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October 2021

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Wales – Floating Wind

When the UK Government announced yesterday that £160m would be spent to develop wind farms off the coasts of Wales and Scotland the official reason given was that both countries had “deep waters”. This didn’t really stack up as a good reason for singling out Wales and Scotland for investment – there are deep waters all around the coast of England, too. The real reason was briefed to the Telegraph in this morning’s newspaper who revealed that the aim was to “help to strengthen the Union”, with waters off Wales and Scotland “pinpointed” for that reason. In other words – the squeaky wheel gets the most oil. And Wales’ growing independence movement has made Wales’ wheel squeaks louder than ever before.

Nation Cymru 30th Oct 2021 read more »

News

John Lewis links £420m loan to net-zero target

The John Lewis Partnership has signed a five-year revolving credit facility worth £420m that will be linked to environmental targets such as the retailer’s effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2035.

The facility is tied to performances against emissions, food waste and transport over the next five years

The facility is tied to performances against emissions, food waste and transport over the next five years

The £420m revolving credit facility has been provided by a total of seven banks. It replaces an existing £500m worth of facilities, all of which were due to expire at the end of 2022.

Under the new facility, the interest rates paid by the Partnership will vary depending on progress against three sustainability pillars over the next five years. The rates are in relation to a target to reach net-zero by 2035, deliver a 50% reduction in food waste across the Waitrose brand by 2030 and ending the use of fossil fuel in transport fleets by 2030.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the interest rate we pay on the facility will vary depending on whether we achieve three environmental targets over five years related to reducing carbon emissions, reducing food waste and moving away from fossil fuels.

Last month, the John Lewis Partnership has joined the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign, as the retailer builds towards its net-zero target for 2035.

Additionally, the company has signed up to the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) Business Ambition for 1.5C. John Lewis claims it is in the process of establishing science-based targets for itself and Waitrose, both of which will be aligned to the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement.

John Lewis’s executive director of finance Bérangère Michel said: “This is an important agreement for the Partnership. It is critical for businesses to align financial strategy with sustainability goals in order to address climate change. I am pleased that the Partnership is living up to its sustainability commitments and its purpose by making this very important step, ahead of the COP26 summit.

“This credit facility also reinforces the strong relationships we have with our banking partners, who continue to support the Partnership and our plans for the years ahead.”

Signing on the line

John Lewis joins the likes of engineering and technical services, RSK Group, in securing finance based on sustainability performance.

In August, RSK Group signed for a £1bn loan with interest rates tied to its progress against key sustainability targets. Under the terms of the loan, RSK will benefit from lower margins if it delivers its sustainability targets relating to carbon emissions, ethics and health and safety.

On emissions, RSK Group pledged in March to set 1.5C-aligned science-based climate targets. It has until March 2023 to have such targets approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) but is striving to have them approved by the end of 2022.

Many businesses have announced the completion of sustainability-linked loan deals during 2021 so far.

Back in January, Asian real estate giant City Developments Limited (CDL) confirmed a new green revolving credit facility totalling $470m that will be used to refinance its ‘the Republic Plaza’ commercial property and future low-carbon projects.

February saw the world’s largest seafood firm, Thai Union, announcing a new $400m loan package with interest payments linked to climate, sustainability and due diligence targets. Within a week, brewer AB InBev had announced what it claims is the world’s largest corporate sustainability-linked loan to date, priced at $10.1bn.

Other companies to have subsequently announced sustainability-linked loan deals include building materials and design giant Kingspan and home improvement and garden retailer Kingfisher. Additionally, supermarket Tesco, which signed for its own £2.5bn revolving credit facility back in 2020, recently began supporting its major suppliers to follow suit.

Matt Mace

News

Tesla, Hertz, Uber and Royal Mail: Major EV schemes launched ahead of COP26

Several major electric vehicle (EV) announcements have been made on the eve of COP26, with Royal Mail opening and all-electric delivery office in Glasgow and thousands of EVs being ordered for major car rental and ride-hailing schemes.

Image: Royal Mail

Image: Royal Mail

Royal Mail opened its all-electric Glasgow delivery office on Friday (29 October). The location, the G51 office in Govan, is across the river from the host venue for COP26, the Scottish Events Campus (SEC).

A total of 13 electric vans and other delivery vehicles will be hosted at the office, all replacing old diesel vans. The fully electric vans have up to 38% larger load space than the vehicles they have replaced and they have a range of up to 90 miles on a single charge, depending on load size and weather conditions.

There are also two new micro EVs, intended to be used for last-mile parcel deliveries. They are about the side of a golf buggy or a quad bike but can carry more than an average daily round’s worth of letters and small parcels.

Royal Mail has worked with BP Pulse to install eight EV charging points at the office to support the fleet. These will be served with 100% renewable electricity.

“With the eyes of the world turning to Glasgow ahead of COP26, it’s vital that we lead by example when it comes to tackling the climate emergency,” said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“That is why it is such welcome news that Royal Mail is launching its first all-electric delivery office in Scotland just across the Clyde from where the summit will take place. Converting this delivery office entirely to electric vehicles is a really positive step towards our shared goal of net-zero and I want to thank Royal Mail for their efforts in making this happen.”

As well as being the host city for COP26, Glasgow is one of several UK cities with plans to introduce a Low-Emission Zone, which will charge vehicles that do not meet strict emissions standards. Royal Mail has stated that areas with Low-Emission Zones and/or Clean Air Zones will likely see delivery vehicles switched to electric first, as it works to grow its EV delivery fleet from 300 to 3,300.

Tesla, Hertz and Uber’s major tie-up

The news from Royal Mail comes shortly after car rental giant Hertz announced that it will place orders for 100,000 Teslas to add to its North American fleet by the end of 2022. The investment should create the continent’s largest EV rental fleet.

Hertz will also work with Tesla to scale up charging infrastructure to support the new vehicles, and will give customers access to the automaker’s network of 3,000 supercharging stations across the US and Europe.

The first of the vehicles will be added to Hertz’ fleet from early November, and, once the 100,000 have been delivered, this will bring the proportion of EVs in Hertz’ fleet to 20%.  The company introduced the first handful of rental EVs to its portfolio in 2011.

Customers can expect to pay the same for an EV rental as they would for rental of a luxury or premium car with an internal combustion engine from Hertz

The agreement between Tesla and Hertz also includes Uber. Uber will offer drivers in the US a subsidy if they wish to rent a Tesla from Hertz to complete their rides.

In related news, here in Europe, electric car subscription service Onto has placed an order for 10,50 Renault Zoe E Tech. Most of these vehicles will be on the road by the end of 2021, with the remainder due in January 2022.

As of September, Onto had some 4,000 EVs. So the order represents a 25% increase in its EV stock.

The Renault Zoe E Tech has a range of up to 245 miles and can be charged to 90 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes when fast-charging infrastructure is used.

Sarah George

News

Germany – 100% Renewables

A bold report is presented by Thure Traber, Hans-Josef Fell and Sophie Marquitan at Energy Watch Group. It says that a 100% renewable power system for Germany can undercut fossil power within this decade. The authors look at the full cost of fossil power, including subsidies. Importantly, they explain how unit costs will rise further, as demand declines, due to the decreasing utilisation of its expensive infrastructure. Meanwhile, total system costs for solar, wind and storage keep getting cheaper. E-mobility too. Even without adding the costs of environmental damage from fossil fuels and nuclear – always hard to pin down – the numbers favour renewables. So if 100% renewables for all energy sectors – heat and electricity for industry, households, commerce and mobility – can make economic sense before 2030, that should become the over-riding policy target, say the authors. Coal and gas prices are at record highs this year and may drop back, but the fundamental trends will remain. 100% renewables will reduce energy costs within policy timeframes. Their modelling includes an optimal full-supply clean energy mix of 18 generation and conversion technologies and storage for given costs and potentials.

Energy Post 28th Oct 2021 read more »

News

Australia – 100% Renewables

In the electricity grid, the transition to green energy is usually incremental. Growth in capacity and production is measured in megawatts and megawatt hours, while the changes in the share of fossil fuels and renewables ebb and surge in fractions of a percentage point. That’s what makes the great leap forward in South Australia this past week all the more significant. On each of the past eight days, the state has reached a level of more than 100 per cent wind and solar. On Monday, it reached 100 per cent renewables on solar only. On Wednesday, and again on Friday, it did the same trick with wind only. Indeed, at 2.05am on Friday, wind set a record share of 128.2 per cent of state demand, beating the previous record of 126 pct, But the big event was news that the shackles are being released on the constraints imposed on the state’s vast and growing resources of wind and solar power. Until now a cap had been imposed for fear there was not enough “synchronous generation” to keep the grid stable.

Renew Economy 29th Oct 2021 read more »

News

Carbon Capture

On the site of the Hellisheidi Power Station, the world’s third-largest geothermal plant located in southwestern Iceland, a world-first experiment has started capturing CO2 straight from air and turning it to stone. It is a collaboration between Swiss start-up Climeworks, which has created technology to suck CO2 from the atmosphere, and Iceland’s Carbfix, a company that has developed a technique to turn CO2 to stone in less than two years.

Independent 27th Oct 2021 read more »

News

Science Based Targets initiative launches net-zero standard for corporates

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has today (28 October) unveiled the world’s first standard for corporate net-zero emissions aligned to climate science.

The validation process will open for corporates in January 2022

The validation process will open for corporates in January 2022

The SBTi’s new Net-Zero Standard is the world’s first science-based certification of companies’ net-zero targets. The certification is given to businesses if their decarbonisation strategies are in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping planetary warming to 1.5C.

The Standard was developed in consultation with an independent Expert Advisory Group, made up of experts from academia, civil society, science and business. More than 80 companies took part in a road test of the Standard in August 2021.

The validation process will officially launch next year. However, the SBTi has named the first seven firms to have their net-zero targets certified as part of a pilot scheme. AstraZeneca, CVS Health, Dentsu International, JLL, Holcim, Wipro and Ørsted have all had their targets validated.

Companies will be required to set both near and long-term science-based targets across all scopes. These included near-term targets covering the next 5-10 years, with longer-form targets capped at 2050.

The SBTi has clarified that science-based net-zero targets will require companies to achieve deep decarbonisation of 90-95% before 2050. From that point companies should neutralise unavoidable emissions through offsets and removals. Crucially, the SBTi states that carbon offsetting and removals cannot exceed 5-10% of a company’s emissions, although this is sector dependent.

The SBTi’s managing director Alberto Carrillo Pineda said: “Companies are currently self-defining net-zero targets without credible and independent assessment of their ambition and integrity. “For the first time, the SBTi Net-Zero Standard offers companies robust certification to demonstrate to consumers, investors and regulators that their net-zero targets are reducing emissions at the pace and scale required to keep global warming to 1.5C.

“We’re now inviting all companies with net-zero targets and ambitions to show stakeholders that their decarbonization pathway is aligned with science. And the rest of the business sector – we call on you to join the Race to Zero.”

In September 2020, the SBTi confirmed that it had kickstarted the development of guidance on what will ultimately lead to the development of a new global standard to ensure that corporate net-zero carbon targets are aligned with climate science.

The Foundations for Science-Based Net-Zero Target Setting in the Corporate Sector paper was released by the SBTi, which consists of representatives from CDP, UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF. The paper was created following consultation with businesses, financial organisations, conservation organisations and the scientific community.

The paper was the first step in an effort to ensure that corporate net-zero targets are aligned to climate science and efforts to deliver a net-zero world by no later than 2050.

To date, more than 300 companies have made a commitment to reach science-based net-zero before 2050 through the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5C campaign.

The SBTi has also confirmed that it is working to develop metrics around net-zero for financial institutions and is launching its Net-Zero Foundations for Financial Institutions: Draft for Public Consultation on 10 November 2021.

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend, the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) published a set of recommendations for financial institutions to reach net-zero, while a net-zero transition plan has also been published for pension providers.

The UNEP FI is calling on financial institutions to align with science-based targets and the 1.5C transition pathway while also establishing near-term decarbonisation targets. On the financing front, the paper calls for a cease of new fossil fuel developments and for institutions to transparently report on emissions and their allocation to real economy inventories. The paper also suggests that Scope 3 emissions should be accounted for and that organisations should highlight which emerging technologies can help accelerate the low-carbon transition.

Commenting on the SBTi’s announcement, Andy Haigh Director, climate positive solutions, at Grosvenor said: “This bold development of the Science-Based Targets initiative signifies a new gold standard net-zero definition. Creating a goal that requires a minimum 90% reduction is a stretching, long-term target and for some businesses thinking that far into the future is going to be a challenge.

“But, Science Based Targets are developed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and looking at the latest science they are saying a 50% reduction of emissions by 2030 goal isn’t enough. We need to drive transformative action and this new standard will be a crucial part of this. At Grosvenor, we see this transformative announcement as positive, but are aware it is tough and will challenge a lot of businesses. It could involve some having to re-evaluate their baselines to incorporate their whole value chain. We’re hoping to be one of the first to align our Net Zero goals to this new framework and are continuing engagement work with our whole value chain as we know bringing people on the journey with us is key to driving change.”

Matt Mace

News

First wave of speakers announced for edie’s online Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions

Sustainability specialists from Pukka Herbs, Virgin Media O2, Costain and the Zero Carbon Forum have been confirmed amongst the first speakers for edie’s digital Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions, taking place on Thursday 25 November.

A recording of all of the sessions will be available to watch on-demand for those who register

A recording of all of the sessions will be available to watch on-demand for those who register

As the flagship digital event of edie’s Net-Zero November campaign, the Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions offer up an afternoon of live, interactive webinar presentations and discussions – all dedicated to accelerating your organisation’s decarbonisation progress.

This premium online event effectively combines four edie webinars and masterclasses into a single afternoon, with each session taking a particular format. Registrants will get access to all four webinar sessions on the day.

More speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

Be sure to keep an eye on all of edie’s Net-Zero November content here.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE ONLINE SESSIONS

Full details of the four webinar sessions are as follows:

1) The Big Net-Zero Debate: Turning global ambitions into business actions (12.30pm-1.30pm)

Kicking off our Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions, a selection of energy and climate experts will discuss how the global ambitions of the recent COP26 climate talks are shaping the political, regulatory, infrastructural and institutional elements of net-zero business in the UK.

Discussion points:

  • COP26 and the clean energy transition: What have we learnt?
  • From carbon pricing to energy efficiency: Policy priorities for UK energy managers
  • Making net-zero happen: Investment and decarbonisation pathways

Chair:

  • Matt Mace, Content Editor, edie

Speakers:

  • Sebastian Pole, Managing Director, Pukka Herbs
  • Kristen Filice, Sustainability Lead, Zero Carbon Forum
  • More to follow

2) Quickfire case studies: Business action on net-zero carbon buildings and transport (1.45pm-2.30pm) 

From rooftop renewables to EV rollouts, our second Inspiration Session will showcase an array of best-practice case studies to help energy and sustainability managers make net-zero buildings and mobility a reality for their business.

Discussion points:

  • Making your buildings net-zero carbon and ultra-efficient in a post-pandemic world
  • Overcoming infrastructural and institutional challenges to EV adoption
  • Using energy data to support your net-zero transition

Chair:

  • Matt Mace, Content Editor, edie

Speakers:

  • David Owens, Head of Technical Trials, Virgin Media O2
  • Lara Young, Climate Change Director, Costain Group

3) 45-Minute Masterclass: How to build a net-zero culture in your business (2.45pm-3.30pm)

Our third Inspiration Session takes a ‘masterclass’ format, we a selection of energy management and behaviour change experts on-hand to show you new and innovative ways to secure buy-in and increase engagement with decarbonisation goals, across the business.

Discussion points:

  • Securing boardroom buy-in for decarbonisation programmes and activities
  • Overcoming barriers to employee engagement with energy and carbon
  • Understanding the benefits of a ‘net-zero’ culture in your business

Chair:

  • Sarah George, Senior Reporter, edie

Speakers:

  • Speakers TBC

4) 45-Minute Masterclass: Utilising CPPAs to support your net-zero journey (3.45pm-4.30pm)

Our fourth and final Inspiration Session will focus on Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) – breaking down how such Agreements work and how they can support your organisation’s renewable energy and decarbonisation strategy.

Discussion points:

  • Achieving 100% renewable energy: Identifying the right pathways
  • Key considerations when exploring CPPAs for your business
  • Overcoming key challenges and complexities surrounding CPPAs

Chair:

  • Sarah George, Senior Reporter, edie

Speakers:

  • Speakers TBC

A recording of all of the sessions will be available to watch on-demand for those who register.

edie staff

News

Pension giant ABP to divest €15bn from fossil fuels by 2023

One of the world’s largest pension funds, Dutch fund ABP, has announced plans to divest its €15bn of holdings in fossil fuel companies and projects within 18 months.

Globally, organisations with more than $39trn of assets have either completed fossil fuel divestment or committed to doing so

Globally, organisations with more than $39trn of assets have either completed fossil fuel divestment or committed to doing so

The fund has holdings in about 80 companies in the fossil fuel sector, including Royal Dutch Shell. These holdings account for some 3% of its total assets.

Following months of campaigning by green groups and activist investors, ABP announced late on Tuesday (26 October) that it will sell its holdings in all fossil fuel firms and projects by the end of the first quarter of 2023. It will then re-invest in renewable electricity generation, electricity transmission and the transport sector.

ABP’s chair Corien Wortmann-Kool has stated that the fund will engage with new holdings in the energy and transport sector to push them to accelerate sustainability plans.  

Wortmann-Kool said: “The ABP board sees the need and urgency for a change of course. We part with our investments in fossil fuel producers because we see insufficient opportunity for us as a shareholder to push for the necessary, significant acceleration of the energy transition at these companies.

“We want to contribute to minimising global warming to 1.5C. Large groups of pension participants and employers indicate how important this is to them.”

Additionally, Wortmann-Kool gave a statement to Dutch broadcaster NOS, claiming that the recent climate reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been a key driver behind the decision.

ABP was notably the subject of a lawsuit filed by climate activist group Fossil Free in September. The group argued that ABP’s continued support for the fossil fuel sector was not consistent with its pledge to align with the Paris Agreement.

Other groups to have put pressure on ABP over climate grounds this year include Follow This.

The fund said in a statement that it does not expect the divestment commitment to affect its long-term returns.

ABP’s announcement came as 72 faith institutions and the cities of Glasgow, Paris, Copenhagen, Seattle, Auckland and Rio De Janeiro committed to divest from fossil fuels. Timelines will vary from organisation to organisation for the commitments, made through the Stand Earth climate action group.

Also, in related news,  the Scotland-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) has this week published a new roadmap to help pension providers make the transition to net-zero. The roadmap came as Make My Money Matter and Route 2 published research revealing that the investments of UK pension schemes enabling the release of 330 million tonnes of carbon every year – more than the national domestic emissions footprint.

Sarah George

News

GHG Emissions

National plans to cut carbon fall far short of what’s needed to avert dangerous climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme. Their Emissions Gap report says country pledges will fail to keep the global temperature under 1.5C this century. The Unep analysis suggests the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts. But there is hope that, if long term net-zero goals are met, temperatures can be significantly reined in.

BBC 26th Oct 2021 read more »

Edie 26th Oct 2021 read more »

Renew Economy 27th Oct 2021 read more »

Despite stronger climate policy and higher ambition in the latest national pledges, there is still a large gap between near-term commitments under the Paris Agreement and what would be needed to limit warming to well-below 2C and aim for below 1.5C.

Carbon Brief 26th Oct 2021 read more »

The world is squandering the opportunity to “build back better” from the Covid-19 pandemic, and faces disastrous temperature rises of at least 2.7C if countries fail to strengthen their climate pledges, according to a report from the UN. Tuesday’s publication warns that countries’ current pledges would reduce carbon by only about 7.5% by 2030, far less than the 45% cut scientists say is needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, the aim of the Cop26 summit that opens in Glasgow this Sunday. António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, described the findings as a “thundering wake up call” to world leaders, while experts called for drastic action against fossil fuel companies.

Guardian 26th Oct 2021 read more »

World heading for catastrophe without bolder climate plans, UN warns. The world is way off course from averting climate disaster, and countries’ new commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions – unveiled ahead of the Cop26 climate summit – “fall far short” of what is required to reach net zero by 2050, the UN has warned. With just days to go before the critical summit, the UN Environment Programme has found countries’ updated “nationally determined contributions” or NDCs – which set out the level of carbon emissions cuts they are planning – only take a further 7.5 per cent off projected global emissions for 2030, while cuts of 55 per cent are needed to meet the 1.5C Paris goal. That means the current plans would need to have seven times the level of ambition to remain under that limit.

Independent 26th Oct 2021 read more »

Net zero targets announced by 50 countries offer hope that the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, according to a UN report. It said that many of the targets had yet to be translated into detailed plans to cut emissions this decade but overall they could limit global warming to 2.2C by the end of the century — close to the 2C upper limit for global warming set in the Paris agreement on climate change in 2015. The UN Environment Programme (Unep) assessed all targets announced by countries by the end of last month and concluded that the net zero pledges “could make a big difference”.

Times 27th Oct 2021 read more »

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