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Latest greenhouse gas emissions data shows steep rises in CO2 for seventh year

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by the second highest annual rise in the past six decades, according to new data.

Readings from Hawaii observatory bring the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated (stock photo)

Readings from Hawaii observatory bring the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated (stock photo)

Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas were 414.8 parts per million in May, which was 3.5ppm higher than the same time last year, according to readings from the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where carbon dioxide has been monitored continuously since 1958.

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450ppm risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

May is the most significant month for global carbon dioxide concentrations because it is the peak value for the year, before the growth of vegetation in the northern hemisphere starts to absorb the gas from the air. The seasonal peak and fall can be seen in the Keeling curve, named after Charles Keeling, who started the observations on Mauna Loa because of its isolation in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the seventh consecutive year in which steep increases in ppm have been recorded, well above the previous average, and the fifth year since the 400ppm threshold was breached in 2014. In 2016, the highest annual jump in the series so far was recorded, from 404.1 in 2015 to 407.66 in 2016.

As recently as the 1990s, the average annual growth rate was about 1.5ppm, but in the past decade that has accelerated to 2.2ppm, and is now even higher. This brings the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated. Concentrations of the gas have increased every year, reflecting our burning of fossil fuels.

Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institute, and the son of Charles, said: “The CO2 growth rate is still very high – the increase from last May was well above the average for the past decade.” He pointed to the mild El Niño conditions experienced this year as a possible factor.

Tuesday’s findings come from Mauna Loa and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has also made complementary independent measurements of greenhouse gas concentrations since the 1970s. NOAA’s Barrow observatory on Alaska’s North Slope showed an average of 417.4ppm over the period, but the Arctic typically has higher CO2 readings than the Mauna Loa series.

Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA, said: “It is critically important to have these accurate long-term measurements of CO2 in order to understand how quickly fossil fuels are changing our climate. These are measurements of the real atmosphere, and do not depend on any models, but they help us verify climate model projections, which if anything have underestimated the rapid pace of climate change being observed.”

Fiona Harvey

This article first appeared on the Guardian

edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network 


New strategic partnership launches integrated marine coordination service

Leading renewable energy consultancy and service provider, Natural Power, has joined forces with SeaRoc and VALEMO to deliver an integrated solution for marine coordination that is fully dedicated to French offshore wind projects. VALEMO, which provides technical services to assist clients in boosting the production of renewable energy plants; together with SeaRoc, provider of the industry-leading marine management system, SeaPlanner, formed this strategic partnership that is being supported by pioneering offshore advisory services from Natural… Source: RealWire


BT generates record £5.5bn through carbon-combative products and services

Telecommunications giant BT generated almost one-quarter (23.4%) of its total annual 2018 revenue through selling products and services which contribute to carbon savings at a consumer level, the business has revealed.

BT’s efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change span more than 20 years

BT’s efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change span more than 20 years

The figures, published as part of BT’s latest Digital Impact and Sustainability report, show that the revenue the company generated through carbon-combative products last year was £5.5bn, up from £5.3bn in 2017.

According to the report, BT products and services helped customers cut their carbon emissions by 11.7 million tonnes during 2018, largely through energy efficiency improvements and a greater dependence on renewable energy.

This marks a 200,000-tonne increase on its 2017 figure and comes as the company is striving to help customers collectively cut their emissions by three times the company’s own end-to-end emissions. The 3:1 ambition currently sits at a ratio of 2.6:1, up from 2.4:1 last year.

Commenting on this progress, BT’s head of environmental sustainability Gabrielle Giner said: “Climate action makes sense for business and through our people, products and services we’ve been able to take some dramatic steps towards tackling one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Giner previously told edie that the 3:1 ambition had been influenced by a flexible and highly innovative supply chain.

A net-zero future

The report is the first to be published by BT since the firm set a net-zero carbon target for its own operations last autumn in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report on global warming.

With an end date of 2045, the ambition builds on BT’s science-based target for 2030, which is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory and requires BT to reduce emissions by 87% by 2030 against a 2016/17 baseline.

A key facet in reaching this net-zero goal, the new report states, will be switching BT’s electricity to 100% renewables worldwide – a feat the company hopes to achieve by 2020. It notably purchases 1% of all electricity sold in the UK and, while it has shifted to 100% clean power for its UK operations, its global energy mix was 87% renewables in 2018.

The report states that the remaining 13% of BT’s energy mix can be accounted for by “transitioning accounts” or is procured in countries “where there’s no renewable supply, the energy can’t be certified as renewable by an internationally recognised scheme, or where our landlords buy non-renewable electricity in buildings [it occupies].” Nonetheless, the company maintains that it is on track for its 2020 goal.

Other notable steps which BT is taking on the pathway to its science-based target and net-zero goal include transitioning fleets to low-emission vehicles and decarbonising its building portfolio. But according to Giner, action is now needed from policymakers to ensure that businesses on their own low-carbon transitions “can make the most of the positive momentum being generated”. 

Giner’s statement comes as the UK Government is deciding whether to adopt the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) advice on legislating for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, in line with the IPCC’s recommendations. Las week, a Government spokesperson said that a decision on the CCC’s recommendation will be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”. 

Sarah George


HUBER+SUHNER becomes founding member of IMPI’s new Solid State RF Energy Section, further committing to RF Energy development

Membership of new group further enhances the company’s work in RF Energy which includes development of a unique portfolio of solutionsHUBER+SUHNER, a leading expert in RF connectivity, has reinforced its commitment to developing products dedicated for solid-state RF Energy applications as it became one of eight companies to found the International Microwave Power Institute’s (IMPI’s) new Solid State RF Energy Section. With significant advantages over existing solutions, such as magnetrons, high-power Radio Frequency (RF) applications… Source: RealWire


Scope 3 emissions and science-based targets: Your key questions, answered

During an interactive webinar on Thursday (30 May), experts from CDP, Multiplex and Carbon Credentials answered readers’ key questions on Scope 3 (indirect) emissions and science-based targets. Here, edie rounds up their answers.

Measuring and reducing your organisation's Scope 3 emissions is no easy task. Here's the best-practice advice experts have offered to edie readers. 

Measuring and reducing your organisation’s Scope 3 emissions is no easy task. Here’s the best-practice advice experts have offered to edie readers. 

Since the launch of the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), more than 500 companies from across the world have publicly committed to set approved goals in line with the Paris Agreement. But less than half have had their targets rubber-stamped, with the complex challenge of measuring and reducing Scope 3 emissions often cited as a key barrier.

In association with consultancy Carbon Credentials, edie therefore hosted an hour-long webinar exploring how organisations of all sizes and sectors can close the Scope 3 “reporting gap” on the road to setting ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, giving readers the chance to have their pressing questions answered in real-time.

Originally broadcast at 1 pm on 30 May and now available on demand, this interactive webinar heard from some of the experts who are sizing up to the challenge of measuring and reducing their company’s own Scope 3 emissions – and those that are advising other organisations on how to do just that.

During the webinar, Multiplex Construction Europe’s sustainability manager Pavan Juttla, CDP’s account manager for supply chain projects Matthew Sumners and Carbon Credentials’ senior consultant Annabell James were asked all manner of questions about value chain emissions, covering topics from data assurance to employee engagement.

Here, edie rounds up their answers in brief – both to the questions that were asked during the hour-long session, and those that we didn’t have time to cover on the day.

Q: How do you avoid double-counting and double-offsetting, especially if you’re in an industry where supply chains are shared, such as retail?

Annabell: “If everyone uses the GHG Protocol as their reporting standard, that should minimise the possibility. It is accepted that there will be double counting within the supply chain, but, at the end of the day, it will still be driving the emission reductions that are needed.”

Pavan: “If you are working jointly as an industry, you need to be transparent about that rather than taking exclusive credit.”

Matthew: “Here at CDP, we have questions related to direct collaboration between suppliers and members, so you can find examples of accounting for joint projects.”

Q: How far down your supply chain should you go?

Matthew: “A lot of our members take what they do at Tier 1 and then evaluate further, step by step, but it is quite difficult to know exactly what to do in the absence of clear guidance.”

Pavan: “There’s a level of confidence in that if you account for Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, they should incorporate emissions further down the chain themselves.”

Q: How can you be sure your data is reliable?

Pavan: “You can approach Scope 3 data assurance in the same way as Scope 1 and 2, in that there are a lot of different standards out there for companies to use. It’s really about tracing your data back to the source and being sure that methodologies and calculation techniques are as good as they can be.

“The initial screening you carry out to determine which Scope 3 emissions are relevant to your business should involve looking at your current data sources, others you have available, and where you need to get to.”

Matthew: “Getting verification and following different ISO standards is a good move – it gives you guidance on how to integrate sustainability.”  

Q: How can we engage teams which typically have pressure to focus on the short-term, such as sales departments?

Pavan: “Incorporate the information that you need to capture for energy and carbon as soon as possible and integrate it into financial reporting. This makes it part of business-as-usual, so it doesn’t feel like an add-on.

“Sell the business case to the supply chain department; show the benefits for suppliers in terms of reputation, market competitiveness and any long-term financial savings. This is essential before engaging procurement and finance teams.”

Q: What about emissions generated through the use of your product – particularly if the product is designed to SAVE carbon and energy?

Annabell: “That’s a question which seems to be cropping up a lot at the moment but it’s a bit of a grey area. In terms of accounting, there’s not much you can do presently, but there is always the good story that you can tell in the narrative of your communications around your wider impact.”

Q: How do you create accountability for Scope 3 emissions among senior managers?

Pavan: “Rather than committing to our science-based target then going through the process of setting it, we ran a two-year internal engagement piece with out senior management. I think that worked very well, because we were able to get their buy-in from the very early stages and they were directly involved in the strategy.

“This enabled us to engage our supply chain from the very top, rather than middle management, who are still responsible for the day-to-day progress towards the target.”

Q: Can a carbon price play a role in reducing Scope 3 emissions?

Matthew: Putting a price on carbon emissions can lead to a reduction in emissions among many other benefits and expanding carbon pricing could increase reductions especially if implemented effectively. I am no expert in carbon pricing, but creating new revenue streams to help improve emissions reductions could play a role in Scope 3 reductions.”

Q: Are there examples that are relevant to the finance and banking industry?

Annabell: “Scope 3 accounting for the financial and banking industry is evolving. The most significant Scope 3 category tends to be Category 15, Investments. The GHG Protocol provides guidance on calculation of emissions from four types of investment – equity, debt, project finance and managed investments. Emissions from investments should be allocated to the reporting company based on your proportional share of investment in the investee.”

Q: We’ve seen challenges not so much in collecting [Scope 3 emissions] data, but how we work at reducing carbon footprint and encourage the use of public transport over car usage. We’re very driven by workload and needs of the organization over ethical choices. Any ideas on changing culture and encouraging low-carbon choices?

Annabell: “I’d recommend showing employees the impact that their choices have, for, by example, using equivalency calculations to put emission savings into context. Developing a communications programme to reinforce key messages and share knowledge is also key.”

Q: The SBTi only validates science-based targets for corporates. Are you aware of a way that universities can have their SBTs validated?

Matthew: “Currently, the SBTi does not engage with cities, local governments, public sector institutions, educational institutions or non-profits. We hope to expand our focus in the future but, in the meantime, the initiative encourages all these stakeholders to consider science-based target-setting methods and other resources listed on the SBTi website and adapt them for their use, whenever possible.”

Q: We measure Scope 1 & 2 emissions on a quarterly basis, allowing us to make interventions if necessary. What would you recommend with Scope 3, as it is inherently more complex in the calculation?

Annabell: “Some Scope 3 categories can be calculated on a quarterly basis, for example, business travel if data comes directly from travel providers. Other categories can be more difficult. At a minimum we recommend calculating the full Scope 3 footprint on an annual basis.”

Q: How do you normalise Scope 3 carbon? If workload varies in size, should a normalised measure be applied alongside an absolute figure?

Annabell: “Scope 3 emissions can be normalised in the same way as Scope 1 and 2. Choose a relevant metric to your business such as revenue, floor area or production volume.”

Q: How do you account for future building use?

Pavan: “We have used Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Building Regulations United Kingdom Part L (BRUKL) reports to project the carbon emissions of the buildings we deliver over their lifetime. We increase this projection to include the industry-recognised ‘performance gap’ so that our data reflects building performance, rather than the designed performance.”

Q: How did Multiplex get suppliers to apportion Scope 3 between multiple customers?

Pavan: “We ask our suppliers to report carbon-related information that is strictly associated with our construction projects. We request evidence from them to demonstrate this, such as delivery tickets and onsite progress reports.

“If a supplier does not record such information directly, they may still have an overview of their financial movements between multiple customers and those costs can often be linked to materials, transport, energy and so on. This can then be converted into carbon.”

Q: Who “approves” science-based targets? Where do you submit them?

Matthew: “Companies contact the SBTi group directly about first committing to an SBT and then ultimately submit it for approval. Companies get two years after their commitment date to have their SBT approved by the SBTI. The SBTi is a global team comprised of people from all partner organisations – the UNGC, CDP, WWF and WRI.”

Q: What exactly does Multiplex’s science-based target entail?

Pavan: “Multiplex Europe commits to reduce direct carbon emissions 30% by 2030 from a 2017 base-year. We also commit that key suppliers representing 95% of indirect emissions will set a science-based emission reduction target by 2023.”

Q: Are there any courses which environmental managers can take to learn more about Scope 3 reporting?

Annabell: “The GHG Protocol provides online training on Scope 3. You can find out more here.”

Q: What would be your one top tip for businesses starting their Scope 3 journey?

Matthew: “Have direct engagement with your procurement team and build Scope 3 emissions reductions into your procurement process until it becomes ‘business-as-usual’. Then, review supplier progress year-on-year.”

Pavan: “Start asking your suppliers key questions; they might be early on in their own journey, so you can work together to measure and report emissions. If your effort is collaborative, your industry will be able to get further, quicker.”

Annabel: “Undertake a Scope 3 screening exercise to determine which categories have the biggest impact and map out an action plan from there.”

Watch the webinar on demand by clicking here

Sarah George


Sandwell Council Selects Telensa to Provide Smart Streetlight Infrastructure

West Midlands Council’s 2030 vision includes connection of over 11,000 lights by 2022Cambridge, UK 16th May 2019: Telensa, the world leader in smart street lighting and smart city applications, today announced that it has been selected by Sandwell Council to provide a smart street lighting solution as part of the region’s 2030 Vision Initiative. The Council plans to install nearly 4,000 lights by 2020, with the intention to increase this to over 11,000 by 2022,… Source: RealWire


Natural Power advises on one of Taiwan’s largest offshore wind power projects

Leading renewable energy consultancy and service provider, Natural Power, is delighted to have acted as technical advisor to a consortium of Japanese investors led by Sojitz Corporation (“Sojitz”) for the agreement of a significant equity position with international wind farm developer WPD on the Yunlin Offshore Wind Park. The transaction will see Sojitz and its consortium participate as a co-owner in the project right through construction and into operations for the 640MW offshore wind farm… Source: RealWire


telent wins IT and communications contract for UK’s first new nuclear plant in a quarter of a century

Warwick, 08 April, 2019: telent Technology Services Ltd (telent), a leading UK technology and network services company, has been awarded a six-year contract to supply the communications and IT infrastructure at Hinkley Point C (HPC) – the UK’s first nuclear plant to be built in 25 years. telent was chosen by EDF Energy to provide a multi-faceted, IT and communications package at the new site. Once running HPC will generate low carbon electricity for around… Source: RealWire


Natural Power advises on Cubico’s £272m refinancing of 200 MW UK portfolio

Leading renewable energy consultancy and service provider, Natural Power, has acted as technical advisor to London headquartered Cubico Sustainable Investments (“Cubico”) for the refinancing of its UK renewables portfolio which is comprised of 17 onshore wind farms and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. Natural Power carried out technical due diligence services on all 17 operational wind and solar farms across the UK, including an assessment of the projects’ long-term energy production and the benefits gained from… Source: RealWire

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