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Prince of Wales to launch Prime Video channel showcasing sustainable business initiatives

Prince of Wales to launch Prime Video channel showcasing sustainable business initiatives

RE:TV will feature films on the most innovative recycling and reuse ideas

The Prince of Wales has launched a new channel on Prime Video dedicated to films that explore how businesses and innovators are stepping up efforts to tackle climate change.

To mark the end of New York's 2020 Climate Week, Prince Charles confirmed the new venture, called RE:TV, will become the content platform for the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) and will showcase projects from around the world that are working on reuse and recycling technologies, including recycling coffee, reseeding rainforests, and refining solar.

RE:TV has worked with local crews to produce films in Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe, with features on UK-based data platform Restor that is using artificial intelligence to develop restoration techniques, leading recycling company TerraCycle that recently launched the new Loop packaging re-use service, and sustainable aviation fuel developer Lanzatech.

The Prince also features on the channel, making a direct plea for audiences to act now to curb their environmental impacts.

In The Time to Act is Now film, The Prince of Wales reflects on his work to force sustainability into the corporate mainstream. "I've spent a lot my lifetime trying to engage people and businesses with the issues and solutions of the climate crisis," he said. "RE:TV was therefore set up with the aim of capturing the will and imagination of humanity and champion the most inspiring solutions for sustainability from around the world. I hope that with this partnership with Prime Video we can bring these inspiring innovations and ideas to a wider audience and demonstrate together what is possible in the pursuit of a sustainable future."

As part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, the Prince of Wales launched the Terra Carta in January 2021, which sets out a roadmap for businesses to transition to sustainable business models by 2030 and has secured support from a host of top corporates.

RE:TV has also partnered with Waterbear, a streaming platform that offers content on climate action.

Global Briefing: UN summit sees $400bn pledged towards clean energy

Global Briefing: UN summit sees $400bn pledged towards clean energy

All the top green business news from around the world this week, including fresh WHO air pollution guidelines and global coal, methane and HFC commitments

UN energy summit sees $400bn new backing committed to clean energy

More than $400bn in new finance and investment to increase renewables, access to electricity and clean cooking technologies were announced today by governments and businesses around the world at a crucial energy summit at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City today.

The UN High-level Dialogue on Energy, the first leader-level meeting on energy under the auspices of the UN in four decades, saw over 35 counties ranging from small island developing nations to major emerging and industrialised economies announce new green energy commitments and partnerships.

National governments committed to installing an additional 8698W of clean energy from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and renewables-based hydrogen by 2030, while businesses - particularly power utilities - pledge to install an additional 823GW by the same date.

Among a raft of commitments announced by governments today, India pledged to increase its installed renewables capacity to 450GW by 2030, the USA reiterated its aim for a grid powered by 80 per cent clean electricity, and Malawi said it would aim to provide universal access to cleaner cooking for its population by the end of the decade backed by $596m investment.

Moreover, several partnerships and industry associations promised to mobilise an additional 3,500GW of renewables by the end of the decade, while a raft of 'Energy Compacts' partnerships established at the summit aim to save the equivalent of more than 7,000GW of energy through efficiency efforts.

The new commitments are expected to drive large increases in installed renewable energy capacity worldwide, as well as significant improvements in energy efficiency, leading to hundreds of new renewables projects and spurring millions of new green jobs, according to the UN.

"The commitments coming through this process led by UN-Energy are a real signal of what is possible," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres,

"Access to clean, renewable energy is, quite simply, the difference between life and death," he added.  "We must solve these challenges this decade. And we must start today. Without deep and rapid decarbonisation of our energy systems over the next 10 years, we will not reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. This will be fatal to the Sustainable Development Goals."

 

World Health Organisation unveils tighter air pollution guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its global air pollution guidelines to take account of greater evidence and improved understanding of the myriad damaging impacts of dirty air on human health and the environment over the past 15 years.

Released on Wednesday, the stricter guidelines - the UN body's first major air pollution policy update since 2005 - recommend new limits to protect health by reducing levels of six key pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

When action is taken on these so-called classical pollutants - particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), ozone (O2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) - it also has an impact on other damaging pollutants, according to WHO.

WHO estimates exposure to air pollution is responsible for around seven million premature deaths worldwide each year. Poor air quality has been linked to a raft of heath conditions, including stunted lung growth and function in children, as well as asthma, heart disease and strokes in adults.

"We know the magnitude of the problem and we know how to solve it," said WHO regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P Kluge. "These updated guidelines give policy-makers solid evidence and the necessary tool to tackle this long-term health burden."

 

More countries join global methane and coal power pledges

The UN has this week launched a fresh global campaign to try and corral countries around the world into immediately halting the development of any new coal power plants worldwide, with seven countries having already signed the declaration, according to Bloomberg.

The No New Coal Agreement has already secured the backing of the UK, alongside Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro and Sri Lanka, in a move designed to ramp up pressure towards a global phase-out agreement for the carbon intensive fossil fuel at COP26 in Glasgow.

It also came as yet more nations flocked to join the recently-launched global campaign to slash methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade, with seven countries having now joined the joint pledge brokered by the US and the EU.

The UK, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Ghana, and Iraq have all signed up to the pledge, which alongside the US and EU means the alliance includes six of the top 15 methane emitters, and accounts for a fifth of global emissions of methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, according to Climate Home News.

 

President Biden unveils plan to slash climate-warming HFCs

The White House has finalised restrictions aimed at slashing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85 per cent over the next 15 years, marking the Biden Administration's first major greenhouse gas regulation since taking office at the start of the year.

HFCs are potent climate-warming gases commonly used in a range of consumer appliances such as fridges and air conditioning units, and the new rule is expected to slash more than 4.5 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent gases from entering into the atmosphere by 2050, the White House said.

If implemented, the rule could on its own prevent up to 0.5C of global warming this century, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which estimated the cumulative societal benefits of the regulation at more than $272bn through to 2050.

The move is designed to help the US comply with the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Treaty, a global agreement aimed at phasing out the harming greenhouse gas.

Also this week, meanwhile, the White House kicked off efforts across US federal agencies to address the health impacts from extreme heat, including the country's first ever labour standard aimed at protecting workers from heatwaves as the impacts of climate change continue to worsen.

"Over the past few weeks, I have traveled across the country to see firsthand the devastating human and economic toll of extreme weather exacerbated by climate change," Biden said in a statement. "My Administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone. Today, I am mobilizing an all-of-government effort to protect workers, children, seniors, and at-risk communities from extreme heat."

 

Egypt considering bid to host COP27

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has declared the country's interest in hosting the COP27 UN climate change conference, which is scheduled to take place in late 2022.

Sisi said on Monday that Egypt's bid to take on hosting duties would mark "a radical turning point in international climate efforts in coordination with all parties, for the benefit of Africa and the entire world", according to Reuters.

Egypt's declaration comes just weeks before the UK hosts this year's conference, COP26, in Glasgow.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is also reportedly interested in hosting the COP27 summit.

 

Plans scaled up 'world's biggest' solar farm in Australia

Energy firm Sun Cable has scaled up plans to develop what it claims would be the world's biggest solar farm by as much as 40 per cent, yesterday announcing the project earmarked for the Northern Territory was now designed to boast 17-20GW of capacity, up from 14GW under its previous plans.

In addition, the associated energy storage system planned for the site has also been scaled up to offer 36-42GW hours, up from its previous target of 30GW house, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

As a result of scaling up the plans, the estimated cost of the project has also risen from (AUS) $22bn to $20bn, the newspaper reports. The project is being developed to supply both the Northern Territory's capital city Darwin, as well as Singapore, having secured key support from the Indonesian government.

 

Study: Renewable energy could deliver 25 million jobs in Africa and Asia

Investing in distributed renewable energy systems could end energy poverty in Africa and Asia by the end of the decade, while also creating 25 million direct jobs in the two continent's power sectors and saving four billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.

Fresh research by the philanthropic organisation underscores the climate and economic opportunities from renewable energy in the two continents, estimating that the number of jobs on offer from investing in clean power in Africa and Asia is 30 times greater than from fossil fuels.

It calculates that taking the clean power route in order to end energy poverty in Asia and Africa could be achieved with an annual investment of $130bn in distributed renewable energy systems, and would additionally unlock almost 500 million further new jobs in healthcare, agriculture educaton, and SMEs over the next decade.

"The world is at a crossroads. Fortunately, technological advances have given humanity the tools for transformative change, so for the first time in history, we can address the climate crisis while empowering people with the jobs and electricity they need to care for their families, pursue opportunities, and thrive," said Dr Rajiv J Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. "We must now find the courage, and the resources, to come together and change how the world works and how people live. Nothing less will do."

 

Drax targets UK-based skills and materials for biomass carbon capture plant

Drax targets UK-based skills and materials for biomass carbon capture plant

Energy firm sets goal for 80 per cent domestic materials and services during construction phase for its BECCS technology in North Yorkshire

Drax is aiming to source 80 per cent of the construction materials and services for its novel bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology from the UK, in a move it claims could create thousands of jobs and unlock millions of pounds of contracts for UK businesses.

The energy firm is aiming to become a 'carbon negative' company by the end of the decade, largely through the use of CCS on its biomass energy plants which it claims could help to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than is produced as a result of burning the biomass for energy.

Drax has been piloting BECCS systems at its North Yorkshire power plant, where it hopes to begin constructing the final carbon capture system in earnest from 2024, with a community consultation over the plans earmarked to begin this autumn. 

The company them hopes to have the first BECCS system fully up and running in 2027 followed by a second in 2030, and during the construction phase it has this week committed to ensuring 80 per cent of the materials and services - including steel, pipes and heat pumps - for the project are sourced from within the UK.

Building BECCS could offer hundreds of millions of pounds worth of contracts to British businesses and create over 10,000 jobs across the Humber tidal estuary on the north east coast, in addition to helping decarbonise one of the UK's most carbon intensive regions, according to the firm,

"BECCS will play a vital role in enabling the UK to reach its legally binding net zero target, as well as saving the energy system billions of pounds in the process," said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO. "Our ambition is to put the UK supply chain at the heart of delivering this crucial climate saving technology and by doing so we'll create and protect thousands of new jobs, kickstart new industries and help level up the UK."

However, some green groups have continued to raise concerns over Drax's plans for BECCS, arguing that the project is heavily reliant on unsustainable forests in North America, and that the climate benefits of the technology have been overstated - claims which have been fiercely denied by the company.  

The BECCS technology is currently being piloted at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, which has gradually been converted over the past decade from running on coal power to instead using biomass as its feedstock, a transition the company claims has reduced the power plant's emissions by over 90 per cent, while also supplying five per cent of the UK's electricity needs.

Walmart closes $2bn green bond as it pushes forward with 2040 net zero goal

Walmart closes $2bn green bond as it pushes forward with 2040 net zero goal

Renewable energy, zero waste and conservation are among projects set to secure funding through the retail giant's green bond,

Walmart has closed its first $2bn green bond offering, with the proceeds due to be funnelled into projects that support the US retail giant's target to become a net zero emissions company within its own operations by 2040, it confirmed yesterday.

In line with the firm's 2021 Green Bond Principles and best practices outlined by the International Capital Markets Association, net proceeds from the green bond are earmarked for a raft of ongoing and prospective green project in areas such as renewable energy infrastructure, energy efficient buildings, green transport, zero waste, water quality and conservation, and habitat restoration and conservation, Walmart said.

The green finance drive is designed to support Walmart's wider climate commitments, which in addition to reaching net zero by 2040, also include interim targets to reduce direct scope 1 and 2 emissions by 35 per cent in the next four years from a 2015 baseline, and by 65 per cent by 2030, all without relying on carbon offsets.

"The closing of our first-ever green bond offering directs capital toward projects that will advance our environmental sustainability goals now and in the years to come," said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer at Walmart. "Becoming a regenerative company is a journey. This green bond signals that we continue to make headway. We remain steadfast in our commitment to addressing climate change, transitioning to a circular economy and restoring natural ecosystems, all while supporting the communities in which we operate."

The green bond, plans for which were first revealed earlier this month as part of the firm's Green Financing Framework, forms part of a $7bn of new senior unsecured notes closed by the fompany across five, seven, 10, 20 and 30-year traches, according to Walmart. The firm said it would publicly report on the use of bond proceeds annually until the net proceeds have been allocated, and that it would aim to provide impact reporting in addition to allocation disclosure.

Walmart said four nationally recognised minority- and women-owned firms had been active bookrunners for the issuance. These include AmeriVet Securities, CL King & Associates, Samuel A. Ramirez & Company, and Siebert Williams Shank & Co.

"Walmart is committed to furthering our relationships with minority owned businesses, and we're pleased that our inaugural green offering included the work of four nationally recognised minority- and women-owned investment banking firms," said Brett Biggs, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Walmart. "Their support is helping to drive both financial and sustainable benefits that we believe will drive positive societal and total shareholder returns."

'Kick polluting fossil fuels off the energy grid': UK businesses call for 2035 net zero power target

'Kick polluting fossil fuels off the energy grid': UK businesses call for 2035 net zero power target

BT, Thames Water, Co-op, WSP and Nestlé UK among 13 firms demanding government target fully decarbonised grid, as gas supply issues send power prices soaring

BT, Thames Water, Co-op, and Nestlé UK & Ireland are among a raft of companies that have called on the government to phase out gas power by 2035 this morning, as surging gas prices in the UK continue to lay bare the risks of relying on fossil fuel imports for electricity.

In a letter sent to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng this morning, the companies told ministers it was time for the UK to "signal an end to the use of unabated fossil fuels in the power sector" by committing to net zero energy system within 15 years.

"This decision will raise confidence in the government's net zero vision for the UK in the crucial years ahead, ensuring that every pound invested in the country's electricity sector contributes to building a low-cost, sustainable, and resilient energy system based on renewable technologies," the letter states.

The letter argues setting a grid decarbonisation target would allow the UK to lay claim to yet another "historic" decarbonisation first, after being the first country to legislate for an end to coal power and the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.

"As we approach COP26, it's important for the UK to show leadership through a commitment to decarbonise the UK power sector by 2035," said Emma Keller, head of sustainability at Nestlé UK and Ireland. "At Nestlé we are committed to generating our own electricity from clean sources in one of the important steps we are taking to tackle climate change."

While noting that delivering fully decarbonised electricity will be "challenging" and require record levels of investment, the firms said they were confident the target would be feasible if government and businesses worked togehter.

"We stand ready to play our part in delivering fully decarbonised electricity by 2035," the letter states. "Meeting this target will be challenging, requiring new investments in renewable energy of up to £14bn each year - a significantly greater level of investment than has been possible to date. However, with a commitment from the government to deliver a fully decarbonised power system by 2035, we are confident this ambition can be achieved."

The call to action, which has also been backed by WSP, Wilmott Dixon, Triodos Bank and Anglian Water, comes as the country grapples with a major energy crisis caused in large part to a domestic fossil gas shortage and the soaring costs of fuel imports. Millions of households across the UK have faced record energy bills this week after the cost of gas hit new highs.

While major strides have been made in the decarbonisation of Britain's electricity system over the past decade, gas-fired plants continue to be a major component of the grid. On Friday morning, gas plants provided roughly 30 per cent of the Britain's power generation, with wind power the only technology to generate more generation, according to National Grid ESO data.

The letter came alongside separate new polling data released today by energy think tank Ember, which indicates two-thirds of British adults would also support the government establishing a net zero electricity target by 2035.

A survey of nearly 1,700 adults run by YouGov for the think tank found that 37 per cent of respondents said they would "strongly support" the government establishing a target of moving to 100 per cent electricity within 15 years, with a further 29 per cent of respondents reporting that they "tend to support" the idea. Just 11 per cent of participants said they opposed the idea.

Ember also today published a report that points out modelling developed by three independent bodies in the UK - the Climate Change Committee, National Grid ESO and the Energy Systems Catapult - all shows that meeting UK climate goals relies on a phase out of unabated coal power by 2035.

The UK could also significantly reduce its electricity costs by reducing its exposure to global energy markets and ramping up reserves of "homegrown" renewable energy, according to the report. It calculates that generating electricity from existing UK fossil gas power plants is now three times more expensive from new onshore wind and almost twice as expensive as new solar.

"Our reliance on gas power is pushing up bills, destabilising our economy and driving run-away climate change," said Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate policy at environmental think tank Green Alliance. "Ahead of COP26, the British public and business are calling on the UK government to announce plans to clean up our power sector by 2035 and kick polluting fossil fuels off the energy grid."

Also commenting on the report, Conservative MP Anthony Browne, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Environment, noted that surging gas prices would present a "challenge" over the coming months. "Committing to phasing out gas by 2035 will show global climate leadership, while investing in low carbon technologies is the best and most cost-effective way to ensure a crisis like this doesn't happen again," he said.

Ember's conclusions echo those of the International Energy Agency, which has also warned that advanced economies should target net zero electricity by 2035 if dangerous levels of global temperature rise are to be avoided.

In the US, meanwhile, President Joe Biden has pledged to decarbonise the North American nation's power system by that date, although analysts earlier this week raised doubts about how achievable the goal will be.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was considering a request for comment at the time of going to press, however observers have noted that the UK's climate goal to slash emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 depends on the full decarbonisation of the electricity grid.

In related news, The Times reported this morning that the government is in talks with US nuclear reactor company Westinghouse about a new power plant in Anglesey, Wales.

Should the project get the go-ahead, the new nuclear plant would be able to generate enough electricity to power more than six million homes once operational in the mid-2030s, according to the newspaper.

Global biodiversity and climate projects secure £100m UK aid boost

Global biodiversity and climate projects secure £100m UK aid boost

UK aid from the Biodiverse Landscapes Fund earmarked for six projects in fragile ecosystems around the world

The UK government is to funnel more than £100 funding into community projects in fragile ecosystems around the world to support the protection and restoration of biodiversity and combat climate change through nature-based solutions, it announced on Wednesday.

The funding, which forms part of the government's Biodiverse Landscapes Fund, is to be shared across six landscapes which are each home to rare and endangered species, including across the southern belt of Africa, Madagascar, East Asia and South and Central America, it said.

Species such as elephants, rhinos, mountain gorillas, tigers and jaguars rely on diverse ecosystems and habitats ranging from rainforests, wetlands, temperate forests and mangroves, and by protecting these landscapes the funding aims to safeguard biodiversity as well as supporting climate action, it explained.

Starting from 2022, the government said the funding would be invested over seven years in local projects in these regions that support the protection and restoration of landscapes through nature-based solutions, while also providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities.

The projects aim to support activities such as sustainable agricultural practices, promoting natural resource management and strengthening indigenous people's rights to sustainably manage their lands, it explained.

Announcing the funding this week, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the global population of animals was "plummeting faster than at any time in human history and precious habitats and species are being wiped off our planet".

"We are at a tipping point, and we must act now - right now - to turn the tide of this environmental crisis before it is too late," he said. "Our Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will invest in six of the most environmentally critical landscapes, spanning 18 countries across the globe, to help to combat climate change and protect rare and endangered species."

The funding, which comes from the UK's overseas aid budget, is aimed at supporting the government's pledge, as part of the G7, to protect and conserve 30 per cent of the world's land and ocean by 2030, a target which is now supported by more than 100 countries around the world.

However, the government has faced widespread criticism for cutting back on its international aid commitments this year, amid concerns that the decision undermines the UK's credibility as hosts of the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, at which international climate finance is set to be a major bone of contention.

But International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith insisted the funding was "part of a package of far-reaching and ambitious programmes we are launching ahead of the crucial Glasgow COP26 climate summit".

"The UK government is leading the way in tackling biodiversity loss and combatting climate change, and will be encouraging other countries to follow suit by coming forward with funding for nature," he said. "There is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve the recovery of nature."

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