National Grid posts a whopping 107 per cent jump in its annual pre-tax profits to £3.4 billion, as Shell shareholders prepare to vote on the energy giant’s climate policy. Meanwhile, ITV’s Love Island ditches its fast fashion sponsors in favour of pre-loved pioneer eBay, HSBC suspends its sustainable investing chief after he questioned the need for investors to worry about climate change, and UK councils trial kerbside collection of plastic bags and wrapping for recycling. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.
National Grid posts £3.4bn profit amid soaring energy bills
National Grid has seen its annual pre-tax profits jump by a huge 107 per cent to £3.4 billion.
The energy network operator, which delivers electricity to households and businesses, has attributed much of the rise to its £7.8 billion purchase of Western Power Distribution, which was recently fined £14.9 million for failing to help vulnerable customers.
National Grid had said profits in the last financial year would be higher than expected due to inflation, which recently reached a 40-year high of nine per cent. The runaway cost of energy bills are playing a large role in the surge.
Customers pay an average of 3.3 per cent of their total bill to the National Grid as part of an electricity transmission charge, according to the company’s data from the 2020/21 financial year.
Shareholders to vote on Shell’s climate policy amid activist pressure
Shareholders will vote on Shell’s climate transition strategy at its annual general meeting (AGM) next week, with the fossil fuel trader facing mounting pressure from activists to bring forward its targets.
The energy giant is calling on shareholders to approve its transition plans by voting through ‘Resolution 20’ – a commitment to reduce net carbon intensity by 20 per cent before the end of the decade, alongside reaching net zero across operations by 2050.
However, its plans have faced criticism from activist investors such as Dutch group Follow This, which has filed a competing motion, Resolution 21, calling for more stringent short, medium and long-term emissions targets.
Follow This has warned shareholders that Shell’s current transition plans are not aligned with the Paris Agreement, which pledges to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees from pre-industrial levels.
Love Island ditches fast fashion sponsor for eBay
Love Island contestants are to wear second-hand clothes this year after the ITV show announced a new partnership with secondhand online seller eBay UK.
It marks the first time the show, which is famed for partnering with fast fashion brands like I Saw It First and Missguided, has clothed islanders in pre-loved outfits. This year’s contestants will exclusively be wearing second-hand clothes, which will be available to them in the cast’s shared wardrobe, unless they bring their own into the villa.
HSBC suspends sustainable investing chief over climate change comments
HSBC has suspended its sustainable investing chief after he questioned the need for investors to worry about climate change.
Stuart Kirk, the bank’s global head of responsible investing, told a conference that central bankers were exaggerating climate risks in an attempt to “out-hyperbole the next guy.” He also asked “who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?”
HSBC was quick to condemn Kirk’s comments and he has now been suspended pending an internal investigation. However, activist group ShareAction said the comments from Kirk should raise “red flags” to any clients of HSBC that “care about net-zero”.
It comes after the banking giant was rapped by the UK advertising watchdog for greenwashing its record on tackling climate change.
UK councils trial flexible plastic home recycling
Nine councils in the UK are to trial kerbside collection of plastic bags and wrapping for recycling.
The trial scheme, called FlexCollect, comes ahead of an expected new legal requirement for local authorities to collect and recycle ‘flexible’ plastic from 2027.
Paid for by the £2.9 million Flexible Plastic Fund, FlexCollect says it is “encouraging everyone involved in recycling flexible plastic to take steps towards flexi recycling that is ultimately based in the UK, fully circular and included in household recycling collections.”
The Flexible Plastic Fund was established in May 2021 by five founding partners Mars UK, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. The three-year project will see the participating local authorities receive financial support to roll out pilot kerbside collections, with Cheltenham borough council being the first to join.