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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


Pukka Herbs posts impressive carbon cuts after setting 1.5C science-based targets

Organic herbal tea producer Pukka Herbs has recorded a 58% year-on-year reduction in its Scope 1 (direct) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, after setting approved science-based carbon targets in line with a 1.5C trajectory.

Pukka Herbs is using organic farming methods and working with growers to encourage low-carbon farming techniques

Pukka Herbs is using organic farming methods and working with growers to encourage low-carbon farming techniques

The progress was revealed this week in the company’s latest annual sustainability report and comes as Pukka Herbs is striving to cut its Scope 1 emissions to zero by 2030, down from 22.95 tonnes of CO2e in 2016, without the use of offsetting schemes.

The report also states that Pukka Herbs’ Scope 2 (power-related) emissions were 79% lower in 2018 than 2017. This progress was largely driven by investments in energy efficiency measures and the procurement of more renewable electricity. Indeed, the firm’s new HQ runs on 100% clean power and is fitted with a range of “smart” energy monitors.

Pukka Herbs’ carbon targets, which were approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) last November, also commit the business to halving its Scope 3 (indirect) GHG emissions per million units of product sold by 2030. It last measured its Scope 3 emissions in 2017 and is set to do so again later this financial year, accounting for factors such as supply chain emissions, logistics, end-of-life emissions and kettle boiling, the latter of which is estimated to account for half (49%) of its Scope 3 emissions footprint.

“As highlighted in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, ‘unprecedented changes’ are required to reduce our carbon impact, and there is now a small window of opportunity,” Pukka Herbs’ sustainability manager Vicky Murray said.

“This demands serious commitment and bold action from everyone, no matter what size their business. It is no use waiting for governments to take action, businesses have a responsibility to act as a force for good and now.”

Pukka Herbs is one of just five firms, along with Carlsberg, BT, Tesco and Carbon Credentials, to have set a science-based target in line with the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious trajectory. Carbon Credentials notably advised both Tesco and Pukka Herbs on their science-based targets and had its own goals rubber-stamped by the SBTi this week, in a bid to lead by example.

Regenerative strategy

In addition to documenting Pukka Herbs’ carbon reduction progress to date, the company’s sustainability report also lays out its new Regenerative Strategy – a three-year roadmap for achieving a net-positive environmental and social impact.

The strategy is divided into three key pillars: regenerative agriculture, the herbal health & wellbeing revolution and becoming a force for good.

Under the first pillar, Pukka Herbs, which uses 100% organic raw materials, will collaborate with farmers across the supply chain to champion agricultural methods that reduce carbon, preserve biodiversity, protect soil and boost yields. It has also committed to always paying a “fair and decent price” for harvests in order to support local economies and maintain farmer empowerment.

The ‘herbal health and wellbeing revolution’ component of the strategy, meanwhile, will see Pukka Herbs commission research into the medical benefits of using herbs as a preventive healthcare measure and into the public attitudes towards wellbeing. The company currently has a team of professionals trained in herbal and plant-based medicine which is sent to work with biomedical students at UK universities.

Lastly, the ‘becoming a force for good’ pillar outlines Pukka Herbs’ commitments as a B Corp, with net-positive targets spanning across the areas of environment, governance, community and employees.  In its latest B Corp audit, the company scored 104.1 points out of a possible 200, placing it in the organisation’s second-highest (“outstanding”) category.

“Our intention always was, and still is, about using business as a potent force for good, driving conservation through commerce to improve the health of people, plants and the planet,” Pukka Herbs’ co-founders Sebastian Pole and Tim Westwell wrote in the report.

“We know we can’t do this on our own – we need large scale, systemic change across the business community to achieve such an ambitious vision… but we have to start somewhere.”

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

Readers keen to find out more on how they can measure and manage their organisation’s Scope 3 emissions on the road to setting science-based targets are encouraged to read our recent Q&A feature with experts from Carbon Credentials, CDP and Multiplex Construction Europe on this topic. You can read that piece in full here

Sarah George


MPs examine how Treasury and finance sector can help decarbonise UK economy

MPs on the Treasury Committee have launched an inquiry scrutinising the climate impacts of the Treasury and the financial services sector, with the aim of determining how these actors can change their ways in order to spur decarbonisation progress ahead of the fourth and fifth carbon budgets.

The Committee will examine the role of finance in meeting the UK's fourth and fifth carbon budgets

The Committee will examine the role of finance in meeting the UK’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets

Launched today (5 June) to coincide with World Environment Day, the seven-week inquiry will see the Committee examine HM Treasury’s current strategy and how it is either helping or hindering the low-carbon transition. This information will then be used to make a string of recommendations as to where additional funding for reaching net-zero by 2050 can be taken from, ahead of this autumn’s cross-government spending review.

As for the private sector, firms from across the financial services industry are being encouraged to submit written information regarding the steps they have taken – or are planning to take – to “green” their business models, such as divesting from high-carbon assets of aligning with the Paris Agreement. MPs have also asked such businesses to provide information on the barriers preventing them from delivering green finance products or investing in low-carbon assets.

MPs are additionally hoping to use the inquiry to measure the potential economic benefits of the UK’s low-carbon transition, with this data set to be translated into job creation and growth in GDP after the review has concluded on 26 July.

“Whilst decarbonising the UK economy presents significant challenges, it also provides an opportunity for the financial services sector to unlock its green potential,” Treasury Committee Chair Nicky Morgan MP said.

“Decarbonising an economy doesn’t mean it has to stop growing. The time is ripe to explore how we can make sure that the UK gets this right.”

The first oral evidence session for the inquiry is due to take place on 2 July.

edie’s Big Brexit Questions podcast on green finance 

Those keen to find out more about the current state and priorities of the UK’s green finance sector – and how this may be impacted by Brexit – are encouraged to listen to edie’s Big Brexit Questions podcast with the chair of the City of London Corporation’s Green Finance Initiative and former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Roger Gifford. You can listen to that podcast in full, for free, by clicking here.

Sarah George


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

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