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UK ranks third amongst the countries that have reduced emissions the most

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The United Kingdom is one of the few countries that managed to actually reduce their CO2 emissions in the last 60 years.
The report by Utility Bidder analyses various countries’ emissions from 1959 and 2019, to reveal who has made the most cuts to their emissions, and predict who will be the worst offenders for co2 emissions in 2032.
Top five countries that have cut emissions the most

Rank

Country

1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)

1

Curaçao

11.0

3.7

-1.78%

2.8

2

Moldova

11.0

7.3

-0.66%

6.7

3

the United Kingdom

545.9

370.1

-0.64%

339.5

4

Ukraine

256.5

223.5

-0.23%

217.0

5

Germany

754.8

703.5

-0.12%

692.9

Only five of the 93 nations saw their emissions decrease in the last 60 years, with the Caribbean island of Curaçao achieving the biggest decrease at -1.78% per year.
Moldova’s emissions have fallen by an average of 0.66% over the last 60 years. if they continue to do so at the same rate, they’ll have fallen to 6.7 MtCO2 by 2032.
Whilst still being one of the countries with the highest emissions, the UK has seen its emissions fall in the last 60 years, from 545.9 MtCO2 in 1959 to 370.1 MtCO2 in 2019.
The countries with the biggest emissions increase 

Rank

Country

1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)

1

Saudi Arabia

3.7

582.6

8.66%

1,238.8

2

Thailand

3.7

289.5

7.43%

568.9

3

Malaysia

3.7

249.2

7.16%

481.1
Saudi Arabia’s emissions grew by  578.9 MtCO2 over the last 60 years, and the annual change is estimated at 8.66%. This increase is expected given the country’s role as the leader in the world’s petroleum industry.
Thailand Increased its emissions by 285.8 MtCO2 since 1959, so it could hit 568.9 MtCO2 by 2032. It is largely due to the simultaneous economy and population growth that the country experienced over the last 60 years.
Malaysia Increased its emissions by 245.5 MtCO2, meaning it could hit 481.1 MtCO2 by 2032.
Further findings: 
The countries with the lowest estimated 2032 emissions:
  • As well as being the country that has cut its emissions the most since 1959, Curaçao is also the nation that has the lowest predicted emissions by 2032, at just 2.8 MtCO2.

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo is at the second-lowest estimated emissions, reaching 3.7 MtCO2 by 2032. The DRC is also home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, which acts as a carbon sink.

  • Moldova has the third-lowest estimated emissions for 2032, with 6.7 MtCO2.

Oxford-led greenhouse gas removal initiative receives £30m

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Research teams across the UK, coordinated by University of Oxford experts, have been chosen to probe innovative ways of removing greenhouse gases to help to stabilise the climate. 

Encompassing a dozen universities and with funding for nearly five years, this is the UK Government’s largest-ever research programme to understand and scale-up greenhouse gas removal (GGR) techniques. The programme consists of five GGR demonstration projects around the country and a Directorate Hub. The work commences this month. 

The Oxford-led consortium – named CO2RE – has been chosen as the Directorate Hub to coordinate the national programme. The CO2RE Hub will have a strong research function and will also liaise with the demonstrators, business, policymakers and publics to evaluate a variety of approaches to removal. 

Unlike techniques to reduce emissions at source, GGR aims to capture and remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases already in the air. Achieving net zero requires dramatic reductions in emissions, but it also requires GGR.

This year, the UK Government is hosting the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow and is expected to set out its plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The role of the CO2RE Hub will be critical in bringing together leading UK academics, building a GGR community and catalysing more ambitious climate action. 

Leading the multi-disciplinary Oxford Hub will be Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He said: “Greenhouse gas removal is essential to achieve net zero carbon emissions and stabilise the climate. Alongside the need for much faster emissions reductions now, we also need to start pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. 

“Greenhouse gas removal is not only essential, it also has the potential to become big business. As we rebuild societies and economies following Covid-19, we have an opportunity to orient ourselves towards the green jobs and industries of the future. I’m delighted that UKRI is supporting such a strategic programme.”

Professor Patrick Grant, Oxford’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research added: “The CO2RE Hub enables researchers across social and physical sciences to co-ordinate the vitally important GGR Programme for UKRI and BEIS. 

“Working with the five Demonstrator technologies, and our partner universities at Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London (UCL, Imperial College), and Manchester, the consortium will conduct the solutions-led research required to develop and evaluate a balanced portfolio of economically, socially and environmentally scalable GGR options.  

“Crucially CO2RE will provide policy design options and business models to ensure GGR technologies are developed within a viable economic and political landscape. This investment, in conjunction with the Oxford Net Zero Initiative and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, means a comprehensive approach to informed climate action, and we look forward to working with international partners, JPI Climate and COP26 this year.”

Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero, Dr Steve Smith added: “This is a really exciting and important time to build a research hub for GGR. Ahead of COP26 we are seeing a wave of commitments to net zero emissions from governments, cities and companies, and also a raft of approaches to carbon removal starting up. 

“Here in the UK, the Climate Change Committee predicts that reaching net zero by 2050 will require us to double the rate of carbon removal by natural landscapes, and to scale up industrial removals to the size of current emissions from electricity. Many questions of science, engineering, economics, governance and public engagement are still to be answered. We intend to tackle these, bringing people together from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, so that GGR contributes to ambitious, effective and sustainable climate action.”

Part of Oxford’s multi—disciplinary brief is to examine the legal, ethical and governance challenges of GGR. The Hub will:

1) Co-ordinate across the Programme 

2) Connect to other relevant research programmes nationally & internationally

3) Conduct cross-cutting research relating to GGR

4) Commission of small grants through a flexible fund

CO2RE will provide flexible funding to help participants in the Greenhouse Gas Removal programme bridge gaps in research and engagement activities.

Blue chip firms push for end to petrol & diesel car sales in EU

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EU lawmakers should set an end date for selling new combustion engine cars in Europe no later than 2035, 27 companies have said in a joint appeal, including include IKEA Retail, Sky, Uber, Vattenfall and Volvo Cars.

The open call will continue to gather support for a phase-out ahead of the review of EU car and van CO2 standards in June.

They say a fixed date will send a clear investment signal for car manufacturers, supply chains and infrastructure providers and will enable all businesses to decarbonise their vehicle fleets.

Cars and vans are responsible for 15% of all Europe’s CO2 emissions and are the single largest source (26%) of toxic nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause chronic diseases and the premature deaths of 54,000 Europeans every year. Oil costs the European economy over €200 billion a year in imports. A recent poll shows almost two-thirds of urban residents support banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in Europe after 2030.

Anders Kärrberg, head of global sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “By planning to become a fully electric car company by 2030, Volvo Cars intends to set the pace in the transition to zero emission mobility within our industry. But clear governmental direction and support is also needed to accelerate this transition. In this respect, Volvo Cars is pleased to join this call for the European Commission to propose an end date on new sales of internal combustion engine vehicles within the EU by 2035. Additional measures are also needed to increase EU consumer demand for electrified vehicles, including the rapid development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure.”

Setting a CO2 target for vehicle manufacturers at 0 gram of CO2/km by 2035 would enshrine the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – including hybrids – in law, the companies say. The Commission will propose new targets in June as part of its “Fit for 55” package of legislation, which is intended to put the EU on track to cut overall emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.[2]

Anabel Diaz, regional general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa – Uber, said: “Ambitious EU targets are critical for accelerating EV adoption. A phase-out by 2035 for all new vehicles sold in Europe will accelerate availability of affordable new and second-hand EVs, breaking down one of the key obstacles for high-km drivers – like those on the Uber platform – to make the EV switch which will have an outsized impact on climate. The EU phase-out target and cooperation of the entire EV ecosystem will allow for a faster transition towards more sustainable mobility which Uber supported through its own targets of becoming 50% electric by 2025 across seven cities and 100% by 2030 across Europe.”

Lawmakers should also use European, national and local measures – particularly the EU Alternative Fuels Infrastructure law – to ramp up deployment of electric vehicle charging points across the bloc, the companies say. They would also welcome support for vehicle makers and their supply chains to invest in new skills training for workers and regional transformation plans to help ensure no one is left behind in the transition to emissions-free transport. Changes to taxation are also needed to help ordinary consumers as well as corporate and urban mobility fleets switch to electric vehicles.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at Transport & Environment, said: “Electrification of cars and vans is inevitable for the climate, consumers and for Europe’s industrial strategy. Businesses now want clarity on the speed of the transition to plan and prepare. Only EU lawmakers can provide it by naming the date for the end of combustion engine cars and vans sales.”

Whisky distilleries take their turn in the emissions legislation queue

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As the battle to improve air quality goes on, the UK has been rolling out the EU’s Medium Combustion Plant Directive to curb harmful emissions. So, what are the implications of this legislation for medium sized businesses in the UK? 

Over one hundred million cases of Scottish whisky are distributed across the world every year. The growth in the industry and the volume of production has seen distilleries in the UK become increasingly reliant on the use of energy to ensure their businesses can keep up with demand.

The method of production has barely changed for centuries. But, as the industry begins to switch to more sustainable practices, a shift in the energy sources used to power the distilleries is taking place.

Governmental legislation around environmental protection is also driving change, with the implementation of enforceable targets. The most relevant one to the production of whisky is the Medium Combustion Plants Directive (MCPD).

The legislation explained

The purpose of the MCPD is to limit harmful emissions being pumped into the atmosphere from boilers and other stationary combustion plants in the 1-50 MWth (thermal megawatt) range. 

MCPD will regulate the concentration levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and particulate matter (PM) within process exhaust gases, as well as implementing ways to monitor emissions of carbon monoxide (CO). The limits on the levels these plants can emit depend on their type, size, age, fuel selection and operating hours.

It’s estimated that, when fully implemented, these limits will provide a 24% reduction in SO2 and 9% reduction in NOx emission targets

Made law in 2017, the MCPD regulation covers all fuel types and sets out specific Emission Limit Values (ELVs) most plants must meet by 2025. It also means that all new-build production facilities need a permit before commencing operations.

Existing plants may not require permits and testing right now, but companies are starting to realise the benefits of converting their combustion energy sources. 

The implications for distilleries

Whisky distilleries need a consistent and uninterrupted energy supply.  A review conducted by the research team at Energy Voice, estimated that Scotland’s 122 distilleries consume almost the same amount of energy each year as 250,000 British households.

Most Scottish whisky producers are in remote regions off the national energy grid.  For this reason, alternative fuel options must come with reliability of supply, in addition to cost and environmental benefits. Distillers are switching from oil to gas, in the form of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Tamnavulin makes the switch                                                                                              

Tamnavulin distillery, owned by Whyte & Mackay, made the decision to switch to a more cost-effective, cleaner fuel solution that is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The distillery has been operational since 1966 and produces over 4 million litres of single malt whisky per year. They were keen to take advantage of fuel cost savings, but also needed to ensure guarantee of supply.  

The company’s fuel requirements were assessed, and it was determined that LPG, supplied in bulk, would meet their need to comply with legislation, and deliver significant cost savings.

LPG is a lower-carbon alternative to oil with approximately 20% lower carbon intensity. Cleaner burning, it generates less CO2, SO2, NOx and PM than oil. In addition to reducing their emission levels, a gas storage system was designed to house the bulk LPG, installing a 30T mounded gas storage tank, along with the necessary pipework. 

Tamnavulin has since benefited from a 19.7% reduction in carbon emissions, and when compared to a similar distillery operating on HFO, Tamnavulin’s SO2 levels were 767 times lower, NOx 3 times lower and PM 269 times lower.

Cambridgeshire County Council sets out region’s path to net zero

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SSE Enterprise and Bouygues Energies & Services have been named preferred partners to develop a series of framework energy projects intended to support Cambridgeshire County Council and its regional local authority partners in meeting their commitment to decarbonising the region by 2050.

SSE Enterprise and Bouygues Energies & Services will work as a consortium to deliver for the framework. The joint venture will see the two partners work on the design, construction and delivery of projects to help the county reach its goal of 100 percent clean energy and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The estimated value of projects planned under the framework is £80 million over its four-year term. Projects will include work to improve the energy performance of publicly owned assets, such as buildings and car parks, using measures to boost energy efficiency and generate low or zero carbon energy from rural estate, transport and other assets.

Other projects will explore opportunities for energy storage and low carbon heating solutions, including district and community heating schemes.

In transport, the framework will look at local opportunities to support the transition to electric vehicles through the provision of essential infrastructure such as EV charging points and hubs.

As part of the green economic recovery envisaged following the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambridgeshire County Council and its local authority partners intend to leverage the framework to generate additional business opportunities that will develop low carbon and smart communities.

Equally, the local authorities wish to achieve annual energy savings through innovative smart building solutions to decarbonise their buildings via a combination of energy efficiency and zero carbon generation technologies.

The decarbonisation of heating forms part of the ambitions for the energy projects developed under the framework and will also improve air quality and reduce pollution across the region.

In 2017, Cambridgeshire emitted more than 6.1 million tonnes of CO2, almost half of which came from homes and buildings. Schools, housing, transport, public buildings and farm estates will be targeted for carbon reductions in the new framework.

Green measures already implemented by Cambridgeshire County Council include investment in the generation of renewable heat and electricity and the installation of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). Together, these initiatives have generated annual savings and additional revenue in excess of £1.3 million and reduced the county’s annual carbon emissions by almost 7,000 tonnes.

In the three years since it began operations, the 12MW solar farm located on the outskirts of Soham has exceeded expectations, raising several hundred thousand pounds of excess revenue beyond it’s targeted generation that has been reinvested to fund Adult Social Care services.

The new framework will build on these achievements, extending the reach and scale of local energy initiatives and accelerating the county’s path to carbon neutrality.

Under the agreement, SSE Enterprise and Bouygues Energies & Services will work with five Cambridgeshire authorities: Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The framework will also be available to other local authorities in England thanks to an access agreement arrangement. The value of projects which may be undertaken under the access agreement is estimated to be up to an additional £30 million over the four-year period.

SSE Enterprise and Bouygues Energies & Services were chosen as service providers due to their combined ability in developing local smart energy systems specifically designed to help councils cut energy bills and provide green heat and electricity. It is believed that by adopting a whole systems approach that encompasses a series of initiatives, the framework can affect rapid reductions in carbon emissions and pollution.

Natural gas ‘Still has vital role in energy transition’

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Natural gas has a very important role to play in the energy transition and in meeting the world’s climate goals, according to the Secretary General of the International Energy Forum, HE Joseph McMonigle.

Speaking at the inaugural GECF Gas Lecture of 2021, entitled ‘The Role of Gas in Clean, Reliable, and Sustainable Growth’, McMonigle said that the success of the energy transition rests “on the use of natural gas technologies and their capacity to accelerate fuel-switching and create synergies to integrate renewables, green gas, hydrogen, and other carbon dioxide solutions. 

“Obviously, this does not come without challenges because I think there are those who want to lump natural gas as a hydrocarbon with other fossil fuels that are not as clean under current utilisation.” 

In his welcoming remarks HE Yury Sentyurin, GECF Secretary General, underscored the long-standing partnership between the two entities and thanked HE McMonigle for IEF’s contribution to the recent launch of the latest edition of the GECF Global Gas Outlook 2050 (24 February 2021) – which is regarded as one of the most respected forecasts, especially as the industry looks to discover what the upcoming period holds for natural gas. 

According to HE McMonigle, the growing share of natural gas in energy consumption of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies has enabled the phase out of coal and eased reliance on nuclear whilst in non-OECD growing economies natural gas accelerates the switching from biomass and coal to gas.

“While the OECD sharpens focus on how natural gas contributes to the transition, it is the fuel of choice to enable successful transitions in non-OECD growing economies that lead the global recovery,” he said.

The industry veteran of both public and private sectors for over 20 years noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare social inequalities and risks widening divides between OECD and non-OECD regions. In this context, he called for an enhanced producer-consumer dialogue and transparency as the absence of a meaningful collaborative spirit may spawn higher prices in greater market volatility that “benefits no one”. 

“Amidst the efforts to overcome COVID-19 impacts, multiple challenges remain in reigniting economic growth, returning livelihoods and job opportunities to families and younger generations, while meeting climate, clean air, and sustainable development goals.”

“Asia, Latin America, and Africa are home to 16 out of the world’s 20 largest mega cities where the health and well-being of billions highlight the region’s growing reliance on clean energy technologies,” he said, whilst adding that in Asia, gas import and electrification requirements will continue to rise as demand shifts from North East Asia to South East Asia where LNG demand is set to quadruple over the longer-term.

Noting that the world was still in the “teeth of the pandemic”, the speaker cautioned that natural gas supply may not recover as fast as demand due to lack of upstream investment. He also warned that the increased level of ambition of producer and consumer governments to accelerate energy sector transitions may create unintended consequences that limit prospects for sustainable growth of natural gas. 

“Governments and industry leaders set up the IEF to enhance energy market stability, sustainability, and transparency – and to avoid market volatility that inadequate investment would set off through a new and unwanted cycle of boom-and-bust pricing. We will focus dialogue on both issues in upcoming meetings.”

In his intervention, HE Sentyurin underlined specifically that the two Forums’ “similarities in values, alignment in priorities and goals, as well as proximity in views and assessments of the energy markets narrative and upward trends”. 

“Energy producers have been hit by a double crisis as this disruption (brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic) coincided with a number of geo-economic developments, weakened energy demand, and due to weather peaks, low prices, increased oversupply, and new emerging suppliers in the market, which added uncertainty. Nevertheless, the GECF shares a rising consensus, that the mid- and long-term fundamental factors that favour natural gas remain unchanged,” continued the event host.

“As recent events have shown, gas industry is used to face uncertainties and experience major shocks, but manages – time and again – to thrive. I would go so far as to say that it is during challenging periods like currently that gas industry’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to changing dynamics and market fluctuations becomes even more evident,” asserted HE Sentyurin. 

“Our modelling sends a clear message: it is too early to write off hydrocarbons. They will remain the dominating source in the global energy mix for the foreseeable future,” added the GECF speaker. “Natural gas will be the only hydrocarbon resource to increase its share from 23% today to 28% in 2050 as it is one of the global enablers for reducing emissions quickly, cost-effectively and steadfastly by replacing carbon-intensive fuels as well as backing up intermittent renewables.”

SSE focuses on Cleaner air for UK & Irish buildings with ionair

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

SSE Enterprise’s distributed energy business is targeting improved internal air quality in mechanically ventilated buildings with the help of a proven technology that utilises the principle of bipolar ionisation. 

Independent studies have highlighted that bipolar ionisation can markedly decrease the concentration of contaminants in indoor air, lowering the risk of respiratory infections and creating a far healthier breathing experience.

As we enter a difficult winter period and economies are looking forward to a post-pandemic recovery, SSE says the need to reassure workers of a safer working environment is crucial, particularly at a time when flu outbreaks may become common. 

SSE Enterprise’s distributed energy business has secured an exclusivity deal covering the UK and Ireland to sell and install the product range offered by Swiss company, ionair, into buildings, such as offices, airports, shopping malls, care homes, hotels, sports facilities and more. 

Poor internal air quality (IAQ) is strongly correlated with low productivity, allergies and general illness. More seriously, chronic exposure to airborne pollutants is linked to respiratory diseases like flu, asthma and lung cancer. Furthermore, evidence is emerging that persistently low air quality is associated with increased risk of dementia. 

Kostas Papadopoulos, Head of Smart Cities Solutions Development at SSE Enterprise, said: “We have decided to back this tried and tested technology, working with a high quality manufacturer, not only because we truly believe that it is superior to all other air purification options currently on offer, but also because the pilot installation in one of our offices in England has demonstrated a dramatic improvement across several air quality metrics.”

“We are approaching that time of year where coughs and colds begin to surface, so we want to help our customers reduce the risk of infection in their buildings. It is important that any return to work is as safe as possible. We want this technology to provide reassurance to businesses and their employees that they are working in a healthier indoor environment, known to improve well-being, productivity and comfort.”

ionair’s air quality system has shown to reduce odours by around 50%, germs, bacteria, fungi and pollen by more than 95%, fine particles by 30% to 50%, and several other airborne pathogens by more than 90%. 

It can be retrofitted into a building’s existing air handling unit, continuously monitoring and improving air quality. SSE says it is also cost-effective, requiring very low maintenance. Complementing SSE’s Mayflower Smart City Platform, SSE can offer a fully funded solution which can combine significant air quality improvements with a suite of smart building options.

Widespread ‘net zero’ scepticism among UK public

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

The majority of the UK public are sceptical about achieving the net zero target, with 58% believing that it is unlikely that the target will be achieved even by 2050.

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has published analysis of UK public attitudes to the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, entitled Going greener? Public attitudes to net zero.

The report explores attitudes to the credibility of, responsibility for, and policies to achieve net zero, with key finding including:-

  • National governments are seen to have the highest responsibility for achieving the target. 82% of the public assign them a high degree of responsibility. Strong majorities also think businesses (82%), local governments (78%), and members of the public (74%) have a high degree of responsibility.
  • Public awareness of how various activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions is generally strong. Although the extent of these perceptions varies between activities, from 77% of the public seeing flying on aeroplanes as a significant contributor to climate to 56% for production of food on farms.
  • A majority of the public think that people will need to undertake a number of changes in their behaviour to help achieve net zero.This includes recycling more (63%), installing better home insulation (53%), reducing air travel (52%) and buying and driving an electric car (52%). Eating less meat was the lowest supported change of behaviour (34%). Only 10% of people thought most people would not have to make any changes.
  • Much of the public are already making changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A majority of the public (72%) already reuses and recycles more products, while a plurality is buying more locally produced goods (43%), has installed home insulation (43%), used more cycling or public transport (35%) and eaten less meat (35%).
  • The public has a significant expectation of price increases to achieve net zero. They expect prices will go up greatly or slightly on all types of products and services that we have polled if we take action to achieve net zero. Airplane tickets see the greatest expectation in higher prices, with 67% believing they will increase. The public is split on whether they actually would be willing to pay more for these products and services where higher prices would lead to lower emissions. People are most likely to be willing to pay more for products where they also have the lowest expectation of higher prices, such as electronic goods (46% willing to pay more), food (46%) and clothing (45%). In contrast, household electricity and home heating, both of which are most likely to be believed to face price increases as a result of net zero, are also products where a majority of people (52% and 51% respectively) say they would not be willing to pay more for them to lower emissions.
  • The public prefers a ‘carrot’ over ‘stick’ approach to achieving net zero. The public prefers policy approaches which use financial incentives to encourage environmentally friendly practices for individuals (49%) and businesses (45%) over laws and regulations that discourage or punish choices by individuals (34%) and businesses (38%).
  • There are high levels of support for a range of government policies for achieving net zero. This includes requiring firms that work for government to assess and report on their carbon footprint (66%), providing tax breaks for businesses which have cut emissions (59%), introducing a carbon tax (52%), taxing investment in fossil fuels (51%), establishing a new emissions trading scheme for businesses (50%) and installing smart meters in all homes and businesses (49%).
  • There is public support for government subsidies to help with decarbonisation. A majority of the public support government subsidies for installing better home insulation (69%), using an electric car (64%), switching away from natural gas heating in homes (62%) and using cycling or public transport as main methods of travel (53%). But the public opposes government subsidies for reducing air travel, with 35% supportive and 43% opposed, and eating less meat, with 27% supportive and 52% opposed.
  • There is strong support for subsidies for low-income households and small businesses. There is also broad public support for subsidies to help with at least some costs of decarbonisation changes, such as insulation, for low-income households (81%) and small businesses (80%). 27% of the public thinks that low-income households should receive help with all of the costs, and 29% think so about most of the costs, indicating that most of the public would support significant government action. In contrast, only 15% think that small businesses should receive help with all of the costs, indicating that the public wishes to aid them in a more limited manner.
  • The public believes that many businesses aren’t taking enough action to reduce emissions. The public is most critical of airlines, with 50% believing they are not taking enough action. More people are critical than not of: industrial manufacturers, gas companies, car makers, high street shops, electricity companies, container shipping firms, housebuilders, and supermarkets. The farming industry is the only industry that more people believe are doing enough than not enough, with 33% believing they are and 27% believing they are not.
  • There is a high level of support for specific actions by businesses to help achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as long as they do not impact prices. A majority supports businesses investing profits into sustainable technologies and practices (68%), offsetting greenhouse gas emissions (63%), creating internal targets for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions (62%), publishing detailed breakdowns of emissions from business activities (62%) and making consideration of emissions a key factor in decision-making (62%). However, support for increasing charges to customers to cut emissions is low (29%).
  • Public familiarity with low-carbon heating technologies remains relatively low. Only 42% of the British public have heard of heat pumps, which is the system with the highest familiarity, in comparison to 46% who have not heard of them. People are even less familiar with hybrid boilers (27%), hydrogen boilers (21%) and heat networks (18%). As such, there is relatively low interest in replacing the existing heating method with a low-carbon heating system such as hybrid boilers (44%), heat pumps (44%), hydrogen boilers (35%) and heat networks (32%). A large number of the public did not provide a response, likely due to the low familiarity.
  • The public prioritises functionality, cost, and ease of use over a low carbon footprint for home heating systems. A majority of the public think that having a residential heating system with a low carbon footprint is important (67%). However, control functions such as being able to use it at any point (86%), heating up quickly (84%) and ownership (75%), are seen as more important as well as being lower cost than alternatives (78%) and being familiar (77%). While reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a motivating factor for installing a new home heating system for the majority of the public (68%), other factors including running costs (83%), having reliable information (82%), cost of replacement (80%), ease of procuring and installation (77%), and ownership (71%) are more popular reasons.
  • There is a high degree of familiarity among most of the public regarding home energy efficiency measures. Double glazing (88%), loft insulation (87%), wall insulation (85%), energy-efficient lighting (84%) draught-proofing windows (79%) and under floor insulation (77%) are all being widely recognised. Levels of installation of different energy efficiency measures closely follow knowledge of them, with double glazing (51%), loft insulation (46%), wall insulation (39%), energy-efficient lighting (34%) and draught-proofing windows (30%) already being installed by a notable proportion of the UK public.
  • The public sees a range of benefits and drawbacks from adopting these energy efficiency measures. These include making energy bills cheaper (69%), reducing greenhouse gas emissions (52%) and making the house more comfortable to live in (49%) being seen as the most important benefit, while high initial costs (62%), disruption during installation (36%) and future costs in maintaining the measures (31%) seen as the key drawbacks.

Anvar Sarygulov, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue and report author, said: “The changes that need to be made by individuals, businesses and government to help achieve net zero are demanding and disruptive. The public recognises that the government, businesses and individuals themselves have a lot to contribute to help Britain achieve its climate change goals, and are receptive to a variety of policies and behavioural changes to help make it happen. However, if it means increased prices on home electricity and heating, the public are opposed to action.

“Ambitious, sometimes radical, action will be needed across economic sectors. The public will need to accept, and adapt to, significant changes in the goods and services they consume. Many are still unaware of and unprepared for the changes required, especially in the way they heat their homes, to ensure we can reach net zero by 2050. Government and businesses must do more to inform and prepare the public for the changes that need to happen, or they risk the public turning against necessary decarbonisation.”

The full data tables for the polling can be found here.

IEA and B20 call on the G20 to accelerate clean energy transitions

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Business 20 (B20) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have issued a Joint Statement calling on G20 leaders to accelerate clean energy transitions for a resilient recovery, coinciding with a series of G20 Ministerial meetings involving ministers of environment and energy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a historic, yet temporary, decline in energy demand and energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions – according to the IEA, global CO2 emissions are expected to be about 8% lower in 2020 than they were in 2019.

However, the pandemic also threatens the pace and scope of energy transitions, with a 20% decline in global energy investments in 2020 according to the same organisation. It says that between now and 2050, $3.5 trillion of annual energy investments are required globally across all energy sectors to meet the targets for a sustainable path, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

As the world economy and energy systems recover from the crisis, the IEA and B20 assert that G20 Members have a unique opportunity to enact policies that prevent a rebound of CO2 emissions and support a sustainable recovery, while boosting growth and creating new green jobs.

The Joint Statement recommends specific and pragmatic policy options that could spur the much needed investment cycle if G20 countries, namely:

  • accelerate the deployment of existing low-emissions and emissions-neutral technologies, and boost innovation in crucial technology areas including hydrogen, batteries, and carbon capture utilization and storage;
  • enhance energy market stability by improving global energy data transparency and evaluating energy market risks;
  • take necessary steps to secure energy systems and provide access to affordable and uninterrupted flow of clean energy for all;
  • implement energy pricing and tax reforms, using the revenues to finance a just transition.

Yousef Al-Benyan, Chair of B20, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic with historically low energy prices is a unique opportunity for governments to enact policies that steer their clean energy transitions at low financial, political and social cost.”

Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, added: “Mobilising the critical investments for meeting international energy and climate goals requires a grand coalition spanning governments, companies, investors and citizens. The IEA is pleased to work with the G20 and B20 to accelerate the major deployment of clean energy technologies that we need to build more sustainable and resilient energy systems. Despite the challenges we face from the Covid-19 crisis, stronger clean energy actions and ambitions from a growing number of governments and companies around the world make me increasingly optimistic for the future.”

Image by skeeze from Pixabay 

The importance of supply chains for the sustainable business

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By Katie Burrows, Energy Services Solutions Manager at Haven Power

Global giants Google and WWF turned heads this June after announcing the details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

The news comes as the fashion industry continues to grapple with a giant sustainability problem. Today, the industry accounts for about 2-8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, much of which originates from the raw material stage.

The same issues with unsustainable supply chains can be felt across every industry. For decades, major corporations have outsourced their environmental impact to other companies, and in some cases, other countries. Supply chain emissions are up to 5.5 times greater than a company’s direct operations – but until recently, a lack of transparency and accurate data prevented us from seeing the full picture.

Now the tide is starting to change. In the UK, we are seeing pressure being applied across the supply chain by a growing number of companies, both big and small, as they align their business strategies with the nation’s 2050 net zero carbon emissions targets. This has led to a radical shakeup of the traditional tender process, with many companies now listing sustainability, including the use of renewable energy, as a prerequisite for doing business. Suppliers with a poor environmental performance now risk being struck off in favour of competitors with greener credentials.

Take Sainsburys, for example, who this year pledged to invest in a greener future for the whole business. As well as reducing its use of plastic packaging, this also includes ensuring that its suppliers are committed to reducing their carbon emissions. Consumers are now directly influenced by a company’s sustainability policies and are aware of how this impacts their commercial performance. According to research by Unilever, a third of consumers now choose to buy from brands who they believe are doing social or environmental good. The research also found that ‘sustainable brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of its turnover growth.’

Customers are also increasingly willing to do their own research, with data playing a greater role in consumer decision-making. Apps such as Almond provide consumers with more transparency into the brands they are engaging with, giving greater insight into the products they are buying and their carbon footprint. Many of these apps give brands a rating based on their corporate responsibility, including how carbon conscious they are.

We are in the midst of a revolution in how we work, with more and more businesses now putting sustainability at their core. Despite great progress in recent years, the urgency for increased transparency in supply chain sustainability has never been greater. As countries around the world continue to wrestle with the financial and social impact of Covid-19, supply chains are becoming increasingly fragile.

Widespread disruption to manufacturing and logistics has seen many companies rush to reroute or find alternative sources, running the risk of partnering with the wrong suppliers. On-site audits are being cancelled due to travel restrictions and quarantine rules, and so sustainability standards are now at a risk of being compromised to meet new demand.

Companies must be proactive in their due diligence and mitigation strategies to ensure that any progress made so far has not been in vain. At the same time, they must encourage/enact change across their operations and accelerate progress towards a zero carbon economy.

Image by winterseitler from Pixabay