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August 2020

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Electricity Supplies

Lockdown measures taken to combat Covid-19 in March led to a much greener and cheaper electricity system in Britain in the weeks that followed, but at the same time the increased reliance on renewables made managing the grid far more challenging, offering a glimpse of the UK’s future power requirements as the economy transitions towards net zero emissions. That is the conclusion of independent research released today by Imperial College London and energy firm Drax, which saw experts assess the tumultuous impact of the coronavirus crisis on Britain’s electricity system from April to June 2020, a period characterised by near historically low levels of demand for power.

Business Green 31st Aug 2020 read more »

Carbon emissions from Britain’s electricity system plunged by more than a third during the coronavirus lockdown after renewable energy played its largest ever role helping to keep the lights on, according to a report. During the spring bank holiday weekend in May, the energy grid’s carbon intensity reached a record low of 21 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour due to a slump in energy demand triggered by Britain’s lockdown measures and a surge in renewable energy.

Guardian 31st Aug 2020 read more »


Carbon Footprint

Cow’s milk in your coffee or funny-tasting soya? Reusable nappies on a hot wash or disposables going into landfill? Cyclists exude eco-smugness — but did you know e-bikes can be better for the environment? Trying to make the greenest decisions in everyday life is a minefield. Almost everything we do has a carbon footprint — shorthand for the amount of warming greenhouse gas that it releases into the atmosphere. The equations are confusing and complicated. Mike Berners-Lee is a carbon consultant who works at Lancaster University and advises firms and organisations on reducing their footprints. In a new book, How Bad Are Bananas?, he calculates the carbon footprint of nearly 100 activities — from reading a spam email to flying into space. The intriguing examples below give a flavour of what’s terrible for the planet and what’s not nearly as bad as you might think, going some way to helping you lead a more carbon-aware life.

Times 30th Aug 2020 read more »


Heat Pumps and DSR

If London is to stand a chance become a net zero emissions city within a decade, mass deployment and funding of heat pumps will be critical, according to a new report. The Carbon Trust’s ‘Heat pump retrofit in London’, commissioned by the mayor’s office, also underlines the need for a simultaneous step change in building energy efficiency. That will require “significant” investment from central government, per the report. Meanwhile, smart heat pumps that can shift loads (also known as demand-side response, or DSR) have a major impact on the business case for retrofitting heat pumps, which are more expensive and disruptive than other approaches. The report aims to highlights key principles of good practice system design. It underlines the need for well designed and installed systems to unlock potential carbon emission savings of 60-70 per cent compared to conventional electric heating and 55-65 per cent when compared to an efficient gas boiler. These savings will increase as the grid decarbonises further. Given the sums involved for a city-wide retrofit, the report states that most building types will require some form of grant or subsidy to remove gas boilers, but that blocks of flats on electric heating and other buildings already due for major upgrades already present “strong” business cases and should be prioritised.

The Energyst 28th Aug 2020 read more »

Affordable Eco Housing; is this what we should be building? | 100% Independent, 100% Electric. Robert Llewellyn visits the inspiring Parc Eirin development in Cardiff to find out more about the affordable eco houses that are being built there, 220 houses to be exact! Each house has solar PV built in, batteries and ground-source heating, meaning these houses don’t burn anything at all! With the long-term cost savings, as well as the positive impact on the environment, this is how houses should, and will be built in the future. To find out more about Sero Homes head here: Technologies include Sonnen (electricity storage), Mixergy (thermal storage) & Kensa (ground source heat pump):

Fully Charged 27th Aug 2020 read more »

Paul Kenny: Special Advisor to Minister Eamon Ryan at Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. We’ve been asked whether heat pumps perform in cold weather, so we decided to look at the recent period +/- 0 days around the 1st of march. During this time Ireland suffered unprecedented amounts of freezing temperatures and snowfall. It is a common misconception that air source heat pumps (ASHP) do not perform effectively at lower temperatures. However, this is not the case and, in this blog post, data analysis on 16 houses that suffered such weather conditions aims to prove that ASHP not only perform effectively but also continue to save the homeowner money. Costs and energy requirement comparisons were made between the ASHP and oil fuelled heating. ASHP costs were based on Irish electricity rates– 16.15c/kWh day rate (8am to 11pm) and 8c/kWh night rate (11pm to 8am), with 13.5% VAT added and 5% online discount. Oil costs were based on an 85% efficient boiler with oil costs of 69c/litre- an equivalent of 10c/kWh. Although the coefficient of performance (COP) of the ASHP dropped in lower temperatures for this period, cost savings remained high- around 45% to 50% of oil heating costs. Furthermore, the highest cost savings percentages were found on the coldest days, where more energy was required for heating.

Linkdin (accessed) 28th Aug 2020 read more »


Businesses urged to harness ‘nature-based solutions’ to combat climate emergency

Businesses have been called upon to trial and pilot ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS) in helping them reduce environmental impacts while helping the surrounding areas improve resiliency against a range of climate risks.

The organisations involved want the report to provide data-led solutions that can inform business decisions on how to use NBS and how they can contribute to wider corporate strategies

The organisations involved want the report to provide data-led solutions that can inform business decisions on how to use NBS and how they can contribute to wider corporate strategies

That is the call to action from a new report from the Ignition project, a collaborative group of organisations aimed at developing NBS in the Greater Manchester area.

The report titled ‘Nature-based solutions to the climate emergency: The benefits to business and society’ breaks down the benefits of natural solutions that can assist in combatting the climate crisis.

The report breaks down the benefits of solutions such as sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and green spaces. Benefits of solutions are based on resource use, improved biodiversity, health and wellbeing, socio-economic impacts and contributions to reducing emissions.

Key findings listed in the report include that SuDS can retain 60-72% of rainwater run off, improving resiliency against flooding risks as a result. Lining urban streets with trees can reduce air temperatures by 3C, while green roofs and green walls can deliver energy savings of 7% and 8% respectively. On the socio-economic front, the report fount that green spaces can help improve property values by up to 9.5%.

The organisations involved in the Ignition project – backed by €4.5m from the EU’s Urban Innovation Actions (UIA) initiative – include Business in the Community, City of Trees, Environment Agency, Groundwork, Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, UK Green Building Council, United Utilities, University of Manchester and University of Salford.

The organisations involved want the report to provide data-led solutions that can inform business decisions on how to use NBS and how they can contribute to wider business strategies.

Built environment

Specifically, the report highlights the benefits of using NBS across the built environment, a sector that is ramping up efforts to incorporate NBS as part of environmental stewardship efforts.

Alastair Mant, Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC commented: “An increasing number of building developers and owners are setting ambitious targets on carbon reduction, climate resilience, and increasing biodiversity.

“The data in this report illustrates how nature-based solutions can help achieve all of these, as well as provide social and financial benefits. I hope this report, and the detailed evidence base that underpins it, enables all those in the property and construction value chain to use more nature-based solutions in the projects they are involved with, be it in new construction or the improvement of existing assets.”

Some developers already follow a biodiversity net-gain approach voluntarily. Among them are Berkeley Group, Balfour Beatty and Warwickshire County Council. Moreover, almost half (44%) of UKGBC gold leaf members have created a biodiversity strategy. 

Ecology consultancy EPR has unveiled a support package for developers striving to meet the UK Government’s housing targets while going beyond compliance with the new Environment Bill’s biodiversity net-gain requirements.

This first report argues that the tools which developers have been given to measure biodiversity and implement net-gain are “fundamentally flawed”, in that they permit external offsetting and that they “are built on generalised assumptions of the importance of habitats that, in many cases, do not adequately take into account factors such as the wildlife that rely on them and regional variations in the habitats themselves”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget has promised a £640m Nature For Climate Fund. The Fund will back tree planting and peatland restoration projects across England, in order to spur carbon sequestration in line with the Government’s 2050 net-zero target.

Once the Fund is in full swing, Sunak has promised that the Treasury will launch a Nature Recovery Network Fund that will enable businesses and local communities to collaborate on existing wildlife restoration projects. A Natural Environment Impact Fund to help “prepare green projects that could be suitable for commercial investment” is also in the pipeline.

Matt Mace


Mercedes-Benz targets zero-carbon emissions by 2040, provides 1,800 EVs to Amazon

Mercedes-Benz has joined Amazon’s Climate Pledge, setting an aim to become a zero-carbon business by 2040, on the same day the company confirmed it would provide more than 1,800 electric vehicles (EVs) to the e-commerce giant’s Delivery Service Partners.

More than 1,200 eSprinters will be provided, with an additional 600 eVitos – a smaller zero-emission electric van – also incorporated into the fleet

More than 1,200 eSprinters will be provided, with an additional 600 eVitos – a smaller zero-emission electric van – also incorporated into the fleet

Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler has committed to making all cars across the brand’s portfolio carbon-neutral within the next two decades. The commitment will cover the manufacture, use and end-of-life stage for all branded cars initially, with Daimler also committing to work with suppliers in order to spur the creation of carbon-neutral supply chains in the future. 

Building on that commitment, Mercedes-Benz has joined The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net-zero carbon across their businesses by 2040. The Climate Pledge was set up by Amazon and Global Optimism to inspire organisations to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement 10 years early.

The company is evaluating ways to reduce emissions across the value chain, an ambition that was already in motion through the “Ambition2039″ carbon-neutrality strategy.

“At Mercedes-Benz, we have set ourselves the ambitious target to make the transformation of mobility a success story. By joining ‘The Climate Pledge’ we are building on our goal to consistently pursue emission-free mobility and sustainable vehicle production,” Daimler AG’s chairman of the board of management Ola Källenius said.

“We stand with Amazon, Global Optimism and the other signatories of The Climate Pledge, in a commitment to being net-zero carbon by 2040 – ten years ahead of The Paris Agreement. I am pleased that we will be able to gain even more momentum on our sustainability offensive with this step.”

By the end of this year, Mercedes-Benz will have a vehicle portfolio comprising of five fully electric vehicles and more than 20 plug-in hybrids.

One of these vehicles is the eSprinter, which can be charged in up to 30 minutes using 80kW rapid-charging infrastructure.

Amazon’s Climate Pledge

To coincided with joining the Climate Pledge, the car manufacturer has also announced that it is providing more than 1,800 EVs to Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners, to assist with deliveries across the globe.

More than 1,200 eSprinters will be provided, with an additional 600 eVitos – a smaller zero-emission electric van – also incorporated into the fleet. The agreement makes Mercedes-Benz Amazon’s largest provider of low-carbon transportation.

“We welcome the bold leadership demonstrated by Mercedes-Benz by signing up to The Climate Pledge and committing to ambitious action to address climate change. We need continued innovation and partnership from auto manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to decarbonize the transportation sector and tackle the climate crisis,” Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos said.

“Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year.”

E-commerce giant Amazon pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions across its operations by 2040, after its staff lobbied for the firm to take more bold action on climate change.

As a first step, the company has committed to order 100,000 fully electric delivery vehicles, the first 10,000 of which will be added to its global fleet by 2022. The remaining 90,000 vehicles will be phased in by 2030. 

The EV fleet will be powered by renewable energy. Amazon has committed to running on 100% renewables by 2025. Globally, Amazon has 91 renewable energy projects that have the capacity to generate more than 2,900 MW and deliver more than 7.5 million MWh of energy annually.

Matt Mace


British Gas

British Gas has been forced to pay £1.73m to customers affected by changes the energy supplier made to its prepayment plan, the watchdog said on Thursday. The Centrica-owned supplier failed to inform some prepayment customers, many of whom are vulnerable, about a change of top-up provider and minimum top-up spend. Some may have had their supply of gas and electricity cut off as a result, Ofgem said, or suffered “wasted journeys to shops where they could no longer top-up”.

Telegraph 27th Aug 2020 read more »

Times 28th Aug 2020 read more »


Portugal – solar

Portugal allocated 670 MW of solar capacity on Wednesday, much of it to a new low world record of EUR 11.14 / MWh, the Portuguese Energy Ministry said. The tender “was a success,” he said in a statement, adding that the record low price had been reached in the fixed price mechanism, one of the three devices offered.

Montel 27th Aug 2020 read more »

Business Green 28th Aug 2020 read more »


Report: Global fashion sector will emit double its Paris Agreement limit by 2030

The global fashion sector is currently generating more emissions each year than the UK, Germany and France combined, and will fail to align with the Paris Agreement without transformational change over the next decade.

Supply chains are a major source of emissions for the fashion sector

Supply chains are a major source of emissions for the fashion sector

Report: Global fashion sector will emit double its Paris Agreement limit by 2030That is according to new analysis from McKinsey and Global Fashion Agenda, entitled ‘Fashion on Climate’.

The report calculated emissions from the global apparel and footwear industry in 2019, accounting for sources from raw material production to product disposal, to be 2.1 billion tonnes of CO2e, or 4% of the global total. This, in itself, makes fashion a higher emitter than aviation.

Researchers then forecast the likely growth of emissions from the industry through to 2030, taking into account megatrends such as population growth and e-commerce, concluding that an annual compound growth rate of 2.7% is likely on a business-as-usual trajectory. As such, the sector would be producing 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2e each year from 2030. In order to comply with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory, the research states, annual net emissions from the sector would need to fall below 1.1 billion tonnes by 2030.

While praising the efforts of the major fashion firms with 1.5C-aligned climate targets – including Chanel and VF Corporation – and the small fashion brands which have built themselves around low-emission models, the researchers concluded that accelerated action is needed at all parts of the value chain.

They identified three key priority areas for action, based on their high emissions and the cost-effectiveness of abating emissions, namely upstream supply chain operations; direct operations and consumer behaviours. Acting on upstream emissions alone could deliver 61% of the reduction needed, the report states, with recommended actions including transitioning to renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and minimising waste.

As for direct operations, brands are making progress on sourcing renewable electricity but must now tackle emissions associated with logistics and returns; staff transport; materials used in garments and materials used in packaging. A major drive to tackle overproduction is also needed, the report states, noting that 40% of fashion products are marked down and that more than 100 billion products are manufactured annually.

Regarding consumer behaviour, the report encourages customer-facing fashion companies to create and scale up repair, resale and rental services, which minimise the material footprint of fashion while still generating a profit. Smaller emissions reductions can also be generated by encouraging the general public to wash their clothing less often and at lower temperatures, and to prioritise air-drying over tumble drying.

At the same time, companies across the value chain must join up and accelerate efforts to bring textiles recycling infrastructure and systems to scale. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that less than 1% of clothing produced annually is recycled into new garments. 73%, in contrast, is landfilled or burned.

Approximately 55% of the actions detailed in the report could be delivered with net cost savings, the report concluded, and a further 35% could be delivered with a cost of $50 per tonne of CO2e or lower.

Global Fashion Agenda’s chief executive Eva Kruse said she is “confident” that the report will help decision-makers across the sector to “better understand where to focus their efforts and still reap the most impact of their investments”.

“The pandemic has shown us how interconnected we are and how we also possess the capacity to change,” Kruse said. “However, real long-lasting change hinges on the fashion industry’s ability to come together, so we can rise to the occasion and play a leading role in combatting climate change.”

A mixed picture

The G7 summit in summer 2019 was cause for celebration for many campaigning for a low-carbon fashion industry. It played host to the unveiling of the Fashion Pact, which binds signatories to set science-based emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5C trajectory. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), meeting this target will require most organisations to reach net-zero carbon status by 2050.

Initial signatories of the Pact included orchestrator Kering, the owner of brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent; Inditex, the owner of Zara; Nike; H&M Group; Burberry and Adidas. These signatories were then joined by the likes of Mango, Farfetch and El Corte Ingles in October 2019.

Nonetheless, McKinsey and Global Fashion Agenda claim that only 50 fashion majors have comprehensive, 1.5C-aligned targets and are taking action to achieve them.

While many firms have time-bound targets for reaching 100% renewable energy in their operations, with several extending this commitment to the supply chain in the wake of the IPCC’s 2018 report, less action has been taken to combat overproduction and move to more resource-efficient business models. One piece of research found that the global fashion sector will need to use 75% less virgin resources in 2030 than it did in 2018 if it wishes to align with the Paris Agreement and to stop over-extracting natural resources.

Sarah George


Carbon Emissions

A slump in UK consumer spending during the coronavirus lockdown has erased almost the same carbon emissions as produced by the city of Nottingham in a year, according to a new report. Carbon emissions from the UK’s main consumer industries tumbled by more than a quarter during the national coronavirus lockdown as people travelled less and cut down on clothes shopping. A study by Carbon Trust, using spending data from over 3 million Lloyds Banking customers, found that the sudden drop in spending between the end of March and early July caused carbon emissions to fall by 4.3m tonnes, or 27%, compared with the same months last year.

Guardian 26th Aug 2020 read more »


UK emissions still down 14% despite lockdown easing, Carbon Trust analysis finds

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint is down 14% year-on-year per capita basis, new analysis of consumer spending data by the Carbon Trust has concluded.

The figures were calculated using spending data

The figures were calculated using spending data

The organisation analysed the purchases made by Lloyds Banking Group’s individual account holder across six key categories – food and drink, fuel, commuting, airlines, electrical stores and clothing stores – to calculate the carbon footprint of their lifestyles.

It concluded that spending on fuel, commuting and airlines had not only dropped sharply (41%) during lockdown, compared to the same period during 2019, but that spending in these areas has remained low after restrictions began to ease in July.

Spending on clothing was also down during lockdown and has not rebounded to pre-covid levels, the analysis found. Carbon Trust calculated that the CO2e footprint of clothing spending in 2020 so far is 45% lower than in 2019.

While emissions associated with the consumption of food and drink and electronics were up year-on-year, by 19% and 20% respectively, these increases were ultimately offset by reductions across the other four categories.

Given that retail sales are now above pre-pandemic levels, the Carbon Trust and Lloyds Banking Group are optimistic that there is still time to couple an accelerated low-carbon recovery with the need to help businesses recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. The organisations cited recent research from YouGov which found that more than one-third (34%) of British adults are planning to change their lifestyles to reduce their carbon footprint as lockdown lifts. The most popular behaviour changes were found to be limiting car travel, limiting flights and shopping at small, local businesses.

“The changes in spending were driven by a global pandemic not by choice, but our analysis of Lloyds Banking Group customer spending does demonstrate the link between the actions we take in our everyday lives and the impact these have on the level of carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change,” The Carbon Trust’s director Myles McCarthy said.

“We have an opportunity to build on this increased awareness and create the low-carbon businesses and infrastructure to help people reduce their impact on the environment.”

Green recovery

While emissions contracted during the 2008-9 recession, they rebounded sharply, leading many to conclude that nations and businesses had wasted an opportunity to spur the low-carbon transition.

As such, policymakers and corporates are currently facing much pressure to ensure that their plans for recovering from the current recession, caused by lockdown requirements and investor uncertainty, create economies which are compatible with long-term climate targets.

A recent survey of more than 2,000 UK voters, in which all major political preferences were accounted for, found that 69% would take a Covid-19 recovery package centred around high-carbon industries and infrastructure as a “sign that the government has got the wrong priorities” and “does not listen to ordinary people”.

A similar poll of members of the UK’s Climate Assembly, who were chosen to resemble the national population in terms of both social demographics and views on environmental issues, found that 79% want the UK’s recovery package to be net-zero aligned.

The general consensus is that, despite strong efforts from communities and some businesses, government efforts are not yet ambitious or joined-up enough to be fully ‘green’. Only a small proportion of the UK’s £160bn recovery package has been directly set aside for low-carbon sectors, including £3bn for energy efficiency and £2bn for walking and cycling, while £14bn has been allocated to roads, for example. The Treasury has also faced criticism for working with the Bank of England to provide unconditional billion-pound bailouts for carbon-intensive companies and sectors.

Nonetheless, a string of further funding and policy changes is due to be confirmed in the autumn. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is expected to be accompanied by the Energy White Paper, Heat Strategy, National Infrastructure Strategy and Buildings Strategy. The Department for Transport (DfT) is also hoping to publish its decarbonisation roadmaps by the end of the calendar year.

Sarah George

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