All the need-to-know green business news from around the world this week
New York Yankees come out to bat for climate change
The New York Yankees this week became the first major North American sports team to sign up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which aims to bring greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and "inspire others to take ambitious action".
Launched at COP24 in December, the initiative invites sports teams and bodies to measure, reduce and offset their emissions, and to use sport as a force to drive wider climate awareness.
The New York Yankees already offsets its "unavoidable" greenhouse gases and is aiming to achieve zero waste to landfill and reduce water use at its New York stadium.
"For many years the Yankees have been implementing the type of climate action now enshrined in the Sports for Climate Action principles, and with this pledge the Yankees commit to continue to work collaboratively with our sponsors, fans and other relevant stakeholders to implement the UN's climate action agenda in sports," said managing general partner of the Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner.
The club joins a host of prominent global sports organisations committed to the Framework, including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the French Tennis Federation, the Rugby League World Cup 2021, the World Surf League, Formula E, and others.
Aluminium giant RUSAL to plant a million trees in 2019
Mining giant RUSAL, one of the world's largest producers of aluminium, has pledged to plant more than one million trees in Russia this year to offset its carbon footprint.
The initiative, launched this week, represents one of Russia's largest ever reforestoration projects. It will see more than 500,000 trees planted over 120 hectares in Krasnoyarsk region of Russia, with another 500,000 trees to be planted in other regions later in the year.
RUSAL said it will also set up a new protection scheme for the Lower Yenisei forest. Meanwhile, a new aerial forest protection service will be formed to carry out "extensive monitoring of the forests to minimise the risk of fires and illegal logging".
"The issue of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is one of the most pressing challenges facing the modern world," said RUSAL CEO Evgenii Nikitin. "The carbon footprint of our products is already one of the lowest in the industry, however, there is always more we can do and in the long term, we intend to offset the greenhouse gas emissions that make up the full carbon footprint of RUSAL's primary aluminum products."
Bank of America to mobilise $300bn green capital by 2030
Bank of America plans to mobilise $300bn towards low carbon business activities such as green energy, electric transport, clean water and climate resiliency by 2030, it announced yesterday.
Through lending, investing, capital raising, advisory services and developing financial solutions, the multinational bank said the capital commitment would "drive innovation and help to accelerate the transition to a low carbon, sustainable economy".
"The need to mobilise and deploy capital to address climate change has never been more urgent," said Bank of America's vice chairman Anne Finucane.
IRENA: Renewables now make up a third of global power capacity
Renewable electricity now accounts for a third of power capacity worldwide, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) declared on Tuesday.
Global clean electricity capacity increased by 7.9 per cent last year, largely thanks to new solar and wind deployments which accounted for 84 per cent of that growth, IRENA's analysis found.
Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies. Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewable energy installations, but growth was fastest in Oceania, which saw a 17.7 per cent rise in capacity last year.
"Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity," said IRENA's departing Director-General Adnan Z. Amin, who stepped down this week after eight years in the role.
His successor, Italian civil servant and diplomat Francesco La Camera, officially took office as IRENA's new Director General yesterday, using his first speech to call for stronger efforts to scale up renewables in transportation, heating and cooling to combat climate change. "The global energy transformation is entering a new phase," he said.
Saudi Aramco notes climate risks, posts huge $111bn profits
In its first ever major financial disclosure, Saudi Aramco revealed it raked in a mammoth $111bn last year, putting it far ahead of even tech giants Apple, Amazon and Alphabet as the world's most profitable company.
But while the historic documents released by Saudi Arabia's state oil producer suggest it is still likely to continue making huge amounts of money for years to come, they also warn of potential future threats to its business from climate lawsuits, clean energy and electric cars.
The revelations came in a prospectus filed by the company on Monday as it readies itself for an international bond offering, requiring the state firm to, for the first time, provide a public view of its finances and strategy. The document repeats the phrase "climate change" 19 times, noted Quartz.
It states that "increasing attention on climate change risks may result in an increased possibility of litigation against the Company and its affiliated companies", and warns public sentiment could increasingly lead to regulations and treaties which result in declining demand for oil and gas.
"Climate change concerns and impacts could reduce global demand for hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon-based products and could cause the company to incur costs or invest additional capital," it adds.
Southeast Asia launches $1bn green infrastructure funding initiative
Southeast Asian governments, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and several major financiers launched a new initiative yesterday to spur more than $1bn in green infrastructure investments across the region.
Spearheaded by the 10 countries making up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the new investment facility is designed to provide loans and necessary technical assistance for sovereign green infrastructure projects such as sustainable transport, clean energy and resilient water systems, the ADB said.
It will mobilise a total of $1bn, including $75m from the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, $300m from ADB, $336m from German-state owned development bank KfW, €150m ($160m) from the European Investment Bank and €150m ($160m) from French public bank Agence Française de Développement.
"Through the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility, ADB will support ASEAN governments in developing green and climate-friendly infrastructure projects that will contribute to fighting climate change, improving the quality of air and water, and reducing environmental degradation across the region," said ADB president Takehiko Nakao.
Canada carbon tax kicks into action
A federal carbon tax of $20 per tonne of CO2 officially came into effect in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick on Monday.
The tax adds several cents to the price of a litre of transport fuel in the regions, while also aiming to put pressure on the likes of coal and natural gas production.
The levy is set to ratchet up by $10 per tonne of pollution each year until it reaches $50 per tonne in April 2022. Revenues from the tax will be redistributed to the provinces through rebates to individuals or businesses.
The tax is effectively a 'backstop' measure applied by the federal government, with the four provinces having failed to meet requirements for bringing in their own carbon pricing measures under a Canada-wide CO2 law which passed in December.
Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia already had carbon pricing policies in place, meaning that, as of Monday, carbon pricing systems in varying forms are now in operation across all of Canada.
It came as a report this week found temperatures in Canada are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world due to climate change.
Swedish ice hockey fans to chow down on sustainably wrapped burgers
Swedish ice hockey fans can now enjoy a more environmentally friendly hamburger, thanks to the rollout of "completely biodegradable" food wrapping paper at Swedish Hockey League (SHL) club Färjestad's stadium in the south west city of Karlstad.
Löfbergs Arena, which serves more than 20,000 hamburgers to fans each season, is now using recyclable food wrapping paper without any plastic or aluminium covering layers, which are commonly used to keep juices and sauces from spilling out, the stadium operator explained.
The packaging is the result of a collaboration between Nordic Paper, which produces the paper without adding damaging fluorocarbons, and UMV Coating Systems, which applies a water-based barrier chemical that stops dressings and fats from penetrating the paper, as well as keeping the food fresh.
"To be able to pull off a local cooperation like this feels great," said Örjan Lindgren, unit manager for food and drink at Löfbergs Arena. "We are one of the largest food producers in our region, so for us it is important to be kind and lead the way."
Tech giant quadruples number of locations for US customers to hand in old iPhones as part of recycling and reuse drive
GreenBiz releases its latest update on soaring renewables demand from US corporates
Record amount of future new wind capacity will be financed from last year's investment, according to WindEurope
Nation known for its natural beauty is under pressure with extinctions, polluted rivers and blighted lakes