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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

Concrete industry decarbonisation plans set in stone

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Ten of the world’s largest concrete companies and cement plants, including Heidelberg, Cemex and Holcim, have joined architects, engineers, and construction firms in a collective acknowledgement for action on decarbonisation of the industry. The Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) has developed a new strategy with industry input that sets out milestones and commitments needed by government, industry and investors over the next 25 years to make net zero emissions concrete and cement a reality.

Concrete is the world’s most widely used material after water, and with cement, it is an essential part of the global economy, critical to buildings, transportation, and other infrastructure. The sector currently generates 8% of global CO2 emissions: more than aviation and shipping combined. The challenge of increasing emissions is becoming more urgent as production of concrete and cement is increasing to meet global needs. Without efficiency gains, demand for cement is projected to increase by 50% by 2050.

Making Net Zero Concrete and Cement Possible’ shows, through its Net Zero scenario, how the sector can reach net zero GHG emissions and comply with a 1.5°C target if urgent action is taken across all three groups of levers:

  • 22% emissions reduction can be achieved on the demand side through efficiency improvements in construction and design reducing the volume of concrete needed without compromising safety or durability.
  • 25% reduction can be achieved in process emissions on the supply side by deploying Supplementary Cementing Materials (SCMs) to decrease the use of clinker; whilst bringing alternative chemistries to commercial stage.
  • 53% of emissions can be reduced, eliminated or captured through a combination of fuel switch, power sector decarbonisation and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).

CCUS currently has the largest emissions saving potential of all available technologies, and 33-45 new CCUS plants with an annual capacity of 80 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 must be in operation by 2030 for the industry to stay within its carbon budget. However, new data from MPP’s tracking of green industrial projects – released by MPP for COP28 – shows that the current pipeline falls short, as projects struggle to reach FID. Fifteen plants have so far reached this critical point.

MPP is calling for immediate action across the concrete production value chain from industry, governments and financial institutions worldwide to create an enabling environment for innovation and decarbonisation. Its roadmap details actions needed in the short and long term to rapidly decarbonise the sector.

Near-term milestones

By 2025:

  • Governments permitting increased use of SCMs and using procurement power to bring about deployment
  • Concrete demand reduces by 4% compared with business-as-usual
  • CO₂ transport and storage plans in place and construction started across three regions

By 2030:

  • 33-45 commercial scale carbon capture plants to be operational
  • Concrete demand peaks and starts decreasing globally
  • Global average clinker-binder ratio drops to a global average of 0.54-0.58 from 0.63 today.

By 2035:

  • 35% reduction in emissions achieved if previous milestones are met

Mission Possible Partnership CEO, Faustine Delasalle, said: “Our report sets out precisely what needs to happen to make zero carbon concrete and cement a reality, but time is not on our side. The moment to roll up our sleeves and work together across the value chain and with governments is now. Immediate collaboration and cooperation – from producers through design and construction – together with policymakers and finance – is essential to making the necessary progress this decade.

Collective acknowledgement for the strategy, from a wide variety of companies and the largest in the concrete and cement sector reflects the growing momentum of business for action in the near term. Making Net-Zero Concrete and Cement Possible joins a series of industry transition strategies, backed by 200+ industry players and developed by MPP to guide decarbonisation of seven hardest-to-abate sectors.

Photo by Jonny James on Unsplash

Could Brazil lead the way with nature-led strategies to achieve Net Zero?

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Without the implementation of nature-based solutions, in particular ending deforestation and restoring native vegetation, Brazil would jeopardise its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pledges including achieving net zero GHG emissions by mid-century, according to research published from an international team led by the University of Oxford.

The study also concluded that halting deforestation is the single most important mitigation measure Brazil can take towards net zero emissions by 2050 while preventing biodiversity loss.

The research team projected Brazil’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to 2050 under different policy scenarios through an integrated modelling approach. This compared the potential emissions reductions resulting from nature-based solutions (including large-scale restoration) against engineered solutions, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), besides their relative economic costs.

The results indicated that nature-based solutions could mitigate nearly 80% of Brazil’s net zero pledge and reduce 781 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) on average per year in Brazil during the next 30 years. Eliminating both legal and illegal deforestation and promoting large-scale restoration have the potential to keep Brazil on a clear path to net zero GHG emission by around 2040, without the need to deploy costly and not-yet mature negative emissions technologies.

Lead author of the study, Dr Aline Soterroni (The Agile Initiative, University of Oxford), said: ‘Deforestation control and native vegetation restoration are ready to be implemented immediately at relatively low cost when compared to engineered solutions such as BECCS. This gives Brazil a comparative advantage over other countries. It is also a triple-win situation because the careful implementation of nature-based solutions helps mitigate and adapt to climate change, curb biodiversity loss, and support the economy.’

Achieving this, however, would require national policies which go further than the current Forest Code for Brazil. The researchers found that implementing Brazil’s Forest Code without additional actions would bridge the gap to GHG emissions by 38% by 2050, falling far short of the net zero target.

Dr Soterroni added: ‘While the implementation of the Forest Code is urgent and can enable Brazil to achieve and increase its short-term climate ambition, it won’t be enough to bridge the gap to net zero emissions by mid-century. The economic efforts required to go beyond the Forest Code would be at least three times less costly than the costs associated with BECCS whilst reducing the risks of harmful climate change impacts.’

Professor Roberto Schaeffer, professor of the Energy Planning Program (PPE) from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and a co-author of the study, said: ‘Agriculture is the second-largest emitting sector in Brazil and is considered hard to abate. The country’s energy sector already has a significant share of renewables and its contribution to Brazil’s net zero ambition would heavily rely on BECCS. Nature-based solutions, in particular ending deforestation and restoring native vegetation, are the way to go here, as the deployment of negative emissions technologies will be too expensive and, more importantly, too risky, as these technologies have not been proven to work at scale yet.’

Ahead of the COP28 summit, the researchers are calling for nature-based solutions to be holistically represented in national climate pledges, including Brazil’s.
Professor Nathalie Seddon, professor of Biodiversity and founding director of the Agile Initiative, said: ‘There is a policy gap between current climate ambition and climate policy implementation in Brazil, driven by the conversion of carbon rich biodiverse native ecosystems. Brazil harbours around 20% of the world’s species, so ongoing ecosystem conversion threatens the integrity of the entire biosphere. It’s really important to support Brazil in its efforts to strengthen, apply, and go beyond existing laws to eliminate illegal and legal deforestation’.

According to the researchers, Brazil’s net zero plan should consider the urgency of halting deforestation, the need for scaling up investments in sustainable agricultural practices and renewable energy sources, the importance of promoting high-integrity projects to compensate for residual emissions, and the consistency with a just and equitable transition.

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.”

Events industry tradeshow aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50%

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The Meetings Show, a UK-based event which brings together the meetings and events community, has unveiled further commitments to minimising its environmental impact.

Working with isla as its strategic sustainability partner, The Meetings Show will forge ahead with its plans to reach net zero by 2050 and cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

Using isla’s measurement platform TRACE to help measure and minimise carbon emissions, The Meetings Show will collect data around the areas of travel, waste, catering and energy from this year’s show activity.

The collected data will then be assessed and used to create a full Event Impact Report that will provide data insights on findings and help steer further improvements for future shows.

To allow better calculation of The Meetings Show 2023’s carbon footprint – and identify areas of improvement – visitors, suppliers and staff are being asked to supply information on their travel habits to and from the event.

Work is already underway to minimise negative environmental impact. For example, furniture at the show will be hired from existing stock to avoid buying and disposing of single-use furniture and the volume of printed materials has been greatly reduced and replaced with digital signage and digital materials. Elsewhere, the food being served in the central lounge bar will be plant-based while red meat will not feature on the Hosted Buyer Lounge menu.

Recommendations have also been provided to exhibitors and show suppliers, to enable them to make more informed choices around key areas such as transport and catering and there will be themed education sessions to provide advice to event professionals in making their events more sustainable.

Jack Marczewski, portfolio event director of The Meetings Show, TEAMS Europe and Business Travel Show Europe, said: “We are committed to minimising our environmental impact and promoting sustainability. We recognise that sustainability is a complex topic, and it is through collaboration and knowledge sharing we’ll create meaningful change. With everyone’s support we can make faster progress and so I hope all suppliers and visitors will be forthcoming with relevant data to move forward.”

The Meetings Show recently appointed isla CEO and co-founder Anna Abdelnoor (pictured) to its Advisory Board. Isla will host five educational sessions on its stand at this year’s show and provide information about The Complete Sustainable Events Course, which it created in partnership with The Meetings Show and which will run from September.

Importance of data collection and reporting highlighted in sustainability research

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ABI Research’s latest Sustainability Assessment has analysed the sustainability activities of 10 of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing conglomerates, highlighting the importance of Scope 3 activities – particularly the robustness of data collection and reporting tools – for achieving industrial firm sustainability objectives.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol defines Scope 3 emissions as all value chain emissions resulting from activities and assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization. There are 15 Scope 3 categories, although some may not apply to all companies.

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Scope 3 emissions typically account for over 75% of total emissions, with the share often being over 90% for companies in the industrial sector. For Schneider Electric, Siemens, ABB, and Bosch, who were classified as “sustainability leaders”, Scope 3 emissions are over 99% of total emissions.

Alex McQueen, Sustainable Technologies Research Analyst, explained: “Large industrials face many challenges in measuring and reducing Scope 3 emissions, as the process encompasses a wide range of activities from suppliers, consumers, and distributors. Measuring Scope 3 emissions requires dedicated resources, expertise, and specific data collection and management processes.” Large industrial companies may also find it challenging to obtain data from lower-tier suppliers that may not track their CO2 emissions. Additionally, there is no standardized methodology for Scope 3 emissions calculations and disclosures, creating difficulty in assessing the activities of a broad set of suppliers, each using different data collection and reporting methods.

As regulation regarding the disclosure of environmental data becomes more prevalent, companies should prepare by establishing a robust framework for measuring and managing emissions data. As a starting point, industrials with a high proportion of Scope 3 emissions should look to identify all relevant Scope 3 emission categories. After that, supplier engagement is vital, and industrial firms should seek support from third-party organizations, such as CDP Supply Chain and EcoVadis, in requesting and managing supplier emissions data. Companies may also tie requirements to provide environmental data into supplier contracts and set targets for reducing supply chain emissions.

“Investing in digital tools helps automate the collection, monitoring, and reporting of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) data, and they can also improve value chain collaboration. Since Scope 3 emissions calculations require the tracking of vast amounts of data, leveraging digital solutions is crucial for effective emissions management and reporting,” concluded McQueen.

Low carbon hydrogen to ‘play defining role’ in energy transition

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The hydrogen market has progressed rapidly in recent years due to its growing application in industries like the transport, industrial, energy, aerospace, defence, and construction sectors. Against this backdrop, low carbon hydrogen is gaining traction as a critical component to achieve energy transition and long-term decarbonisation goals, says a leading analyst.

The global demand for pure hydrogen stood at nearly 74MMT (million metric tons) per year in 2021, of which low carbon hydrogen accounted for a miniscule share of 0.89%. Low carbon hydrogen, including green hydrogen, has generated tremendous interest as a sustainable option to achieve long-term climate goals or net-zero targets.

Srinwanti Kar, Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Various countries such as the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Australia, and India have framed hydrogen roadmaps, strategies, mandates, and targets to develop a hydrogen economy in general and low carbon in particular. These plans are focused mainly on scaling up hydrogen production capacity, reducing costs, and bolstering supply chain infrastructure.”

GlobalData’s latest report, “Low-Carbon Hydrogen Market Report, Update 2023 – Global Market Outlook, Trends, and Key Country Analysis,” observes that during 2021-2022, the low carbon hydrogen sector took first big strides as a number of projects were announced as part of the strategy towards energy transition.

Kar continued: “Significant policy support and governments’ commitment to decarbonization is spurring investments in the hydrogen space. The momentum that has been built along the entire value chain is accelerating cost reduction in hydrogen production, retail, and end-applications.”

In November 2022, at COP27, the World Bank Group announced the formation of the Hydrogen for Development Partnership (H4D), a new global project to increase the deployment of low carbon hydrogen in developing countries.

Kar added: “North America leads the market in terms of low carbon hydrogen active production capacity, followed by the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Asia Pacific. As of February 2023, the global low carbon hydrogen production capacity was 1,698ktpa (Kilo Tonnes Per Annum), which is anticipated to reach 1,11,326ktpa in terms of high case scenario and 66,321ktpa in terms of low case scenario by 2030. Suitable planning at the funding level, constructive regulatory framework, and proper infrastructure may facilitate and accelerate the pace of projects.”


As of February 2023, a total of 152mtpa (Metric Tonnes Per Annum) of the low carbon hydrogen capacity is in the pipeline, of which 1.9mtpa is in construction, 136.7mtpa in feasibility, and 6.4mtpa in front end engineering design (FEED) stage.


Kar concluded: “The cost of low carbon hydrogen production is expected to decrease by up to 60% over the next decade because of the reduction in the cost of renewable electricity. Facilitating regulatory framework and demand visibility by adopting legal measures, accelerating public funding for low carbon hydrogen projects,advancing hydrogen infrastructure development, technological advancements leading to cost reduction, access to finance, and government mandates or targets to support hydrogen adoption are some of the key factors which will drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen market.”

IKEA commits £4.5m to EV fleet charging as part of Net Zero drive

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IKEA UK has made a £4.5million investment in a nationwide electric charging infrastructure, which will provide charging points for electric delivery vehicles across the country to enable more emissions-free deliveries. The new infrastructure will source energy entirely through renewable sources.

The retailer aims to reach 100% zero emissions deliveries to customers by 2025. By summer 2023, IKEA plans to achieve 60% zero emission deliveries in the UK and Ireland, which it was demonstrates the significant steps being taken to accelerate moving towards the 2025 goal.

IKEA itself will install 196 chargers, of which 53 will be rapid, providing full charge on vehicles in under an hour. The chargers will be located at IKEA stores across the country, as well as the new Dartford customer distribution centre due to open in spring 2023, with the first ones fitted and operational in IKEA Cardiff.

IKEA says the move is fundamental to allow to continue expanding the electric vehicle fleets being used to deliver to customers’ homes, with the ambition to reach over 500 by 2025, with the charging points will be used by both IKEA and partner electric vehicles.

This infrastructure is being implemented in addition to the existing customer charging points in IKEA stores. Our customer charging points are available for customers to use during their visit to IKEA, the points were introduced to provide access to more sustainable travel for customers. With the introduction of a home delivery infrastructure, IKEA is building a complete offer for customers to have IKEA products arrive sustainably to their homes, no matter how they choose to shop.

Jakob Bertilsson, Country Customer Fulfilment Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at IKEA, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet while supporting our customers to live more sustainable lives at home.

“Investing in this infrastructure of nationwide charging points is a fundamental step in our ambition to reach 100% zero emissions customer deliveries from all IKEA stores and distribution centres by 2025, as well as supporting our ambition to become a climate positive business by 2030.

Natasha Fry, Head of Sales at Mer UK said: “IKEA is an iconic brand with a recognised commitment to sustainability. When they needed future-proof charge points for their zero-emission, last-mile fleet, they wanted to work with a partner who shares these ambitions.

“We look forward to supporting the IKEA team and, importantly, its customers in making sure last-mile deliveries are efficient and emission free.”

UK Government outlines ‘Jet Zero’ strategy to decarbonise aviation

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Ministers and aviation chiefs have revealed an action plan for the next two years in the race to reach Jet Zero by 2050.

The Jet Zero Council – made up of industry, academic and government leaders – has a 2-year plan committed to continue working to speed up the design, manufacture, and rollout of zero emission aircraft and vital infrastructure at UK airports.

The plan sets out how the council will help to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), by continuing to invest millions of pounds in first-of-a-kind SAF plants, supporting crucial scientific research on a larger scale, and helping to drive down production costs.

Farnborough Airport also played host to the Sustainable Skies World Summit, which gathers experts and leaders from the worlds of aviation, government, energy, and engineering. UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper delivered the global Summit’s keynote speech, where he stressed the importance of the partnership between government, industry and academia in the international challenge to reaching Jet Zero.

The government has also welcomed the report Developing a UK SAF industry by Philip New, former CEO of the Energy Systems Catapult and BPAlternative Energy. The independent evaluation – commissioned by the Department for Transport – assesses what conditions are necessary to create a successful UK SAF industry.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This government is a determined partner to the aviation industry – helping accelerate new technology and fuels, modernise their operations, and work internationally to remove barriers to progress.

“Together, we can set aviation up for success, continue harnessing its huge social and economic benefits, and ensure it remains a core part of the UK’s sustainable economic future.”

Emma Gilthorpe, Jet Zero Council CEO, said: “It’s fantastic for the Jet Zero Council to be meeting today at Sustainable Skies, maintaining the momentum built by government and industry on our vital journey to decarbonising aviation.

“The 2-year plan published today, building on recent government commitments to secure demand for SAF in the UK, will ensure we continue to accelerate progress and achieve the Jet Zero Council’s objectives of delivering 10% SAF in the UK fuel mix by 2030 and zero emission transatlantic flight within a generation.”

The Philip New report sets out a number of recommendations to help stimulate SAF production in the UK.

The government response to the report details the extensive work that is already underway to meet many of the recommendations, whilst highlighting what additional action could be taken to drive further investment in UK SAFproduction.

The UK’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels programme is one of the most comprehensive in the world. The Jet Zero Strategy sets out how we can achieve net zero emissions from UK aviation by 2050, importantly without directly limiting demand for aviation, and the £165 million Advanced Fuel Fund is also kickstarting production, with 5 projects already chosen to receive funding.

Turning to potential barriers to investment, the government recognises that many investors are looking for longer-term revenue certainty that the SAF mandate will not provide.

It’s therefore committing to work with the aviation industry on the best ways to decarbonise, including options for additional revenue certainty for a UK SAF industry.

Natural carbon capture projects catch £4.3m funding

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Six pioneering nature projects across England have received major funding award to trial the most effective ways to capture carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change at the Landscape Scale is a partnership led by Natural England with the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.

Operating at a landscape scale of over 500 hectares each, the six projects will restore landscapes across England – from Plymouth to Northumberland – and assess how carbon is captured and stored across different habitats such as grasslands, forests, wetlands and hedgerows.

The £4.3 million of funding will support:

  • Wild Exmoor Carbon Sequestration Project: The National Trust has been awarded almost £1 million to deliver targeted nature-based solutions and carbon capture across its 670-hectare Watersmeet estate. The charity will create a wetter and wilder landscape by restoring and protecting coastal woodland, heathland habitats, species rich grassland and wood pasture.
  • Wansbeck Restoration for Climate Change (WRCC): Almost £600,000 has been awarded to the project managed by Groundwork NE & Cumbria which will assess how nature-based solutions can thrive in a farmed landscape. The project will restore mixed habitats – grasslands, peaty pockets and woodlands – and demonstrate how landowners can work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote carbon sequestration. Working across 10 sites, the work will restore over 144 hectares and will contribute to the wider restoration of the River Wansbeck catchment in Northumberland.
  • Plymouth’s Natural Grid Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change at the Landscape Scale project: Approximately £1 million will support Plymouth City Council, working in collaboration with the National Trust, to restore natural habitats and create local solutions to climate change in the urban environment through wood pasture, species rich grassland and woodland creation, salt marsh restoration and floodplain mosaic habitat creation.
  • Derwent Forest Landscape Recovery Project, part of the Derwent Connections Programme: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded £645,000 for its Derwent Forest Landscape Recovery partnership-led pilot project. This project aims to create connected woody habitats between the Northern and National Forests to allow movement of species in response to climate change. It will also develop an economically viable programme to support landowners to create and expand dynamic and resilient ecosystems.
  • The Oxfordshire–Buckinghamshire Freshwater Network: This programme, run by the Freshwater Habitats Trust, has been awarded over £780,000 to focus on the role played by smaller, peat-dominated wetlands, floodplains, wet grasslands and waters in sequestering carbon in the landscape. These habitats are of exceptional importance for freshwater biodiversity, which is in rapid decline. The project will help to better understand the role that these habitats can play in carbon sequestration. It will also help Freshwater Habitats Trust build the Freshwater Network – a national network of wilder, wetter, cleaner and connected freshwaters.
  • Severn Solutions for Nature’s Recovery (SSNR): Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been awarded over £417,000 to work with Hasfield Court Estate to restore a 500-hectare estate in the Severn Vale. The partnership’s vision is to demonstrate and provide evidence of how the restoration of native habitats can provide nature-based solutions that help adapt to climate change and tackle the ecological emergency. Following a baseline survey of the estate, options have been tailored to maximise landscape connectivity between existing priority habitats, and will involve the creation of wood pasture, traditional orchards and species rich grassland. These actions will create habitats for important pollinator species, nesting opportunities for farmland birds and foraging networks for protected bat species.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: “Many of the solutions to climate change are all around us in the natural world. From trees, hedges and grasslands that absorb carbon from the air to the peat-rich soils that hold it in the ground, there are huge opportunities to catch carbon while achieving other benefits at the same time, including increasing our ability to adapt to climate change impacts. The simple fact is that when it comes to our net zero ambitions Nature is our biggest ally and more we can do to restore it the better.

“Getting the scale of benefits we need requires working together collaboratively across entire landscapes. This is only going to be possible if we forge broad partnerships and this is increasingly the case as different sectors see that they are all part of the solution to the climate and Nature challenges that the world and this country are setting out to meet.”

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “In the face of increasing climate extremes, using nature-based solutions that restore and work with natural processes is a powerful tool that can help protect us from the devastating impact of drought, floods and wildfires.

“The collective ambition to restore nature at a landscape scale, alongside the right financial incentives, will create a more resilient approach which is needed to address the urgent challenges of nature loss and climate change.”

Richard Stanford, Chief Executive at the Forestry Commission, said: “Resilient forests, woods and trees are vital for capturing carbon in the fight against climate change and improving biodiversity to aid nature recovery.

“We are working with project partners on the creation and management of woodlands across these landscapes to help treble tree planting to 7,500 hectares per year by the end of this parliament with a goal of reaching 16.5% tree cover by 2050.

“Through this programme we will gain new insights into the factors that affect how trees capture carbon, over the short and long term, in a variety of different habitats and sites. This will build on the excellent work by Forest Research and other organisations on the subject.”

Ed Ikin, Director of Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden said: “We at Kew are delighted to be part of this transformative landscape research investment.

“We hope our innovative research at Wakehurst will provide vital and valuable data for both the government and our new partner sites, offering essential scientific evidence for the ability of biodiverse landscapes to sequester carbon above and belowground to benefit people and the economy.”

Nature-based solutions – which tackle societal challenges in ways that benefit both people and nature – can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and halt emissions from degraded natural sites and agricultural land. Testing the effectiveness of different landscapes in acting as carbon sinks will be crucial in meeting the UK’s climate goals.

Analysis and information from the pilot sites will be used to better inform habitat creation and contribute to tackling climate change.  Each project will also look how best to blend public and private sources of funding to support further delivery of their landscape-scale plans for improving the natural environment.

The partner organisations will work alongside project partners to expand scientific evidence on greenhouse gas emissions, create sustainable funding opportunities for landscape scale projects, and provide additional data to inform the development of robust carbon standards, such as the Woodland Carbon Code and the Peatland Code.

The Nature Based Solutions for Climate Change Programme is a £12.5 million programme first established in 2021 which is funded by the Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund, and cosponsored by Defra and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. The fund seeks to increase cross-government collaboration and address society’s most challenging problems including biodiversity loss, climate change and land use change.

In addition to establishing the partner sites, the funding is enabling Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Kew to undertake further scientific research into the value of nature-based solutions and green finance models.

Researchers at Kew’s wild botanic garden, Wakehurst will research the value of broadleaf, coppiced and coniferous woodlands in building resilience to climate change. Using drones, they will measure plant biomass alongside greenhouse gas flux, and undertake soil fungal research to consider how different biodiverse habitats sequester carbon.

Natural England scientists are also assessing carbon and biodiversity both on the new habitats and assessing the carbon and biodiversity benefits of earlier habitat creation and restoration projects.

The Programme will run until March 2024.