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UK Power Networks sets science-based emissions targets on journey to net-zero

In what it claims is a first among UK distribution network operators, UK Power Networks has had its emissions goals green-lit by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

The firm distributes more than one-quarter (27%) of the UK's electricity 

The firm distributes more than one-quarter (27%) of the UK’s electricity 

The targets, verified in line the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory, build on UK Power Networks’ overarching aim to reach net-zero for all direct emissions by 2028 and a net-zero value chain by the national 2050 requirement.

They commit the organisation to reducing direct (Scope 1) emissions by 42% by 2028. UK Power Networks will then invest in offsetting to account for the remaining 58%. UK Power Networks worked with The Carbon Trust to develop the new targets and to gain verification from the SBTi.

Since the 2014-15 financial year, to be used as the baseline, UK Power Networks has reduced direct emissions by 26% to date. Future priorities will include replacing two-thirds of the fleet with electric vehicles (EVs); introducing hybrid mobile generators and generators that run on low-carbon, alternative fuels; improving office energy efficiency and tackling the embodied carbon in building materials such as concrete.

Goals for addressing emissions that are not directly controllable will be developed by UK Power Networks in the near future.

The organisation’s director of health, safety, sustainability and connections, Mark Adolphus, called the new targets “challenging but achievable”.

“Our customers, stakeholders and our regulator have been clear – the environment is a priority for them and we listen to that,” Adolphus said. “We have combined our insights with those of expert stakeholders, considering international best practice and responding to the views of our customers, to make this promise today.”

Back in February, UK Power Networks launched an £80m fund to support projects that will contribute to the net-zero transition across London and South East England. Projects set to be supported include EV charging, local heat networks and community renewable energy.

Science-based targets surge

Just a few years ago, only a handful of businesses had set 1.5C-aligned science-based targets. Early adopters included Carlsberg, BT, Tesco and Pukka Herbs.

Shortly after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced its landmark report in 2018, laying bare the different impacts of the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectories on nature, people and the economy, the SBTi worked to fine-tune its frameworks and requirements.

At the time of writing, 1,400+ companies have applied to the SBTi, with 537 of these plans aiming to align with 1.5C.

Aside from UK Power Networks, some firms to have recently gained approval include Nokia, Lenovo and Canary Wharf Group.

Sarah George


Queen’s Speech

The government will today set out its legislative agenda for the coming Parliament with the Queen’s Speech expected to showcase the UK’s net zero goals and preparations for the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow this autumn. Number 10 signalled over the weekend that the speech would focus on driving the recovery from the pandemic, ‘levelling up’ the UK’s regions, and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 so as to deliver “a cleaner, greener UK”. It also confirmed that the speech would bring forward the Environment Bill, which was controversially delayed during the last Parliamentary session and is not expected to pass until the autumn. Number 10 said the Environment Bill would “set legally binding environmental targets, and cement the UK’s leadership on climate change, as we host the international COP26 Summit in Glasgow later this year”. Green business groups and environmental campaigners are continuing to call on the government to strengthen the draft legislation to cement the independence of the new Office for Environmental Protection and ensure a number of crucial post-Brexit environmental regulations are not watered down.

Business Green 11th May 2021 read more »

With the UK’s official reopening of Parliament today (11 May), the Queen travelled to the House of Lords to outline Governmental priorities for the coming months. Many had expected more to be said about tackling climate change and nature loss. Green policy was highlighted, with the Queen alluding to the Environment Bill, which is set to return this Parliamentary term after a string of delays, and the forthcoming net-zero strategy. Due out this autumn, the net-zero strategy will break down the long-term net-zero goal on a sector-by-sector basis, with advice for action and legal targets in the interim. The Queen said: “My Government will invest in new green industries to create jobs while protecting the environment. The UK is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will continue to lead the way internationally, by hosting the COP26 summit in Glasgow. “Legislation will set binding environmental targets. Legislation will also be brought forward to ensure that the UK has, and promotes, the highest standards of animal welfare.” While the speech usually lasts for the best part of an hour, the affair was over in less than 30 minutes this time around. Many key figures across the green economy had hoped for more detail on the policy packages mentioned, like the Environment Bill, and for other packages, such as the England Tree Action Plan and Peat Strategy. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “[Was] that it? The first Queen’s Speech of this vital decade for climate action, and proposals fall far short. We need a plan, not more empty pledges. A lasting recovery from Covid has to be a green recovery with investment in green jobs across UK. Where is the urgently needed Green New Deal?”

Edie 11th May 2021 read more »

Queen’s Speech reinforces UK’s ambition of becoming a global science superpower. new laws to help seize opportunities for British business and professionals now the UK has left the EU measures to help further secure energy supplies while tackling climate change.

BEIS 12th May 2021 read more »


Renewable Barriers

A new report has highlighted concern that electricity transmission charges in the north of Scotland are acting as a barrier to the commercial viability of renewable energy projects. Based on analysis carried out by SSEN Transmission, 93 per cent of its “engaged stakeholders” support reform of the current transmission charging regime to support the UK’s net-zero emissions targets. Currently it results in Scottish generators paying a higher cost for use of the transmission network compared with other parts of Britain. An example given by SSEN Transmission is that while a wind farm in the north of Scotland pays £5.50 per unit of energy, an equivalent wind farm in Wales will be paid £2.80 per unit. The company says that “with Scotland boasting the greatest wind resource to meet the UK’s net-zero targets, this creates a huge barrier for further low-carbon investment, despite great support for further deployment through UK and Scottish government policy”.

John O Groat Journal 10th May 2021 read more »


edie launches new business guide on flexible energy for net-zero

edie has today (10 May) launched a free guide outlining the key considerations, challenges and opportunities for businesses looking to trial and deploy flexible energy solutions.

The guide is free to download for edie users

The guide is free to download for edie users

This guide, supported by Flexitricity, answers key business questions surrounding the deployment and investment into flexible energy solutions.

What is flexible energy? Why do we need flexible energy systems? and what are the business opportunities for turning to flexible energy to help with wider sustainability goals? This explains guide answers all of these questions and more.


With reports finding that flexible energy solutions could cut £660m in costs off UK’s net-zero transition, now is a crucial time for businesses to get to grips with the plethora of solutions that can be tailored to their business operations.

Flexibility in the energy system is essential to ensuring a resilient supply. Traditionally, fossil-fuelled generation such as large coal or gas-fired power stations have been used to provide the flexibility needed to match supply to demand at peak hours, or when renewables output is low.

This current approach is not in alignment with the UK’s net-zero goals, and businesses that are looking to assist with the national target will have to uncover their own approaches to flexible clean energy use moving forward.

Click here to download the edie Explains guide.

edie staff


Food services firm Compass targets net-zero emissions by 2030

The UK’s largest food services company, Compass Group UK & Ireland, will switch to 100% electric vehicles (EVs), move 40% of its food offerings to plant-based proteins and will launch a £1m carbon reduction fund in a bid to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

Compass Group has become a signatory of Business Ambition for 1.5°C

Compass Group has become a signatory of Business Ambition for 1.5°C

Compass Group UK & Ireland has unveiled the steps it will take to reach net-zero emissions across its own operations and value chain by 2030. The company will attempt to deliver a 55% reduction in emissions across the value chain by 2025, rising to 65% for 2030 from a 2019 baseline. Targets to be developed through the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) criteria.

The company, which serves three million customers a year in the UK, will also switch 40% of its food offerings to plant-based proteins, with an interim target of at least 25% by 2025. Additionally, 70% of the top five food categories (dairy and cheese, fruit and vegetables, pork, beef and chicken) will be sourced from regenerative agriculture by 2030.

Compass will also support UK-based carbon removal projects to offset unavoidable emissions and by 2030, the programme will be evolved to neutralise any remaining emissions.

Compass Group’s managing director Robin Mills said: “At Compass we are passionate about food and great services. We believe it is our responsibility to contribute towards a future of sustainable food production and regenerative agricultural principles and practices, and a commitment to climate Net Zero is an important milestone.

“Critical to the delivery of our targets will be the partnerships with our clients, suppliers, employees, civil society partners and government. I couldn’t be more excited for the future of foodservice.”

Compass will also aim to make all fleet cars 100% plug-in electric by May 2024 and will launch a dedicated £1m fund to support sustainable food production initiatives. The business is already working to remove all single-use plastic cutlery and food items by July 2021.

Research from the Food Climate Research Network suggests that the consumption of food in the UK, accounting for agriculture through to consumer use, accounts for 19% of the nation’s product and services greenhouse gas emissions.

As such, Compass will aim to engage its clients, employees and suppliers by offering carbon neutral and carbon reduction offers.

Through the new commitments, Compass Group has become a signatory of Business Ambition for 1.5°C and has therefore joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign. In joining Race to Zero, corporates commit to setting more ambitious targets in line with climate science and to using their reach to encourage climate action across their networks.

As of March this year, almost one in three FTSE100 companies have signed up to the campaign.

Andrew Griffith MP, UK Net Zero Champion, said: “I’m delighted Compass Group UK&I has signed on to be part of the UN’s Race to Zero, as businesses have a central role to play in making a successful transition to a low carbon economy.

“Compass Group UK & I’s ambition is great news for the UK’s green recovery and I welcome its aim to help build a more sustainable food system. I hope other businesses across the sector follow in its footsteps and join the Race to Zero.”

Matt Mace


Tree Planting

The biggest tree-planting programme in 50 years is to be announced in an effort to meet climate targets. The plan, due to be published in the next fortnight, will double the planting of woodland within four years to almost 75,000 acres a year, or about 80 million trees. By 2035, this will have to rise again to 143 million new trees a year, covering almost 125,000 acres, to meet carbon emissions targets. The initial focus is cities and towns, with the government today announcing an “urban tree challenge fund” that will see 44,000 trees planted near schools, hospitals and in deprived areas.

Times 9th May 2021 read more »


France – floating wind

France unveils plans for landmark floating offshore wind project. The project would be part of the French government’s wider plans to putting 8.75GW of offshore wind capacity out to tender by 2028, which also includes plans for a 500MW floating wind project off Brittany to tender in 2024.

Business Green 7th May 2021 read more »


Renewables – North Wales

NORTH Wales could become one of the most prosperous areas in Europe within ten years, a business leader has said. Askar Sheibani, managing director and CEO of Comtek Network Systems and chairman of Deeside Business Forum (DBF), said the transformative possibilities of large scale projects in the region’s future could “completely change North Wales’ economy. He said: “There are a lot of projects happening but a lot of concentration right now is on the North Wales Growth Deal. “The landscape of North Wales is unique; you can develop tidal and marine renewable energy. “With many other parts of the world that is almost impossible. “On top of that, if you want you can generate hydrogen energy. “We already have a hub going to be built in Holyhead for the hydrogen development. “I expect a project will also be approved for tidal energy in Holyhead and a Hydrogen Hub on Deeside. “The beauty of tidal energies is that the require underwater turbines – which need to be manufactured.

Leader Live 7th May 2021 read more »


Unilever’s net-zero transition plan backed by more than 99% of shareholders

More than 99% of Unilever’s shareholders have voted in favour of its plans to become a net-zero business by 2039, the FMCG giant has said.

Shareholder climate resolution votes are becoming increasingly common in the corporate space

Shareholder climate resolution votes are becoming increasingly common in the corporate space

The vote took place at a virtual meeting on Wednesday (5 May), covering votes on Unilever’s ‘Climate Transition Action Plan’ among other proposed changes to business strategy and processes.

The Action Plan was published in full in March and details how Unilever plans to reach updated long-term sustainability commitments including net-zero, fully biodegradable product ingredients and eliminating deforestation.

Included in the plans are measures to help suppliers set approved science-based targets and to adopt the systems, processes and technologies needed to deliver them. For manufacturers and chemicals and ingredients suppliers, the focus will be on renewable electricity, low-carbon heating and cooling and efficient processes. Suppliers in agriculture, meanwhile, will be supported to reduce water and fertiliser consumption, transition to renewably-powered tools and machinery and implement regenerative practices that increase carbon sequestration.

Halving the impact of products, including their supply chain impacts, by 2030, will be the result of these actions.

The plan also details measures to decarbonise hard-to-abate parts of Unilever’s operations, including heating and cooling, and for the business to begin reporting climate risk annually in line with the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures’ (TCFD) guidelines.

This week’s vote on the non-binding plan saw Unilever chief executive Alan Jope telling shareholders that “climate change represents a clear and present danger to [the company’s] value chain” and describing the new plan as “bold and ambitious”.

“We believe that the economy-wide shift to net zero emissions requires a deeper level of engagement between companies and investors,” Jope added.

Shareholders seemed to already be on board; 99.6% of those who cast a vote on the Plan voted in favour of its implementation. Unilever believes the meeting marked the first time a company of its size and sector put a climate transition plan to a shareholder vote.

Week in review

The news comes in the same week that Barclays’ shareholders failed to support a motion that would require the bank to divest from fossil fuels more rapidly as part of its journey to net-zero by 2050. Just 14% of investors present supported the motion.

Other businesses with climate-related shareholder resolutions being put to a vote in the coming weeks include HSBC, Shell, Moddy’s and Aena. 

As for Unilever, the news on the Action Plan comes shortly after the firm joined a new task force exploring ways of making fossil-fuel-based polymers commonly used in health and beauty products more sustainable. Convenes by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the task force also has the backing of Croda, Scott Bader, Crown Paints and Afton Chemical.

Sarah George



Prime Minister promises to put climate and finance commitments front and centre of upcoming G7 summit in Cornwall. Boris Johnson has urged wealthier countries to provide a “substantial pile of cash” to support climate vulnerable nations, in order to help boost the chances of positive talks and a landmark climate deal at the crucial COP26 Summit in Glasgow later this year. Offering some of his strongest comments yet on the need for an increase in climate finance pledges from governments, the UK Prime Minister yesterday called on leaders of richer economies to play their part in collectively delivering on the Paris Agreement goal of providing at least $100bn a year to help developing nations mitigate and adapt to global warming, a target which is still a long way from being met.

Business Green 7th May 2021 read more »

Rich countries must use the upcoming G7 summit in Cornwall to announce fresh climate finance pledges or risk the COP26 climate summit failing, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned. Speaking to world leaders today at a climate summit hosted by Germany, Mr Guterres said the success of the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow “rests on achieving a breakthrough on adaptation and finance”. The UN conference is widely seen as the most important climate summit since 2015, and a crucial moment for the world to get on track for ‘net zero’ emissions.

iNews 6th May 2021 read more »

Why rich nations are feeling the heat on climate funding ahead of G7 summit. Boris Johnson has promised to use next month’s G7 summit to ‘secure a substantial pile of cash’ for poorer nations battling the climate crisis. In a speech made to other leaders on Thursday, Boris Johnson called on all rich nations to “put our money where our mouth is” when it comes to funding climate action.

Independent 7th May 2021 read more »

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