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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 

Nuclear ‘should have extended role’ in clean energy mix

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

With the world looking to consolidate ventures in cleaner and greener electricity sources post-COVID-19, electricity from nuclear sources offer a key option.

The World Nuclear Association in a recent study states the opportunity for governments to invest in nuclear energy, which addresses the COVID-19 crisis and manages issues such as climate change, air pollution and energy crisis.

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Nuclear power plants can maintain grid stability with the ability to regulate plant yield to follow demand and help constrain the impacts of seasonal variances in renewable energy yield. In the current situation, investment in nuclear energy is anticipated to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, increased energy resilience and creation of huge numbers of long-term, high-skilled domestic employment that pay premium compensation.” 

The share of nuclear-based generation in South Korea rose amid the pandemic, whereas in the UK, nuclear played a key role in providing the support to make up the lost production from crippled coal generation during the COVID-19.

In China, electricity production diminished during January-February 2020 by more than 8% year-on-year. Compared to the significant reduction in generation from coal and hydropower, nuclear was more resilient with a mere 2% reduction in China. Even with the pandemic this year, the share of nuclear in electricity generation in the generation mix is anticipated to remain steady in the country as last year. 

The Nuclear Energy Agency in its policy briefs mentioned the COVID-19 recuperation phase as an opportunity for appropriate policy and market frameworks to incentivize investment in fundamental infrastructure that bolsters low-carbon electricity security and economic development. The 108 new planned nuclear reactors and the long-term operation of existing 290 reactors globally can play a key role within the post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts by boosting economic development and provide stability to the generation mix. 

Das concluded: “The global power industry and governments need to consider and provide a level playing field to the nuclear generation that values reliability and energy security. A harmonized nuclear regulatory environment and a holistic safety paradigm along with RE development will act as a catalyst towards global decarbonization.” 

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay 

Brits want country to focus on renewables before space travel

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43% of British consumers care more about technology that can reduce carbon emissions and remove plastics from the oceans, than space travel or house robots.

The findings, from research conducted by Expleo, come as the UK government is under pressure to embrace a ‘green’ recovery post-COVID.

The report, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, suggested that people prefer “powerful, but boring” tech that solves real-world problems over flashy gadgets or novelties such as home robotics, virtual reality or home entertainment.

In tandem with the desire to reduce ocean plastics and carbon emissions, 41% of people specified that they would like to see an advance in renewable energies over the next decade. Smart meters, – which by law, will be in every home come 2024 – were praised by over 80% of people for adding value to their lives, due to their long-term potential to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions through better energy management.

On the other hand, interest in ‘headline grabbing’ technology was low. Just 15% of people surveyed expressed an interest in space tourism, and even fewer (11%) said that they want to see robotics carrying out domestic chores in their homes in the next decade. Only 19% of respondents are optimistic about the prospect of self-driving vehicles, but slightly more (22%) said they’d be open to introducing more smart technologies, such as voice assistants, into their homes.

Stephen Magennis, UK Quality MD at Expleo said: “The results of our research suggest that consumers are keen to see technology being used to improve society as a whole and not just bring comfort in our life. This topic is not new, but I think that the coronavirus pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to the transformative role technology can play in solving real-world problems, whether that’s streamlining the transition to remote working or accelerating innovation in the medical sector. ​

“Today’s businesses should not ignore this or they could face serious backlash from their consumers. More than ever, they need to focus on green technology and innovation to positively influence the planet. It is particularly true for businesses in the energy and mobility sectors: reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption, or driving electric vehicles, are top of consumers’ minds.”

Europe bets on green deal to drive Covid-19 recovery

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By Indranil Ghosh, Founder, Tiger Hill Capital

The European Green Deal has always been a highly ambitious plan that targets a 50-55% reduction in EU CO2 emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality for the region by 2050. But now that it’s become the centerpiece of the EU’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan, 25% of the total 2021-27 recovery budget will be allocated to Green Deal initiatives which are viewed as a powerful job creator in a time of rising unemployment. 

Through the Green Deal and a series of upcoming reforms to the financial system, the EU will lead the world in implementing a comprehensive regulatory and investment framework to drive the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Furthermore, as outlined in a July 8th report ‘Towards a Hydrogen Economy in Europe: a Strategic Outlook,’ the EU is taking a bold stance to put clean hydrogen at the center of its transition plan. 

European Green Deal: A Comprehensive Regulatory Package 

Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission is undertaking a detailed review of all regulations to promote low-carbon technologies and phase out carbon intensive assets. 

New directives will accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives, and emissions trading markets. The transport sector will be under pressure to achieve zero emissions by the 2030s, while industrial sectors will be required to use less materials according to new circular economy policies. Proposals are also expected for a carbon border tax to protect EU companies against unfair competition from other regions with lower environmental standards. 

Central to the Green Deal is to invest heavily into the hydrogen economy so that it accounts for at least 13-14% of the EU’s energy mix by 2050, and possibly up to a quarter. The EU views clean hydrogen—hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of water using electricity generated from renewable energy sources—as a key vector for energy storage and transport, as well as in an energy grid with a growing proportion of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. Clean hydrogen would also be a zero-carbon feedstock in industries like steel, ammonia, and other chemicals. 

The European Commission estimates that up to €180 billion could be invested into clean hydrogen production by 2050, with public funds helping to catalyze that figure. Germany, the region’s economic engine, has committed €7 billion for new businesses and research so that it can reach its national plan for 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 and 10GW by 2040. 

In another key initiative, the EU will reform its Emissions Trading System (ETS), whereby companies must buy permits to emit carbon emissions, so that it better incentivizes renewables, such as by increasing the carbon price. The proceeds from the ETS will be put into an Innovation Fund which will make €10 billion available to support the development of low-carbon technologies. 

Re-wiring the Financial System for Sustainability

To support the transition to a zero-carbon economy, Europe is also leading the way in re-wiring its financial system for sustainability. In 2019, the European Commission issued non-financial reporting guidelines for banks and insurers, based on the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Under these guidelines, banks and insurers will have to report how they expect climate change to affect their financial performance as part of their annual financial filings. It is likely that these guidelines will be converted into ‘hard’ regulation in the next few years. 

The European Central Bank (ECB) has also indicated that it will integrate climate risk into the 2022 European Banking Authority stress tests. Since emissions are highly concentrated in a few companies—for example, three energy companies (RWE, E.ON, and ENBW) account for 38 percent of theCO2 emissions of Germany’s 250 largest emitters—the worst offenders will be quickly highlighted and face a higher cost of capital unless they take mitigating actions.

Furthermore, the EU is taking steps to ensure that investors’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) preferences are considered before their capital is deployed. Under amended MiFID II rules, the EU will make it mandatory for asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds, and financial advisers to determine their clients’ ESG preferences and to recommend products and services which are suitably aligned. They will also be required to report how sustainability risks are expected to impact investment returns. These changes could come into effect in as little as a year-and-a-half

Finally, by the end of 2021, the EU’s ‘Taxonomy Regulation’, which specifies what investments can be classed as sustainable, will also come into force. This should significantly reduce ‘greenwashing’ and give investors more confidence to invest in green assets. 

The Challenge of Stranded Assets

Due to the direct physical risks of climate change or risks associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy, investors are increasingly realizing that many assets may become ‘stranded,’—unable to earn an economic return some time prior to the end of their economic life. 

The highest concentration of stranded assets lies in climate-exposed real estate and industries dependent on fossil fuels like hydrocarbon extraction, non-renewable power generation and utilities, petrochemicals, and transportation. 

In these sectors, we can expect more casualties such as the US utility PG&E, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019 due to damage caused by a spate of Californian wildfires induced by climate change. Other industries with high carbon dioxide emissions like steel, cement, textiles, and agriculture (especially animal husbandry) are also in the firing line. 

Stranded assets are also leaving their mark on financial portfolios. In the last decade, BlackRock’s investments in fossil fuels have lost investors $90 billion. Banks, mortgage companies, and insurance companies are also feeling the pressure. According to Aon, 2017 and 2018 represented the costliest back-to-back years for insurers on record for weather-related disasters. 

If Europe provides a window into future global action on climate change, the 2020s could be a decade in which a large-scale capital shift leaves a multitude of stranded assets in its wake. For example, almost 30% of the Fortune 500 consists of companies in the energy, industrials, transportation, and logistics sectors—most with considerable carbon exposure. 

However, unless the pipeline of green projects is greatly expanded, investors could be left scrambling to redeploy capital into a limited set of ‘climate-proof’ assets. For example, clean hydrogen represents just 1% of current hydrogen production, with 76% coming from natural gas and 23% from coal. That’s why initiatives like the Clean Hydrogen Alliance, also officially launched on July 8th, will play a critical role. The Alliance will build a pipeline of large-scale investment projects in clean hydrogen, and identify technology needs and regulatory barriers holding back large-scale projects. 

The European Green Deal is rightly the centerpiece of the EU’s vision for its future. Not only will it be vital for helping to keep global temperature rises below 2°C, it will also be a powerful lever to help the region recover economically from the pandemic. 

About The Author

Indranil Ghosh is an MIT-trained scientist, sustainable investor, author, and strategic advisor to governments and leading global corporations. Prior to founding Tiger Hill Capital in London Ghosh was Head of Strategy at Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s Sovereign Investment and Development Fund and held senior roles at Bridgewater Associates and McKinsey & Co. His new book is Powering Prosperity: A Citizen’s Guide to Shaping the 21st Century – https://www.tigerhillcapital.com/powering-prosperity

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Revealed: Companies committed to reducing their carbon footprints

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The impact of climate change continues to be in the news – e.g. rising sea levels and erratic weather patterns, both of which constitute a danger to humans and wildlife.

Thankfully, a strategy is now in place to reverse the effects of climate change and restore harmony to the planet. Back in June 2019, the UK government became the first country to sign their ‘Net Zero’ target into law – marking it as the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.[1] Since then, other governments have followed suit, introducing their own laws and policy changes to help reduce the amount of carbon we emit. 

These changes have had a huge impact on the way businesses work, inspiring many to introduce new ways of reducing their carbon footprint. Here, we look at those businesses that are  going above and beyond to ensure their emissions are kept as low possible or are offsetting the carbon they unavoidably emit as part of their daily operations.  

Aviation – EasyJet

Airlines are a significant contributor to carbon emissions globally. In fact, it’s estimated that the flights we catch account for some 12% of all transport emissions annually.[2] Yet there are airlines that are making significant efforts to try and reduce this figure – one of which is EasyJet. In a recent report, EasyJet ranked top of the list of airlines trying to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change and has since become the first airline to operate net zero flights across its whole network.[3]

This has been possible through carbon offsetting initiatives which helps to offset the emissions the airline uses during flights. It’s estimated that the company will spend around £25million each year carbon offsetting, lowering their impact on the environment and positioning themselves as market leaders in reducing CO2. 

Off-grid energy – Flogas

As one of UK’s leading off-grid energy suppliers who help companies offset carbon emissions, Flogas has quickly become a market leader in the fight against climate change. In its ‘2040 Vision’ manifesto, the company has laid out plans on how it intends to the support the government’s carbon emissions targets by supplying its customers with100% renewable energy solutions by 2040. As well as aiding its customers, the company has also undertaken several landmark steps in its own carbon reduction strategy such as promising to offset all Level 1 and Level 2 CO2 emissions for 2019 and became one of the first 0ff-grid gas suppliers to add BioLNG powered delivery vehicles to its fleet. Since then, Flogas has also launched its Carbon Offsetting Initiative for both its commercial and consumer customers. 

Fast food restaurants – McDonald’s

As one of the most iconic restaurants in the world, McDonald’s are firmly under the microscope when it comes to taking sustainable measures. Luckily, the company is making considerable efforts to reduce its impact on the environment wherever possible. With around 36,000 restaurants located in over 100 countries worldwide[4], McDonald’s has now began switching to energy efficient appliances to help cut energy waste by around 25%.[5] It also aims to source all its packaging from recycled materials by 2025.[6]

Automotive – BMW

Regularly named as the world’s most sustainable car manufacturer, BMW has gained a reputation for its creativity and innovation in terms of reducing carbon emissions. The company’s long list of green credentials speaks for itself – for example, from 2009 to 2019 BMW has been able to reduce its delivery fleet emissions by over 40%.[7] The company has also invested heavily in electric technology, turning to more renewable fuels to reduce carbon emissions even further. As it stands, BMW is currently on track to ensure that a quarter of all the vehicles it sells will be electrified by 2021, with a third in 2025 and half of all vehicles by the year 2030.[8]

Manufacturing – Siemens 

Manufacturing often requires energy intensive processes that create high levels of carbon emissions. However, this didn’t stop electronics manufacturer, Siemens, from becoming the first global company to commit to carbon neutrality by 2030 through using renewable energy at its factories.[9] It’s also set out sustainability goals within its ‘Serve the Environment’ programme which details how it intends to create zero waste. As it stands, zero per cent of its waste has been sent to landfill from its factory in Newcastle and the business currently boasts a 92% recycle rate overall. [10]

Software – Google 

With a reputation for creating innovative software, it comes as no surprise that Google is one of the IT giants leading the way in terms of sustainability. As well as reducing its carbon footprint through company-wide efficiency improvements, Google also uses on-site solar power as a renewable fuel supply. [11]The company then uses carbon offsetting to bring its remaining footprint to zero and goes to great lengths to ensure that the projects it supports help provide long-term global benefits.[12]

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47460958

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47460958

[4] https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/help/faq/18510-how-many-mcdonalds-restaurants-are-there-in-the-uk-and-the-world.html

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[6] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[7] https://www.bmwgroup.com/en/responsibility/sustainability-at-the-bmw-group.html

[8] https://www.bmwgroup.com/en/responsibility/sustainability-at-the-bmw-group.html

[9]  https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/08/26/101-companies-committed-to-reducing-their-carbon-footprint/#5f24529f260b

[10] https://new.siemens.com/global/en/company/sustainability/resourceconservation.html

[11] https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/renewable/

[12] https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//green/pdfs/google-carbon-offsets.pdf

UK government pumps £350 million into ‘green recovery’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

UK industry will receive around £350 million to cut down carbon emissions under new plans to step up efforts to tackle climate change.

The multimillion pound investment package will build on progress towards the UK’s target to reach net zero by 2050, by helping businesses to decarbonise across the heavy industry, construction, space and transport sectors and to secure the UK’s place at the forefront of green innovation.

The investment came ahead of the PM launching the first meeting of the Jet Zero Council, which will bring together government, representatives from the environmental sector and the aviation and aerospace industry to tackle aviation emissions in line with the government’s ambition to achieve the first ever zero emission long haul passenger plane.

The projects set to receive funding will work on developing new technologies that could help companies switch to more energy-efficient means of production, use data more effectively to tackle the impacts of climate change, and help support the creation of new green jobs by driving innovation and growth in UK industries.

The package includes:

  • £139 million to cut emissions in heavy industry by supporting the transition from natural gas to clean hydrogen power, and scaling up carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology which can stop over 90% of emissions being released from industrial plants into the air by storing carbon permanently underground
  • £149 million to drive the use of innovative materials in heavy industry; the 13 initial projects will include proposals to reuse waste ash in the glass and ceramics industry, and the development of recyclable steel
  • £26 million to support advanced new building techniques in order to reduce build costs and carbon emissions in the construction industry
  • A £10 million boost for state of the art construction tech which will go towards 19 projects focused on improving productivity and building quality, for example, re-usable roofs and walls and “digital clones” of buildings that analyse data in real time
  • Launching a New National Space Innovation Programme backed by £15 million initial funding from the UK Space Agency, which will see the first £10million go towards projects that will monitor climate change across the globe, which could protect local areas from the impacts of extreme weather by identifying changes in the environment
  • Opening up bids for a further £10million for R&D in the automotive sector, to help companies take cutting edge ideas from prototype to market, including more efficient electric motors or more powerful batteries

Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, the first Jet Zero council meeting discussed how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.

The members will look at how to work across their sectors to achieve these goals, including through brand new aircraft and engine technologies. These could include using new synthetic and sustainable aviation fuels as a clean substitute for fossil jet fuel, and eventually the development of electric planes.

The government says that over the past decade, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country. In 2019, UK emissions were 42% lower than in 1990.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ve made great strides towards our net zero target over the last year, but it’s more important than ever that we keep up the pace of change to fuel a green, sustainable recovery as we rebuild from the pandemic.

“The UK now has a huge opportunity to cement its place at the vanguard of green innovation, setting an example worldwide while growing the economy and creating new jobs.

“That’s why we’re backing cutting edge research to cut costs and carbon across our great British industries, and even paving the way for the first ever zero emission long haul passenger flight – so that our green ambitions remain sky high as we build back better for both our people and our planet.”

Business and Energy Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Climate change is among the greatest challenges of our age. To tackle it we need to unleash innovation in businesses across the country.

“This funding will reduce emissions, create green collar jobs and fuel a strong, clean economic recovery – all essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Image by Steppinstars from Pixabay 

Lowering carbon emissions ‘will help boost business post-COVID-19’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Companies globally have been forced to take extreme measures to change the way they operate during the global COVID-19 outbreak, and this has been estimated to have reduced carbon emissions by up to a quarter by some instances.

However, a new report from Emitwise claims it is possible to maintain these lower carbon emissions while also boosting economic activity once social distancing ends, and regular business activities begin. The key, it argues, is to better analyse and report on carbon emissions – and it gives clear business benefits of doing so. 

‘The business benefits of carbon accounting: creating organisational value from carbon accounting in a post-Coronavirus world’ discusses how to use carbon reporting as a competitive differentiator for your business. It offers 11 reasons why businesses can benefit from carbon reporting including:

  • Cost saving
  • Legislation
  • Point of difference
  • Access to new markets
  • PR opportunity
  • Talent recruitment and retention tool
  • Business benchmark
  • Futureproofing
  • Carbon taxes
  • Access to green funding and capital
  • Contributing to carbon reduction

The report is free to download here and also includes information on how organisations can continue to maintain lower emissions and start their carbon reporting journey in line with the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), which came into force earlier this month.

Caroline Bartlett, Head of Carbon Accounting at Emitwise, and author of the report, said: “We’ve launched this report now as many businesses have already significantly reduced their emissions as an indirect result of Covid-19 and this is something that they should continue to progress once the outbreak is over. By better analysing – and reporting on – carbon emissions, organisations can generate huge business benefits at a challenging economic time while also maintain lower levels of emissions. It’s a win-win situation for business.” 

IT sustainability ‘being ignored by business’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Only 28% of managerial knowledge workers in large UK businesses consider information technology (IT) sustainability to be a top priority for their business beyond mandatory reporting and regulatory requirements.

That’s according to research from Citrix, which also highlights somewhat encouragingly that the majority of large UK businesses (60%) have a specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability strategy in place for IT, which includes strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Despite this, only 37% of companies currently measure greenhouse gas emissions created by employee computing. The majority of respondents working in the telecoms sector (70%) confirmed that this is currently measured by their organisation. Yet only 15% of those in utilities, 19% of those in healthcare, 40% of those in local government, and 43% of those in technology could say the same.

The data also suggests there is division amongst large UK businesses in regards to the measurement of IT end user device electricity consumption, with 55% currently measuring the consumption of devices such as desktops, laptops, notebooks and tablets. A further 59% currently measure IT data centre electricity consumption.

Almost a third (31%) of managerial knowledge workers – those in management roles up to CxO level in companies of 250+ employees – believe that IT departments have more of an impact than any other department when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, improving sustainability and driving widespread and crucial change across the whole business. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of Chief Technology Officers (93%) and Chief Information Officers (83%) are responsible for reporting on IT electricity consumption across the business.

Interestingly, a large proportion of Chief Financial Officers (88%) are now responsible for reporting to the board on IT use related to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, 78% of CFOs are subject to performance measurements such as goals or KPIs related to IT sustainability, which suggests that organisations across the UK understand the potential financial implications of not shifting towards more sustainable IT practices. 

However, 48% of respondents cited budget constraints as the biggest barrier holding back their organisation from building a more sustainable IT model. A lack of time (33%) and board support (21%), as well as employee pushback to changes made to IT (20%), were also cited as significant barriers.

Michelle Senecal de Fonseca, Area Vice President, Northern Europe at Citrix, said: “Anthropogenic interference has already caused a 1° C rise in global temperature. With no time to lose, every business in every industry must think about how they can reduce carbon emissions, improve sustainability and embrace greener practices by default.

“With digital technologies having an unprecedented impact on the workplace, organisations should review their existing IT infrastructure and evaluate its efficiency. They will soon realise they can cut their impact on the environment by transitioning workloads from less efficient on-premises data centres and migrating to hyperscale hosted cloud services.

“However, embracing a more flexible working culture — underpinned by the cloud — will likely have the most far-reaching consequences. The ability to work anywhere and from any device means lower commuting emissions and the freedom to work from devices that consume up to 90% less energy than a standard PC, such as a Google Chromebook or Apple laptop. By embracing this kind of approach UK businesses can reduce their carbon footprint, while benefiting from happier staff and improved productivity.”

Netherlands praised for green energy policies

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The 2020 Sustainable Energy Production (SDE+) plan in The Netherlands’ spring budget will make its CO2 reduction target feasible and affordable, say analysts at GlobalData.

The Dutch Government plans to double the green energy subsidies to €4bn in 2020, from a previously planned €2bn, to meet its promise to cut CO2 emissions.

The Dutch Climate Agreement aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the Netherlands by setting a national reduction goal of 49% lower in 2030 than in 1990. In December last year, the country’s Supreme Court ordered the government to cut the nation’s CO2 emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by the end of 2020.

One of the key policy measures to meet the climate goals is the SDE+ scheme, which provides financial support to the producers for the renewable energy they generate. The 2020 SDE+ spring tender round is the last time the SDE+ subsidy will be awarded in its current form. Later on, the SDE+ stimulation subsidy will be expanded to an incentive for sustainable energy transition (SDE++).

Bhavana Sri Pullagura, Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “There are a large number of renewable energy projects that can offer cost-effective contribution for further development and make the energy transition more sustainable. The 2020 SDE+ will be used to help projects that have a short implementation period and those projects which did not get funding in the previous tender. This is expected to give an extra boost to the development of renewable energy through the stimulation of both new and old projects for which the required permits were previously missing.

“The government’s resolution to reduce emissions by 49% by 2030 will result in massive renewable energy capacity addition. By 2030, the renewable energy capacity is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12%. The subsidies provided by the government will help in bringing down the cost curve for wind and solar energy, making them the most promising areas of new capacity additions. Both these technologies are slated to grow by more than 15% CAGR by 2030.”

Image by Markus Christ from Pixabay