Indonesia's upcoming elections are sidelining serious environmental concerns. Both major parties are courting heavy industries to fund their campaigns and shore up support, risking losing a third of the country's rain forest over the next year. A new civil movement has emerged to counter this, driven by young people keen to protect their environment. Could Golongan Hutan disrupt the two-party system, or is it too little too late?
Concerns about environmental protection after Brexit have resurfaced in Northern Ireland. Much protection is provided by EU law, with threats of fines from the European Courts. When this falls away, and with the local assembly suspended and unable to act, there are fears protected habitats and species could be put at risk.
Tougher environmental standards in the Philippines has triggered a surge in financing for green buildings. While local property developers have been concerned about rising costs from the regulations, The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has seen opportunities to invest. Loans to green building projects have increased by ten per cent since introducing their investment fund in 2008, and it's expecting growth to accelerate as the green building push continues to gather pace.
The survey by Natixis Investment Managers suggests pension fund managers should be looking at impact investing within their mix of investments. Over 75 per cent of respondents said it was important to "make the world a better place" whilst growing their assets. Increasing ESG within a pension fund would also make it more likely members would increase their investment in it.
Richmond, British Columbia, has stalled on proposals to remove single-use plastics. After commissioning a report into the impact of plastic, the city council has decided to commission a further study considering the impact of changes and how to roll them out. Concerns about a perceived lack of consultation and the effects of an immediate ban were cited as reasons not to move forward with immediate action.
Energy bills have been rising steadily in the Irish Republic. While home improvements can reduce the effect of these rises, few people are tapping into government grants that could offset some or all of the cost. Two new schemes have been launched, one targeted at turning homes into solar power plants, the other at giving houses access to heat pumps to reduce heating costs.
A four-and-a-half year study has concluded the world could transition to a fully renewable energy model by 2050. The study by Energy Watch Group and LUT University of Finland concluded solar is likely to lead the way, helped in part by its decentralised nature. The study also identified measures governments could take to increase renewable use, including expansion of carbon tax to include radioactivity, expanding feed-in-tariff schemes for small scale solar producers and linking renewable tech investment and tax breaks.
Microsoft has announced a series of measures to reduce the environmental impact of its data centre business. These include removing fossil fuels from its new campuses, focusing on sustainable materials in construction and maintenance and migrating existing centres over to zero-carbon energy sources. A central management tool to help achieve this is the internal "carbon tax" that Microsoft levies on budget holders, which is being doubled. If successful, the company should achieve its target of cutting emissions by 70 per cent before 2030.
Malaysian oil & gas giant Petronas is expending into renewable energy with the acquisition of Amplus Energy Solutions Pte Ltd. Based in Singapore and known as M+, the company manages a portfolio of renewable assets across Asia. This is the first step Petronas has made in its strategy to invest in renewables.
In the US, sales of electric vehicles have dropped almost 10 per cent, with less than 100,000 units moved in the first quarter of 2019. Tesla leads the way in sales, and being unable to ship its new Model 3 in the numbers it had hoped has contributed to the fall. Nissan's Leaf also saw subdued sales, partly blamed on consumers holding back until the 200+ mile range Leaf Plus arrived.
A conflict between environmental protection and agriculture has broken out in Mexico's rain forests. The Yucatán has become a centre for beekeeping over hundreds of years, providing both world class honey and ensuring the forests stay pollinated. An influx of German-speaking Mennonites, who have been clearing land to make way for farms, is damaging this fragile ecosystem. The Government may have to take firmer action to find the balance between demand for agriculture and protecting beekeepers and their forests.
The UK's capital has been disrupted by targeted protests from the Exctinction Rebellion, demanding the government declare a state of "Climate Emergency". First they hit Waterloo Bridge, blocking it to traffic as they turned it into a "garden bridge". Then came Oxford Circus. Protests are expected to continue today.
With products due to hit the road from late 2020, Rivian is take a different approach. It's focusing on the 4x4 segment, building first as an SUV, then a US friendly pick-up. Their approach to getting into the game reads more like a playbook from a digital start-up, with talk of platforms and licensing. A name to watch as the car market is shaken up?
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