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Energy industry’s carbon emissions rise at fastest rate in nearly a decade

Carbon emissions from the global energy industry rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade in 2018 after surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels.

Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China

Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China

BP’s annual global energy report revealed for the first time that fluctuating temperatures are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The recorded temperature swings – days which are much hotter or colder than normal – helped drive the world’s biggest jump in gas consumption for more than 30 years.

They also stoked a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade.

Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist, warned that the report reveals “a growing mismatch” between society’s rising demand for climate action and the actual pace of progress.

“At a time when society is increasingly concerned about climate change and the need for action energy demand and emissions are growing at their fastest rate for years,” he said.

The report comes amid growing calls for arts institutions to sever their ties with fossil fuel companies.

Several leading figures in the art world have called on the National Portrait Gallery to end their sponsorship deals with BP on the eve of their annual awards event this week.

At the same time, activists at Extinction Rebellion urged in gallery, and the Royal Opera House, to end their “complicity in climate breakdown”.

Carbon emissions climbed by 2% last year, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy.

Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China, India and the US which was in part due to stronger industry as well as the “weather effect”.

This was spurred by an “outsized” energy appetite in the US which recorded the highest number of days with hotter or colder than average days since the 1950s.

“On hot days people turn to their air conditioning and fans, on cold days they turn to their heaters. That has a big impact,” Dale said.

The unusually high number of “heating days” has continued in the first months of this year.

The combined number of particularly hot and cold days was unusually high in the US, China and Russia where the use of fossil fuels remains high.

The US shale heartlands helped to meet its rising energy demand with the biggest annual increase in oil and gas production for any country ever.

Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, said: “The longer carbon emissions continue to rise, the harder and more costly will be the necessary eventual adjustment to net-zero carbon emissions.”

“As I have said before, this is not a race to renewables, but a race to reduce carbon emissions across many fronts,” he added.

Jillian Ambrose

This article first appeared on the Guardian

edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network 


Government urged to set 2040 net-zero target for Humber

The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has unveiled a new ambition to reduce the region’s carbon emissions to net-zero by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommended 2050 deadline for the UK.

Humber produces more carbon emissions than any other industrial hub in the UK 

Humber produces more carbon emissions than any other industrial hub in the UK 

The industry body has this week asked local authorities and Ministers from central Government to include a net-zero carbon target in the upcoming Humber industrial strategy, which is due to be published this autumn.

It claims that such a commitment would “protect strategically important industries” such as steel and power generation, which have recently been suffering under the uncertainties posed by both the low-carbon transition and Brexit, while “maximising the benefits for local communities and businesses”.

Given that Humber currently emits more carbon than any other industrial cluster in the UK and that 20% of the value of the region’s economy is dependent on steel, which has proven notoriously hard to decarbonise, the LEP believes the region could, with adequate policy support, become a leader in low-carbon industrial technologies and systems while playing host to large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities.

Drax recently unveiled plans to build a large-scale zero-carbon industrial cluster, featuring carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology, in Humber during the mid-2020s, as part of a collaborative project with Equinor and National Grid Ventures – the National Grid Group’s commercial arm. However, the LEP believes that a legally binding 2040 target for net-zero emissions would accelerate investment in and deployment of such systems.

The LEP’s proposals to Ministers and local authorities additionally recommend that moves are taken to make the Humber Energy Estuary a “global leader in renewable power”. The group notes that the Government’s new Offshore Wind Sector Deal requires installed capacity to rise to 30GW nationwide by 2030 and claims that the region is ideally located to host at least half of this deployment. If this much wind capacity was installed off the coast of the region, the LEP claims, Humber would become a “national centre of excellence for offshore wind skills” and experience significant local supply chain growth for the renewables sector.

“The decarbonisation agenda could be transformational for the Humber; we have clean energy, which we can generate a lot more of, an industrial cluster with sectors like steel, oil refining and chemicals that are vital to the UK’s strategic interests, and a geographical advantage,” the Humber LEP’s chair Lord Christopher Haskins said.

“We also have the highest emissions in the country, which will need to be tackled for the UK to meet its international obligations. Bring all that together and we have a big opportunity to make what we have more competitive, attract new investment and create local business and community benefits”

Stakeholders are being given until 31 July to comment on the LEP’s proposals. Business Secretary Greg Clark said he was “delighted” that the body had put forward ambitious proposals for its low-carbon economy.

“This is a critical time for the Humber, and we’ll be working closely with local partners to develop the priorities set out in this prospectus into an ambitious Local Industrial Strategy – alongside the direct support we are providing around the future for British Steel,” Clark said.

Towards net-zero

The UK Government is currently deciding whether to implement the CCC’s recommendations on legislating for a net-zero economy by 2050 – the date by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that global emissions will need to reach zero if the temperature increase is to be kept to 1.5C.

Energy Minister Claire Perry has insisted that the UK will become the first nation to set such legislation. However, the Government is yet to confirm when it will make its decision on the CCC recommendations, with a spokesperson having recently told media that such a choice will be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”.

Doubts have this week been cast on whether the UK Government will legislate for net-zero, after Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and BEIS’s Clark reportedly recommended that the CCC’s advice should be rejected, largely on the grounds of upfront cost and economic and social risk.

Nonetheless, various local authorities across the nation are continuing to set their own net-zero goals. They include Edinburgh City Council, which has set a 2030 date for total decarbonisation, Glasgow City Council, which has made the commitment on an ongoing basis and Nottingham City Council, which has set 2028 as its net-zero date.

Businesses are also pushing the Government to legislate for net-zero, with a coalition of 128 corporates, industry networks and investors having last week written to Ministers demanding that a target for 2050 is legislated “immediately”. Signatories of the letter included the likes of BT, Coca-Cola European Partners and Sainsbury’s – with many having already set their own internal net-zero goals for 2050 or prior.

Emergency response: edie’s net-zero webinar 

On Thursday 27 June at 1pm BST, edie is bhosting espoke Q&A webinar that will explore how corporates can transition towards net-zero and respond to growing consumer concerns on climate change.

Hosted in association with Ørsted, brings together climate policy and business energy experts to discuss how the business energy lathe free, hour-long session ndscape could and should change between now and the net-zero target year of 2050; with a specific focus on the industries and areas that will require the biggest transformations to cut carbon. Full information and registration can be found here

Sarah George


O2 recertified to highest Carbon Trust standard for supply chain emissions management

Telecoms giant O2 has been recertified to the highest possible level of supply chain management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The contractually obliged suppliers represent almost 21% of O2’s supply chain emissions

The contractually obliged suppliers represent almost 21% of O2’s supply chain emissions

O2 has announced that it has achieved recertification to the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain at level 3, the highest certification that can be achieved. The standard is awarded for firms that showcase a targeted approach to year-on-year supply chain carbon emissions reductions through identification and engagement measures with suppliers.

Level 3 requires firms to “demonstrate reductions in specified parts of the supply chain”, which O2 achieved through contractual engagements with suppliers to enrol in carbon reduction programmes. The contractually obliged suppliers represent almost 21% of O2’s supply chain emissions.

O2’s director of corporate responsibility and sustainability Bill Eyres, said: “Given our procurement footprint, we have the opportunity, the responsibility and the influence to improve sustainability within our supply chain. This is all part of our commitment to being a responsible and sustainable business.                                                                                                     

“Today we are already contractually engaged in carbon reduction programmes with suppliers representing more than a quarter of our supply chain emission sources, and we anticipate actively engaging even more of our suppliers in the future.  It is fitting that we share that O2 has achieved re-certification to the Carbon Trust Supply Chain Standard on World Environment Day.”

O2 was first awarded a Carbon Trust Standard for Carbon in 2010 for successfully reducing operational emissions, which has fallen by 80% in a five-year period from a 2010 baseline. The company was first awarded level 3 status in 2017.

As part of the O2’s carbon reduction commitment, the company validates programmes from major suppliers, which are then built in contractual agreements.

The firm was also the first mobile company in the world to achieve the Carbon Trust Triple Standard for carbon, water and waste in 2014.

Singapore office

As for the Carbon Trust, the organisation has today (6 June) announced an expansion into South East Asia, with the launch of a new office in Singapore. The focus of the expansion will be to support the delivery of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Low Carbon Energy Programme (LCEP).

The £15m programme, which is supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Prosperity Fund, will see the Carbon Trust support energy efficiency delivery plans across five countries: Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Carbon Trust’s chief executive Tom Delay CBE said: “We believe in a future where economic prosperity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. The Carbon Trust works with leading businesses, governments and organisations to make this real and accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. Expanding our presence in Asia will enable us to support green growth in this key region and we’re excited to be here.”

Matt Mace

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