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Environmental Taxes

Andrew Warren: Environmental Taxes Work, but we’re not sure how. The National Audit Office has produced a fascinating report. It reveals that in 20198 eco-taxes produced some £51.6bn of revenue. Three quarters of which came from energy use, the rest transportation.

Energy in Buildings and Industry 11th April 2021 read more »

News

Heat Pump/District Heating

This site’s Daily News content is provided by Edinburgh Energy & Environment Consultancy. EEE are experts in policy and analysis on energy and environment issues, particularly nuclear power.

Services include: supplying tailored news services, writing reports and briefings, drafting consultation responses and developing political campaign strategies.

Clients have included Greenpeace, Nuclear Free Local Authorities, WWF Scotland and the UK Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.

News

South Korea – Wind

How the world’s biggest wind farm may help South Korea’s net-zero dream. The end of generations of fishermen off the coast of South Korea could be contentious but many are coming to terms with it, knowing carbon neutrality is absolutely necessary.

Independent 10th April 2021 read more »

News

Europe risks €87bn in stranded fossil gas assets, report reveals

Europe is already building or planning to build €87bn worth of fossil gas infrastructure in a continued expansion of pipelines and LNG terminals, despite the need to halve emissions by 2030, according to a new report published on Thursday (8 April).

Support continues for fossil gas amongst many member states and politicians, who continue to call for new, often ‘hydrogen ready’, infrastructure

Support continues for fossil gas amongst many member states and politicians, who continue to call for new, often ‘hydrogen ready’, infrastructure

Fossil gas consumption needs to decline 36% from 2020 to 2030, according to the European Commission, but the planned public and private investment would see an increase of 35% from the current import capacity.

If the investment plans are implemented, the EU risks locking itself into a more polluting future or wasting billions on infrastructure, like pipelines, which have a lifespan of around 50 years, warns the report by the think tank Global Energy Monitor.

“The EU’s ambitious climate targets require gas consumption to drop sharply by 2030 and continue dropping through 2050. So the EU is likely to overshoot its ambitious climate targets –or to wind up spending billions of euros on gas infrastructure that isn’t needed,” said Mason Inman, lead report author and oil and gas programme director at Global Energy Monitor.

Natural gas – or methane – is often viewed as the transition energy in the EU for coal-reliant countries to shift to renewables, but it still produces CO2 when burnt. Methane leaks are also considerably more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2 in the short term.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said that “with the EU Green Deal and the 55% target, natural gas demand in Europe needs to start declining today, otherwise we risk wasting billions of private and public funding on stranded assets”.

“The fossil fuel era has passed – we must invest crucial public resources into reliable and cheap renewable energy that is ready today”.

The report follows an analysis published last year by the energy modelling consultancy, Artelys, which found the EU already has enough infrastructure to safeguard the security of supply.

It also found that, while hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonising hard to electrify sectors, this only requires limited, targeted investments, costing around €15-25 billion.

However, support continues for fossil gas amongst many member states and politicians, who continue to call for new, often ‘hydrogen ready’, infrastructure.

“When we look to the climate urgency and we look to the carbon budgets, which are left globally and also in the EU, basically there is no space for something which the gas industry would call an ‘energy transition’ – a smooth transition taking several decades,” said Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s energy minister.

Renewable energy, particularly offshore wind, is already a good alternative in central and eastern European countries, he added but warned there needs to be the political will and a breakaway from the fossil fuel lobby.

“It’s not an issue of what is possible. It’s an issue of who is in the driving seat and where are the political majorities to drive solution,” he said.

The gas industry also continues to lobby for new pipelines. Many argue that these pipelines can be used to transport hydrogen in the future, but pipelines can currently only carry up to 10% hydrogen without needing significant retrofitting.

Kira Taylor, EurActiv.com

This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner

News

Publisher Springer Nature reaches carbon neutrality

Global research publisher Springer Nature Group has today (8 April) confirmed that it has reached carbon-neutral status for emissions associated with its offices and business travel.

The report confirms that Springer Nature is net carbon neutral across its offices, fleets and travel flights

The report confirms that Springer Nature is net carbon neutral across its offices, fleets and travel flights

As outlined in the company’s latest sustainability report, Springer Nature has met a target set in March 2020 to become carbon neutral.

Emissions from the group have fallen by around 59% compared to 2019, driven mainly by the impacts of Covid-19 lockdowns, while increased green energy purchasing and offsetting have enabled the group to become carbon neutral for its offices.

The report confirms that Springer Nature is net carbon neutral across its offices, fleets and flights.

Springer Nature’s chief executive Frank Vrancken Peeters said: “2020 was a year like no other: the COVID-19 pandemic affected all our lives and showed unequivocally the importance of a research ecosystem that can operate at its most efficient. These events have highlighted the need for collaborations that can accelerate solutions to urgent global challenges including climate change.

“I am proud to say that we are now net carbon neutral and we continue to work to reduce the wider environmental impacts of our publishing, while sharing critical research on climate change, adaptation and mitigation with the policymakers and practitioners who need it most.”

According to the report, the company has created a “green office network” of more than 120 volunteers from different areas of the business. These volunteers are engaging with colleagues to help reduce environmental impacts, both office-based and personal.

Office-based emissions have been reduced through the procurement of renewable energy certificates across more than 150 locations globally. Additionally, offsets via a Vivo-certified reforestation project in Nicaragua have been utilised to help achieve carbon neutrality.

The company is also attempting to raise awareness of the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the Goals were formed in 2015, Springer Nature has published more than 300,000 articles and book chapters on the 17 Goals, which collectively have been downloaded more than 725 million times.

Diversity drive

On diversity, the company has revealed it is on track to meet a 2023 target to improve diversity amongst its leadership positions.

Women now account for 43% of Springer Nature’s most senior positions, a 4% increase compared to 2019. Targets will be set for race, ethnicity and international representation in leadership.

The events of 2020 both highlighted and widened existing social inequalities. While the appetite for climate action in the process of ‘building back better’ is palpable, many sustainability professionals want to see the same level of commitment to social justice. edie recently explored how this can be achieved in a two-part feature based on insight from the award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum. Read the piece here.

The second part explores how businesses can ensure social inclusivity through the climate emergency response. You can read the second half here. 

Matt Mace

News

RouteZero: Climate Group launches new initiative to decarbonise road transport

International non-profit the Climate Group had partnered with the UN High-Level Climate Champions to launch a new initiative aimed at getting businesses, cities and regions to completely decarbonise all forms of road transport.

RouteZero will support the UK’s efforts to mobilise climate action in the build-up to COP26

RouteZero will support the UK’s efforts to mobilise climate action in the build-up to COP26

The RouteZero platform acts as a global call for ambitious commitments to deliver zero-emission vehicle adoption. It encourages businesses, cities, states, regions and investors to enable the shift towards emissions-free road transport.

Road transport is the fastest-growing contributor to global emissions, accountable for 24% of energy-related carbon emissions. Currently, more than two billion road vehicles have internal combustion engines and those vehicles are a big contributor to air pollution.

As such, RouteZero covers all road vehicles, including cars, buses, vans, medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks, as well as two and three-wheelers. The initiative will aim to spur new commitments from automakers, city planners, businesses and individuals, who can then work collaboratively to design products and systems that enable zero-emissions transport.

COP26 President Designate, Alok Sharma, said: “We will not win the Race to Zero if we do not accelerate the shift to clean road transport. RouteZero will showcase the highest levels of ambition to drive momentum on the road to COP26, bringing together commitments and evidence of action to send a clear message that zero-emission vehicles are the future.”

RouteZero will support the UK’s efforts to mobilise climate action in the build-up to COP26 and was designed in response to the UN Race to Zero Breakthroughs. The Race to Zero Breakthroughs were published in a special paper by the UN High-Level Climate Champions, COP26 President Alok Sharma, COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, and the UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda. It will build on the Race to Zero campaign that was launched in June 2020.

The Breakthroughs outline how 20 sectors that make up the global economy, including finance, water, aviation and clean energy, can act on near-term tipping points to move towards net-zero emissions.

The paper articulates “what key actors must do, and by when, to deliver the systems change we need to achieve a resilient, zero-carbon world”. Specifically, the initiative is aiming to get “actors” that account for 20% of each sector to commit to a series of major breakthroughs, such as setting net-zero targets, ensuring the majority of sector energy use comes from renewables and creating capacity for certain green technologies such as hydrogen and zero-carbon facilities.

RouteZero will support the “breakthrough” goal of reaching 100% zero-emission transport for new vehicle sales in leading markets by 2030 for buses, 2035 for cars and vans and 2040 for heavy goods vehicles.

The initiative builds on the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which aims is to help make zero-emission transport “the new normal” by 2030 and most businesses commit to delivering fully electric fleets. Big-name supporters include Unilever, Sky, Coca-Cola European Partners, BT and Ikea.

Businesses involved with the EV100 initiative have collectively rolled out more than 169,000 electric vehicles (EVs), with 89,000 having been rolled out in 2020 alone.

The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson said: “The transition to zero-emission vehicles is well underway – there are now over 100 global businesses part of EV100, committing to switch over 5 million vehicles to electric by the end of the decade.

“But this is a pivotal year for climate action and pockets of leadership are not enough. We need to use COP26 as a moment to bring everyone together to rapidly accelerate action and deliver a real breakthrough in clean road transport.”

Matt Mace

News

Good Energy

Good Energy has announced that Nigel Pocklington will take over as chief executive officer, after it was announced the company’s founder Juliet Davenport would step down in February. Pocklington is joining the company from the Moneysupermarket Group where he was chief commercial officer. He has 25 years of experience as a senior executive with a commercial, digital and operational track record.

Current 7th April 2021 read more »

News

Green Recovery (or not)

As countries step up borrowing to fund COVID-19 stimulus spending, few governments are paying attention to how climate change could limit their ability to repay the debts, researchers warned on Wednesday. Increasingly severe climate shocks, such as hurricanes, and chronic pressures such as water shortages and drought are already hurting economies, and could worsen in the future, scientists say. But researchers at Oxford University, who estimated national governments issued 193 long-term bonds worth $783 billion in 2020, reviewed investor prospectuses for 50 and found about three-quarters did not disclose any climate-related risks. They also warned that only 18% of total announced COVID-19 recovery spending had been directed to activities that would reduce global emissions, despite calls to “build back better”.

Reuters 7th April 2021 read more »

How Debt and Climate Change Pose ‘Systemic Risk’ to World Economy. With dozens of countries struggling to manage both staggering debt and mounting climate disasters, some financial leaders are calling for green debt relief. How does a country deal with climate disasters when it’s drowning in debt? Not very well, it turns out. Especially not when a global pandemic clobbers its economy. Take Belize, Fiji and Mozambique. Vastly different countries, they are among dozens of nations at the crossroads of two mounting global crises that are drawing the attention of international financial institutions: climate change and debt.

New York Times 7th April 2021 read more »

Sadiq Khan has promised to help create hundreds of thousands of green jobs across the UK capital if he is re-elected as Mayor of London next month. The Labour mayoral candidate yesterday set out plans to support more than 170,000 green jobs through a range of projects, including electrifying London’s bus fleet, increasing the resilience of flood risk areas, and tackling emissions from the city’s buildings. The commitments build on a series of previous green goals for London established under Khan’s leadership, including making the city ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030 and “ensuring London’s transport system is the world’s greenest”. Khan, currently well ahead in the polls for the upcoming election, also last year pitched a £50m Green New Deal to drive progress towards these targets, arguing that tackling environmental and climate problems “are personal to me”. “I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where our very way of life is threatened by the climate crisis,” he said at the time.

Business Green 7th April 2021 read more »

News

The coronavirus ‘white swan’: Companies and investors ramping up sustainability commitments

The coronavirus pandemic is acting as a “white swan” moment that is accelerating corporate focus on long-term sustainability strategies, but better disclosure and communication is needed for investors to unlock new finance to spur the green transition.

The social aspect of ESG is expected to rise in prominence in both the corporate and financial sphere

The social aspect of ESG is expected to rise in prominence in both the corporate and financial sphere

That is one of the major takeaways of a new global survey commissioned by banking giant ING. The survey consists of 450 corporate respondents and 100 institutional investors and examined attitudes towards long-term sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG).

The survey found that Covid-19 was acting as a white swan that had accelerated how committed corporates were to the green agenda. In total, 57% of the companies surveyed confirmed plans to accelerate new sustainability plans, while 62% were planning on linking executive pay to environmental targets this year. Currently, less than 10% of the surveyed companies have linked executive compensation to ESG targets.

The survey also found that investors are ramping up efforts to screen current portfolios against climate-related risks. Of the investors surveyed, 74% have increased commitments to align portfolios with the Paris Agreement, and 72% were placing more focus on ESG investing.

The social aspect of ESG is expected to rise in prominence in both the corporate and financial spheres. Employee health and wellbeing was listed by 33% of corporates as the top priority over the coming year, ahead of emissions reductions at 30%. Investors also listed social sustainability as one of their top priorities, behind only climate change and supply chain resiliency.

Over the next 12 months, 80% of the surveyed companies expect governments to introduce new policies that will force them to focus on improving social aspects of the value chain, such as access to healthcare. Additionally, 50% of corporates are likely to introduce social bonds.

Further findings suggest that many businesses have already embedded sustainability into corporate strategies. Around three-quarters of businesses that issued new green bonds claim that it has improved corporate abilities to progress against strategies, while 62% claim that ESG is strongly integrated into traditional reporting. In addition, 66% claim that access to sustainable finance improves corporate understanding and willingness to embrace new sustainable practices.

However, when it comes to disclosure, ING notes that there are still improvements to be made to ensure that corporates are providing the most material and relevant information.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that individuals, companies, investors, and governments can make rapid environmental and social changes for the good, but closer alignment is necessary to rapidly accelerate progress in addressing the climate crisis,” ING’s Americas chief executive Gerald Walker said.

“Our actions are under the microscope like never before and as the report shows, coordinated action and convergence on areas such as ESG standards and policy are essential for accountability and meeting ambitious targets.”

Matt Mace

News

UK records lowest power grid carbon intensity

On Easter Monday, the UK recorded its lowest level of carbon intensity for electricity use, the National Grid ESO has confirmed.

When the carbon intensity reached its lowest, wind energy accounted for 39% of the electricity mix, with solar and nuclear delivering 21% and 16% respectively

When the carbon intensity reached its lowest, wind energy accounted for 39% of the electricity mix, with solar and nuclear delivering 21% and 16% respectively

At 1pm on Monday (5 April), the carbon intensity of the electricity grid fell to 39 grams of CO2, eclipsing the previous record of 46g of CO2 per KWh, which was set during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in May last year.

“This latest record is another example of how the grid continues to transform at an astonishing rate as we move away from fossil fuel generation and harness the growth of renewable power sources,” said Fintan Slye, National Grid Electricity System Operator’s director.

“It’s an exciting time, and the progress we’re seeing with these records underlines the significant strides we’re taking towards our ambition of being able to operate the system carbon-free by 2025.”

When the carbon intensity reached its lowest, wind energy accounted for 39% of the electricity mix, with solar and nuclear delivering 21% and 16% respectively. Low-carbon sources accounted for almost 80% of Britain’s total power, according to National Grid ESO.

Last year, the UK set numerous records when it came to coal-free generation and low-carbon power provision.

Britain went 55 days without relying on coal for power in the summer of 2020, which was the second-longest stretch on record, behind the 67 days recorded at the start of that year.

In 2020, energy requirements for industrial use and services such as shops and offices were down 8% compared to 2019. As a result, energy demand in the domestic sector climbed by 2%.

Transport also delivered its biggest decline in energy consumption, dropping 28% compared to 2019. This was largely driven by a 60% decline in aviation demand. According to the statistics, transport energy consumption in 2020 is comparable to mid-1980 levels, with diesel and petrol demand also down 17% and 21% respectively.

Despite the economic uncertainties caused by Covid-19, renewable generation reached new heights, contributing to a 42.9% share of generation. This outpaces fossil fuel generation, which contributed 38.5% of generation, a new record low and down by half compared to 2010 levels.

While the pandemic also created low outputs for nuclear, the broader low-carbon generation reached a record 59%. Overall, total final energy consumption was 13% lower compared to 2019.

Britain experienced its first coal-free day following industrialisation in April 2017 and, since then, has broken its coal-free generation records several times. 

Matt Mace

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