• UK businesses urge government to make COVID-19 recovery assistance conditional on climate goals, while Chinese central bank looks to exclude coal projects from green funds

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

In another sign that the COVID-19 crisis may produce a step-change in the fight against climate change, almost 200 UK businesses have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge the government to launch a green economic recovery plan. The wide range of businesses, from Lloyds Banking Group to Heathrow Airport to BP, wrote that the recovery must be used “to accelerate the transition to net zero”, aligning economic stimulus with the UK’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Any financial support to corporations should be conditioned on these terms, which, considering that the aviation and steel industries will be in need of support, will have considerable impacts. As the Financial Times reports, there are currently no environmental conditions to governmental support, but Mr Johnson has said that he does not want the UK to return to “an era of the same type of emissions as we’ve had in the past”. The CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, summed up the sentiment of the letter by saying that the crisis is a “turning point, where we can take carbon-intensive, hard-to-abate sectors, like aviation, and decarbonise them.” As much as £500 million ($US 625 million/€561 million) of government funding has been requested by Heathrow, to be matched by industry, to develop new types of low-carbon fuels.

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has published new draft guidelines for projects eligible for ‘green bonds’, excluding clean coal projects, which have been allowed under 2015 guidelines. The move is seen as highly significant by climate-concerned investors. Eligible projects under the draft will include those related to cleaner heating, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage, as well as cleaner transport projects.