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November 2021

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National Grid: Post-COP26, net-zero ambitions must urgently be turned into action

EXCLUSIVE: National Grid’s UK sustainability manager Steven Thompson has spoken of how stakeholders from all parts of society are no longer likely to be impressed by long-term net-zero visions, without credible plans for delivery this decade.

Thompson reflected on what COP26 means for sustainable business in the coming years, the so-called "decade of delivery"

Thompson reflected on what COP26 means for sustainable business in the coming years, the so-called “decade of delivery”

Thompson delivered the keynote address at edie’s SPARK! Net-Zero Action Workshops in Birmingham this morning (30 November) – an event hosted to convene energy and carbon leaders in collaborating and co-creating solutions to the most pressing decarbonisation challenges.

Reflecting on COP26, which concluded in Glasgow on 13 November, Thompson said:  “I think everyone will have a different view on whether COP26 was successful. What I will say is that there was certainly progress made.

“When you look at some of the key commitments – the commitment on the phase-out of coal and the first mention of fossil fuels in an agreement coming out of a COP, which seems really odd, but is a real step forward.

“When we reflect on whether the event itself was a success, I think there’s always a focus on having a big global target – that this is the definition. I’d argue – and, certainly, others have said the same – that the time for setting big, bold targets is gone, and that the focus is actually on how we are going to deliver.”

“A lot of action, planning and delivery comes outside of the COP process. It is just two weeks out of every year. It loops into the year-round discussions we have, and the actions we need to take in the roles that we have now.”

National Grid was notably a Principal Partner of COP26 – the highest level of corporate sponsorship for the summit.

Looking at the progress which energy, sustainability, carbon and environment professionals will need to help drive in the coming years, Thompson said action will need to move from a “jog” to a “sprint”, arguing that how businesses position sustainability

He summarised: “We’ve definitely moved on from target-setting. A few years ago, we’d be asked whether we had a net-zero target and told it was great that we did. Actually, that’s just an expectation now.

“Now, we are asked: What does your action plan look like? What does your roadmap look like? Is that roadmap aligned with the science? Is it aligned to the broader trajectories we’re seeing from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) here in the UK, or from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

“These are the questions we really need to be asking ourselves…. And we need to be ensuring that the actions are aligned to our business strategy, so that they are not seen as separate. We’re not just achieving net-zero and reducing emissions on the side – our core business will need to be completely different.”

To this latter point, Thompson said businesses should expect key stakeholders to scrutinise their future capital investment plans through an environmental sustainability lens.

Energy systems focus

Zooming in, Thompson chronicled progress to date and key remaining hurdles in decarbonising electricity, transport and heating systems across the UK.

He called the decarbonisation of electricity systems so far “a really positive story” of “rapid progress”, with emissions from generation down by two-thirds over the past seven years. But he noted that further acceleration will be needed – and will likely be more challenging. The UK Government recently confirmed a new vision to move away from all unabated fossil-fuel-powered electricity generation by 2035.

In transport, he said, while less progress has been made, “clear policy goals” to support transformation are welcome. These include the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales and the plans to phase out petrol and diesel HGVs through to 2040. The remaining challenges, in Thompson’s opinion, include charging infrastructure delivery and scaling networks to match supply with growing demand. Nonetheless, he said he was “absolutely” certain that the grid will be able to cope with growing demands, as long as off-peak charging is properly incentivised.

Thompson dubbed heat one of the biggest remaining hurdles to net-zero in the UK, calling the installation of technologies including heat pumps and hydrogen a “challenge of cost, a challenge of technology and a challenge of the potential levels of disruption that come with changing our existing infrastructure for new infrastructure”.

Getting more than 20 million homes off of gas heating, as well as millions of UK businesses, he admitted, will likely need more action than what is included in the Heat and Buildings Strategy. The Strategy was welcomed after long delays, but many in the green economy were hoping for more clarity on hydrogen for heating and for more funding for business decarbonisation.


Want to join edie’s Net-Zero Leaders Club?

The SPARK! workshops are an annual event, hosted for members of edie’s Net-Zero Leaders Club exclusively. 

Established in 2018 and revamped in 2021, the Net-Zero Leaders Club is trusted by more than 300 UK-based professionals who are leading and/or implementing their organisation’s net-zero carbon and energy management strategy.

The Club helps members stay ahead of the curve and achieve net-zero goals through exclusive editorial and data-led insights, CPD-certified briefings and workshops, and regular networking sessions (live and virtual).

Click here for more information and to sign up. 


Sarah George

News

Turkey

Turkey’s first nuclear power plant has an expected operational date in 2023. The country’s nuclear energy proponents anticipate celebrating their country’s entrance into the global “nuclear club,” while opponents worry about sufficient nuclear safety measures.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 24th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Energy system

UK’s energy system is ‘broken’, warns industrial group. The UK’s energy system is “broken” and climate change targets without detailed policies could drive foreign industries, the head of one of Britain’s most advanced glass makers warns. increase. Britain’s heavy industry, from steel to chemicals, has been severely affected by the energy crisis of recent months, with glass producers tending to have lower profit margins and suffering the worst. Steve Keaton, managing director of the UK subsidiary of Nippon Electric Glass, a major Japanese specialty glass maker, said soaring energy prices would almost wipe out operating profit this year. The UK government’s ambition to compete by reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 without the investment and policies needed to overhaul the power system could create a dark outlook for the industry, he said.

FT 29th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Good Energy & Ecotricity

Dale Vince, the new-age traveller turned green-energy entrepreneur, has launched a furious attack on the directors of a rival renewable power company that he has been trying to buy. Vince’s firm Ecotricity owns 27 per cent of competitor Good Energy and has repeatedly tried to acquire the Aim-listed company this year. Over the summer, Vince offered 340p a share for the company, and in September, increased his bid to 400p — a price valuing the business at about £66.5 million. But Ecotricity’s approaches were rebuffed by Good Energy, which said they were “opportunistic” and undervalued the group. The shares are now just 275p. Vince said: “I speak as the largest shareholder in Good Energy. I have seen a serious destruction of value to Ecotricity’s shareholding in Good Energy, along with all other shareholders.” The latest chapter in the fracas between the two companies erupted after Good Energy told investors on Thursday that it was planning to sell its wind farms and other generation assets, and instead focus on services for electric vehicles. This would include its Zap-Map platform for electric cars. Vince said the moves made “no sense” and that he should have been told when he was trying to take over the company. “We will be considering what steps are now available to both prevent this value-destroying disposal … and to hold the directors of Good Energy properly to account,” he added.

Times 28th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Community Hydro

West coast village launches ‘UK’s largest community-owned hydropower scheme’. A community on the west coast of Scotland has officially launched. The Barr River scheme was completed in July on a forest site 11 miles from the village of Lochaline. Friday marked the opening of two further community-developed facilities – a community hub and new housing. what is understood to be the UK’s largest community-owned hydropower scheme.

Scotsman 26th Nov 2021 read more »

Scottish Housing News 26th Nov 2021 read more »

The National 26th Nov 2021 read more »

News

Lithium

A start-up hoping to mine lithium in Cornwall for electric vehicle batteries has secured up to £18 million in investment from a group focused on metals for use in technology. Cornish Lithium said that, subject to shareholder approval, TechMet would invest an initial £9 million at 13½p per share. It would then have the option to invest a further £9 million at 20p per share once the company completes a scoping study for its Trelavour mining project, due by the second quarter of next year. It said the fundraising was “a significant step forward for Cornish Lithium and allows the company to step up its activities towards creating a domestic supply of lithium and other battery metals for the UK”.

Times 26th Nov 2021 read more »

News

EC imposes anti-dumping duties on imports of optical fibre cables from China

Prysmian Group welcomes EC decision: “Ensuring fair competition is in the interest of our customers and the whole community” Milan, 18 November 2021. Prysmian Group, the world leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry, welcomes the European Commission’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of optical fibre cables from China. The European Commission has today imposed anti-dumping duties ranging between 19.7% and 44% on imports of optical fibre cables from China. The… Source: RealWire

News

edie launches new business guide on Scope 3 emissions

As businesses continue to set and perform against ambitious decarbonisation targets, reducing Scope 3 emissions is quickly being incorporated into business strategies. As such, edie has launched a new guide detailing everything businesses need to know.

The guide is free to download for edie users

The guide is free to download for edie users

What are Scope 3 emissions? How are they calculated? How can they be mitigated and reduced? And, what are the business benefits of doing so? This free edie Explains guide gives you everything you need to know.

—–CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE SCOPE 3 EMISSIONS GUIDE—-

Simply put, Scope 3 refers to all of the indirect carbon emissions which occur in an organisation’s value chain, which do not relate to the generation of purchased energy. Whilst Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions tend to sit within the organisation, Scope 3 typically sits outside – both upstream and downstream.

Because Scope 3 carbon emissions are so wide-ranging in what they encompass, and vary so significantly for different types of organisation, they are the most complex part of
an organisation’s emissions.

However, for most businesses Scope 3 emissions also make up the lion’s share of their total emissions. Many organisations report that 80% of their emissions fall under the auspices of Scope 3 and, for some, Scope 3 accounts for as much as 97% of their overall emissions. Therefore,
in the context of the UK government’s 2050 net-zero target, they are arguably the most important emissions to address.

The guide has been produced with assistance from supporting partners UL and explains everything you need to know about Scope 3 emissions. It features a viewpoint from UL on the importance of getting to grips with Scope 3 emissions to assist holistic decarbonisation strategies.

Earlier this year,  the SBTi announced that it is increasing the minimum temperature pathway ambition for verification to 1.5C, from the “well-below 2C” minimum at present. This represents a major shift in a short amount of time – at the start of 2018, there were only three firms with 1.5C SBTi targets, namely Tesco, Carlsberg and BT.

For targets to be verified in line with 1.5C, if a business’s Scope 3 emissions account for 40% or more of its total annual footprint, targets must be developed to address at least two-thirds of Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 3 emissions requirements are likely to be even more strict under the initiative’s new Net-Zero standard, described as the world’s first science-based certification of companies’ net-zero targets. Validation for the new standard will launch officially next year, following a pilot scheme with seven large businesses. Click here for edie’s full story.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE EDIE EXPLAINS GUIDE.

edie staff

News

New climate disclosure framework launched to help SMEs on road to net-zero

CDP and the SME Climate Hub have launched a new framework to help SMEs measure, report and reduce their climate impacts, amid growing concerns that they are facing numerous decarbonisation barriers that do not impact large firms as much.

SMEs account for around half of employment - and half of business-related emissions - globally 

SMEs account for around half of employment – and half of business-related emissions – globally 

Launched today (25 November), the tool is called the SME Climate Disclosure Framework and will help SMEs in all sectors to measure and report their own direct (Scope 1), power-related (Scope 2) and indirect (Scope 3) emissions. Also included in the tool are the definitions for more complex emissions and climate terminology, plus tailored advice for reducing emissions in line with climate science, taking into account SMEs’ size and sector.

The Exponential Roadmap Initiative and Normative contributed to the development of the tool, alongside CDP and the SME Climate Hub.

The creators of the framework have stated that more and more SME suppliers are being asked to measure, report and decrease their emissions by the large companies who source from them. Corporates are increasingly setting Scope 3 targets and, indeed, will need to do so to have targets verified in line with 1.5C or Net-Zero by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

There are also increasing demands for sustainability from stakeholders including investors and individual consumers. Moreover, CDP and the SME Climate Hub are highlighting the fact that governments may choose to increase disclosure and decarbonisation requirements for SMEs in the coming years, expanding mandates already placed on corporations.

As well as pressures, the organisations are highlighting the opportunities for SMEs accelerating the low-carbon transition, including increased investment; contribution to sustainable development in emerging economies and the ability to develop and test emerging innovations.

Currently, around 1,800 SMEs disclose climate information through CDP. It is hoped that the new framework will help to increase uptake. The SME Climate Hub covers some 3,000 businesses and has stated that it will use the framework as a “foundation” for simplifying reporting tools on its site.

The framework is modular, meaning that SMEs can complete as many or as few sections in one sitting as they want to. However, there are some minimum reporting requirements. A draft version was tested earlier this year.

Normative’s chief executive and co-founder Kristian Roenn said: “To limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, every business needs to achieve net-zero emissions, but we recognize that small companies have limited finances and resources.

“That’s why we are developing free tools to engage SMEs in the race to net zero, helping them calculate, understand, and reduce their emissions. Because we know that in the end, what gets measured gets managed.”

A recent report from the British Business Bank, which polled 1,200 decision-makers at SMEs on their approach to reducing emissions, found that 76% are yet to implement comprehensive decarbonisation strategies. Barriers include a lack of in-house environmental expertise and limited finance.

Sarah George

News

Taking place TODAY: edie’s online Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions

Sustainability specialists from Pukka Herbs, Virgin Media O2, Costain and the Zero Carbon Forum are among our host of expert speakers for our digital Net-Zero Carbon Inspiration Sessions, taking place TODAY (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.

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

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE ONLINE INSPIRATION 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, Co-founder and Practicing Herbalist, Pukka Herbs
  • Kristen Filice, Sustainability Lead, Zero Carbon Forum
  • Laura Plimbley, Product Develop, British Gas Business

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
  • Robbie Howlett, Energy and Environment Manager, Inspired Energy

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:

  • Claire Atkins Morris, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo
  • Constanza Moreno Sanchez O, Impact and Sustainability Lead, Ooni Pizza Ovens
  • Christian Arno, Founder Pawprint

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:

  • Adam Clarke, Senior Manager of PPAs and Sustainable Solutions, EDF Energy
  • Graham MacWilliam, Head of Carbon Reduction, Edrington

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

edie staff

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