coral to replace dying reefs.
Another winner has developed hydrogen technology that prize judges promise will “change the way we power our world”, while the city of Milan won for its food waste hubs taking unused meals and distributing them to the hungry. Costa Rica was awarded for paying its citizens to plant trees.
Prince William was joined by Emma Watson, Dame Emma Thompson and David Oyelowo for the ceremony at Alexandra Palace in London. Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and KSI were among the acts that performed, with music powered by 60 cyclists pedalling on bikes.
Carbon emissions from rich countries rose rapidly in 2021
Carbon emissions across the world’s 20 richest nations are rebounding fast following the Covid-19 lockdowns, according to a new study.
The Climate Transparency Report says that CO2 will rise by four per cent across the G20 group this year, having dropped six per cent in 2020 due to the pandemic.
China, India and Argentina are set to exceed their 2019 emissions levels. The report’s authors say that the continued use of fossil fuels is undermining efforts to rein in temperatures
The G20 group is responsible for a huge 75 per cent of global emissions, which fell significantly last year as economies were closed down in response to Covid-19.
This year’s rebound is being powered by fossil fuel, especially coal. With just two weeks left until the critical COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the report highlights the enormous task facing negotiators to limit global warming.
Harry and Meghan become ‘impact partners’ in green investment firm
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have become “impact partners” and investors at sustainable investing firm Ethic.
In a joint interview with The New York Times‘ Dealbook, the pair said they were introduced to tech-driven asset manager Ethic by friends, with the duchess saying Harry had been saying for years about how he wanted to invest sustainably.
The firm, which screens businesses and sectors to invest based on social responsibility criteria such as racial justice and climate issues, confirmed the couple also have investments managed by the company.
The Sussexes said they hope their involvement will encourage young people to be conscious of the sustainability of their own investments. However, Ethic has faced criticism for holding shares in Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, a manufacturer of laser-guided bombs, and scores of oil companies.
Europe’s biggest ever private investment in green hydrogen
Global chemical company Ineos is to invest €2bn (£1.7 billion) in hydrogen production in Europe this decade, while Octopus has partnered with developer RES to funnel £3 billion into the green fuel in the same timeframe.
Ineos says its deal is the largest ever single investment commitment in green hydrogen from Europe’s private sector. It comes after the firm announced its £1 billion investment for blue hydrogen production at its site in Grangemouth, near Falkirk.
The first electrolysis unit to be built as part of Ineos’s package will be a 20MW facility at Rafnes, Norway. Also confirmed is a 100MW electrolyser in Koln, Germany, with projects for Belgium, France and the UK to be announced.
Meanwhile, energy generator and retailer Octopus has partnered with renewable energy developer RES to invest £3 billion in green hydrogen production by 2030.
Coventry trials £3,000 grants for drivers to give up their cars
The government has launched an experiment to encourage people to ditch their cars in exchange for a £3,000 grant to be used on public transport.
A pilot for the taxpayer-funded scheme is taking place in Coventry, where candidates have the grant loaded onto a card that can be used to pay for public transport services.
Similar trials to deter car use are being introduced across the country, including the launch of an £8 charge for the polluting vehicles entering Birmingham city centre in June.
Clean air zones are also expected to be installed in around half a dozen cities.