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Prepping for Net Zero: How your SME can create a Net Zero strategy

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Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the consumer fabric of the modern world and are responsible for between 60% and 70% of the world’s industrial carbon emissions. However, they’re often overlooked when it comes to national policy, with huge corporations usually afforded the focus of UK policymakers.

With Sir Keir Starmer’s recent announcement that the Labour Party will shred its flagship pledge to spend £28bn a year on renewable energy projects, the UK’s commitment to its net zero goals have been once again called into question.

We spoke to Charlotte Enright, Renewables Specialist at green finance experts Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, to discuss the state of the net zero landscape, how environmentally minded SMEs can overcome the obstacles they’re faced with and how to create a robust net zero strategy…

The onus on SMEs

The Labour Party’s U-turn on renewables spending mirrors a policy change by Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives back in September, where he decided to relax some of the country’s net zero commitments. This means that, irrespective of the result of the impending general election, the UK’s SMEs face uncertain governmental guidance when it comes to achieving net zero.

The lack of cohesive guidance has already caused problems for UK businesses, who face further uncertainty going forward. The 2023 edition of the Net Zero Barometer Report by the British Standards Institute (BSI) indicates that two-thirds of decision-makers at UK SMEs do not feel confident in their path to net zero.

Similarly, the same study showed that SMEs across various UK sectors are crying out for guidance from the government. 28% of respondents believed that educational projects would help them reach net zero, while a further 22% feel they need more information in order to get there.

Cultural change…

Money and funding issues aside, it’s particularly difficult for SMEs to completely adapt their business practices without total buy-in at all levels of the company. Enright advises that there’s no substitute for real operational change.

“Everyone, at every level of your company, must be pulling in the same direction to begin making real strides from a net zero perspective,” she states. “Too often, we’re seeing firms nominate dedicated net zero individuals or teams. These staff members are given the impossible task of reducing company emissions without sufficient funding or support from upper management.”

…from top to bottom

It’s not just the upper management who should be involved in the net zero process, however. SMEs should be looking to engage employees of all levels in net zero strategies. It’s often those who are working with company technologies and procedures every day who can provide the most insight into how to streamline those processes.

“Company-wide consultation on net zero strategy might be a challenge to organise initially, but it’s likely to lead to increased employee advocacy for your net zero program and the wider company alike,” says Enright. “Your company could even gain a competitive PR advantage by doing so.”

Increasing emission visibility

Once you’ve ensured that the entire company is onside with your company’s sustainability mission, it’s vital to take a strategic view in terms of monitoring emissions. “For most SMEs,” says Enright, “the best primary course of action is getting a handle on where exactly your emissions come from.”

Corporate emissions can be categorised into three distinct groups – or scopes – a system devised by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – the world’s most-common greenhouse gas accounting standard. These are:

Scope 1 emissions

Emissions from sources that an organisation owns or controls directly – for example from burning fuel in a fleet of vehicles (if they’re not electrically powered).

Scope 2 emissions

Emissions that a company causes indirectly. These emissions tend to come from where the energy that the company purchases and uses is produced. For example, the emissions caused when generating the electricity used in your building would fall into this category.

Scope 3 emissions

Emissions that are not produced by the company itself and are not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by them. These emissions are those that your business is indirectly responsible for up and down its value chain. Scope 3 emissions include all sources not within the scope 1 and 2 boundaries.

Understanding where the bulk of your company’s emissions come from is the first – and perhaps most vital – step in ascertaining your goals.

Setting goals

With visibility over where your company’s emissions come from, the next step is setting your goals. The best plans for net zero are regularly reassessed at regular intervals to ensure progress is being met. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive (SMART) targets of varying lengths are necessary to keep the big picture in mind and to meet shorter-term targets.

Planning for 2050 – the UK’s current net zero goal – should be the endgame, but successful net zero strategies must be reachable via a series of shorter two-to-three year targets that work in pursuit of the wider goal.

Success will look different for different companies. Your targets can take inspiration from similar, aspirational businesses, but must be tailored to you and your needs. The Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative has published a series of Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment to inform and guide your firm’s spend on the way to net zero.

Taking collective action

Collaboration with businesses across your supply chain is a great place to start your net zero strategy, enjoy increased visibility over results and maximise your impact. Most SMEs work regularly with partners or suppliers who will be in the same boat as you when it comes to net zero compliance – and working together can reap a whole host of shared benefits.

Consult with your partners to collectively adopt and promote net zero initiatives, and ensure that your entire value chain is contributing to reducing emissions. As well as helping progress each partner towards net zero, you will likely enhance your collective reputation as a result of standing together on environmental issues.

Recent months have also revealed strong results from a number of collaborations between larger corporations and SMEs. If your SME functions as part of the supply chain for a larger corporation, it may be worth discussing how they can utilise their resources to support associated businesses.

However, it’s vital that any net zero collaboration your business makes is aligned with the Green Agreements Guidance, monitored and administered by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This set of guidelines can be used to ensure your collective green action does not fall foul of competition law.

Financial modelling

“The U-turns from both the Tory and Labour parties indicate just how volatile the net zero landscape is,” comments Enright. “So, it’s understandably daunting for SMEs to invest in sustainable infrastructure, particularly when we take fixed cost increases and inflation into account.

“One way to combat this,” she states, “is by first investing in dedicated sustainability modelling tools. These could take the form of training courses, to help better understand the risks associated with a sustainable investment, or a digital tool, to project the performance of your investment in various sustainable initiatives.

“Knowing how to accurately conduct sensitivity and scenario analyses could be the difference between rushing into an ill-advised outlay, or investing successfully,” she advises.

Accessing funding

Even with access to the latest financial modelling software and training, the amount of operational change required for some SMEs may be impossible using only internal funding. In the current landscape, it’s vital that mid-sized businesses are aware of the external funding facilities available to them.

These could come in the form of government funding. SMEs may be eligible for different government grants or loans intended for businesses investing in green technologies with a view to limiting emissions.

Dedicated green bonds and green loans are another valuable facility at your disposal. Global uptake of these green finance methods increased from $5.2bn to $540.6bn between 2012 and 2022, indicating the importance of green finance in the route towards net zero.

These are monitored centrally according to the Green Loan Principles (GLP), which dictate that you must report your company spend on green initiatives, as well as the impact those projects have made.

Enright comments: “Inconsistent messaging from UK leaders has made it difficult for SMEs to know where they stand with regards to national sustainability and how much of the weight of the UK’s net zero push falls on their shoulders.

“Regardless of what your company is being asked to do by the government, a net zero policy is important in terms of your company’s role in the wider push for sustainability. It can also give you a competitive advantage!”

With the right guidance, creating a net zero strategy for your SME need not be as as daunting as it might seem

Photo by Hendrik Schuette on Unsplash

World Economic Forum urges businesses to help ‘close the climate action gap’

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The Alliance for CEO Climate Leaders, a CEO-led community facilitated by the World Economic Forum, has released a new report calling on businesses and governments to shift from incremental to systemic actions to meet climate goals.

The report, Bold Measures to Close the Climate Action Gap: A Call for Systemic Change by Governments and Corporations, was published in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and complements the State of Climate Action report launched prior to the COP28 climate change conference.

According to the analysis, while individual climate action has increased, collectively the sum is not sufficient to reach the level of systemic change needed. There is a 600-plus gigaton gap in national emissions reduction ambition and policy that needs to be closed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As such, stronger government action is needed.

Meanwhile, looking at CDP data for the 1,000 largest companies globally, likely well over 10% of global emissions are in the supply chains of those companies– showing the dramatic systems impact that the world’s largest companies could have.

“The first UN global stocktake and the first part of this report have highlighted a large climate action gap that we are not on track to close,” said Pim Valdre, Head of Climate Ambition Initiatives at the World Economic Forum. “We need to urgently shift into delivery mode, focusing on immediate actions with outsized impacts. Enabling these actions calls for public-private action to drive the right policies, technologies and financial solutions needed to achieve a system-wide transformation.”

While COP28 showed new impactful steps, such as the global agreements to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030, more is needed to deliver on commitments, the report concludes.

The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, which consists of more than 120 top companies from diverse industry sectors and regions, representing more than $4 trillion in total revenues and 12 million employees, called for decision-makers at the international climate change conference to shift from incremental actions to those that can transform systems and reach exponential impact.

“While COP28 resulted in very good progress and many companies have already started climate initiatives, the sum of the parts is still insufficient. Companies remain constrained by obstacles such as high costs and interest rates, low customer willingness to pay, or a lack supporting permitting and regulations,” said Rich Lesser, Global Chair of Boston Consulting Group and Chief Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders. “This report brings answers to these obstacles, with examples of practical actions that can transform systems from the inside. If all government and corporate leaders start acting on them now and together, we will go a long way towards the scale of impact that we need.”

Private-sector action

The reports asserts that companies can and should drive systemic impact beyond their internal initiatives, highlighting five actions with the potential for dramatic impact:

Government action

Governments have a large responsibility to deploy mitigation solutions in a just and socially acceptable way. The report highlights five priorities to help close the 600-plus gigaton emissions gap:

  • Move up net-zero targets to 2050 or earlier, increase near-term targets, and raise financial and technical support from higher-income to lower-income nations.
  • Recognize and put a material price on carbon.
  • Double financing and incentives and make public procurement green.
  • Remove obstacles such as permitting lead times, supply chain bottlenecks, skill gaps and social distrust.
  • If progress remains too slow, consider more drastic measures, such as hard technology bans, or massive adaptation and removal investments.

How to deliver these and other critical actions for the net-zero transition will be discussed by business leaders at a meeting of the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

Energy crisis putting business Net Zero goals at risk

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82% of UK business leaders say the energy crisis will impact their organisation’s ability to meet emissions reduction plans – Of that figure, around half of organisations say they are delaying planned investment in sustainability and net zero plans (49%). Just over one third of the same organisations (34%) say they now have more immediate business challenges to meet. More than a quarter of these organisations claim that taking practical action to meet targets is difficult (27%).

That’s according to research published by Schneider Electric, which says that given the direct link between lower energy use and decreased emissions, organisations that maintain efforts to meet their emissions targets will also reduce energy use as a result. This in turn will lower their overall energy costs, and provide a useful boost to the bottom line in a challenging economic climate.

Crucially, the survey of more than 1,200 large organisations reveals that business leaders still recognise the importance of working to emissions reduction targets, as 39% believe that climate change and net zero ambitions will become more of a priority over the next three years. Only a small minority (12%) believe that national net zero commitments will be diluted in that time.

“Business leaders tell us that the energy crisis should be seen alongside the many other challenges they have faced over the last twelve months, including economic pressures, cyber security and skills shortages. Yet our research suggests that some of the UK and Ireland’s largest organisations are ‘kicking the carbon emissions can down the road’, as a result of the energy crisis”, said Kelly Becker, Zone President, Schneider Electric UK and Ireland.

“As fears grow about progress against global commitments made under the Paris Agreement, and the UK’s Climate Change Committee warns of a lack of progress on emissions cuts, the UK and Ireland need businesses and organisations in the public sector to play their part and stick to their net zero and emissions reduction targets”, said Kelly Becker.

The survey also reveals that only around one in five (21%) of those surveyed believe that energy prices will fall over the next three years, while over two thirds (69%) think their organisation will still be addressing the energy crisis in 12 months’ time.

Becker also urged business leaders to re-engage with their emissions reduction ambitions: “It’s not all doom and gloom: as our research shows, business leaders still believe in their climate change ambitions – they simply need to push the subject back up the corporate agenda.

“The technology required to help businesses decarbonise is already available – and the return on investment for these solutions has never been more attractive, with payback periods measured in months rather than years. Organisations still have time to meet their net zero commitments by understanding and addressing energy use, investing in renewable energy and energy saving technology, and embedding sustainability and carbon reduction targets in their business plans,” she added.

“What’s more, those that invest in green skills and green jobs will reap the rewards of a diverse workforce for decades to come. At Schneider, we’ve seen this for ourselves through our apprenticeship and graduate programmes.”

Government commits £12m to help energy-intensive industries cut emissions

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Businesses across the UK will benefit from a share of more than £12 million government funding to help energy-intensive industries cut their carbon emissions and energy costs.

The funding for the 22 winning projects will help businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland clean up their industrial processes and improve their energy efficiency – benefiting industries including pharmaceuticals, steel, paper, and food and drink.

This £12.4 million funding was awarded as part of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), which has awarded grants to British projects across the country to increase the energy efficiency of their industrial processes, from car manufacturing to steel production and food processing.

The winning bids include sustainably harvesting food in Carmarthenshire, Wales, through a new air source heat pump system, capturing waste heat to dry, heat, crush and grind materials for roadmaking in South Yorkshire and using revolutionary high temperature heat pumps to reduce the energy needed to heat and cool cheese, reducing emissions in dairy farms across the Midlands.

It is estimated that industry is currently responsible for producing 16% of the UK’s emissions and will need to cut emissions by two thirds by 2035 in order for the UK to achieve its net zero target.

The funding will play a crucial role in helping to clean up big-emitting industries as part of the UK’s green industrial revolution – decarbonising their industrial processes and reducing their reliance on expensive fossil fuels, such as gas. This means businesses will not only reduce their environmental impact, but also save on their energy bills and safeguard thousands of British jobs.

Graham Stuart, Minister at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “Boosting the energy efficiency of industrial processes is a critical step not only in our transition to a lower-carbon economy, but also by helping businesses to cut their energy costs and protect valuable British jobs.

“That’s why the government has stepped in once again to support energy intensive industries, with a fresh funding round to unleash the next generation of green innovators who are re-shaping the way technology can reduce carbon emissions.

“So far, £34.8 million of funding has been awarded through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, which was first launched in June 2020.”

Leading CEOs pledge 50% cut in real estate emissions by 2030

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A group of global firms have committed to reduce their real estate emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero carbon no later than 2050, as part of a World Economic Forum initiative.

With buildings contributing 38% of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, leaders across all industries have a critical role to play in lowering their global real estate emissions.

“While real estate represents nearly 40% of all energy-related GHG emissions, the sector is frequently an afterthought when it comes to an organization’s decarbonization and sustainability strategies,” said Matthew Blake, Head of Financial and Monetary Systems, World Economic Forum. “Leaders across all industries have a responsibility to take action on their real estate GHG emissions to ensure progress in the fight against climate change.”

The following companies have pledged to halve their buildings-related emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero building emissions by 2050:

  • Avison Young
  • Edge
  • GPFI Group
  • Ivanhoé Cambridge
  • JLL
  • Majid Al Futtaim Properties
  • Schneider Electric
  • Signify

These firms will meet these targets by implementing the Forum’s Green Buildings Principles. Released last year, the Green Building Principles: The Action Plan for Net-Zero Carbon Buildings provides a clear sequence of steps to deliver net-zero carbon real estate portfolios:

1. Calculate a robust carbon footprint of your portfolio in the most recent representative year to inform targets

2. Set a target year for achieving net-zero carbon, by 2050 at the latest, and an interim target for reducing at least 50% of these emissions by 2030

3. Measure and record embodied carbon of new developments and major refurbishments

4. Maximize emissions reductions for all new developments and major refurbishments in the pipeline to ensure delivery of net-zero carbon (operational and embodied) by selected final target year

5. Drive energy optimization across both existing assets and new developments

6. Maximize supply of on-site renewable energy

7. Ensure 100% off-site energy is procured from renewable-backed sources, where available

8. Engage with stakeholders with whom you have influence in your value chain to reduce scope 3 emissions

9. Compensate for any residual emissions by purchasing high-quality carbon offsets

10. Engage with stakeholders to identify joint endeavours and equitably share costs and benefits of interventions

Developed in collaboration with JLL, the World Green Building Council and the Forum’s Real Estate community, the Green Building Principles can be formally adopted by firms and include an Action Plan detailing implementation.

The Action Plan provides globally applicable guidance on best practices to implement the principles for every stakeholder, from owners to occupiers to investors. Signatories will report progress annually as part of their public sustainability reporting and participate in a Practitioners Group to identify solutions around implementation.

Signatories share why they have pledged the Principles:

“More sustainable real estate is essential,” said Coen van Oostrom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Edge. “The Principles offer a clear roadmap to help all building stakeholders tackle their emissions and deliver better buildings. The world deserves better buildings and it is entirely possible to significantly reduce the impact of both existing and new buildings.”

“It’s imperative that we address real estate related emissions,” said Christian Ulbrich, Global Chief Executive Officer and President, JLL. “Getting started is often the hardest part and the Principles offer a simple set of steps to do so. We believe it is easier to get to net zero in the built environment than for many companies to get to net zero in their core businesses and the business case is there to support action.”

“The emphasis on bringing together the world’s leading businesses and public figures to collectively address issues like climate change and driving social change is fundamental to what Avison Young stands for. ESG considerations across the board must be addressed by the real estate sector — buildings have a huge impact on our everyday lives and the planet,” said Mark E. Rose, Chairman and CEO, Avison Young. “We are thrilled to adopt the Green Building Principles and demonstrate to our peers that reaching net zero is not only possible but essential for a better built environment and more resilient and successful cities.”

“By nature, real estate requires long-term thinking and so we have a duty to invest with conviction and build a legacy for future generations,” said Nathalie Palladitcheff, President and CEO, Ivanhoé Cambridge. “We have a collective opportunity and responsibility to decarbonize the built environment and this ambitious commitment will require a transformation of practices across the whole real estate value chain.”

“The industry has traditionally looked at investments in sustainability as a trade-off with other aspects like customer experience, but it’s very clear that we need to shift our mindset,” said Ahmed Galal Ismail, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Properties. “Sustainability is actually a trade-on and sustainable assets are more valuable. We are committed to transitioning our portfolio and proving what is possible in alignment with the Principles.”

“We have the innovation to both transform the current building stock through electrification and digitalization and develop smart, green buildings of the future,” said Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice President, European Operations, Schneider Electric. “Schneider Electric is proud to adopt the Principles and demonstrate how we can transition buildings to be healthier, more efficient and ultimately net-zero carbon.”

“We continue to be committed to the planet and addressing our real estate footprint” said Harsh Chitale, CEO, Digital Solutions Division, Signify. “The Principles are an ideal way to help every type of company address emissions from the buildings they own and/or occupy.”

“As a facility management company, we play a major role in the drive for adoption and implementation of emission reduction programs,” said Dr. MKO Balogun, Group CEO, GPFI Group. “Our role working with occupiers, owners, and developers of real estate gives us the leverage to drive that commitment, and we are glad to be joining other global leaders on this journey.”

Kana Earth unveils carbon offsetting ledger for fund managers

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British company Kana Earth has launched an open ledger and investment platform for the UK’s carbon offsetting market, which it claims will address many of the major obstacles holding the sector back for fund managers investing in this sector.

The company says it’s already in talks with several UK based fund managers, who collectively have over a trillion in assets under management and are interested in using the platform.

The Kana proposition will enable UK landowners with carbon offsetting projects to list and promote these on the platform at an early stage of the project development, detailing the seed capital required for the projects to start. This will provide ‘unprecedented levels of transparency’ in terms of overall goals and carbon reduction targets for the schemes, and how these will be achieved. This, the company says, will make it easier for fund managers and other professional investors to reduce their carbon footprint through buying and investing in transparent UK offset credits at an early stage of the project.

With the average Woodland project in the UK being 50ha and Peatland 200ha, these projects are normally too small for fund managers to invest in, but with the Kana Investment platform providing the technology and legal framework, fund managers will be able to invest, manage, report and insure credits to create a portfolio of UK credits thereby scaling the investment in this UK Nature sector.

Under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) initiative, over $130 trillion of globally managed assets have been committed to achieving net zero by at least 2050. Fund managers including Invesco, Vanguard and BlackRock have signed up, aiming to achieve a net zero target across their business operations, but also across their investment portfolios.

Kana says more fund managers will increasingly look to compensate for all or part of the carbon emissions linked to their portfolio companies through the purchase of carbon offsets. It also expects to see more fund managers launch new “carbon neutral” share classes enabling investors to offset the carbon emissions attributable to their investments by paying a slightly higher management fee.

It also predicts that more active fund managers will start to re-invest part of their performance fee into a charitable pool or foundation whose goal is to back carbon offsetting projects.

Andy Creak, CEO and Co-Founder at Kana Earth Ltd said: “If the UK is to meet its carbon neutral targets, it needs to find a way to make it easier for fund managers to invest in projects in the country. However, there are significant challenges facing the UK carbon offsetting market, which is adversely affecting this goal.

“The challenges the UK carbon offsetting market needs to address include limited data availability, scarce financing, and the inability to attract private investment at scale,  inadequate risk management , and the lack of a process, technology, and legal framework to standardise how UK Nature Carbon works. There also needs to be a greater standardisation of codes in the UK carbon offsetting sector. We have developed Kana to address many of these challenges and in so doing, hopefully encourage fund managers and other  professional investors to back more UK carbon offsetting projects.”

World Economic Forum provides ‘comprehensive’ blueprint for future-ready cities

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The World Economic Forum has released a series of four reports on how cities can take a systems approach to finance and deliver urban transformation projects in the wake of COVID, widening inequality and global conflicts.

Each report – urban inclusion, city financing models, climate preparedness, and technology adoption – guides city leaders with case studies and toolkits to successfully manage digital projects and new financing models to achieve more climate-ready and equitable cities.

The Global Future Council on Cities of Tomorrow (GFC) – comprised of forty-five sector experts from around the world collaborated throughout the pandemic to help struggling cities to build more future-ready communities for all citizens.

“Cities are on the frontlines of climate mitigation and adaptation. They are also under pressure to improve residents’ standard of living and increase community cohesion while progressing towards sustainable development,” said Alice Charles, Lead, Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum. “To meet these high expectations, cities need to develop strategies using a systems perspective to deliver net-zero carbon and climate-resilient urban infrastructure. The Global Future Council on Cities has done an extraordinary job with these reports to provide cities with the tools they need right now.”

Implementing a systems approach across urban sectors: 

  • Rethinking City Revenue and Finance: A systems-approach to financing urban transformation depends on access to a diverse range of revenue sources to advance both traditional and green infrastructure, which also must include investment in operations and maintenance. The report is informed by a survey of 10 city administrations on potential revenue streams, planned initiatives and the policy interventions required to ensure that projects are financially viable.
    • For example, with support from UNHabitat and UNDP, Somaliland implemented a robust property tax and collection system to pay for infrastructure improvements, which increased the capital city’s property tax revenue from $384,115 in 2008 to close to $1.5 million in 2018. This represents up to one third of the city’s total revenue.
  • Using Digital Technology for a Green and Just Recovery in Cities: To move towards a systems approach, this report recommends that city leaders should start by asking, “What are the most pressing unmet needs and challenges in cities” that technology can improve, rather than, “What can we do with digital technologies?”. A 10-step action plan and 31 case studies showcase best practices and innovative digital solutions that have already been applied in 28 cities worldwide.
    • For example, ModeliScale is an energy network digital twin that allows simulation of the future energy grid. The model covers multiple inputs and outputs, including buildings, solar panels, electric vehicles and storage. This realistic view of a city’s energy needs enables better planning for investment, operations and maintenance.
  • Accelerating Urban Inclusion for a Just Recovery: Equity and inclusion are at the heart of a systems approach to every aspect of recovery and transformation. The report provides a 10-step action plan for urban inclusion to enable city leaders to create more inclusive spatial, digital, social/institutional and economic realms.
    • For example, São Paulo, Brazil, has successfully introduced an instrument called “Outorga Onerosa”, which offers property owners a density bonus to increase the maximum allowable development on a site in exchange for either direct funds or in-kind support for specified public policy goals.
  • Delivering Climate-Resilient Cities Using a Systems Approach: This report finds that cities need to engage with relevant stakeholders from government, business, academia and civil society that interact with the urban value chain. The report provides a five-step action plan to guide cities in adopting a systems approach to climate-resilient urban infrastructure delivery.
    • For example, Mexico City is leading the way in Latin America by financing green infrastructure with social impact bonds. The success of these bonds is based in part on certification by internationally independent experts who also periodically collect and publish data on performance indicators.

Together the four reports provide a roadmap for cities to become more equitable and resilient to the shocks and stressed caused by global conflict, climate change, and rapidly changing technologies.

As the GFC co-chairs Carlo Ratti and Maimunah Mohd Sharif point out, preparedness on one front often has unexpected benefits elsewhere. In the Forward to the climate preparedness report, the co-chairs write, “Systems approaches are complex – more connections lead to more complications – yet the successes of cities such as Melbourne, Fukuoka and Helsinki demonstrate that extraordinary rewards can be attained, especially if siloed thinking is dismantled. The solution to a transport query might lie in housing; the unanticipated positive impact of a new park might be felt in a nearby water treatment plant. By pursuing a systems approach, we can bring fresh ideas to fields as diverse as housing, energy, mobility, public and green spaces, water treatment, stormwater management, waste management and many others.”

The Global Future Councils serve as a brain trust for leaders from government, business, and civil society, and support the Forum’s mission by bringing together experts bound by a shared mission to discuss the most critical issues, generate insights and analysis, and collaborate in shaping agendas.

New collaboration to support data centre market on net zero goals

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Keysource and Chapmanbdsp have formed a partnership to support clients on the road to net zero carbon emissions in the data centre and critical infrastructure market.

The collaborative service combines both industry leaders’ expertise to provide customers with the ability to measure and manage the full carbon lifecycle of a project, including embodied and operational carbon, along with carbon offset options, whether planning a new build or upgrading an existing facility.

The aim is to give customers the insight of what contributes to a projects whole life carbon and the intervention opportunities available to realise their sustainability goals. The approach and methodology developed provides a transparent and visual way to manage key decision making whilst considering the broader impacts of those options.

Jon Healy, Operations Director at Keysource, said: “We recognise that measuring and managing embodied carbon needs to form part of a holistic development process, particularly for data centres. This partnership provides customers a combined resource of consultancy and advisory services to complete carbon assessments in parallel with other project drivers. Leveraging our data centre experience, we’re able to provide customers with high impact and feasible opportunities.”

Ray Upjohn, Chief Executive Officer at chapmanbdsp, added: “We see great value in combining our skills in the energy and sustainability arena. Together we’re proud to support the data centre market in overcoming the challenge of achieving net zero.”

Government puts livestock methane production in spotlight

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The UK Government has launched a UK-wide call for evidence asking agricultural industry, scientists and the wider public for information on the use of new types of animal feed products that can reduce methane emissions from livestock.

Ruminant livestock – cows and sheep – are the leading cause of farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, feed products with methane inhibiting properties have shown potential in reducing reduce GHG emissions, especially from housed cattle. These products may include ingredients like methane production inhibitors, seaweeds, essential oils, organic acids, probiotics, and antimicrobials.

The consultation has been launched in agreement with the Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The governments are seeking to find out how farmers and agri-businesses can increase adoption of this technology to support more sustainable protein production. It will consider the current role of feed additives within our farming systems, and the potential barriers that could prevent the introduction of methane suppressing feed products in both the near and long-term future.

In 2019, agriculture accounted for 10% of total UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with methane accounting for approximately 54% of agricultural emissions. The UK Government has set an ambitious target to achieve net-zero GHG emissions across the whole UK economy by 2050. To meet this target all sectors must reduce their GHG emissions.

Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 16% since 1990 (as of 2020) thanks to innovation and advances in technology, with many farms using more efficient agricultural practices. Government emissions and production statistics suggest that since 1990 we are producing a litre of milk with 21% less GHG emissions. Efficiency gains in dairy farming mean that we are now producing 11% more milk than we were in 2000 with 24% fewer cows.

Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis said: “We’ve set out ambitious targets to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and it’s right to consider how we can help farmers produce food sustainably and reduce emissions from agriculture further.

“Well managed livestock can provide various environmental benefits and meat and dairy can both be an important part of a balanced diet. Through this call for evidence we’ll better understand the promising role emerging feed additive technologies for cattle could play and how government can help drive its development.”

Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “We need to develop a resilient and prosperous agriculture sector which reduces its carbon emissions and greenhouse gases through a range of approaches including the possibility of adoption of important technologies. We want to work with our farmers and industry to achieve this and I encourage everyone involved in the industry in Wales to respond to the call for evidence.”

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, said: “The Scottish Government has ambitious climate change targets and, to meet them, agriculture in Scotland needs to reduce its emissions by 31% from 2019 levels by 2032. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and therefore methane reducing feed additives have the potential to be a crucial part of the solutions that the agriculture sector needs to deploy towards achieving our climate ambitions.

“That is why I welcome this four nations effort to improve our understanding of the use of this innovative new technology in the sector, which will inform each government’s approach to future policy-making in this area. I would encourage the Scottish farming community to respond to the call for evidence and make their views known.”

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “Following my consultation on future agricultural policy for Northern Ireland earlier this year, I announced that the use of feed additives to reduce enteric methane emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus outputs would be progressed by collaborative industry research. This UK wide call for evidence will provide further guidance to guide us along the path to reduced methane emissions from our livestock industry.”

While food choices can have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, well managed livestock also provide environmental benefits such as supporting biodiversity, protecting the character of the countryside and generating important income for rural communities.

A robust approval process is adopted for these products and takes into consideration the health and welfare of the animals, food safety and implications for human health and the wider environmental impact of these products.

On 27 June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the whole UK economy by 2050. The UK was also amongst the first signatories of the Global Methane Pledge launched at COP26, aiming to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, against 2020 levels.

As part of the effort to achieve our net zero ambitions, the UK Government and the Devolved Governments are considering a wide range of measures to reduce emissions from our agricultural sectors. The use of feed additives and other animal feed with methane suppressing properties have been shown to potentially reduce methane emissions, especially from dairy and beef cattle, and is one such measure being explored.

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

960 640 Stuart O'Brien
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



1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)














the United Kingdom

















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 



1959 emissions (MtCO2)

2019 emissions (MtCO2)

Annual change

Estimated 2032 emissions (MtCO2)


Saudi Arabia
















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.