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Oxford Net Zero to tackle carbon emissions globally

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

The Oxford Net Zero initiative has launched, drawing on the university’s world-leading expertise in climate science and policy, addressing the critical issue of how to reach global ‘net zero’ – limiting greenhouse gases – in time to halt global warming.

Leading academics from across the university’s disciplines, including Geography, Physics, Economics, Biology, Law and Earth Sciences, will come together to focus on the long-term questions necessary to achieve equitable, science-based solutions.

The team will be led by research director Professor Sam Fankhauser, who is joining Oxford from his current position as director of the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and director Professor Myles Allen, physicist and head of the Climate Research Programme in Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

Oxford Net Zero is a growing network and collaboration of leading researchers from across the university to provide advice and expertise in the global ‘race’ to net zero by national governments, global industry leaders and international organizations. 

Oxford Net Zero convenes and undertakes research to support policy interventions, and this month has been boosted by a £2.2M investment from the University’s new Strategic Research Fund (SRF). The SRF was formed in early 2020 to re-invest some of the University’s revenues from commercialisation activities into transformative research programmes.

“We’ve left it too late to meet our climate goals simply by phasing out all activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions: hence the ‘net’ in net zero,” said Professor Allen. “Aggressive emission reductions must be complemented by equally aggressive scale-up of safe and permanent greenhouse gas removal and disposal. Getting this balance right, and fair, calls for both innovative ideas and far-sighted policies.”

Professor Fankhauser added: “If we are serious about climate change, we have to start tackling the “difficult” emissions from industry, transport and other sources – and safely remove from the atmosphere whatever residual emissions remain.

“Informing this challenge is central to Oxford Net Zero, and I am proud to be part of this important initiative.”

“Since Oxford’s own students are the generation that will be footing the bill for delay in taking informed climate action, it is great to see the University putting its resources behind this initiative: there is no time to waste,” said Kaya Axelsson, former Vice-President of the Oxford Student Union and recently-appointed Net Zero Policy Engagement Fellow. 

To achieve net zero and avoid the worst impacts of global warming, carbon dioxide emissions must be drastically reduced, and any residual emissions removed from the atmosphere and stored. More than 120 countries are committing to net zero, representing more than 49% of global economic output, but official commitments with developed plans cover less than 10% of global emissions.   

Oxford Net Zero’s key aim is to address the issue of how we limit the cumulative net total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This means tackling emission sources and removing surplus carbon from the atmosphere – since more CO2 may be generated by the energy, industry and land-use change than can safely be emitted, if the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement are to be met. 

Professor Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Oxford added: “Oxford Net Zero brings together our research in how to effectively realise the carbon transition, involving many departments and different disciplinary perspectives. We anticipate that more researchers and external stakeholders will become engaged in the programme, strengthening the impact of the ideas and insights that our researchers can provide.”

Essential questions that Oxford Net Zero will address include:

  • How will carbon dioxide be distributed between the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and lithosphere? 
  • Where will it be stored, in what forms, how stable will these storage pools be, who will own them and be responsible for maintaining them over the short medium and long terms?
  • How does net zero policy extend to other greenhouse gases?
  • How will the social license to generate, emit, capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide evolve over the coming century? 

IRENA: Tripling renewables investment ‘to reach climate goal’

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Global renewable energy investment increased between 2013 and 2018, reaching its peak at $351 billion in 2017, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Climate Policy Initiative (CPI).

The 2020 edition of Global Landscape of Renewable Energy Finance highlights however, that while a cumulative $1.8 trillion were invested during the five-year period, the amount falls short to achieve the global climate commitments.

Renewable energy investment slightly declined in 2018, with modest growth through 2019. Although this was largely due to the decreasing costs of renewables, the total installed capacity continued to grow. The current level of investment is still insufficient however to keep the rise in global temperatures within the 1.5°C objective by mid-century. To achieve this climate goal, investment in diverse renewables technologies must almost triple annually to $800 billion by 2050. 

Ambitious commitments from governments are needed, backed by supporting measures such as moving subsidies away from fossil fuels. The report says further investments are also needed in system integration and enabling technologies that increase system flexibility such as batteries and energy storage. To that end, policies that enable the integration of new renewables capacity additions into the energy systems are needed, leading to their decarbonisation and bringing wide socio-economic benefits.

“The investment trend in renewable energy before COVID-19 was a positive one,” said Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s Director-General. “But COVID-19 has shown us that much more effort is urgently needed to put us on a climate compatible pathway and help us recover better with a sustainable, resilient economy. Decision makers must design systemic approaches to policies that encourage and speed up the flow of investment into renewables, and away from fossil fuels, and doing so enable economic growth, social resilience and welfare.” 

IRENA’s post-COVID agenda showed that average annual investments of $2 trillion in renewables and other energy transition-related technologies in the 2021-2023-recovery phase could create 5.5 million additional jobs in the sector. An additional 19 million energy transition-related jobs would be created by 2030, following average annual investments of $4.5 trillion up to 2030. 

The majority of these investments could come from private sources, if government funds are used strategically to nudge investment decisions and financing in the right direction. The capital is available, with a push from the governments to mobilise it.  Public funds are able to leverage private investments by a factor of 3 to 4 if used strategically to steer investments toward clean energy solutions and away from fossil fuels.

Greater participation of institutional investors – which hold about $87 trillion in assets – will help to reach the scale of global investment needed. To this end, it is key to promote the use of capital market solutions, such as green bonds, that address the needs of these investors. The potential role of institutional investors for the global energy transition is further explored in IRENA’s report, Mobilising Institutional Capital for Renewable Energy, published this month.

“There is a very clear need for a rapid increase of investment in renewable energy coupled with a significant reduction and redirection of investment away from fossil fuel energy,” said Dr Barbara Buchner, CPI’s Global Managing Director. “We call for more effort and coordination among policy makers, public and private finance institutions, energy and non-energy producing corporations, and institutional investors to speed up the global energy transition. This action is fundamental to a more sustainable and resilient future.“ 

This year’s joint report analyses for the first time financial commitments to off-grid renewables technologies in developing markets, as they can bring the world closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030. Providing cost-effective energy solutions, off-grid renewables are essential in a time when energy access is crucial to power healthcare facilities, save lives and create jobs. While investments in off-grid renewables solutions kept growing, reaching an all-time-high USD 460 million in 2019, additional capital must be unlocked especially for income-generating activities and productive uses to improve the livelihoods and resilience of billions of women and men globally and to promote socio-economic benefits. 

Looking ahead, IRENA says policy makers need to signal long-term political commitment and enhance partnerships with the private sector to boost investors confidence and attract additional private capital in the sector. To that effect, the report laid out five specific recommendations that policy makers should implement to engage private sector actors, including institutional investors, capital market players and non-energy producing companies, in the collective path to green recovery and climate objectives.

Germany ‘goes aggressive’ on renewables

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The more rigid targets brought around by the latest revision to Germany’s renewable energy act (EEG) in June aims for the country to achieve 65%, instead of the originally targeted 50%, of its electricity consumption comes from renewable sources by 2030.

Such stricter targets would mean that, during 2021-2030, the country’s solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind would need over 2GW and 3GW of annual installations, respectively – a highly optimistic target in such an uncertain scenario.

Making the targets more stringent may be in line with the broader EU green deal agenda and sustainability objectives, but such a call – made a year before elections – may be fuelled by a political motivation rather than be an achievable goal, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. 

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “For all of the nation’s renewable sectors to be GHG neutral by 2050, the electricity industry needs to evolve at a much faster pace than has been seen in recent years. Solar PV is now aimed to see a deployment of 18.8GW of capacity from 2021 to 2028, with planned capacity at increments of 1.9-2.8GW. However, with respect to the country’s capacity mix in 2019, Germany would need to add around 4.6GW annually to meet the target. In reality, the average solar PV annual installations are likely be around 1.4-1.5GW, according to GlobalData estimations.”

While annual solar PV installations in Germany have picked up in the last few years, onshore wind installations seemed to be on the back foot and so the faster pace required is even more questionable. 

Das added: “In order to achieve the new target, 16.7GW of onshore wind capacity is planned to be auctioned by 2025. Therefore, to meet the 2025 target, the country would need to conduct more than 4GW of annual onshore wind installations. This is a considerable stretch, as it would mean that the already slumped segment would need to install more than the 3.1GW average seen annually during 2015-19.

“Overall, GlobalData expects, with the current endeavors, generation from renewable energy (RE) is set to shape up to around 50-60% of the overall generation by the conclusion of the decade.”

Widespread ‘net zero’ scepticism among UK public

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 

COVID to accelerate transition to renewable energy

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It’s being predicted that the energy transition will be accelerated by several years by the COVID pandemic, with trillions of dollars expected to flow through economic relief packages into the deployment of low- and zero-carbon infrastructure, as well as research and development into technologies that enable it.

That’s the conclusion of Lux in its new report Owning The Energy Transition: 2020 COVID-19 Update, which outlines these changes and predicts the impact of the disruptive global energy transition going forward.

“The aftermath of COVID-19 will shake the economic fabric of the energy sector,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst at Lux Research. “We witnessed many historical firsts, such as oil futures trading in the negatives, U.S. renewable energy in the electricity mix surpassing coal, and the largest year-over-year drop in global CO2 emissions.”

Yu explains that while the sudden effects may be a flash in the pan as the world returns to normalcy, 2020 provided a preview of the more permanent challenges the industry will face in the next decade. This “white swan” event will force companies to learn how to be more resilient, while countries planning their post-COVID recovery will capitalize on the opportunity and accelerate the energy transition through improved resiliency and greater agility and by insulating themselves from the macroeconomic impacts of the volatile conventional energy sector.

“The pandemic highlighted the risks of disruptions to our current energy infrastructure and supply chain,” added Lux Research Analyst Tim Grejtak. “In response, we will see aggressive diversification of business portfolios to avoid the risk of underutilized and, eventually, stranded assets in order to capitalize on opportunities provided by increasing renewable energies.”

Grejtak cites long-duration energy storage investments and project developments in the first half of 2020 by the likes of Highview Power, Form Energy, and AES Distributed Energy as just the beginning of the added urgency of companies preparing for the energy transition.

Analyst Runeel Daliah added: “While COVID-19 momentarily pushed aside climate change from the political discourse, companies and countries that deprioritize climate change mitigation efforts in favor of near-term financial recovery would be making a mistake – decarbonization is an unavoidable megatrend that will continue to loom well after COVID-19.”

Daliah points to countries forging ahead with decarbonization strategies centered around hydrogen, such as Portugal, South Korea, Australia, and Germany, which recently unveiled a $10.2 billion National Hydrogen Strategy.

Meanwhile, Lux Research Senior Analyst Christopher Robison emphasized that the most noticeable effect of COVID-19 on modern life was the drastic reduction in mobility – As the world sheltered in place, there was an immediate reduction in emissions and improvement in air quality, with residents in some cities notorious for pollution seeing blue skies for the first time.

“The magnitude of the longer-term impact of COVID-19 on mobility remains unclear as more people work from home and replace work travel with virtual meetings, but the push to reduce and eliminate emissions from the transportation sector has only increased, with many post-COVID stimulus plans focused on low- and zero-emission vehicles,” said Robinson.

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.”

Transition to renewables ‘to fuel post-COVID recovery’

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Investment in renewable energy expansion will be an important cog in the wheel towards the post-COVID-19 economic recovery journey.

Expanding the renewables will not only help countries deliver stronger climate action under the Paris Agreement, but also fuel the economic activities across the value chain forming a powerful recovery mechanism to recuperate from the COVID-19 crisis.

That’s according to research from GlobalData, which says due to technological advancements, economies of scale and competitive auctions, the Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE) for renewables has seen steep decline. For example, the LCOE of solar PV had witnessed a drop of 86% to reach 0.05USD/kWh in 2019 when compared with 2010. Likewise, for onshore wind the drop was 50.0% to 0.05USD/kWh.  

The declining LCOE has brought the renewable at par with fossils and in some countries even cheaper. This trend of cost competitiveness and innovation is likely to continue and could attract countries and investors to increase their renewable appetite. For instance, 2019 saw the highest solar power capacity additions and also the highest investment in the offshore wind segment. 

However, the planned investments in this sector until 2030 is lesser than the investments made in the last decade. The COVID-19 pandemic recovery stimulus provides an excellent window of opportunity for governments to channelize their investments in the renewables to offset the silos in the future investment schedule. These were earlier unable to reach the desired  2030 installations target decarbonizing the economy and putting forward a strong step towards climate sustainability. 

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “ During the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable energy took the center stage. With declining electricity demand, utilities focussed on generating electricity from cost-effective renewable sources. By the end of 2030, the cumulative renewable installed capacity is estimated to be 3,600GW, about 1,900GW more than that of 2020, which is substantially lower than the required built-up of about 2,800-3,000GW for limiting the global temperature rise by 2c.  

“Incorporating higher investments in renewable energy might provide an opportunity to increase the investments and make up for the shortfall in the required installed power capacity by 2030. 

“Hence, increased investments in renewable energy in the recovery packages would benefit greatly and usher in a multitude of economic benefits. Not only it will provide a better opportunity in addressing climate change goals and global warming issues but also creates new jobs and stimulate economic activities.”  

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

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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.” 

Half of businesses in the energy sector believe Brexit will have ‘a long-term positive impact’

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A state-of-the-nation study into how businesses in the energy sector are prepared for Brexit has revealed 62% believe the process of exiting the EU is currently having a positive impact on their business, while just 15% feel it hasn’t had any impact at all.

Commissioned by Huthwaite International, the report shows that post-Brexit business prospects remain positive, with 52% of businesses believing their growth potential will prosper post-Brexit, regardless of the outcome.

When looking at what worries businesses most about the UK leaving the European Union, international trade, uncertainty around trade agreements and changes to laws and legislation ranked as the highest concerns.

Improving negotiation skills also ranked as the biggest priority amongst businesses before the Brexit deadline, with many sighting it to be a key priority when it came to safeguarding profits and reducing overheads.

Tony Hughes, CEO at Huthwaite International, said: “Gaining the skillset and knowledge to survive this economic uncertainty is vital for business success. The UK is packed with ambitious and prosperous companies that in theory should flourish regardless of economic uncertainty, however the importance of obtaining the core skillsets to flourish shouldn’t be underestimated.

“One of the few certainties the UK faces is that, for selling organisations, things are getting tougher. As buying organisations entrench, delaying or even cancelling purchasing decisions, sales teams across all sectors and markets are having to up their game. This means sophisticated negotiation skills aren’t just important to ensure the UK secures a quality deal with the EU, but also form the fundamentals for ensuring business success across the UK too.”

Huthwaite International has published a white paper looking at five key elements businesses can implement to increase sales success in times of economy uncertainty. These include:

  • Confidence through coaching
  • Aligning capabilities
  • Utilising your service resources
  • Negotiation skills
  • Effective qualification

To access the full research white paper, visit: