The UK’s biggest private pension fund is to move £5 billion of its investments to an index avoiding the worst polluters, as toxic nanoplastics are discovered at both the Arctic and Antartica for the first time. Meanwhile, scrapping green policies over the past decade has added nearly £2.5 billion onto the UK’s energy bills, a new Microsoft-backed fund raises £148 million for innovative climate start-ups and a Tesla car is able to travel 750 miles on a single charge with a new breakthrough battery. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.
UK’s biggest private pension fund to shift £5bn from polluters
The UK’s biggest private pension fund is to move £5 billion of its investment in equities to an index avoiding the worst polluters.
The move by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) will immediately reduce the carbon emissions associated with the shareholdings by 30 per cent.
The USS, which manages the pensions of British academics, will introduce a climate “tilt” to the money, shifting it to companies that are making efforts to cut emissions.
USS owns assets worth £82 billion on behalf of 470,000 members from 330 of the UK’s higher education institutions, of which 40 per cent is held in equities. It is facing pressure from members to decarbonise, as well as a separate dispute over proposals to cut pension benefits that could lead to strike action.
Nanoplastic pollution is found at both Earth’s poles for first time
Toxic nanoplastics have been discovered at both the Arctic and Antartica for the first time.
Scientists from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found the harmful plastics – a quarter of which are from vehicle tyres – have been polluting Greenland for as long as half a century.
Nanoplastics are smaller and more poisonous than microplastics, which have been found all over the world. Their full impact of both on human health is not yet known. Experts fear they could pose a major problem to humans and other animals, with the amount of plastic in the ocean expected to triple by 2040.
The Environmental Investigation Agency earlier this week announced the world’s plastic pollution threat constitutes a ‘planetary emergency’ equal to climate change.
Scrapping green policies has pushed household bills up by £2.5bn
Scrapping green policies over the past 10 years has added nearly £2.5 billion onto the UK’s energy bills, according to new analysis.
This works out at around £40 a year more for the average household, according to the findings by Carbon Brief, a website covering the climate crisis and energy policy. The report says this could add up to as much as £60 a year onto bills under an expected price cap increase in winter.
It comes after a separate study found customers face paying £3.9 billion more this year due to government decisions to scrap climate policies.
British households are once again bracing for a rise in gas and electricity bills this spring – with estimates saying these could increase by more than half.
Microsoft-backed fund raises £148m for climate start-ups
Energy Impact Partners (EIP), a venture capital firm that counts Microsoft and Duke Energy as backers, has raised $200 million (£148 million) for a new fund to scale up innovative climate technologies into commercial operations.
The Deep Decarbonisation Frontier Fund has already financed several startups developing novel approaches to clean energy and manufacturing. These include Form Energy, a battery company from a former Tesla executive; Zap Energy, an upstart tackling nuclear fusion; and others aiming to produce fertiliser and cement without emitting carbon.
“We are looking for audacious entrepreneurs taking big swings at big problems in climate tech,” said Shayle Kann, Partner in the EIP Frontier Fund.
Tesla travels 750 miles with breakthrough battery
A Tesla car with a next-generation battery is able to travel more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometres) on a single charge.
The first road test of the Gemini battery, developed by Detroit-based startup Our Next Energy (ONE), achieved nearly double the typical range that a standard Tesla Model S can, and more than the highest range of any mass-produced gasoline-powered vehicles.
Travelling across Michigan, the results “set a new benchmark for the entire automotive industry”, according to ONE founder and CEO Mujeeb Ijaz.
“We want to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by eliminating range anxiety, which holds back most consumers today,” he said.