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From China's stand to Walmart's wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

From China's stand to Walmart's wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

An all-you-need-to-know guide to all the top green corporate announcements from a busy Climate Week in NYC

As with virtually all gatherings of the climate community during the Covid age, this year's Climate Week was convened as an online event - one hosted from more than 20 countries across myriad time zones rather than its usual host city of New York. 

Instead of running between Manhattan locations, attendees platform-hopped among more than 450 presentations, panels, screenings and other events, including those hosted by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, while iconic structures such as the Empire State Building turned their lights green to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis.

As is their wont, many companies used the occasion to proclaim updated commitments - the buzzword du la semaine was 'net zero' with Walmart declaring a zero emissions target by 2040 along with a big clean fleet promise and a pledge to "protect, manage or restore" at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030. GE made headlines with its decision to stop making equipment for new coal-fired power plants to focus on its renewables business (although it doesn't say anything about fixing the old ones). 

More than 1,500 companies are committed to net zero emissions, triple the number that had made those pledges by the end of 2019. Morgan Stanley offered its own twist with a promise to reach "net-zero financed emissions" by the critical 2050 timeframe. The intention is to align its portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Morgan Stanley, along with Bank of America and Citigroup, has also agreed to deeper disclosure. In other words, stop financing the emitting stuff, as it has been criticised for in the past.

The biggest national-level news of the week came out of the United Nations General Assembly, where Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Given the country's status as the world's largest emitter, the development is essential for progress against climate change. 

While words aren't action, the commitment stands in sharp contrast with the extensive environmental protection rollbacks adopted by the Trump administration, which has announced its plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

At the state level, California Governor Gavin Newsom put the transportation industry on notice with his executive order banning new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035. Newsom also was named to a two-year term as co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, a network of states and regions looking to integrate the Paris Agreement goals with a mind to social justice. 

On the other side of the US, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finalised a ban on hydrofluorocarbons, a superpollutant found in refrigerators, air conditioners and other cooling equipment.

And the mayors of 12 cities - representing 36 million residents - announced their plans to divest from fossil fuels. Among the signatories to the C40 campaign: Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver.

Throughout the week the heightened attention to supporting nature and biodiversity and to going beyond carbon emissions reductions was also a frequent theme - with a particular focus on the role of science-based targets in driving corporate action. 

The Science Based Targets Network has created new guidance for companies interested in setting goals for land and freshwater use, biodiversity or ecosystem impacts using science-based principles, as many are doing to set emissions reduction targets. 

"The best companies in the world are no longer satisfied with 'doing better'," said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, in a statement. "They insist on 'doing enough'. That's what science-based targets provide them."

Wondering what you missed from your home office? Below is a curated list of notable corporate commitments and campaign updates that emerged during Climate Week. 

Accounting bigwigs suggest 'universal' ESG metrics

Four iconic accounting firms - Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC  - teamed up with Bank of America to develop and release a set of standard metrics and disclosure frameworks that companies can use to report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. 

The new guidance, released by the World Economic Forum as part of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, focuses on four pillars:

  • Treatment of employees, including diversity, wage gaps, and health and safety
  • Dependencies on the natural environment related to emissions, land and water use
  • How a company contributes to community well-being, including what it pays in taxes
  • Criteria for accountability 

Amazon signs more Climate Pledgers, curates sustainable products shopping site

Five more companies have signed the Climate Pledge, an initiative orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism: retailer Best Buy; engineering firm McKinstry; professional sports club Real Betis; energy firm Schneider Electric; and manufacturer Siemens.

This gesture commits them to reaching a net zero carbon footprint by 2040, one decade before the deadline for the Paris Agreement. 

The mighty e-commerce retailer also created a new 'Climate Pledge Friendly' shopping section on Amazon.com dedicated to showcasing consumer products that hold one or more of 19 sustainability certifications such as Cradle to Cradle, Energy Star and Fairtrade. 

The focus is on grocery, household, fashion, beauty and consumer electronics options - and some initial brands showcased are Burt's Bees Baby, HP and Seventh Generation. Amazon also created its own externally validated certification, Compact by Design, which will recognise products designed to require less packaging, which makes them more efficient to ship. 

Jenny Ahlen, director of EDF+Business, praised Amazon's new strategy but said it doesn't go far enough.

"Certifications are a good starting point for companies to help shoppers make more informed and sustainable choices," she wrote in a blog about the announcement. "But to truly make progress on creating safer, more sustainable products, retailers - Amazon included - need to work with their suppliers to improve the quality of all the products they sell and share that information with shoppers. Calling out a small portion of products that have met environmental standards isn't enough." 

Climate Group tallies up more members for RE100, EP100 

Beverage and snack company PepsiCo set a new global target to source 100 per cent of its electricity for company-owned and controlled operations using renewable power by 2030, and across its entire franchise by 2040. It expects to reach this goal for its US operations by the end of this year. This move could result in the equivalent of removing 2.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca amped up its renewable energy with a deeper commitment to addressing industrial heat by joining the Renewable Thermal Collaborative, dedicated to decarbonizing tough-to-abate manufacturing and production processes. Currently, 13 per cent of AstraZeneca's power load comes from combined heat and power, and the company has committed to identifying renewable alternatives by 2025.

Two energy-centric campaigns managed by The Climate Group welcomed new members this week. The EP100 initiative, which encourages companies to commit to higher levels of productivity and revenue while using less energy, has more than 100 members, with Japan's Daito Trust Construction among the latest joiners. The RE100, which represents more than 260 companies committed to using 100 per cent renewable power, added new signatories including Intel, ASICS - the apparel company - pharma firm Sanofi and manufacturers SKF and VELUX. 

Formidable food purveyors forsake food waste

A group of powerful food retailers including Kroger, Tesco and Walmart and food service company Sodexo created the '10x20x30' initiative, which commits them to convincing at least 10 of their suppliers to halving food waste and loss by 2030.

The effort is part of Champions 12.3, a group focused on addressing the challenge of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for a 50 per cent reduction in food loss and waste by the end of this decade. 

One example of the actions we might see as a result is Walmart's move to source cucumbers that use a coating provided by startup Apeel that extends their shelf life through a natural coating that extends shelf life.

"Cutting food loss and waste in half - from farm to fork - by 2030 will require ambitious, collection action," said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart, in a statement. "The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training shareholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste."

IKEA, Unilever, others bring 1.5C mindset to supply chains

The Exponential Roadmap Initiative in Stockholm launched the 1.5 Degrees Supply Chain Leaders initiative, a group of multinational companies that have set targets to halve their absolute GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions across their supply chains by 2050 - in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Initial supporters include BT Group, Ericsson, IKEA, Telia and Unilever. Among the commitments is making climate-related targets and performance a "key supplier purchasing criteria" by this time next year. 

"To tackle the climate challenge, it is not enough for us to collaborate with the big global suppliers," said Mikko Kuusisto, senior director of strategic sourcing for Telia, in a statement. "We need to engage also with the smaller, more local and often nonlisted companies to get them to commit to halving their emissions by 2030."

To help facilitate that transition, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative teamed up with the International Chamber of Commerce, the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign to create the SME Climate Hub. The website will provide a set of resources intended to help smaller suppliers take these steps, including measurement tools, best practices frameworks and services. 

Mars, Carrefour giants cultivate new coalition for forests

The Forest Positive Coalition of Action, which includes close to 20 companies with a collective market value of $1.8tr, is a CEO-level group under the umbrella of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) vowing to address key commodity supply chains that often contribute to deforestation.

Among the actions they are advocating include joining forces for forest conservation in "key production landscapes," policy initiatives and regular reporting. 

Aside from sponsors Mars and Carrefour, the list of participants includes Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Danone, Essity, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Jerónimo Martins, METRO AG, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart.

The launch was greeted with skepticism by environmental NGOs including the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), SumofUs, Friends of the Earth US and Amazon Watch, which notes that the involved companies so far have fallen short on deforestation commitments and on protecting the rights of Indigenous people.

"We've see 10 years of inaction, half-measures and greenwashing from the CGF, while human rights defenders and frontline communities have been putting their lives on the line to defend forests from rampant corporate expansion," said Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner at RAN, in a statement.

Microsoft shares 'positive' vibes for water

Building on its 'carbon negative' pledge in January, a goal that will see it remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it historically has emitted, Microsoft is applying that same mindset to its water strategy. Only in reverse.

Its new commitment will see it reduce the per-megawatt consumption of water related to the energy that powers its operations and also focus on water replenishment in 40 "stressed" regions in which it operates. The goal is to replenish more water than it uses by 2030. That will inspire measures such as:

  • Wetland restoration
  • Removal of impervious pavement
  • Installation of on-site rainwater collection and water recycling systems across its newest offices, including the new Silicon Valley campus, the redesign at its central campus in the Seattle area and facilities in India and Israel
  • A heightened focus on evaporative and 'adiabatic' (outside air) cooling technologies for its data centers
  • AI for Earth technologies, such as a project called Vector Center, for helping measure water risk and scarcity 

It's worth noting that Microsoft's new strategy prioritises not just availability but also accessibility, the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation.

Were there other announcements this week? Sure, and I'm also sure I'll get plenty of emails about what I 'missed'. While I am grateful for every company that commits to taking practical, meaningful, un-greenwashed action, the common thread of the visions advanced above is that they set the bar higher - even if just a little bit. That's what we need to move entire industries to support taking action on the climate crisis.

 

This article originally appeared at GreenBiz

Global Briefing: California plots 2035 end date for fossil fuel car sales

Global Briefing: California plots 2035 end date for fossil fuel car sales

Plus EU's plan to cut aviation CO2, Norway's CCS project, Australia's green tech investment blitz and the top green business news from around the world this week

California to ban fossil fuel vehicles sales from 2035

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday the state will prohibit the sale of fossil fuel vehicles from 2035.

The state, which is the largest vehicle market in the US, is the first in the country to plot an end to sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and  Newsom said the move was "the most impactful step" California could take to fight climate change. 

The new rules, set out in an executive order, come in the wake of devastating wildfires that have scorched the West Coast, killing more than 30 people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

"For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe," the Governor said. "Californians shouldn't have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn't make wildfires worse - and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn't melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."

However, California's decision to bring an end to fossil fuel car sales in 15 years' time is expected to face pushback from the Trump administration, which is already fighting the state in court over its authority to set auto emissions rules that are stricter than federal standards.

 

EU Commission pushes for more direct flights to cut aviation emissions

The European Commission has proposed a series of reforms to Europe's air management system which it estimates could cut emissions from the aviation industry by up to 10 per cent.

The plans revolve around making flight paths more direct between destinations, a move it hopes could cut jet fuel use as well as making journeys less prone to delays.

In a virtual news conference on Tuesday, EU Commissioner for transport Adina Valean argued revamping the air traffic management system was necessary to reduce delays and carbon emissions across the sector.

As things currently stand, she said, unnecessary carbon emissions are racked up when pilots fly into congested air space rather than taking a direct flight path, or when they take longer routes to avoid airspace charging zones with higher rates.

In 2019 alone, delays racked up 11.6 million tonnes of CO2, and cost airlines €6bn across the bloc, according to the EU.

To put the aviation industry on a more sustainable path, therefore, the Commission wants future navigation charges to be measured based on the environmental impact of a flight, and for network manager Eurocontrol to have a greater role. It also has called for a European market for air traffic data services, although the proposals still require approval from the European Parliament and EU member states to be put into action.

GE to stop building equipment for new coal-fired power plants

US energy giant GE has become the latest major company to turn its back on the global coal industry, announcing on Monday that it would no longer build or service new coal-fired power plants.

The firm, which is one of world's the largest manufacturers of coal-fired power plants and equipment, said in a statement the decision was driven by economics, and that it would now be turning more of its attention towards its renewable energy efforts such as builoding wind turbines.

Russell Stokes, president and chief executive of GE Power Portfolio, suggested the company no longer saw the coal sector as a worthwhile growth market for the company. "With the continued transformation of GE, we are focused on generation businesses than have attractive economics and a growth trajector," he said.

The firm said that it would continue to focus on its core renewable energy and power generation business and would work to make electricity "affordable, reliable, accessible and sustainable". Just this week, the firm announced a major order to supply 190 giant wind turbines for the Dogger Bank wind farm project off the east coast of the UK, dubbed the largest wind farm in the world.

The move marks a dramatic reversal for the company, having just five years ago spent $10.6bn on acquiring Alstom's coal-fuelled power construction business.

Australia announces green tech investment drive

Australia's government is eyeing a major green technology spending blitz that will see A$18bn (£9.6bn) funnelled into hydrogen, energy storage, soil sequestration and low carbon steel and aluminium technologies, it announced this week.

The technology investment, announced by federal energy minister Angus Taylor on Tuesday, is geared at driving cost reductions across all the technologies, with specific cost targets set out in the plan. Taylor said the investment would help Australia reduce its emissions while delivering a boost to the economy.

The move comes despite repeated refusals from Australia's coal-friendly federal government to adopt a net zero emissions target, even though the country has ratififed both the Paris Agreement and net zero pledges from all of the nation's states and territories.

When questioned earlier this week by journalists about why his government had declined to set a net zero target and follow in the footsteps of provincial governments and more than 100 countries, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "Because I'm more interested in the doing."

Morrison, who has faced widespread criticism over his different approach to climate change and decarbonising Australia's economy - despite devastating wildfires in the country last year - said his government's aim was to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, a move that would place the country behind many of the world's developed nations such as the UK.

Norway backs landmark carbon capture and storage project

Plans for the world's first full-scale, industrial CCS project took a major step forward this week, after Norway's government announced that it was prepared pour NOK16.8bn (£1.4bn) into a project that would capture CO2 from a cement plant near Oslo for storage in a reservoir beneath the seabed.

The project, which is expected to cost NOK25.1 billion (£2.1bn) overall, will also fund the transport and storage project Northern Lights, a joint project between Equinor, Shell and Total, the government said.

The aim is to develop a full value chain for CCS in the country, covering the intial capturing of CO2 emissions from industry, the transportation of that CO2, and finally its storage under former oil and gas reservoirs under the ocean floor in the North Sea.

In a white paper submitted to Norwegian parliament on Monday, the government touted the Longship CCS project as "the greatest climate project in Norwegian industry ever".

Boris Johnson teases 'big bet' for UK on wind, hydrogen and CCS

Boris Johnson teases 'big bet' for UK on wind, hydrogen and CCS

PM touts 'green industrial revolution' as fix for climate and Covid crises as he urges countries to step up climate efforts

Boris Johnson has signalled he is keen for the UK to make a "big bet" on wind power, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) as part of the government's strategy for building a net zero economy by 2050, as he urged global government to step up their climate efforts ahead of COP26.

Speaking ahead of a raft of world leaders during a virtual UN climate action roundtable yesterday, the Prime Minister once again trumpeted his enthusiasm for cutting edge clean technologies, as he reiterated his hope of delivering a green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

Building back greener was "the name of the game" for the UK, he said, as he touted a "green industrial revolution" as the solution to both the climate crisis and the economic fallout from the pandemic, a pathway he said could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the UK.

It comes amid increasing pressure for the government to set out its net zero plans across a range of challenging areas of the economy, including heating, energy, transport and infrastructure, and Johnson today stoked hopes that a host of critical net zero policy papers could finally emerge before the end of 2020. The PM is also expected to make climate change a feature of his speech during the UN General Assembly this weekend, while recent reports have suggested he is gearing up to announced a number of new domestic climate efforts this autumn.

"We've got a very ambitious agenda in which we want to introduce a range of new technologies to deliver our carbon commitments," Johnson said today, before signalling the UK was gearing up to place "big bet" on wind power, CCS, and hydrogen to power trucks, trains and planes.

"We are going to be putting a big bet on wind power - we want to be the Saudi Arabia of wind. We have massive potential - huge, huge gusts of wind going around the north of our country in Scotland, quite extraordinary potential for wind," he said. "We want to lead on carbon capture and storage, a technology I barely believed was possible, but I am now a complete evangelist for. We want to use those technologies to develop a lot of hydrogen. We want to put a big bet on hydrogen for a lot of purposes, not least the ability that hydrogen has to provide a lot of grunt for trucks, trains and even perhaps for planes."

Johnson also used his speaking opportunity to promise the UK would be "bringing forward" its target date to phase out sales of fossil fuel cars, which the government is currently consulting over setting at 2035 or earlier. And, he stressed the importance energy efficient retrofitting to ensure home and buildings are fit for a net zero future, alongside continued support for solar power and nuclear.

It came as Johnson alongside UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced plans for a joint summit on 12 December to mark five years since the Paris Agreement was brokered at the COP21 climate summit in 2015, with the event intended as a platform for countries to come forward with enhanced climate action commitments.

The UK has repeatedly said it plans to submit its own enhanced emissions reduction plan - or Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)to the Paris Agreement, in UN jargon - "well ahead" of COP26, which the UK is due to host in Glasgow in around a year's time.

Speaking today, Johnson offered no new policies nor any further details on when the UK's NDC might emerge, but he said the government was "going flat out to really blaze what we hope will be a very, very ambitious national contribution for COP26" adding that "I do want everybody to be similarly ambitious".

After praising China for announcing new target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the PM gave a passionate plea for countries to ramp up climate efforts in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

"The world was caught napping by coronavirus," said Johnson. "Let's face it, we were woefully under prepared. But for this thing - for climate change, nobody can say that we were not being warned, and nobody can say that we are not now capable of making the preparations. So that's what we're doing and I've no doubt we can do it."

His comments followed yet further calls from UN chief Guterres for countries to place the climate crisis at the forefront of their agenda, as he reiterated his demands for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and new coal plants, and to instead tax pollution, in what has now become a mantra for the diplomat over the past year.

"We have no time to waste," he said. "The answer to our existential crisis is swift, decisive, scaled up action, and solidarity among nations. If we continue on our current path, the scale of suffering due to climate disruption will go beyond all our imagination. So let us commit today now to sweeping climate action that can lay the foundations for health security and prosperity for all."

Other speakers during the roundtable event included EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said a green transition would be "good for people and business", as well as former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who voiced his hope of climate risk disclosure becoming mandatory before the crucial COP26 climate summit next year.

Big Four accounting firms reveal ESG reporting standards

Big Four accounting firms reveal ESG reporting standards

PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte all back environmental social governance reporting framework headed up by the International Business School

Leaders of the Big Four accounting firms have joined forces to unveil a reporting framework for environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, it emerged this week.

In an article in the Financial Times published earlier this week, the Big Four - PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte - have all backed the framework, which has been headed up by the International Business School (IBS), run by Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan.

If successful, the initiative would mark the first truly co-ordinated approach to ESG reporting, prompting investors to move more money into the green economy.

"Right now, there is an alphabet soup of metrics," said Deloitte global chief executive Punit Renjen. "It is important for us to have a common set of standards and if there is widespread adoption it will lead to change in behaviour."

The Big Four and the World Economic Forum were invited to identify a set of universal ESG matrics and recommended disclosures that could be reflected in the mainstream annual reports of companies. The result of this process is 21 core metrics and 34 expanded metrics and disclosures, which IBS members are encouraged to adopt. 

The report, which has been seen by BusinessGreen's sister title Professional Adviser, outlines four pillars that firms can use to approach ESG reporting standards. These pillars include; principals of governance, planet, people and prosperity.

"Each of these pillars has an important bearing on the capacity of a firm to generate shared and sustainable value," the report states. "Performance in one pillar is highly interdependent with that in the others."

 

A version of this article originally appeared at Professional Adviser

Airlines, energy firms and trade bodies join government's Jet Zero Council

Airlines, energy firms and trade bodies join government's Jet Zero Council

Government and industry body dedicated to zero carbon flight to include executives from Shell, Rolls-Royce, BP and British Airways alongside clutch of trade bodies and research groups

The government has revealed the industry members and experts set to join its new Jet Zero Council, the group tasked by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson with accelerating the development of zero emission aviation in the UK.

The group, which was first announced in June, has been tasked with drawing up plans to develop and industrialise zero emission aviation and aerospace technologies and infrastructure in the UK, and to also help accelerate the delivery of sustainable aviation fuels and production plants.

The government - which has said its aim is to develop the world's first zero emission, transatlantic passenger flight - said members of the Jet Zero Council would also work to help develop a "coordinated approach" to policy and regulatory frameworks in order to help deliver that ambition.

Executives from major airlines, energy companies and engineering firms have been appointed to join representatives from trade associations, research groups and investors on the panel, which the government said would be chaired by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who is also COP26 President.

Leaders from Heathrow, Rolls Royce, Airbus, Shell, BP, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways will join sustainable full specialist Velocys and zero emission aviation specialist ZeroAvia on the Jet Zero Council, the govrenment revealed today. Trade and research organisations, including TechUK, Codec, the Aerospace Technology Institute, Faraday Institution and Cranfield University are also represented.

It comes as ZeroAvia this week completed what it said was the "world's first" successful test flight of a hydrogen fuel cell commercial plane in Bedfordshire. 

"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by modern society, and we know we need to go further and faster if we're to make businesses sustainable long into the future," said Aviation Minister Robert Courts. "That's why we're bringing together government, business and investors to reduce emissions in the aviation sector - through innovative technologies, such as sustainable fuels, hybrid and eventually electric planes, we will build a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future for all."

McDonald's and McCain offer climate resilience funding for potato farmers

McDonald's and McCain offer climate resilience funding for potato farmers

Fast food giant working with McCain and Prince's Countryside Trust to help farmers improve soil health and boost resilience to climate change and Brexit

McDonald's has teamed up with frozen potato firm McCain and the Prince's Countryside Fund in a bid to boost the resilience of Britain's potatoes and livestock farming against the growing risks of climate change and environmental degradation.

The fast food giant yesterday announced two separate partnerships aimed at better supporting the 23,000 farmers that supply ingredients for its burgers, fries and Happy Meals, promising to invest in improving soils, irrigation and sustainable crop cultivation.

Working with its long-time potato supplier McCain, the first partnership will see the launch of a new 'Sustainable MacFries Fund' to provide grants to British potato growers and invest in soil and water sustainability, McDonald's said.

Together, the two firms have pledged to provide £1m million in grants to British potato growers to help increase their crop resilience by enabling growers to use new technology to improve the understanding of soil quality and optimise water management, it said.

The funding is aimed at supporting new infiltration systems to improve soil structure and irrigation scheduling technology, as well as enabling growers to use advanced crop monitoring on mobile devices to optimise water usage, according to McDonald's. The money will also fund research looking at the benefits of using cover crops to retain soil quality.

"We're passionate about potatoes, which means we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for potato farmers," said Daniel Metheringham, agriculture director at McCain GB & Ireland. "The investment will help fund practical on-the-ground solutions and accelerate best practice on farms to improve soil health and water quality, allowing farmers to thrive."

Working with the Prince's Countryside Fund, meanwhile McDonald's is planning to run a series of 'Ready for Change' workshops for farmers to "to help support the economic resilience of farming families".

The latest milestone in a three-year partnership between the charity and fast food giant, the workshops are aimed at supporting livestock farmers in making informed decisions about managing changes on their family farms.

It follows research by McDonald's and the charity which found that 71 per cent of farmers want to make changes to their business over the next five years, but lack the confidence to do so. The research also showed just one-in-three farmers have a business plan that reflects the loss of direct subsidies associated with Brexit, according to McDonald's.

Nina Prichard, head of sustainable and ethical sourcing at McDonald's UK and Ireland, said the two new partnerships announced today were essential to helping its suppliers "look to tomorrow".

"We couldn't serve the food we're famous for without the support and hard work of over 23,000 British and Irish farmers who supply us," she said. "We will continue to work with our farmers and suppliers to innovate, supporting both the future of their businesses and the sustainability of our supply chain."

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