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UK-wide homes retrofit project needed to hit 2050 net-zero goal

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 presents a “vital role” for engineers, including the potential for a massive retrofitting programme across the UK’s housing stock, a trade body has claimed.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has also argued that the UK's homes could jeopardise progress towards its legally binding emissions targets 

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has also argued that the UK’s homes could jeopardise progress towards its legally binding emissions targets 

Responding to Tuesday’s (11 June) commitment by Theresa May to reach net-zero by the middle of the century the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said engineers “have to be at the heart” of the next steps.

James Robottom, IET energy and climate change lead, said: “The technology and approaches that will deliver net zero are now understood, which is crucial, but will need strong policy leadership to ensure they are implemented.

“Engineers will play a vital advisory role to ensure the deployment of large-scale projects, programmes and large investment in infrastructure is achieved in an effective and timely manner. There is also a vast opportunity for advancements in digital technology to drive efficiency and deliver savings.”

He stated that while progress had been made, this needed to continue at a great pace, and that significant challenges remained in decarbonising heat and industry. Robottom warned that “80% of the homes we will be living in, in 2050, have already been built, meaning foremost a national retrofit programme has to be seriously considered” to meet the new goals.

Robottom stressed that, while tackling climate change was a daunting task, it also presented opportunities, such as improving the skills of the workforce and developing a green economy that leads the world.

“The Institution of Engineering and Technology is fully committed to these goals and will do everything it can to assist government, industry and the profession to understand these challenges and work together to progress and implement the solutions to make the UK carbon-free by 2050″, he added.

The FPSA has espoused the importance of a whole system approach, saying that this is the best way to meet the challenges of the low-carbon transition, rather than letting the sector transform itself at varying rates.

In its most recent publication, coming at the end of its third phase, the FPSA stressed that the UK will need more agile governance to facilitate effective change, helping coordinate increasingly dynamic disruption, as well as the need to work with Ofgem, BEIS, and other stakeholders to bring this change about. Furthermore it says that there is a need for greater power system functionality to meet future requirements.

The report of its second phase emphasised the need for a whole industry vision, as well as regulatory, commercial, and technical challenges.

Yesterday the Welsh government went beyond the CCC’s recommendation and pledged to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.


What is the role of business in delivering a net-zero carbon future?

To mark the UK’s net-zero announcement, BITC’s environment director Goodrun Cartwright has penned an exclusive blog for edie detailing some key steps which businesses of all sizes and sectors can take to completely decarbonise their operations and the systems they work within. You can read that blog in full here

edie will also be hosting a bespoke Q&A webinar on the same topic on Thursday 27 June at 1pm BST. This webinar, hosted in association with Ørsted, will bring together climate policy and business energy experts to discuss how the business energy landscape could and should change between now and 2050. For full information and free registration, click here


Greg Jones

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

News

New business-led taskforce to help UK’s private sector reach net-zero

Sky, UPS, Aston Martin and Drax are among the co-founders of a new business-led taskforce aimed at mobilising actors across the UK’s private sector to decarbonise in line with the Government’s new net-zero vision for 2050.

The Taskforce is being headed by the chief executive of Drax Group's B2B energy supply business. Pictured: Drax's North Yorkshire power station 

The Taskforce is being headed by the chief executive of Drax Group’s B2B energy supply business. Pictured: Drax’s North Yorkshire power station 

Convened by Business in the Community (BITC) and launched today (12 June), the ‘Net-Zero Carbon Taskforce’ has also garnered support from EDF Energy, Lloyds Banking Group, Eco-Act, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

These member organisations will work collaboratively to develop an open-source net-zero toolkit, detailing the actions businesses can take to reach net-zero in their own operations during or before 2050, and to encourage other actors in their sectors’ value chains to follow suit. This resource will then be used to create a “roadmap” for the business contribution to a net-zero transition.

The Taskforce will be chaired by the chief executive of Drax Group’s B2B energy supply business Jonathan Kini, who said the aim of the initiative is to “identify the simplest, most effective actions businesses can take” to create an ambitious and ‘just’ low-carbon transition.

“The barriers to sustainability vary from business to business – I know from conversations with our customers that making improvements often appears unnecessarily complicated,” Kini explained.

“We want to break down those barriers and make the solutions simpler to implement, so UK businesses can quickly and easily take effective steps to address the climate crisis.”

Drax is notably working with Equinor and National Grid Ventures – the National Grid Group’s commercial arm – to develop a large-scale zero-carbon industrial cluster, featuring carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology, in Humber. The facility is due for completion during the mid-2020s. 

‘A historic moment’

The launch of the taskforce comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that Parliament will implement the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in creating a legally binding net-zero carbon target for 2050.

Under a statutory instrument due to be laid in Parliament today (12 June), the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 will be amended to legally bind the UK to delivering a 100% reduction in its net carbon emissions, against a 1990 baseline, up from an original 80% target.

How the UK actually plans to reach net-zero emissions will need to be set out but May has already confirmed that the UK will be using international carbon offsetting during the transition – against the advice of the CCC.

Key figures from across the UK’s green economy have welcomed the Government’s move on the issue, which comes after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research concluding that global carbon emissions will need to reach net-zero by mid-century to limit the global temperature increase below 1.5C.

Indeed, business leaders have been vocally lobbying for this change in legislation.  Last month, a coalition of 128 UK-based businesses, industry networks and investors wrote to Ministers demanding that a net-zero target for 2050 is legislated “immediately” and were told such moves would be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”. Moreover, some firms, including the likes of BT, Skanska UK and Interface, had already set their own net-zero goals for 2050 or sooner.

“Business must be at the forefront of the transformation we need, bringing the innovation and entrepreneurial flair to accelerate change,” BITC’s environment director Goodrun Cartwright said.


What is the role of business in delivering a net-zero carbon future?

To mark the UK’s net-zero announcement, BITC’s Cartwright has penned an exclusive blog for edie detailing some key steps which businesses of all sizes and sectors can take to completely decarbonise their operations and the systems they work within. You can read that blog in full here

edie will also be hosting a bespoke Q&A webinar on the same topic on Thursday 27 June at 1pm BST. This webinar, hosted in association with Ørsted, will bring together climate policy and business energy experts to discuss how the business energy landscape could and should change between now and 2050. For full information and free registration, click here


Sarah George

News

edie launches guide on updates to ISO 50001

Organisations looking to understand the new 2018 updates to ISO 50001 now have access to a crucial new edie Explains guide, which breaks down everything you need to know about compliance with the international standard.

The report is free to download 

The report is free to download 

The new edie Explains: ISO 50001 business guide, produced in association with edie’s supporting partner Centrica Business Solutions, provides an in-depth summary of the recently updated standard and how businesses can comply with it either for the first time – or if refreshing compliance from the previous standard.

The report looks at what is ISO 50001? How does your business need to comply? What are the new changes to the standard? And what considerations should be taken when attempting to meet the standard? This free edie Explains guide gives you everything you need to know, whatever your relationship to ISO 50001. 

The eight-page guide also incorporates a number of ‘top tips’ and concludes with an industry viewpoint, provided by Centrica Business Solutions, which provides a summary of the key findings of the report.

Updates

This includes improved alignment with other certifications and energy planning, attaching more importance to leadership and senior management roles, and extension of the requirement around communications as well as other issues such as assessing risks to implementing an energy management system.

Everything that you need to know is covered.

Click here to read it now.

edie staff

News

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 

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