Ford to invest £230m in converting Merseyside factory into EV component plant

Ford to invest £230m in converting Merseyside factory into EV component plant

Move set to save 500 jobs in England’s North-West and propel automaker closer to its electrification goals, according to update

Ford has announced it will spend £230m on transforming its Halewood plant on Merseyside into its first electric vehicle (EV) component assembly factory in Europe.

The US auto giant announced this morning that it intends to start building electric power units at the site from 2024, with plans to produce 250,000 units annually for zero emission cars and vans sold in Europe.

It said that the plans had been possible thanks to an undisclosed amount of financial support from the UK government's Automotive Transformation Fund. The Financial Times reported the firm had secured around £30m of government support.

Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, said the investment would help the carmaker deliver on plans to electrify the majority of the vehicles it sells in Europe by the end of this decade.

"This is an important step, marking Ford's first in-house investment in all-electric vehicle component manufacturing in Europe," he said. "It strengthens further our ability to deliver 100 per cent of Ford passenger vehicles in Europe being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales being all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030."

"We also want to thank the UK government for its support for this important investment at Halewood which reconfirms Ford's continuing commitment to the UK and our position as a leading investor in this country's auto industry and technological base," he added.

The investment is reportedly set to help safeguard 500 jobs at the plant, which currently builds engine and transmissions for a number of fossil fuel powered passenger and commercial vehicles and exports 100 per cent of its production.

As the UK's 2030 phase out date for the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles draws nearer and demand for EVs surges, the owners of several car factories across Britain have announced ambitious investment packages designed to overhaul their production processes for an electric future.

This summer, Nissan unveiled ambitious plans to raise £1bn from various financial backers, including the government, to build a battery gigafactory at its site in Sunderland. Meanwhile, Vauxhall owner Stellantis recently announced it would invest £100m to shift production at its Ellesmere port factory in Cheshire from internal combustion engine cars towards electric vans. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said Ford's decision to build EV components in Merseyside was "further proof" the UK was "one of the best locations in the world for high-quality automotive manufacturing".

"In this highly competitive, global race to secure electric vehicle manufacturing, our priority is to ensure the UK reaps the benefits," Kwarteng said. "Today's announcement, backed by government funding, is a huge vote of confidence in Britain's economic future and our plans to ramp up electric vehicle production. It will future-proof Halewood's proud industrial heritage and secure high-skilled, well-paid jobs across the North West for years to come."

Kevin Pearson, convenor for the Unite union at the Halewood plant, similarly applauded the "important investment" that he stressed would protect jobs into the future. "The decision recognises the experience, commitment and competitiveness of our world class workforce and is a great source of pride for all of us working at Halewood transmission plant and for the wider community," he said.

Ford's plan to start producing EV parts in the UK complement a seperate plan from the carmaker to spend $1bn on modernising its flagship vehicle assembly factory in Cologne to manufacture EVs. It expects its first European-built, all-electric passenger cars to roll off the production line in 2023.


Build back solar: the Puerto Ricans who see sun as key to resist climate shocks

Ahead of the Cop 26 climate summit, Nina Lakhani reports from Puerto Rico on the row over how to rebuild the island’s energy system in the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes

Rosalina Marrero spends the best part of each day ironing and watching telenovelas at her modest bungalow in Puerto Rico’s coastal Guayama province. When it gets too hot or her asthma plays up due to the toxic coal ash from the nearby power plant, the 78-year-old widow rests on an adjustable hospital bed, clicks on the fan and thanks God for the solar panels on her roof.

Earlier this year, Marrero was among two dozen residents in a low-income, predominantly Black neighbourhood blighted by coal pollution, fitted with a rooftop solar and storage system. Campaigners say systems like hers should be rolled out more widely to tackle the island’s energy crisis and the global climate emergency – both of which are exacerbating racialized health inequalities.

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DOE invests $61 million in ‘smart building’ energy efficiency projects

The U.S. Dept. of Energy is backing 10 energy efficiency pilot projects that aim to transform thousands of homes and workplaces into resilient smart buildings.

DOE is providing $61 million for the "Connected Communities" program, which will equip buildings with smart controls, sensors, and analytics to reduce energy use, costs, and emissions.

“From our homes to workplaces, this groundbreaking, grid-connected building technology will help reduce our impact while cutting energy bills, maximizing convenience, and propelling our efforts to reach a carbon-neutral, clean energy economy by 2050,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These projects will help universalize technology that can maximize the efficiency and sustainability of America’s nearly 130 million buildings and make significant headway in the fight against climate change.” 

Read more: Analysis: Lacking energy efficiency efforts undercut state climate goals

Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) could deliver $100-200 billion in savings to the U.S. power system and cut CO2 emissions by 80 million tons per year by 2030, according to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group.

So-called "smart neighborhoods" in Alabama and Georgia have used approximately 42-44% less energy than the current average all-electric home, the DOE added.

Projects selected:

  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (New York City, Seattle, San Diego) will transform multi-family buildings in affordable housing developments into GEBs that will demonstrate different ways to decarbonize buildings, make them more resilient, and reduce utility bills. (Award amount: $5.27M)
  • IBACOS, Inc. (NC) will deploy a coordinated control program to optimize the energy use of a comprehensive mix of distributed energy resources in 1,000 new and existing homes, including single-family and multifamily homes and both owner-occupied and rental properties. (Award amount: $6.65M)
  • Open Market ESCO Limited Liability Company (MA) will bring the benefits of efficiency, demand flexibility, renewable generation, and energy storage with more affordable renovations in up to 20 low-to-moderate-income apartment communities. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • PacifiCorp (UT) will establish a program to manage solar photovoltaic, batteries, electric vehicle charging in a diverse community of all-electric buildings and a mass transit transportation center, equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at scale.(Award amount: $6.42M) 
  • Portland General Electric (OR) will renovate over 500 buildings in North Portland’s historically underserved neighborhoods to reduce their energy burden with numerous energy efficiency measures and connected devices that provide the grid with a range on energy services. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • Post Road Foundation (ME, NH) will investigate the capacity of a novel Transactive Energy Service System to harmonize communications and optimize energy use among the distributed energy resources, local energy markets, and buildings of three rural communities. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • Slipstream Group Inc. (WI) will convert approximately 15 facilities in Madison, Wisconsin into GEBs that connect with nearby electric vehicle charging stations to establish a scalable business model for utilities to install demand flexibility and energy efficiency upgrades across multiple building sizes in public and private sectors.(Award amount: $5.18M) 
  • Spokane Edo LLC (WA) will unlock demand flexibility up to 2.25 megawatt (MW) using flexible loads in residential and commercial buildings augmented by distributed energy resources within Spokane, Washington’s Opportunity Zones of vulnerable populations. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • SunPower Corporation (CA) will build tomorrow’s homes today in two communities of all-electric homes in Menifee, California that meet DOE’s zero-energy-ready home qualifications and feature solar energy, home energy management systems, and community-scale battery storage. (Award amount: $6.65M) 
  • The Ohio State University (OH) will investigate the capacity of Ohio State’s existing on-campus connected community to provide essential but overlooked ancillary grid services from a diverse range of grid-interactive technologies in a cyber- and data-secure environment. (Award amount: $4.2M) 

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The impact of EV charging on the grid: business models and consumer behaviors

By Philip T. Krein, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Zhejiang University, China

An intriguing aspect of electric vehicle (EV) charging is how it will change business models for vehicle energy. In this article, aspects of charging practices and impacts are discussed, in the context of consumer-driven electric vehicles. Practices will be different for vehicle fleets, delivery driving, and large vehicles, and those issues are left to other discussions.

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, in 2017 there were approximately 150,000 retail fueling stations in the United States. Nearly all consumer fuel is delivered through these. In the transition to EVs, the filling-station model begins to break down. Although station-based, fast-charge points are important, battery wear and tear from fast charging is substantial, and energy delivered at megawatt scales probably will require premium pricing.

Practical EV charging is much different. The experience so far suggests that consumers seek convenience. Thus, access at home, at work, or in community environments enters the picture. There is still a need for fast-charging points to support distance driving, but a substantial portion of energy is likely to be delivered in a distributed fashion. Data from the Federal Highway Administration surveys suggest that only 2.5% of household driving trips exceed twice the average of 29.2 miles per day. The average is not especially useful (a car that does not meet consumer needs will not be accepted in the market), but the data suggest that about 90% of EV energy could be delivered through low-power charge points. Anecdotally, EV owners do not like a filling-station model, seeking convenience. This suggests that only about 10% of consumer EV energy will come from fast-charge stations.

Consumer vehicles are parked most of the time. A filling-station model does not leverage this. A parked EV has the potential to be a connected car—a battery pack engaged with the power grid with opportunities for charge coordination, interactive intelligence, and dynamic energy management. A connected car offers flexibility on how and when energy is delivered. It is interesting that bidirectional energy flow does not alter the basic issues—a “charge-only” system offers timing flexibility and coordination. Parked-car coordination implies business models for service aggregators. For example, a downtown parking garage containing many charge points could offer frequency regulation and other services to the grid.

This discussion implies four major business connections for future EV charging:

  1. Fast-charging stations. These would deliver only about 10% of the total EV energy if convenient, low-power charge points become widely available. A highway scenario might have five vehicles simultaneously seeking about 100 kWh each in 10 minutes, a rate of 3 MW. Energy costs would need to be high enough to recover initial costs.
  2. Service aggregators. A parking facility operator able to manage a substantial number of low-power charge points could coordinate charging and provide grid services to offset costs.
  3. Home and work charging.
  4. Community charging. A store, restaurant, or hotel could offer free charging to customers, or a city could use free charge access to attract customers to retail districts.

A store that offers conventional 120-V outlets to customers would be delivering a typical level of roughly 1.5 kWh per hour of connection. At a restaurant, a two-hour charge would entail only 36 cents’ worth of energy at the national average rate of 12 cents per kWh, so infrastructure costs and installation dominate the economics. At home or work, 30 miles of driving at a rough usage level of 4 miles/kWh requires an energy input of 7.5 kWh per day—at a cost of under $1 per day.

Fast-charging stations involve high power, and coordination with grid operators and the distribution grid infrastructure will be essential. Initial costs will probably be high, so low risk would require well-funded investors. When there are relatively few fast-charge points (as today), vehicle manufacturers could be an investment source, but this is probably not sustainable. The service-aggregator model is interesting in dense urban areas. A downtown parking provider could add outlet infrastructure and install vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) devices that interact with individual cars. In the Chicago loop, for instance, monthly garage rates approach $400 per vehicle. Energy costs would add about $10 per month to this, but the aggregator has access to grid service markets.

In a home environment, simple time-of-day rate structures can be quite powerful. Modern EVs have programmable chargers, and low, overnight rates can encourage a driver to set, for example, a 2-5 a.m. window. At work, the same concept could encourage charging when solar power is abundant. With more flexible programming, a grid operator could offer a special EV rate with low overnight energy prices, low solar-linked prices, and high prices in the late afternoon and early evening. A motivated customer would save on energy with proper programming. These rate structures could function with little or no communication between vehicle and grid (V2G), or with basic information such as “I am connected,” “I will be needing x kilowatt-hours,” and “I am full.”

In the case of community charging, some businesses might make charging a loss-leader service. A cost-sensitive business owner could use a controlled outlet, activated either when a customer is confirmed or when a small fee is paid. In businesses such as hotels, the effort to install conventional outlets adjacent to a building and within reach of vehicles is likely to be modest.

A more sophisticated EV interface could support active demand response and take advantage of V2G exchange. In a typical scenario, a vehicle connects (either directly or through an aggregator), the EV charger reports the connection, reports the amount of energy to be purchased, indicates a power limit at the location, and provides a target time for completion of energy delivery. The grid operator has full flexibility on charge rate and timing, subject to delivering the requested energy by the specified deadline. Within the constraints, the grid operator could even carry out fast-charge modulation for regulation services. A vehicle connection becomes a direct source of services, at least until the battery is full. For the consumer, a reasonable energy discount might be sufficient as an incentive to enable demand response control—provided the customer experiences delivery of the requested energy by the required time.

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Effective V2G programs with demand response need accurate, tamper-proof, onboard EV energy metering in order to supplement state-of-charge and battery-health monitors. Chargers need to include active safety management, ground fault protection, and handshaking—and they need to implement EV supply equipment requirements. There must be communications capability. When charging from unintelligent outlets, the charger might need to throttle back current in order to avoid overloads. The vehicle software must securely track usage and interface for billing and external control.

Today, the Department of Energy reports that there are about 44,000 EV charging points in the United States. The above discussion—except for fast-charging stations—implies that conventional electrical outlets should be able to deliver about 90% of consumer vehicle energy. Expansion of conventional outlets for parked vehicles is a different proposition than installation of relatively expensive EV charge points. The economic tradeoffs between fast chargers and conventional outlets will continue to develop, since fast chargers are important for supporting long-distance driving. Even as the number of fast-charge points continues to grow, ready availability of convenience outlets for EV charging is essential for widespread adoption.

About the author:

A research leader in the fields of power electronics and motor drives, Philip T. Krein’s transformative contributions to energy conversion have broadly impacted electric and hybrid vehicle technologies. Krein began working on improving battery management for electric vehicles at a time when few believed this was a technical necessity. He developed a battery-equalization technique using switched capacitor circuits that helped reduce the size and cost of battery-management systems. His method extends the lifetime and efficiency of energy-storage systems, which are critical to the success of today’s electric and hybrid vehicles. His contributions to vehicle-systems optimization include high-fidelity dynamic models of vehicle systems and their interactions, linking fuel cells, batteries, ultracapacitors, and motor drives.

An IEEE Fellow, Krein is Director of the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Distinguished Professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. He was awarded the 2021 IEEE Transportation Technologies Award for contributions to electric vehicle battery management and hybrid system optimization.


AfDB approves $86.72 million loan for second phase of Lesotho Highlands Water Project

The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors has approved a loan of $86.72 million to co-finance the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

The multi-phase project will provide water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and generate hydroelectricity for Lesotho. The project entails harnessing the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho highlands by constructing a series of dams for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, a state-owned entity in South Africa charged with financing and implementing bulk raw water infrastructure projects, will use the funds to construct Polihali Dam and reservoir, a 38-km-long water transfer tunnel, roads and bridges, and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as to extend electricity and other development infrastructure to Lesotho. The Lesotho Highland Development Authority will implement the part of the project that falls within Lesotho’s borders.

“The two governments’ partnership on this project around the shared water resources from the Orange-Senqu River Basin serves the interests of their mutual development agenda and also deepens regional integration,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, AfDB vice president for agriculture, human and social development. “The intervention will be the first major project to be financed by the Bank in the water sector in South Africa and it will complement the Bank’s current support in the energy and transport sector, diversify the Bank’s portfolio and consolidate the Bank’s strong partnership with the country.”

Once completed, the project is expected to boost transfer capacity between Lesotho and South Africa to 1,260 million m3/year, up from the current 780 million m3/year, and enable additional generation of hydroelectric power in Lesotho. Expected project benefits include greater water security in the Gauteng region and a boost to Lesotho’s socio-economic development due to infrastructure improvements and increased hydropower capacity.

These developments are expected to positively impact 26 million people in South Africa and boost a region that accounts for 60% of the country’s economic output. In Lesotho, the project will benefit more than 85,000 people in the project area and generate more than 6,000 jobs over the next six years. Lesotho’s economy will also receive a boost from the royalty payments it will receive for water transfers.

The project, with a total cost of $2.171 billion, is also receiving financing $213.68 million in loans from the Shanghai-based New Development Bank. The South African government will contribute $1.871 billion as well as a loan guarantee.

The first phase of the project was completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004.

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No change to Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target as Scott Morrison focuses on net zero deal

While the Nationals remain divided over a 2050 net zero commitment, negotiations continue about an accompanying package on regional jobs and infrastructure

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The Morrison government has all but ruled out increasing Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target despite sustained diplomatic pressure from key allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

While stepping back from a significant attempt to increase the Abbott-era 2030 target after an effective Nationals veto on Sunday, Scott Morrison was more pointed on Monday about landing a net zero target ahead of the looming Cop26 in Glasgow.

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Stonehaven expands sustainability services with Robertsbridge acquisition

Stonehaven expands sustainability services with Robertsbridge acquisition

Consultancy firm announces its first acquisition as it looks to broaden its green offering and international reach

Stonehaven has acquired leading sustainability advisory firm Robertsbridge as part of the advocacy-focused consultancy's plans to broaden its sustainability services, the companies today announced.

The deal, financial details for which were not disclosed, marks Stonehaven's first acquisition. It will see the company gain advisors and clients around the world, including a number of leading brands.

Robertsbridge works with companies across the globe to help them adapt to the shifting policy and regulatory frameworks that are resulting from the climate crisis. It has also acted as a mediator between businesses and activists.

The two firms have previously worked together on sustainability strategies in the aviation, forestry, and energy sectors and now expect to be in a strengthened position to help clients face climate and nature-related challenges, Robertsbridge said in a statement.

"Robertsbridge has an unrivalled reputation for guiding corporates through complex sustainability issues and is joining Stonehaven at an exciting period of growth for the business," said Peter Lyburn, founder and CEO of Stonehaven.

"By combining their expertise with Stonehaven's unique data-driven advice and advocacy support, we can help corporates around the world navigate the ESG agenda, make a positive impact on the world and be successful too.

"We have built a firm of advisers on a foundation of unique data modelling of the political economy, that can find new advantage for businesses. As a result our clients can make a positive impact on the world and become more successful too."

Robertsbridge will retain its name and existing portfolio of clients and will bring former vice president of corporate responsibility for clothing company PVH Ben Eavis in to its management team as managing director, alongside chairman and co-founder Brendan May. Eavis has worked as a consultant at Robertsbridge since 2019 and has previously held sustainability roles with PepsiCo, Sainsbury's, and Burberry, among others.

Commenting on the news, May said: "This tie up marks a new phase of the Robertsbridge journey. I'm incredibly proud of all we have achieved over the last 11 years. Now, with Stonehaven's world class research and data analytics we're uniquely placed to be able to help clients tackle the growing challenges that lie ahead.

"The ESG agenda is now a central pillar of all business decision-making, mitigating risk and identifying the competitive conditions for commercial success in a world in which sustainability has firmly established itself as inseparable from business strategy."


Factory farms of disease: how industrial chicken production is breeding the next pandemic

At least eight types of bird flu, all of which can kill humans, are circulating around the world’s factory farms – and they could be worse than Covid-19

One day last December, 101,000 chickens at a gigantic farm near the city of Astrakhan in southern Russia started to collapse and die. Tests by the state research centre showed that a relatively new strain of lethal avian flu known as H5N8 was circulating, and within days 900,000 birds at the Vladimirskaya plant were hurriedly slaughtered to prevent an epidemic.

Avian flu is the world’s other ongoing pandemic and H5N8 is just one strain that has torn through thousands of chicken, duck and turkey flocks across nearly 50 countries including Britain in recent years and shows no sign of stopping.

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Net Zero Festival: CEOs discuss barriers to net zero and how to overcome them

Net Zero Festival: CEOs discuss barriers to net zero and how to overcome them

VIDEO: Hitachi UK&I CEO Ian Funnell, Natwest Group CEO Alison Rose, and Co-operative Group CEO Steve Murrells offer views on how to tackle the biggest corporate net zero challenges

What are the biggest challenges to the development of an effective and robust corporate net zero strategy, and how can they be tackled?A panel of top CEOs came together at BusinessGreen's recent Net Zero Festival to offer their perspectives, including Hitachi UK&I CEO Ian Funnell, Natwest Group CEO Alison Rose, and Co-operative Group CEO Steve Murrells.

Their discussion, which was chaired by leading journalist and broadcaster Lucy Siegle, can be watched again in full above.

All of the panel debates, keynote speeches, and presentations from the Net Zero Festival - which took place over three days from 29 September 2021 featuring hundreds of top speakers from business, politics and academia - are now available to watch again on demand by signing up for free on the Net Zero Festival website.

Hitachi is a partner of the Net Zero Festival.


'Peak meat': Why investors are predicting global emissions reduction will outpace current climate plans

'Peak meat': Why investors are predicting global emissions reduction will outpace current climate plans

But stakeholders need to come together to push for more drastic climate action to limit global waming to a safer 1.5C, investor group warns

Last week's report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) made for sobering reading, with its warning that the world is still headed towards global temperature rises that are set to breach the goals of the Paris Agreement - even if all existing national climate plans are delivered as promised. But a report out this morning offers a brighter outlook on the planet's future, arguing a sub-2C warming trajectory may be more likely than current national decarbonisation targets indicate.

The Inevitable Policy Response report, published this morning by the Principles for Responsible Investment - a UN-backed coalition of global investors - predicts there will be a rapid climate policy acceleration over the next four years that will ultimately put the world on track to keep global temperature increases below 2C. It argues that "forceful actions" taken over the coming years could result in emissions falling by 80 per cent by 2050, with energy and land use emissions falling by 75 and 125 per cent respectively.

The analysis argues that between 2023 and 2025, clean technology costs will continue to fall, pressure on governments will grow as climate-related weather events become increasingly obvious and acute, and countries will work to significantly strengthen their decarbonisation plans ahead of the submission of the third round of national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. It contends that all of these factors will drive a significant escalation of climate policy that could put the world on a safer pathway than indicated by countries' current climate goals.

The analysis, which draws on insights from hundreds of policy experts and cutting edge economic analysis exploring the future of energy and land use, forecasts that by 2030 wind and solar generation will treble and the percentage of zero emissions vehicles on roads will rise to command a 30 per cent share of the global fleet. It also predicts rapid changes in food and land systems, calculating that 400 million hectares of pasture and rangelands will be replaced with forests, cropland, and nature-based solutions globally by 2050, ensuring land once again becomes a net CO2 sink. Meat consumption, meanwhile, is expected to peak by 2030 globally, the report predicts, before then declining as sustainable alternatives to animal products become cost competitive by 2035. 

But despite the encouraging tidings set out in the report's 'forecast policy scenario' the PRI has simultaneously warned that far more ambitious policy action would be required to cap global temperature rises at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the Paris Agreement's more stretching limit which scientists have warned is necessary to prevent the most dangerous climate impacts. To put the world on a safer course, policymakers need to significantly ramp up their climate ambitions, and financiers need to gear up to bankroll the rapid deployment of low carbon infrastructure.

The PRI contends that to reach net zero emissions by 2050, deforestation needs to be halted, ideally by 2025; unabated coal power has to be eliminated in most advanced economies, including China, by 2035; fossil fuel cars need to be phased out in almost all markets by 2040; and the whole world needs to transition to 100 per cent clean power by 2045.

The analysis notes that limiting warming to 1.5C requires a significant ratchet in policy action across a number of major regions, including the United States, China, Brazil, and India. It also warns that accelerating public and private financing flows to developing countries to enable the transformation of their energy industries and land use will be critical to achieving a net zero economy. "Achieving 1.5C requires rapid change on a truly global level," the report concludes.

Jakob Thomae, managing director at the 2° Investing Initiative, branded the report as both a "cause for hope and a call to action", noting that it highlighted how the Paris Agreement goals remained in reach, but only with sweeping cfhanges in energy and land use. "This will require concerted action by government and the financial industry to shift regulation and financial flows to help close the gap to 1.5C," he added.

The PRI has touted the Inevitable Policy Response report as the first ever roadmap for the policies needed across both the energy and land use systems to hold temperature increases to 1.5C, stressing that while its 'required policies scenario' was similar to the 'net zero emissions' scenario featured in last week's IEA's World Energy Outlook it also featured more extensive analysis of the changes needed across food and land systems. 

Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the PRI, said the report was an important tool that would help investors shift capital markets and corporations towards sustainable outcomes over the coming years.

"IPR scenarios for investors encompass both the large-scale market shifts to come in carbon, energy and land use as well as invaluable granular analysis to help guide investment directions," she said. "The 2021 IPR forecasts signal to investors that they must focus on the transition, 2030 and net zero pathways and the investment opportunities emerging as policy makers respond to growing climate challenges."

The PRI said it would now work with major asset owners - including BlackRock, BNP Paribas, and Nuveen -  to work out how data from the Inevitable Policy Response report could be used by asset owners and managers to both advance investment in the sustainable economy and avoid stranded asset risks.

Ashley Shulten, head of ESG investment global fixed income at BlackRock, explained that the detailed policy forecasts in the report would help the market "conceptualise the key changes that could occur in energy and land systems across the world if the forecasted climate policy acceleration occurs".

She added that the investor was looking forward to working with the PRI and other financial players to "further hone the data and analytics that will be most helpful in constructing these scenarios and making informed investment decisions".

As with last week's flagship report from the IEA, there is clearly cause for both celebration and concern in the findings published today by the PRI. While there is evidence the Paris Agreement's rachet mechanism is working, it is also obvious that much more needs to be done to  avert the worst impacts and most costly effects of climate change.

The 2C future predicted by the PRI is infinitely better than a the 2.6C pathway that the IEA believes will be delivered by current policies, but it still points to climate impacts that would wreak havoc on the global economy and destroy the homes and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. While increasingly frequent and violent extreme weather events and the increasingly compelling economics of clean technologies are clearly set to bolster climate policy, it is clear policymakers must push the envelope as much as possible if they are to drive down emissions from energy and land use at a pace that deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement.


What the G7 and COP26 summits can teach us about putting on sustainable events

What the G7 and COP26 summits can teach us about putting on sustainable events

Arup acted as sustainability manager for the G7 Summit in Cornwall in 2021, and the firm's sustainability and climate specialist Natasha Connolly argues holding a sustainable COP26 can be a catalyst for wider change

The UK has played host for two of the world's largest geopolitical meetings of the year. In June, world leaders gathered on the beaches of Cornwall to discuss global issues at the G7 Summit. In a little over a month, they will meet again at COP26 in Glasgow with an objective to move the dial on climate change action.

Whenever meetings of this scale happen, the carbon footprint of such events is inevitably scrutinised. However, the attendees' carbon emissions from a single event can pale in comparison to the prize of tangible progress and decisive action on climate change agreed.

When Arup was appointed sustainability advisor of the G7 Summit, we were in a critical role to help influence how sustainability is being embedded into these major events. Throughout the process, it was encouraging to see signs of how it was beginning to shape procurement practices, both in government and the private sector.

In addition, as part of our role, we helped ensure that the Summit met the international standard for sustainable events (known as ISO 20121), which involved a series of constructive additions to the procurement ethos. This experience has influenced the approach we are currently taking as sustainability consultants for COP26 in November.

These sometimes subtle but significant shifts in procurement processes represent a valuable way for government and the private sector to accelerate the wider sustainable development agenda.

A clear definition of sustainability

One of our first major tasks was to define the event's overall sustainability ambitions and then establish how the supply chain could achieve those goals. For the G7 Summit, this meant a renewed focus on procurement strategy, drafting tenders based on rigorous sustainability and carbon criteria, and assessing their ability to deliver benefits for the local environment, economy and society.

Collective action is central to the sustainability agenda and defining what ‘excellent' means is a crucial first step, setting the right example for wider stakeholders. Our hope is that by defining sustainability ambitions from the beginning, the case for investing in net zero and other sustainable practices becomes easier to make for procurement and commercial leads.

Working towards a collective goal

By establishing clear ambitions and putting environmental and social value front and centre of the procurement process, we ensured that all suppliers involved in the event were truly committed to its sustainability goals.

This also helped suppliers consider how they could improve the sustainability credentials of their own operations in different ways. For example, some trialled innovative approaches such as using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in the generators in place of diesel, while others sourced local Cornish food produce closer to the event, to reduce emissions from transportation and support local businesses.

We can already see that suppliers are using these contracts as an opportunity to build on their existing sustainability strategy, in turn helping improve their position in the industry as a whole. These experiences have proved to be a catalyst for many of these companies to develop new ways of working and show leadership, which will ultimately strengthen the appeal for others to follow in their footsteps.

Setting ambitious ratings and assessments

Another trend we have begun to see is the value in embracing a more comprehensive approach to ratings and assessments for carbon neutrality. Essentially, this means organisers need to be ambitious by picking the most rigorous carbon measurement system to support the project's goals. We encouraged the government to use the PAS 2060 methodology for calculating the G7's carbon footprint which hasn't previously been applied to UK government events.

This widened the scope of emissions included in the Summit's calculated carbon footprint. Factors such as tankers moored offshore, military vehicles and policing were accounted for and guided our carbon reduction focus and carbon offset strategy. Using this PAS 2060 framework set a new standard for everyone involved, driving up transparency and accountability. It also enables the government to demonstrate a robust methodology and compliance with independent verification.

We anticipate that for future events such as the upcoming COP26 Summit, the public will rightly ask: "What definition of ‘carbon neutral' are you using?". A similar embrace of data is vital here. We foresee growing pressure for detailed sustainability performance data and reporting, which will become increasingly essential if companies are to stay competitive, relevant and accountable.

From definition to contribution

Defining the parameters for a sustainable procurement strategy will - of course - only be part of the solution. However, it's a concrete way to begin shaping the decision-making landscape and accelerating new thinking and solutions.

Ultimately, the 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall was a single event, as is the COP26 Summit, and the issues we want to address require long-term and systemic change. But it demonstrates powerfully how a public event can be a catalyst for change, and how rapidly industries can embrace new thinking and new solutions. Ultimately, we can achieve more sustainable forms of economic behaviour and activity by using every event as a chance to learn, pivot and improve.

Natasha Connolly is sustainability, carbon and climate change specialist at Arup.


eBay slashes emissions goals with new SBTi approved climate targets

eBay slashes emissions goals with new SBTi approved climate targets

After joining the Science Based Targets initiative earlier in the year, eBay has set ambitious emissions reductions targets for a 2030 deadline

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has approved eBay's emissions reductions targets covering its own operations and full value chain, the leading e-commerce business announced late last week.

eBay confirmed it has set targets to slash its Scope 1 and 2 direct emissions by 90 per cent and its Scope 3 emissions generated from shipping by 20 per cent in the next decade from a 2019 baseline.

Earlier this year, the company joined the SBTi, which works with businesses to independently verify reduction targets as being in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement science, and it has now had its target validated as being in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C.

eBay said it will now work with its logistics providers to offer low-carbon alternatives for shipping goods to help lower its Scope 3 emissions.  

The company also announced it aims to become 'carbon neutral' across its offices and data centres by the end of 2021, separately from its SBTi approved targets, and will offset emissions that it cannot directly reduce to achieve this goal.

"At eBay, we believe we have an urgent and important responsibility to mitigate the impact of climate change," said Renee Morin, chief sustainability officer at the company. "We are committed to ambitious action and the approval of our science-based target along with our accelerated carbon neutrality goal are critical to the work we are doing to have real, measurable impact."

As part of the update, eBay also confirmed it had already reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 19 per cent in 2020 against its 2019 baseline year, thanks to the increased use of renewable energy. In 2020, eBay increased its electricity supply from renewable energy sources by eight percentage points from 66 per cent in 2019 to 74 per cent last year. This year the company has continued to invest in renewables and announced it has signed an agreement to purchase power from Lightsource bp's largest solar project when it is completed in 2023.

Commenting on the news, Alberto Carrillo Pineda, managing director of science based targets at SBTi partner CDP, said: "We congratulate eBay on setting science-based targets consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

"By setting ambitious science-based targets grounded in climate science, eBay is taking action to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change."


AXA pledges to invest £1.3bn in forest protection

AXA pledges to invest £1.3bn in forest protection

The insurance company has set out a plan to protect forests as part of its commitment to preserving biodiversity

Insurance and investment giant AXA last week announced a £1.3bn investment in sustainable forest management projects, as part of its ongoing commitment to preserve biodiversity and protect forest ecosystems.

The company, which already has 60,000 hectares of forests certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification or the Forest Stewardship Council in its portfolio, confirmed around £500m of the new investment would go towards reforestation projects in emerging economies.

In total, the investment is expected to capture 25 megatons of CO2 each year, providing a boost to global efforts to enhance natural carbon sinks and curb levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Alongside the new investment target, AXA also committed to strengthening its investment and insurance policies for activities that can fuel deforestation, such as soy, palm oil, timber, and cattle rearing. And it announced that it has joined the World Heritage Sites protection commitment, which asks signatories to prevent insuring or investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

"Forests represent 80 per cent of the Earth's biodiversity and play an essential role in the fight against climate change," said Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA. "AXA has been a pioneer in the financial industry by adopting, in 2013, restrictions on unsustainable palm oil operations to protect stressed ecosystems. In the face of the climate emergency, and prior to the COP26, we are proud to extend our commitments and announce new measures to fight deforestation, protect forest ecosystems, and preserve biodiversity."

AXA also said the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, of which it is a founding member, will play a role in developing a reporting framework for financial institutions to identify and analyse activities that have direct or indirect impacts on biodiversity.

The announcement arrived amid a flurry of new research and activity from business leaders and scientists last week calling on governments to ramp up their efforts to protect biodiversity at the first stage of the COP15 UN Biodiversity Summit in Kunming, China.

The first phase of the Summit - which was hosted virtually amidst on-going coronavirus restrictions in China - closed on Friday with the UN expressing optimism that the talks remained on track to deliver a new international framework for protecting biodiversity when diplomats gather in person in Kunming next year.


BAT fires up net zero strategy with new 2050 goal

BAT fires up net zero strategy with new 2050 goal

Tobacco giant pledges to bring its existing sustainability commitments in line with climate science, as it signs up to the Race to Zero campaign

British American Tobacco (BAT) has committed to delivering net zero emissions by 2050 across its value chain and will bring its existing sustainability targets in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C after signing up to the UN's Race to Zero, the company announced late last week.

The UN backed Race to Zero campaign works with the Science Based Targets initiative's Business Ambition for 1.5C coalition to rally businesses, regions, and institutions around the world to commit to halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050 ahead of next month's COP26 Climate Summit.

Kingsley Wheaton, chief marketing officer at BAT, said climate action lies at the core of the company's 'A Better Tomorrow' strategy, which launched in 2020. "Our purpose of building A Better Tomorrow ensures that sustainability is front and centre in all we do," he said. "We are proud, therefore, to support the Race to Zero campaign. This is in addition to our New Categories journey - with Vuse, glo and Velo - and our ambition to have 30 million non-combustible product users and £5bn of New Category revenue by 2025." 

In 2019, the company introduced three reduced-risk products, Vuse, glo and Velo. Earlier this year, it claimed e-cigarette brand Vuse had become the first 'carbon neutral' vape brand. The company also announced it had slashed its emissions by nearly 31 per cent in 2020, against a 2017 baseline.

In related news, the John Lewis Partnership also joined the Race to Zero last week and committed to reducing its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C.


Malcolm Turnbull on Murdoch, lies and the climate crisis: ‘The same forces that enabled Trump are at work in Australia’

Systematic partisan lying and misinformation from the media, both mainstream and social, has done enormous damage to liberal democracies, the former PM writes

The United States has suffered the largest number of Covid-19 deaths: about 600,000 at the time of writing. The same political and media players who deny the reality of global warming also denied and politicised the Covid-19 virus.

To his credit, Donald Trump poured billions into Operation Warp Speed, which assisted the development of vaccines in a timeframe that matched the program’s ambitious title. But he also downplayed the gravity of Covid-19, then peddled quack therapies and mocked cities that mandated social distancing and mask wearing.

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