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July 2020

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edie’s Net-Zero Live 2020 goes virtual as part of bumper month of inspirational content

edie’s annual exhibition, Net-Zero Live 2020, will take place virtually over three days in November, as part of a themed month of digital content dedicated to accelerating climate action and helping business build back better.

Spearheaded by Net-Zero Live, the month will include an array of net-zero-themed exclusive interviews, downloadable guides, reader blogs, webinars and podcasts

Spearheaded by Net-Zero Live, the month will include an array of net-zero-themed exclusive interviews, downloadable guides, reader blogs, webinars and podcasts

Taking place on 10-12 November, the free-to-attend virtual Net-Zero Live event will include high-level keynote talks, interactive panel discussions, facilitated networking sessions and educational masterclasses, as well as virtual exhibition booths showcasing the cutting-edge net-zero technologies and services that will shape the decade ahead.

The transition from face-to-face to virtual will also see Net-Zero Live 2020 become the flagship event of Net-Zero November – edie’s bumper month of digital content which aims to spark new business ideas and actions on the road to a net-zero-carbon future.

edie’s publisher David Griffiths said: “We cannot let Covid-19 derail the UK’s net-zero transition. From the great challenge of this pandemic and the strict social distancing guidelines that remain in place, we’re seizing a unique opportunity to evolve Net-Zero Live into a virtual event that will help businesses build back better and accelerate climate action.

“The virtual format allows us to expand the event’s reach whilst taking a deeper dive into the key net-zero topics; with a more diverse range of expert speakers and more interactive discussions, resulting in greater action.”

Virtual event formats

Net-Zero Live is the UK’s first and only energy and sustainability event which unites thousands of businesses, policymakers, investors, NGOs, product and solutions providers around a common purpose: to spark new ideas and actions on the path to a sustainable future. 

Under the new virtual format, each day of Net-Zero Live will take a different theme: “Net-Zero Business Leadership (10 November); Net-Zero Resources & Waste (11 November); and Net-Zero Carbon (12 November). The line-up for each day will include scene-setting keynote presentations, interactive “ask us anything” panel discussions and practical “how-to” masterclasses.

Meanwhile, a dedicated virtual networking space will allow sustainability and energy professionals to catch up with peers and forge new connections with net-zero experts, policymakers, investors and NGOs around the world. And a virtual exhibition area will showcase some of the latest products, services and technologies that are advancing the net-zero transition.

Net-Zero November

And that’s not all. Given the great size and scale of the net-zero movement, edie is bringing back Net-Zero November – an entire month’s worth of content dedicated to informing, inspiring and empowering sustainability and energy professionals on the road to a net-zero carbon future for their business.

Now spearheaded by Net-Zero Live, the month will include an array of net-zero-themed exclusive interviews, downloadable guides, reader blogs, webinars and podcasts. Net-Zero November will also aim to spark new business ideas and actions through edie’s award-winning campaign, Mission Possible. Specifically, edie readers will be encouraged to submit new net-zero themed commitments on behalf of their organisations via the Mission Possible Pledge Wall.

Last year’s Net-Zero November saw the editorial team deliver more than 40 pieces of original content which resulted in edie’s most successful month ever in terms of website traffic and audience engagement. You can view all of that content here.

Net-Zero Live and Net-Zero November will take place at a crucial time for the global net-zero carbon transition; with the solutions to coronavirus and climate change converging, the collaborative green recovery movement gathering pace, and the deferred COP26 climate talks due to be hosted exactly one year later, in November 2021. edie will continue reporting on all of the major net-zero news and announcements as they happen via our dedicated net-zero content hub.

Read further information on Net-Zero Live and register your interest to attend the virtual event here.

For further information on Net-Zero Live, please contact edie’s Publisher David Griffiths – DavidGriffiths@Fav-house.com.  

For further information on edie’s planned programme of content activity for Net-Zero Live and Net-Zero November, please contact edie’s Content Director Luke Nicholls – LukeNicholls@Fav-house.com

edie staff

News

Credit Suisse cuts fossil fuel lending as part of £250bn green finance promise

Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse has unveiled plans to provide more than £250bn in financing geared towards green bonds and the low-carbon economy over the next decade, as well as pledging to limit financing to the oil and gas sector.

Credit Suisse's previous sustainable finance mechanisms have been tailored towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Credit Suisse’s previous sustainable finance mechanisms have been tailored towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Credit Suisse has confirmed that the £250bn sustainable financing will be issued over the next 10 years. Financing will predominantly target green bonds and low-carbon investments.

The company will also limit its spending in the oil and gas sector. As well as removing financing on offshore oil and gas initiatives located in the Arctic from future spending plans, the company will stop lending to any company that generates more than 25% of their revenue from fossil fuels, namely through thermal coal mining.

The bank is the latest to cut back lending to companies based on fossil fuel revenue, following similar announcements from the likes of BNP Paribas and the European Investment Bank.

Credit Suisse recently launched a consumer fund aimed at spurring progress towards the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible Production and Consumption.

Credit Suisse has said it will use the finance raised through the fund, called the Responsible Consumer Fund, to invest in businesses whose core purpose is to drive a “paradigm shift” towards more sustainable models of consumption and production.

In November, Credit Suisse partnered with The World Bank to issue a $28.6m (£22.2m) bond aimed at financing the protection and restoration of fresh and saltwater resources and habitats. All bonds issued by the World Bank are designed to support projects that deliver progress against one or more of the SDGs.

Projects due to benefit from its financing include those working to establish coastal and marine protected areas; those which improve waste management in ways which reduce pollution in waterways and oceans; those which promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; and those working to implement strong environmental governance in coastal nations and regions.

In related news, multinational banking giant Citi has this week pledged to funnel $250bn (£192.5bn) into low-carbon solutions by the end of 2025, while Moody’s unveiled new Paris-Agreement-aligned climate targets.

American financial services major Moody’s Corporation has pledged to halve its direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions by 2030, against a 2019 baseline, as part of new Paris-aligned climate targets.

It commits Citi to providing $250bn in loans and grants to activities in renewable energy, clean technology, nature conservation, green buildings, energy efficiency and low-carbon transport within a five year period – up from the $164bn (£126.3bn) provided for these sectors between 2014 and 2019.

For corporates looking to gain more understanding on how to engage with banks and financial institutions on sustainable lending, edie recently hosts a one-hour webinar on climate disclosure and sustainable investment. Featuring expert speakers from ING, BlackRock, Tideway and UL, the webinar is now available to watch on-demand.


Join the conversation at edie’s Sustainable Investment Digital Conference

edie is launching its first bespoke sustainability conference focused on green finance, with experts from ING, BlackRock, BNP Paribas and more set to discuss investment and the green recovery at the Sustainable Investment Digital Conference on 7-8 September 2020.

The two-day digital event will feature a myriad of expert panel discussions, breakouts and deep dives into key green finance themes – plus opportunities to network virtually with delegates.

For further information, sponsorship inquiries and registration, click here

Matt Mace

News

Climate Policy – Scotland

THE SCOTTISH Government has been criticised for continuing to support the “climate-wrecking” Heathrow expansion – while pledging that the country will be carbon neutral by 2045. The agreement between the airport and the Scottish Government includes a pledge of up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland as a result of the expansion.

Herald 29th July 2020 read more »

News

Landsec unveils plans for UK’s first net-zero office in London

Property developer Landsec has revealed that it is progressing plans for what it hopes will be the UK’s first net-zero commercial building – an office block in Southwark, south London.

Pictured: An artist's impression of the finished project. Image: Landsec

Pictured: An artist’s impression of the finished project. Image: Landsec

The building, called The Forge, has been designed in line with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) net-zero buildings framework and energy performance requirements.

The UKGBC framework covers both embodied carbon – the emissions generated in the construction phase of the building, and through the materials used to create it – and operational carbon, emissions produced throughout the building’s use-phase. Most previous definitions, frameworks and certifications account only for the latter.

To minimise the embodied carbon of The Forge, Landsec has used a digital platform approach, whereby all components for the building are designed and ordered through one channel. This approach is believed to minimise energy “leaks”, improve productivity, reduce costs and prepare the building for any future retrofits. Previous trials of this approach by Landsec led to a 20% reduction in embodied carbon, a 30% reduction in installation time and a 55% improvement in productivity. The UK Government is now set to trial digital platform approaches on its own estate.

Landsec has not yet confirmed to what extent it will be using offsetting to bring the embodied carbon of the building in line with the UKGBC’s net-zero framework, but admitted that it will not be able to reduce its Scope 3 (indirect) emissions for the project to zero internally, due to the challenges in decarbonising resource extraction and transport.

As for the operational emissions footprint of the building, Landsec has designed the structure to maximise passive heating, cooling and daylighting, thus minimising its energy consumption. It will also be fitted with a digital building energy management system (BEMS) and automated energy-saving features. Once complete, The Forge will have 139,000 square feet of space, to be used for retail and office purposes. 

Broader plans

Landsec is notably striving to become a net-zero business by 2030 – 20 years ahead of the Government’s legally binding target. It will reduce its absolute emissions by 70% over this decade, then invest to offset the residual 30%. The commitment applies to all of the FTSE100 firm’s new developments as well as its operations.

In order to reach this target, Landsec’s chief executive Mark Allan said, it “has to start making changes to the way it does things now”.

“We know that property companies have a vital role to play in addressing the climate emergency,” Allan said. “We’re clear, therefore, that our sustainability strategy must be deeply embedded in our development programme and we will continue to be ambitious in our approach.”

edie recently spoke to Landsec’s sustainable design and innovation manager Nils Rage, who explained how cooperation with suppliers was helping Landsec decarbonise its buildings. You can read the piece here.

edie’s editorial team additionally explored the role which the UK’s construction and retrofit sectors will play in its Covid-19 recovery plans through a recent feature, in which we spoke with UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) deputy challenge director for transforming construction, Mike Pitts. Pitts is a strong proponent of the digital platform approach. You can read that article in full here.

Sarah George

News

Future Energy Scenarios

The UK will need hydrogen to meet its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to the latest National Grid “future energy scenarios”. Hydrogen “could be the solution to many of the hardest parts of the transition to net-zero”, National Grid says, particularly in long-distance freight, shipping and heavy industry. The annual “future energy scenarios” (FES) sketch out four possible futures for the UK’s energy system until mid-century. This year, there are major changes with three of the four pathways reaching net-zero by 2050. In previous years, most FES scenarios missed the UK’s climate goals. The three routes to net-zero vary in their level of societal change and reliance on hydrogen, but all require large gains in energy efficiency and heavy electrification of transport. They also see a massive rise in wind and solar power, while fossil gas use for electricity and heating is phased out. Crucially, however, the report warns that reaching net-zero “requires immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas, and full engagement across society and end consumers”.

Carbon Brief 29th July 2020 read more »

News

London unveils £1.5bn green infrastructure package to kick-start economy post-lockdown

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the London Recovery Board have jointly launched a £1.5bn infrastructure investment package, designed to reduce the city’s emissions and water footprint while kick-starting the local economy as lockdown eases.

The specifics of how the funding will be spent are subject to consultation and yet to be revealed

The specifics of how the funding will be spent are subject to consultation and yet to be revealed

The money will be spent upgrading Greater London’s gas network, to improve the security of supplies and prepare for higher proportions of hydrogen; improving water infrastructure, in a bid to reduce leakage by 20% and pollution incidents by 30%; and readying electricity infrastructure for the electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

City Hall is yet to publish details explaining exactly how the funding pot will be allocated across projects driving progress towards each of these aims. The London Recovery Board is conducting a mass public engagement exercise to inform the next phase of its recovery programme, asking 50,000 Londoners to have their say using an online forum.  

However, the authority has revealed the organisations it will be working with to deliver against them: Cadent, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), SGN, UK Power Networks and Thames Water.

“Once the specific projects have been identified and agreed, they will be delivered with the support of the Mayor’s recently established Infrastructure Coordination Service, to promote collaboration and minimise costly road network disruption, particularly at a time when Sadiq is encouraging more Londoners to walk and cycle,” City Hall said in a statement.

On the latter point, Khan has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to spend £2bn on initiatives designed to incentivise walking and cycling. The package, announced on Tuesday (28 July), includes a bike repair voucher scheme, e-bike rental scheme, measures to help doctors prescribe cycling and funding for local authorities seeking to improve bike infrastructure.

“It is essential that infrastructure initiatives are utilised to serve all Londoners as we work to recover from this pandemic and to build back better with a fairer and greener economy,” Khan said.

Road so far

Under the London Environment Strategy, launched in May 2018, the capital is striving to become the “greenest” city in the world by mid-century.

The plan sets out ambitious targets of increasing London’s current solar PV capacity by 20 times by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline, and introducing zero-emission zones in some town centres by the end of 2020, five years ahead of the previous target, to assist businesses with the uptake of electric vehicles.

It originally contained a 2050 net-zero deadline, but this was subsequently brought forward to 2030. Khan has allocated £50m to the creation and delivery of a Green New Deal strategy, aligned with this new deadline.

Regarding the green recovery from Covid-19 specifically, London has joined calls for the creation of a national green reskilling strategy, which would funnel the 650,000+ people to have been stuck off payrolls since March into sectors such as retrofits and clean power generation. Chancellor Rishi Sunak was reportedly set to launch a dedicated fund for reskilling Brits for ‘green-collar’ jobs as part of the Summer Economic Update, but this did not happen.

With the Conservative Party targeting two million “green-collar” jobs in the UK by 2030 as part of the nation’s 2050 net-zero target, there are hopes that Sunak will launch such a scheme at the Autumn Statement or in the 2021 Budget.  Even pre-pandemic, employment in the UK’s energy sector was lower than in 2014.

Sarah George

News

John Lewis and Waitrose ramp up electric van ambitions as online orders boom

Retail giant John Lewis Partnership has built on a pledge to phase-out petrol and diesel vehicles from the entirety of its fleet within a decade with a sizeable electric van order.

Pictured: An artist's impression of the larger of the two new van designs

Pictured: An artist’s impression of the larger of the two new van designs

In a first step towards new commitment, designed to spur progress towards the business’s 2050 net-zero target, John Lewis Partnership will integrate up to 1,300 pure electric vans into its fleet by the end of 2021.

According to John Lewis Partnership’s latest ethics and sustainability progress report, the new vans will reduce the business’ annual carbon footprint by 20,000 tonnes.

The vans will come in two designs – a larger model for Waitrose food deliveries and a smaller version for John Lewis deliveries.

Each van is expected to be in service for 20 years or more, as the models are designed using modular features that can be upgraded. John Lewis Partnership has dubbed this feature a “significant benefit that really adds to the sustainability of the vehicle”. EV uptake is notably outpacing the growth of battery recycling systems at present and, for all the good they do in electrifying high-emitting sectors, batteries have supply chains which are associated with the exploitation of natural resources and human rights.

“Our new electric vans are an ideal solution for home deliveries; the innovative design means they’re more efficient, but also respectful to the environment and the growing number of neighbourhoods in which we deliver,” John Lewis Partnership’s general manager of central transport Justin Laney said.

To complement the EV rollout, John Lewis Partnership is planning to increase the number of EV chargers hosted across its estate. Infrastructure will be installed to help customers and staff charge their vehicles, as well as infrastructure to serve fleet vehicles. An exact number of chargers and roadmap for delivery is yet to be published.

The business implied heavily that its decision to accelerate EV uptake was compounded to a surge in online ordering and home deliveries as a result of Covid-19. Waitrose’s rapid service, which provides customers with orders of up to 25 products within two hours, has trebled its deliveries to 7,000 per week in just a year.

Biomethane boon

Elsewhere in its fleet strategy, the retailer is striving to covert all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to run on biomethane by the end of 2028. Biomethane trucks are believed to generate just 20% of the carbon dioxide associated with traditional diesel models, on a life-cycle basis.

The ethics and sustainability progress report reveals that 14% of the Partnership’s 600-strong HGV fleet is currently biomethane-compatible. This proportion is expected to rise sharply once work is completed on a biomethane refuelling station at the firm’s Bracknell headquarters later this year.

John Lewis Partnership’s director of corporate responsibility Benet Northcote last year provided edie with more in-depth insight around the firm’s biomethane strategy. He told of how it helped the business shift to a lifecycle approach in decision-making and how the Partnership is encouraging other businesses – even if they are competitors – to follow suit in adopting low-carbon road transport innovations.

Other businesses incorporating biomethane trucks into the fleets include Asda and Kuehne + Nagel.

Sarah George

News

UK’s largest pension scheme charts pathway to net-zero

The Government-backed National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) scheme is set to begin divesting from fossil fuel projects immediately, as part of a new roadmap designed to ensure its operations are aligned with the UK’s net-zero target.

Nest has more than nine million members

Nest has more than nine million members

In a move that climate campaigners have described as a “landmark” after months of action directed at the finance sector, Nest has pledged to remove thermal coal from its portfolio by 2025, along with oil sands Arctic drilling for natural gas and oil – both considered among the most aggressive fossil fuel extraction processes.

Any large business that derives at least 15% of its turnover from these fossil fuels will be excluded under the new rules, meaning that Nest will divest from mining giants as well as energy firms. The scheme notably lists BHP within its share holdings and has agreed to sell its final holdings by the start of next week.

However, BHP reportedly refused to describe its new policy as a full divestment programme. It will continue to invest in energy firms extracting oil and gas using traditional methods, providing that they can prove they are transitioning their business models in line with the Paris Agreement. It is believed that just one in ten energy majors are currently working towards 1.5C-alignment.

Nest anticipates that divesting within these parameters will free up £5.5bn, which it will then funnel into “climate-aware” investments. Projects and businesses set to be backed include renewable energy generation infrastructure and flexible energy technologies, which Nest sees playing a key role in the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

The scheme has relatively little money under management (£12.2bn), but is the UK’s largest pension scheme in membership, with nine million members. It is also predicted to grow rapidly in the coming decades.

Nest’s chief investment officer Mike Fawcett said that the Covid-19 recovery, compounded by the Government’s decision to legislate for net-zero last year, poses “a unique opportunity to support sustainable growth and the transition to a low-carbon economy”.

“Just like coronavirus, climate change poses serious risks to both our savers and their investments,” Fawcett said. “It has the potential to cause catastrophic damage and completely disrupt our way of life. No one wants to save throughout their life to retire into a world devastated by climate change.”

A recent YouGov survey of more than 4,400 Brits found that 72% do not know whether their pension is invested in line with their values.

Piling on the pressure

Nest, like many pension funds and other financial organisations, has been facing mounting calls to divest from fossil fuels in recent months.

Following months of demonstrations from green groups like Extinction Rebellion and charities like ShareAction, a campaign was recently launched to get the £3trn managed by the UK’s pensions sector invested in a net-zero-compatible manner. Called Make My Money Matter and spearheaded by Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis, it is being backed by the likes of the Environment Agency Pension Fund, Oxfam and WWF.

Nest’s own polling of its members found that 65% wanted their pension invested in a way that assisted climate change mitigation and adaptation. Just 4% strongly disagreed, with the majority of this cohort concerned about the risk associated with ‘green’ investment.

But these results – and the actions Nest is now taking – stand in contrast to the views of Pension Minister Guy Opperman. In a comment piece penned for The Telegraph earlier this month, Opperman said he “strongly believes” that divestment is the wrong approach. Instead, he wants to see Government-backed pensions funds work with businesses in their holdings to improve their climate plans.

“Holding such [high-carbon] assets places trustees in an influential position to nudge, cajole or vote firms towards lower-carbon business practices,” he wrote.

“The tactic of simply selling them to others without the same environmental concerns is counterproductive.”

Sarah George

News

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has mapped out its vision for a net-zero future, having tabled a Climate Change Bill at its parliament, Tynwald, accompanied by a detailed action plan for cutting emissions. The Climate Change Bill tabled last week commits future administrations of the self-governing jurisdiction to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Business Green 29th July 2020 read more »

News

DPD reaches 2020 fleet electrification target ahead of schedule

Delivery giant DPD has integrated the 700th electric vehicle (EV) into its UK fleet this week, meaning that more than 10% of its UK van fleet is now pure-electric.

DPD has also developed an in-house training programme to help drivers using the EVs

DPD has also developed an in-house training programme to help drivers using the EVs

The company, which set an ambition to electrify 10% of its UK fleet by the end of 2020 back in 2018, claims that it now operates the largest EV fleet in the UK’s delivery sector.

Since the beginning of January, it has integrated more than 560 pure electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet, including 300 Nissan e-NV200s – vans which boast 187 miles of range and a 40KWH battery.

Other EVs ordered by DPD are the MAN eTGE van, which is slightly larger, the Vauxhall Vivaro-e and the LEVC VN5, the latter of which is an adapted taxi-van being trialled by companies including DPD and Royal Mail ahead of a market launch in the fourth quarter of 2020. The LEVC VN5 weighs 2.9 tonnes and is fitted with range-extending technology.

DPD said in a statement that it had seen an uptick in deliveries since lockdown began in March, alongside a growing consumer and investor demand for electric vehicles as a result of reduced air pollution from lockdown. As a result, it has delivered five million parcels using zero-emission vehicles and predicts that it is on track to deliver a further five million by the end of 2020.

DPD had been aiming to integrate 500 EVs into its fleet during the entirety of 2020, meaning it will now begin work to develop a more ambitious target for the future. It has signed an agreement with Oxford-based e-cargo bike manufacturer EAV to develop a new vehicle over the coming 24 months and will announce a time-bound, numerical target for EV update in the near future.

“Despite everything that is going on, we’ve been really focused on getting EVs on the road and delivering for us this year,” DPD’s chief executive Dwain McDonald said.  

“Yes, you need to be trialling new technology and looking at future concepts, but you have to start making a difference now, and that’s what we are doing.”

The road ahead

McDonald added, however, that there are “still huge frustrations” facing DPD and other businesses seeking to electrify their fleets.

Specifically, he would like carmakers to be supported by the UK Government to deploy a wider range of EVs, at lower prices, more rapidly. DPD is calling on the Departments for Transport and BEIS to bolster their EV industry support as part of the UK Government’s £160bn Covid-19 recovery package.

McDonald’s sentiments seem to be common across the UK corporate space. In its most recent survey of EV100 members, The Climate Group documented persistent concerns about a lack of vehicle supply, cited by 79% of members as their top concern.

Its survey also revealed how concerns surrounding the upfront cost of vehicles, vehicle range and the availability of charging infrastructure.

The UK Government is yet to announce any dedicated funding for the EV infrastructure or manufacturing, or for EV-related financial incentives, as part of its Covid-19 package. The 2020 Budget, delivered in March, saw the Treasury confirm £500m investment in EV charging networks and an extension of the Plug-in grant and other incentives. It was criticised, however, for freezing fuel duty and earmarking £27bn for road building through to 2025.

Sarah George

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