Climate warning as 5m homes in ‘fuel stress’

Written by Lori Campbell on 4th Apr 2022

A major new UN climate report is to urge a rapid shift away from fossil fuels in the next eight years to reduce harmful greenhouse gases, as five million homes are pushed into ‘fuel stress’ with the energy price cap rising to nearly £2,000. Meanwhile, bitcoin energy consumption could be reduced by 99 per cent with a simple coding change, according to a new campaign, sustainable bank Triodos launches a £4.7 million community solar energy bond offer, and an expansion of sustainable finance rules is proposed by top EU advisers. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.


Key climate report to urge rapid shift from fossil fuels

A major new climate report by United Nations scientists on how to reduce harmful greenhouses gases is set to urge a rapid shift from fossil fuels over the next eight years.

Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are also likely to suggest the widespread use of carbon removal technology to limit dangerous warming.

The IPCC is due to publish its findings on what we can do to stem climate change today. However, disputes over the exact wording of the document have delayed agreement.

This new study will be the third of three important documents from the IPCC issued over the past eight months. The previous two have looked at the causes and impacts of climate change, but this one will focus on mitigation – or what we can do to stop it.

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Five million households in ‘fuel stress’ as energy price cap rises

Five million homes have been pushed into ‘fuel stress’ with the energy price cap rising to nearly £2,000, a leading think-tank on living standards has warned.

The energy price cap rose to the record sum on Friday to help account for surging wholesale prices, and bills could go up even further in October to reflect the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The latest rise meant that the number of households in England spending at least 10 per cent of their budget on energy bills, a share deemed to represent ‘fuel stress,’ doubled from 2.5 million overnight.

The Resolution Foundation says the poorest fifth of households are now spending more than twice the share of their budgets on energy bills than the richest fifth, even after taking into account a new government tax rebate scheme.

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Coding change can reduce bitcoin energy consumption by 99%

Bitcoin mining already uses as much energy as the entire country of Sweden – but that could change with a simple switch in the way it is coded, according to a new campaign.

The Change the Code Not the Climate campaign, coordinated by the Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace and several groups battling bitcoin mining facilities in their communities, is calling on bitcoin to change the way its coins are mined in order to tackle its burgeoning carbon footprint.

The software code that bitcoin uses – “proof of work” – requires the use of vast computer arrays to validate and secure transactions. Proof of work is a way of checking that a miner has solved the extremely complex cryptographic puzzles needed to add to the bitcoin ledger.

Rival cryptocurrency ethereum is now shifting to another system known as “proof of stake” that it believes will reduce its energy use by 99 per cent. The campaign’s organisers argue bitcoin must follow suit or find another, less energy intensive method.

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Triodos launches £4.7m community renewable energy bond offer

Sustainable bank Triodos is launching a £4.7 million community renewable energy bond offer through its crowdfunding platform for Empower Community Foundation.

Money raised will be used to refinance two 5MW solar farms near Salibsury in England and Arbroath in Scotland. Both were completed in 2016.

Empower Community Foundation is a social enterprise designed to accelerate the transition to sustainable low carbon local economies, by seeking to ensure that the financial benefits of renewable energy go back into local communities.

There is a £50 minimum investment, with the bond eligible to be held in a Triodos Innovative Finance ISA. The bond pays 4.25% gross interest annually, with the interest rate to rise with inflation each year.

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Expansion of sustainable finance rules proposed by EU advisers

An expansion of the European Union’s sustainable finance rules to better grade activities such as gas-fired power plants that are not yet environmentally friendly has been proposed by top advisors.

Whether, and how, to include gas in the EU’s flagship ‘taxonomy’ – a list of green activities that will help the bloc reach its climate goals – has sparked an intense backlash over the last year.

After the European Commission proposed defining gas as ‘green’ using more generous emissions thresholds, a number of European countries and politicians said they would oppose it.

To help solve the issue, advisors have now suggested expanding the scope of the taxonomy using a traffic light system to include an intermediate, or ‘amber’, a category for activities that are not yet sustainable, but which could become so over time.

The Good ISA Guide 2022

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