• FutureTrack

This Week in Sustainability News 30.09

This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.


Major meat suppliers appear to have avoided millions in UK tax

  • Two companies supplying Britain’s major meat brands, such as KFC, Nando’s, and Sainsbury’s, appear to have avoided paying millions of pounds in tax in the UK.

  • According to an investigation led by the Guardian and Lighthouse Reports, Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation appear to have used offshore companies to reduce their tax bills.

  • The report estimated that both meat suppliers might have avoided paying tax on more than £160m.

  • According to experts quoted by The Guardian, the strategies implemented by Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation are not illegal but constitute an act of “aggressive tax avoidance”.

  • Such practices can fuel economic inequality as “taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab”.


easyJet to prioritise carbon reduction measures over offsetting

  • easyJet has announced it would drop its carbon offsetting scheme by the end of the year to focus on carbon reduction measures.

  • The company will target a 78% emissions reduction by 2050 by investing in a more efficient fleet, sustainable aviation fuel, and other operating improvements.

  • The airline has already confirmed that it has signed a sustainable aviation fuel supply contract with Q8Aviation for the next five years.

  • This decision follows the news on easyJet’s upgrade of its Airbus A320 Family fleet with a fuel-saving enhancement as well as a partnership with Rolls-Royce on hydrogen combustion engine technology.

  • The airline’s Chief Executive, Johan Lundgren, has stated that easyJet’s carbon-offsetting programme, which was introduced in 2019, was considered to be an interim measure since its inception while the company was working on introducing decarbonisation technology and solutions.

  • The airline will continue offsetting emissions on behalf of its customers as per usual until the end of 2022. From January 2023, the option to offset carbon emissions will become optional for those flying with easyJet.


Vanuatu becomes the first country to call for a global treaty to phase out fossil fuels

  • The Republic of Vanuatu, an archipelago of about 80 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, called for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN general assembly in New York last week.

  • Venuatu is the first nation-state to call for such a treaty. The call for the development of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty had been previously endorsed by the World Health Organisation, the Vatican, and more than 65 cities and governments internationally.

  • Nikenike Vurobaravu, Vanuatu’s president, has urged other nations to join his country’s call to phase down coal, oil, and gas production to limit global warming to 1.5°C and “enable a global just transition for every worker, community, and nation with fossil fuel dependence”.

  • Vurobaravu has also backed the proposal to include ecocide as one of the Rome Statute’s core international crimes. If the Rome Statute is amended, acts leading to severe environmental harm would become liable to criminal prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

  • Vanuatu is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries with one of the world’s most ambitious climate policies. The low-lying chain of islands is already carbon-negative, which means it absorbs more emissions than it produces. The country has set itself a target to fully eliminate the use of fossil fuels by 2030.


HSBC AM to phase out coal investments

  • HSBC Asset Management has confirmed its new policy for phasing coal-fired power and thermal coal mining out of its listed holdings by 2030 in EU and OECD markets, and by 2040 globally. It will also divest from companies that do not have viable plans to phase out coal in place.

  • HSBC AM’s exclusion threshold of a company’s revenues exposed to thermal coal has been specified as 2.5 per cent in the group’s active investment portfolios.

  • In the case of listed issuers with over 10 per cent of revenues exposed to thermal coal, HSBC will vote against the re-election of company chairs that fail to provide disclosures consistent with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

  • HSBC AM has also announced that it aims to strengthen relations and engagement with clients’ management boards to influence and support their just transition away from thermal coal.


The Nord Stream gas leak feared to pose a disastrous climate risk

  • Two gas pipelines that run between Russia and Germany are reported to have burst and started leaking into the Baltic Sea on Wednesday the 28th of September.

  • It has been confirmed by the Danish Energy Agency that both pipelines contained as much as 778m cubic metres of natural gas, which is the equivalent of 32% of Danish yearly carbon dioxide emissions.

  • The pipelines were not operational, but both contained large amounts of natural gas which is largely composed of methane.

  • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is 80 times stronger than CO2 over 20 years and 30 times stronger than CO2 over 100 years. It is the biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide.

  • Scientists fear that the Nord Stream leak might be one of the worst natural gas leaks ever.

  • The scale of the leak and the full extent of its potential impact are still unclear. However, according to scientists’ estimates based on the amount of natural gas in one of the pipelines, the quantity of leaked methane could amount to 350,000 tonnes.

  • The leak is not expected to pose a significant risk to the marine environment – its main impact will consist of methane emissions into the atmosphere.

  • It has been confirmed that over half of the natural gas within the Nord Stream pipelines has already left the pipes. The remaining quantities are expected to will have leaked by Sunday.