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December 2021

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Politics – Scotland

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have published the agenda for its hybrid Spring Conference to be held on 11-12 February. If this seems a bit premature for Spring, it’s being deliberately set as far out from the Scottish Council elections as possible. Every council seat in Scotland is up for election in May. Members will gather in-person in Hamilton and those of us, probably including me, who are too worried about Covid to attend such a big gathering, will be able to join virtually. The agenda has much potential for robust debate, including a motion that would see the party take an explicitly anti-nuclear weapons stance. And Highland Liberal Democrats call for us to be open to putting nuclear energy back on the menu.

Lib Dem Voice 29th Dec 2021 read more »


Electricity Supply

Britain’s electricity system got dirtier in 2021 for the first time in eight years as low wind speeds left the country burning more gas to keep the lights on and as demand recovered from the pandemic. The “carbon intensity” of the power system, a measure of emissions per unit of electricity supplied, has rebounded from 2020’s historic lows, according to figures from National Grid ESO, the electricity system operator. Gas and coal-fired power generation both increased in 2021, while wind and nuclear output fell, according to a provisional analysis of the electricity mix by Carbon Brief, a climate website. Demand for electricity increased as the economy recovered from the lockdown restrictions of 2020, but remained well below pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Times 28th Dec 2021 read more »


Future Homes Standard

The Government has finally published what it calls its ‘Future Homes and Buildings Standard’ that will regulate new homes from June 2022. Amongst a lot of fog generated about lofty future ambitions the reality is that the new building standards are not strong enough to do more than get 2-3 kW of solar panels installed on an average new home. That’s all you need to achieve the target reduction in emissions that the Government has set. The rest is pushed into a might-be land of 2025 (safely after the next General Election?). That is easily a long enough delay for the gas industry and laggards in the building industry to postpone radical emissions reductions again. Now of course getting some solar pv on (some) new homes and buildings is a welcome step forward, especially for the struggling solar industry. However it is a relatively small step towards the net zero target and it is one that implicitly leaves it much more difficult to play catch-up later on. That is because the new homes and buildings standard is nowhere near big enough to induce building developers to install (electrically powered) heat pumps. Heat pumps will cut the carbon emissions from energy used to heat buildings by at least threefold in new buildings, and that is just in the short term. In a future when all electricity is generated from renewable energy sources the carbon emissions will be reduced to zero.

100% Renewables 26th Dec 2021 read more »

The Future Buildings Standard: Summary of responses received and Government response.

Dept for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities 15th Dec 2021 read more »


Poland – solar

Poland has allocated approximately 870MW of solar PV capacity in its latest round of renewables auctions that took place earlier this month, according to the country’s Energy Regulatory Office (URE). An auction for solar and wind projects with capacities above 1MW closed with solar bidders securing 570MW, with the lowest bid coming in at PLN0.20785/kWh (US$0.05072/kWh), marginally lower than the lowest bid for that category in Poland’s previous tenders earlier in the year. Onshore wind farms totalling 460MW were also awarded. Another auction for solar and wind plants up to 1MW had 182 participants submit 401 bids, all for PV projects. This tender, featuring a lowest bid of PLN0.219/kWh (US$0.05344/kWh), is set to result in the construction of solar installations with a combined capacity of around 300MW. URE said that due to the high number of bids submitted, the auction winners were selected not only on price but also on the order in which bids were placed.

PV Tech 23rd Dec 2021 read more »


Wind Jobs

Some 1.3 million people worldwide already work in the wind sector, but five times as many will be needed as the shift to renewable energy gathers pace. Job prospects are increasing as the sector picks up worldwide. “The view from the top is incredible,” says Tim Schmolowski, who is responsible for maintaining and mending wind turbines at heights of between 40 and 60 meters. “Especially on a cold, sunny winter’s day, when everything looks so clear.” In 2015, the trained mechanic saw a job advertised by a wind turbine maintenance company in Erkelenz near the German city of Cologne. “I thought it sounded good and would probably be a job with a future, so I applied.” Schmolowski got the job. Though he wasn’t afraid of heights, he had to do a two-week training course in safeguard techniques before his first mission. “You have to concentrate on the work you are doing.” German Wind Technologies, the company he works for, employs more than 2,000 people. Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people work in the wind sector, including an increasing number of specialists. Most positions (600,000) in the industry are related to wind park planning, followed by turbine construction (444,000) and maintenance and operation (around 220,000).

Deutsche Welle 23rd Dec 2021 read more »

The recently upgraded Scrabster Harbour is set to benefit from an agreement with a pioneering floating wind farm due to be built off the north coast. Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm will consist of up to 10 floating turbines, with a maximum blade-tip height of 300 metres, located around six kilometres north-west of Dounreay. The developer has now signed an memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Scrabster Harbour Trust to work together on the development of operations and maintenance (O&M) requirements, services, and facilities.

John O Groat Journal 23rd Dec 2021 read more »


Real estate giant CDL strengthens science-based emissions goals in line with 1.5C

After setting a 2030 net-zero target, City Developments Limited (CDL) has set stricter emissions reductions targets and had them verified in line with 1.5C by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Pictured: 11 Tampines Concourse, a CDL development certified as carbon-neutral

Pictured: 11 Tampines Concourse, a CDL development certified as carbon-neutral

The Singapore-based firm had already set 2C-aligned science-based targets for its direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions in 2018, prior to announcing its net-zero vision in February. At the time, it promised to increase targets in line with 1.5C. Once firms announce plans to set targets, the SBTi gives businesses a 24-month window in which to develop targets and achieve verification.

CDL has this week confirmed that new targets have been verified by the SBTi in line with 1.5C. The new targets include reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 63%, on an intensity basis, by 2030. A 2016 baseline has been set. The company said in a statement that this is “a more stringent and aspirational goal” than the previous target, which entailed a 59% intensity reduction of Scope 1 and 2 emissions between 2007 and 2030.

As for indirect (Scope 3) emissions, CDL has a new target to deliver a 41% reduction in the intensity of purchased goods and services-related emissions by 2030. Again, there is a 2016 baseline. There is also a target to cut absolute Scope 3 emissions from investments by 58.8% within the same timeframe.

Residual emissions at 2030 will be inset or offset to bring CDL to net-zero. The business is following the World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) Net-Zero Buildings Commitment framework to reduce operational emissions and embodied carbon for new builds and existing buildings.

The SBTi is notably in the process of increasing the minimum ambition for corporate climate action from “well below 2C” to 1.5C. Any corporate that had targets approved in 2020 or earlier has until 2025 to update targets. As for new targets, the 1.5C minimum will come into effect from 15 July 2022.

The initiative is also expanding its new standard for corporate net-zero emissions aligned to climate science, launched in October.

“To tackle the climate emergency, businesses must set ambitious science-based targets and clear decarbonisation pathways,” said CDL’s chief sustainability officer Esther An.

“Having set our net-zero carbon goals under the WorldGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment and having strengthened our SBTi targets, we will remain committed in driving green building innovations in the urgent pursuit of a low-carbon future, while creating value for our business and stakeholders.”

A recent stocktake by Net-Zero Tracker found that the share of revenues from listed firms with targets of some kind has increased almost four-fold within a year. Nonetheless, there is much to be done on making these targets credible, with many still excluding Scope 3 emissions and over-relying on offsetting. 

edie Explains: Scope 3 carbon emissions

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? edie has recently published a new Explains guide that gives you everything you need to know.

The guide has been produced with assistance from supporting partners UL and explains everything you need to know about Scope 3 emissions. Click here to access your copy of the guide today.

Sarah George


All Olympic Games to be carbon-neutal or carbon-negative going forward

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has mandated that all Olympic Games from 2030 will need to be certified as carbon-neutral or carbon-negative, after confirming that Tokyo 2020 was carbon-negative.

Pictured: A hydrogen vehicle showcased at the Games. Image: IOC

Pictured: A hydrogen vehicle showcased at the Games. Image: IOC

The Committee has this week published a post-Games sustainability report for Tokyo 2020, revealing that a combination of carbon reduction measures, a ban on domestic spectators and offsetting through local schemes resulted in a carbon-negative event.

According to the report, the Games generated around 1.96 million tonnes of CO2e. This figure would have been around 2.76 million tonnes if domestic spectators were able to attend.

Meanwhile, the provision of certified excess reduction credits was confirmed by more than 217 businesses, with the total amount of credits available for offsetting the Games’ emissions standing at 4.38 million tonnes of CO2e. Credits were provided through Tokyo’s Cap-and-Trade Programme, which covers emissions from all large commercial and industrial buildings, and through the linked Saitama Target Emissions Trading System.

Building on this progress, the IOC itself has committed to becoming a carbon-negative organisation ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It will work to reduce its own emissions while also funding offsetting, backing nature-based solutions and projects that mitigate emissions, like renewable electricity and clean cooking fuels.

The IOC has also committed to halving the carbon footprint of Games and their value chains by 2030 and requiring future Olympic and Paralympic Games Hosts to outline plans for either achieving carbon-neutral events, or going further and achieving carbon negativity. Failure to produce strong commitments and plans, the Committee has stated, may mean cities lose out on host positions for post-2030 games.

“We can confidently state that sustainability is now firmly embedded as an executive priority within the IOC and this ethos flows into our corporate ways of working, our focus on ensuring sustainable Olympic Games and how we engage with the wider Olympic Movement,” said the chair of the IOC’s sustainability and legacy commission Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Tokyo highlights

Aside from progress on emissions, the IOC was keen to highlight the progress made at the Tokyo Olympics in regards to waste and resource management.

The new sustainability report reveals that 99% of the non-consumable items (so, think of items such as furniture and displays compared to food, drink, packaging and hand wash) were reused or recycled.

For example, the timber used to construct the Village Plaza was loaned from local authorities and returned post-event.

Meanwhile, a 62% recycling rate was achieved for packaging and paper.

The report outlines how the fact that most venues had no spectators changed the waste composition and levels of waste, meaning that organisers had to pivot their approach.

Also highlighted is the fact that the athletes’ medals were made from metals extracted from recycled electronic and electrical devices. This story made tabloid headlines worldwide during the game. Organisers said they took this decision to raise public awareness of e-waste – the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream. According to the UN, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste was generated globally in 2019, with levels up more than one-fifth from 2014.

Sarah George


Grid Connection

THE troubled £1.2 billion Western Link cable project from Hunterston has been hit with a gigantic £158 million fine for causing a two year delay of the scheme. Ofgem has completed its investigation and has ordered National Grid Electricity Transmission and Scottish Power to pay the hefty sum in a ‘redress package’. The enormous logistical project is a joint venture between the two power companies that transfers energy from renewable sources – primarily Scotland’s offshore windfarms.

Largs & Millport Weekly News 19th Dec 2021 read more »


Online retail giant Alibaba targets carbon-neutral operations by 2030

E-commerce major Alibaba has pledged to achieve carbon-neutrality for its direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions by the end of the decade and signalled its intention to develop science-based climate targets in line with 1.5C.

Pictured: Onsite solar at Alibaba's corporate campus in Hangzhou, China

Pictured: Onsite solar at Alibaba’s corporate campus in Hangzhou, China

The Chinese business, which owns platforms including AliExpress, has stated that it will plot a “systematic and science-based approach” to reducing its operational emissions in line with the new targets. It has committed to having the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) verifying new emissions reductions goals within 24 months, ensuring that carbon reduction is prioritised over removals and offsetting.

Specific percentage goals for reduction, removals and offsetting have not been published. However, Alibaba has confirmed several new emissions reductions initiatives. All vehicles used for short-haul trips will be replaced with pure electric vehicles (EVs) by the end of the decade. The firm will also scale up “intelligent” transport solutions which improve efficiency, including autonomous vehicles.

Additionally, new renewable electricity procurement initiatives and schemes to improve energy efficiency in offices, other physical locations and Cloud computing are under development.

Alibaba has also pledged to halve the emissions intensity of its indirect (Scope 3) activities this decade. Combined with the goal for operational emissions, and the savings which it will enable through the sale of low-carbon solutions and products, it estimates that 1.5 gigatonnes of emissions will be mitigated across its value chain by 2035.

Workstreams for reducing Scope 3 emissions include renewable electricity purchasing; low-carbon heat adoption; electric transport adoption; resource efficiency in packaging and efficient transport. Data and progress will be tracked using new supplier management plans and systems.

Alibaba’s vice-president and the chair of its sustainability steering committee, Chen Long, said its ‘Scope 3+’ approach “is based on the potential of leveraging our digital platforms to influence and advocate for low carbon products, services and behaviour among a wider group of stakeholders in our ecosystem, and share energy-efficient technologies and innovative business tools with customers and business partners to reduce the carbon footprint together”. 

However, the company may need to tighten its Scope 3 approach to receive SBTi validation. The initiative requires targets to reduce Scope 3 emissions, in absolute terms, in line with climate science, for 1.5C verification,

Moreover, it is likely that the firm will continue to face questions from investors about its broader sustainability approach and its plans for maintaining financial success amid increased competition.

To the former, Alibaba received criticism for emphasising sustainability in the promotion of its Singles Day shopping event on 11 November. The holiday, first created by and foee Chinese university students, has quickly grown into a global retail event accused of promoting overconsumption.

To the latter, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Alibaba’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange have fallen by around 50% over the last year, following an anti-monopoly fine and the growing success of competitors such as Shein.

Sarah George



COMMUNITIES in off-grid locations are being invited to apply for a share in £3 million worth of funding to help them develop greener and cheaper energy. The investment aims to empower communities which operate existing local independent grid electricity systems to develop independent and climate-friendly energy supplies.

The National 20th Dec 2021 read more »

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