Charlotte Street Partners



Creative carbon accounting

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by David Gaffney, partner

23 August 2021

Good morning,

Boris Johnson is accustomed to being called a liar. It’s happened so often you have to wonder if it still stings.  

This week the source of the slur was climate campaigner, Greta Thunberg. She told Sky News she was “really hoping we will stop referring to the UK as a climate leader” because if you look at the reality “that’s simply not true”.  

She raised an eyebrow to the prime minister’s claims the UK has managed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 42% on 1990 levels, suggesting that the UK’s real talents lie in “creative carbon accounting” and arguing that if you don’t include the impact of aviation, shipping, biomass and consumption the statistics are “going to look much nicer”.  

Thunberg stated back in April that she didn’t plan to attend the 26th conference of the parties, which will take place in Glasgow in November and set the standards for global climate commitments for the coming years. She said the whole event should be postponed until global vaccination rates had risen, but the rumour mill is whirring with whispers that she might have changed her mind.  

Politico reported at the start of this month that a former UN climate envoy had suggested the UK government’s COP planning didn’t “feel coherent” and made unfavourable comparisons to the French, who had shown “coordinated” foreign policy two years out.  

The path to November is peppered with traps and this latest critique should set the government thinking about how best to impress. The Scottish government has created a formal partnership with the Green party which will lend new weight to its green credentials. The UK, meanwhile, has been tripping over hurdles from new coal mines in Cumbria to the Cambo oil field.  

Only time will tell if British diplomatic strategy delivered or was distracted by Brexit, covid, and internal priorities. But COP26 is a platform for the UK to demonstrate it can lead the world in the challenges of the next generation. In the wake of the Afghanistan debacle we have plenty to prove.  

Despite the flurry of environmental declarations many are worried Boris Johnson will miss this open goal for ‘Global Britain’. One government official said: “COP will likely get his attention in October, even if it’s too late. He has an intense focus on domestic issues — COP isn’t really a vote winner in the red wall.” 

In recent months campaigners have criticised ministers for serious delays to major strategies on the hydrogen economy, heat and buildings, the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles, and the transition to green jobs. The path ahead is murky if we don’t get this moving.  

Lord Stern, author of the now 15-year-old review on the Economics of Climate Change, has demanded fresh climate measures are outlined in the chancellor’s Autumn spending review to make Britain’s net zero targets credible.  

It’s a financial statement that’s already set to be weighed down by the pressure of two years of pandemic but the environment has to be equally high up the agenda if we’re going to meet the screeds of targets we’ve set ourselves. Here’s hoping chancellor Rishi Sunak has conviction to make it a statement worth the recycled paper it’s written on.  


Former prime minister, Tony Blair, who sent British troops into Afghanistan in 2001, has described the American exit from the country as “imbecilic”. The news comes amid reports that several people have been trampled at the gates of Kabul airport while attempting to flee the country. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has reportedly sought an urgent meeting with US secretary of state Anthony Blinken over the length of time western forces will hold the airport. (£) 

Antibody tests are set to be offered to the UK public for the first time, as the UK government launches a new programme to find out more about how much “natural protection” people are getting after contracting coronavirus. Anyone over 18 will be able to opt in for one when having a PCR test from Tuesday onwards.  

Tropical storm Henri has affected millions of people in the area around New York and caused flooding and extended power outages. Resulting rising tides have prompted concerns about dangerous storm surges.  

Business and economy

Industry experts have issued warnings that if no solution is found to the shortage of drivers and manpower currently disrupting British supply chains this festive season will be remembered for “empty shelves”. The third quarter is typically the busiest time for the UK’s logistics network and farmers have stressed a lack of seasonal workers would prevent them from meeting typical orders for turkeys. (£) 

Tony Blair’s son Euan has secured an investment of £65m for his start-up Multiverse, which is valued at around £520m. The business specialises in apprenticeship and training for school leavers and embedding them in major firms including Google, Unilever and Morgan Stanley. (£)  

Rosé wine producers in south-east France have been left reeling by recent wildfires which were spread across the Var region by strong winds. In depth assessments of the damage are underway and it is estimated 73 wineries have been affected.  

Columns of note

Matt Ridley argues in The Telegraph that the “radical potential of nuclear fusion” exposes the “folly” of our net zero deadline and suggests that if devices the size of a shipping container have the ability to power whole cities, that may be a better avenue than harnessing wind. (£)  

Kenan Malik writes in The Guardian that Britain’s offer to Afghan refugees isn’t generous, but “blindly inhumane”. He voices distress at the Home Office finding ways to treat asylum seekers with suspicion and argues we need to rethink the whole system of immigration.  

Cartoon source: The Times


The week ahead

Global stocks recorded their worst performance since June last week, as fears spread about a slower economic rebound. That sentiment is likely to linger this week and investors are wary of a looming reduction in US stimulus.  

Last week, the FTSE All-World index dropped by 1.8% as China toughened data privacy laws affecting some of its fastest growing sectors, including technology. The tough new lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand also contributed.

What’s happening today?

Batm Advanced 

Ide Holdings 

Final Dividend Payment Date   

Interim Dividend Payment Date  

Tritax Big Box 

International Economic Announcements   
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER) 
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER) 
(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER) 
(15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth. (Source: Sporcle) 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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