News round-up: Landmark COP26 conference kicks off in Glasgow; UK Chancellor set to cut business rates by £7bn; Net Zero Asset Managers initiative sees over 220 firms sign up

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Landmark COP26 conference kicks off in Glasgow

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for leaders to “act now” on climate change.

In his opening speech at COP26, Johnson stressed on the importance of countries to play a role in ending the use of coal, phase out petrol-powered cars and reverse deforestation. US President, Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign has also said that climate change will remain his administration’s number one priority.

COP26 climate change conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, has now kicked off at Glasgow and will see over 120 world leaders gather to fight climate change with major polluters like China, India, Australia and Brazil put under pressure to support these goals and toughen their commitments.

It will also see world leaders report back their progress since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The world is at "one minute to midnight", having run down the clock on waiting to combat climate change, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson said leaders needed to move from "aspiration to action" to slow global warming. He added the summit was a "critical" moment for him, and said an ambitious outcome was still "on the balance".

COP26 will run for two weeks and will see almost all world leaders speak at the conference.

UK Chancellor set to cut business rates by £7billion in Autumn Budget

In his recent address to Parliament in the Autumn Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not be abolishing business rates but plan to make amends to the existing system to make it fairer. This will see measures cutting business rates by £7billion.

"First, we will make the business rates system fairer and timelier with more frequent revaluations every three years. The new revaluation cycle will be delivered from 2023," Sunak said.

The address also saw further measures like the green investment relief to encourage the adoption of green technologies such as solar panels.

"We're introducing a new investment relief to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies like solar panels. And I'm announcing today that we'll accept the CBI and the British Retail Consortium's recommendation to introduce a new 'business rates improvement relief’”, he added.

"From 2023, every single business will be able to make property improvements - and, for 12 months, pay no extra business rates."

Sunak has announced that companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will be given a 50% discount on business rates. Pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres and gyms are all eligible. Overall, it's a tax cut worth £1.78bn.

"I'm announcing today, for one year, a new 50% business rates discount for businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors."

The reduction in the surcharge on bank profits has been confirmed, with a drop from 8% to 3%. But combined with the other tax rises, this still means bank's overall corporation tax will increase from 27% to 28%.

Net Zero Asset Managers initiative sees over 220 firms sign up

The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, launched in December last year, had an initial group of 30 signatories but has since multiplied in number, representing over £41.7 trillion of assets under management.

Firms that have signed up for this are required to disclose the percentage of their portfolio managed in line with net zero and their fair share interim targets for assets under management that will be managed in line with net zero plus a targeted date of achieving this and the methodology used in target setting.

In the recent update, it saw $4.2 trillion out of $11.9 trillion to be managed in line with net zero for initial disclosures by 43 signatories.

The report noted that by COP27, more than $20 trillion of assets will be managed in line with net zero, seeing that the average proportion of total assets being managed in line with net zero is already 35% - this will be in line with the plans for 50% global emission reduction by the year 2030.

The report further added that some 11 signatories were able to commit 100% of their assets under management, with many others providing further information on their plans to increase in this area in the near future.

Stephanie Taylor

Head of Event Content, HFM

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