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Climate and sustainable finance news: Nov 2020

Developments in the green energy sector and beyond.

Last updated: 13 Nov 2020 6 min read

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Pandemic saves two and a half years worth of emissions

The coronavirus pandemic may have wreaked havoc on the global economy but its effects continue to benefit the environment.

According to BloombergNEF’s New Energy Outlook 2020, the pandemic has led to a sudden drop in energy demand that is set to remove two and a half years’ worth of emissions over the next 30 years.

The study also projects that coal fire power will reach its peak in China in 2027, and in India in 2030. By 2050 it will account for only 12% of global electricity generation. Gas is predicted to keep growing, but is the only fossil fuel predicted to do so.

However, the IEA has argued that, amid disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, a surge in well-designed energy policies is needed to put the world on track for a resilient energy system that can meet climate goals.

Green recovery could boost economy

The We Mean Business Coalition has released a new report that raises hopes for a greener and more affluent future in a post-coronavirus world.

According to its research, if the world’s major nations produced green-focused recovery plans from Covid-19, global annual emissions would be 7% lower in 2030 than last year.

In addition, millions of new jobs would be created in the energy, transport and materials sectors, among others.

The report examines two scenarios: one that reflects the world returning to its pre-pandemic behaviours, and another with a green-focused recovery package in place. The scenarios take into account cost to governments, jobs created, greenhouse emissions and economic benefits.

Green bonds breaking records 

Green bond issuances continue to break records as more than $50bn (£37bn) were issued in September 2020.

BloombergNEF revealed the data, which saw September as a record-breaking month for issuances despite coronavirus’s impact on the global economy. Between the start of the year and the end of September, more than $200bn (£150bn) of green bonds were issued.

The research also showed that $1trn (£760bn)of green bonds have been issued since the market launched 13 years ago.

EU

Europe must track green budget, report warns 

The EU is facing renewed pressure to ensure its taxonomy is used to track green investments in its post-Covid recovery fund and their next budget.

The budget deal is going through the final stages in the European parliament, after a deal was struck in July 2020 when EU leaders agreed to ring-fence 30% of spending for green projects. Over the next seven years it is estimated a pot of €1.8trn (£1.3trn) will be allocated to recovery and resilience.

EU urged to lead by example

An open letter has been sent to EU leaders before they meet for crucial climate change talks, urging them to adopt the “most ambitious” targets possible.

Written and signed by local and regional government, NGOs and corporate interests, nearly 50 organisations are represented in the appeal.

As a cohort, thousands of towns and cities, charities including Oxfam, We Mean Business and Climate Action Network Europe are represented in the letter – as is an investment portfolio of $62trn (£47trn).

The bloc’s heads of state are due to debate possible amendments to the 2030 climate goal, following the European parliament’s vote to increase the reduction target from 40% to 60%.

Fossil fuels to be excluded from EU recovery fund

The EU’s environment committee has voted to exclude fossil fuels from accessing support from the post-coronavirus recovery fund.

The bloc has a €750bn (£675bn) budget ring-fenced to boost its economy in the aftermath of the pandemic and its effects, and the resolution to exclude fossil fuels from the support scheme was won with 65 votes in favour.

Meanwhile, a report from Capgemini Invent and Breakthrough Energy urges the EU to ensure part of the fund is dedicated to funding innovative green initiatives that focus on decarbonisation. The project analysed 200 potential projects and highlighted 55 technologies they deemed to offer sizeable decarbonisation benefits.

Air pollution adds £900 to city living costs

Londoners have higher healthcare costs due to air pollution than any other European city.

A report for the European Public Health Alliance has examined the monetary value of the effects of pollutants in cities in the EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland – ranging from premature death and medical treatment to lost working days.

The analysis showed air pollution costs UK residents in cities almost £900 a year each on average, with the average Londoner spending nearly £1,175 on health costs related to air pollution.

The report indicates air pollution costs European city dwellers €166bn (£150bn) a year with a cost of nearly €22bn (£1.8bn) in the UK alone.

UK

Global wind energy thrives in 2020

Renewables continue to thrive despite the challenges of coronavirus.

New research from RenewableUK has shown that the pipeline of global offshore wind projects is up 47% since January.

When it comes to the total capacity of offshore wind projects – whether functioning, under construction or in the planning stages – the Offshore Wind Project Intelligence report states total capacity is at 197.4 gigawatt hours (GWh), up from 134.7GWh in January 2020.

Just over half of the pipelines are in Europe, and the UK is top with a total pipeline of 41.3GWh.

Sunak responds to calls for UK green sovereign bond 

Following calls by 30 major British investors for a UK green sovereign bond, chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed the UK will issue its first sovereign green bonds in 2021 as part of its Covid-19 stimulus planning.

Speaking at the Green Horizon Summit, Sunak said: “This will be the first in a series of new issuances as we look to build out a green curve over the coming years, helping to fund projects to help tackle climate change, finance much-needed infrastructure and investment and create green jobs across this country.” He also promised to make climate risk disclosure mandatory for major companies from 2025.

Last month, a cohort of 30 investors, with more than £10trn of assets under management, had urged the Treasury to deliver a green bond as soon as possible, in line with the recommendations of the Green Finance Institute.

Businesses on board with net-zero transition

A new study has revealed the majority of businesses are planning for a sustainable post-coronavirus recovery.

A survey by the CBI and Ipsos MORI has highlighted how many businesses plan to operate in future, from working practices to improving their green credentials.

In the plan to “build back better”, making progress towards net-zero was key for two thirds of companies, with 67% saying they expect to have increased activities to "support the net zero carbon emissions reduction target" compared with last year.  

There is also a clear move to increase activity around supporting local communities and improving diversity.

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