Net-Zero Transition – August signals of changeWe Mean Business Coalition
Here are just some of the signals of change from the past month across transport, energy, industry, land use and the whole economy, demonstrating the transition to a resilient and inclusive net-zero future is accelerating.
In the latest IPCC report the world’s top climate scientists warn that the planet will warm by 1.5°C in the next two decades without drastic moves to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution – preventing this will require a coordinated effort among countries and a rapid shift away from fossil fuels starting immediately. The report offers key insights for business to adapt and develop solutions as well as build resilience. A new $1tn infrastructure bill in the US aims to help modernize the electricity grid so it can carry more renewable energy, as well as develop climate resilience measures, build EV charging stations and replace lead pipes. Draft legislation in the US Congress would see the Treasury Department tax major oil and gas companies – the biggest climate polluters – to pay a fee based on the amounts of GHG they emitted, generating an estimated $500 billion over the next decade. US Senate majority leader Charles Schumer projects that the $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill and Democrats’ $3.5tn budget package would reduce US emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2005. Indian power minister RK Singh has claimed the country will exceed its Paris climate pledge, stating “India has already achieved emission reduction of 28% over 2005 levels, against the target of 35% by 2030 committed in its NDC.” China’s national emissions trading scheme can potentially reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 30-60% of current levels by 2060, new analysis shows. And Unicef calls for the inclusion of young people in all climate negotiations and decisions, with new report revealing that 1bn children are already at “extremely high risk” from the impacts of the climate crisis and pollution stating that “virtually no child’s life will be unaffected”.
UK electrical distribution companies Northern Powergrid and SSEN Distribution have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. Italian energy company ERG spa had its science-based target approved. The New York’s pension fund – which manages $268bn in assets – is launching reviews over climate concerns on $640m invested in 42 shale oil and gas firms. King Yuan Fu Packaging has pledged to switch to 100% renewable electricity with the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative. Prudential, Citi, HSBC, BlackRock and other large financial institutions are working on plans to speed up the closure of Asia’s coal-fired power plants, under a proposal driven by the Asian Development Bank. South Africa’s state-owned power company Eskom has set out plans to move away from coal. The UK has announced a $222m investment into offshore wind manufacturing as part of the country’s ‘green industrial revolution’. The US Treasury has issued new energy financing guidance to multilateral development banks saying the country would oppose their involvement in fossil fuel projects except for some natural gas facilities in poor countries. Solar power supply in the EU rose to a record high in June-July 2021, making up 10% of total electricity production, while the US Department of Energy projects that solar power could make up 40% of US power generation across the country by 2035, an increase of more than 10-fold from today. Denmark and Costa Rica are trying to create an alliance of nations willing to set a date to phase out oil and gas production and to stop giving permits for new exploration. And Sri Lanka will stop building coal-fired power plants and double the share of its electricity from renewables by 2030.
US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order setting a 2030 target for 50% of new vehicle sales to be zero-emissions vehicles – a target welcomed by carmakers, including Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The UK’s largest fleet operators, including BT, BP, Royal Mail and Tesco, have pledged to buy 70,000 electric vans if the government enhances charging infrastructure and support for EVs. Electric vehicle sales in China surged in July with wholesale deliveries of new energy vehicles up by 164% year on year and representing 10% of total auto sales in the country from January to July. And US President Joe Biden is considering a 2050 target for airlines to fly on 100% jet fuel from renewable sources, with incentives for sustainable aviation fuel. UAE logistics company Aramex Group has committed to set a science-based target, while Finnish postal service Posti Group Ltd had its target approved. A new paper highlights the key challenges for assessing the risks that climate change poses for railways, revealing examples of progress and good practice in support of infrastructure resilience and adaptation. NatWest Group has confirmed plans to install 600 electric vehicle charging points across its UK office locations by 2023. And DHL Express will complement its fleet of battery-powered delivery vans and bikes with 12 all-electric aircraft, which will be able to carry 2,600 pounds and have a range of 500 miles.
Net-Zero Built Environment & Heavy Industry
Indian mining company Hindustan Zinc Limited, Mexican cement and building materials company CEMEX, S.A.B de C.V, US chemical company FMC Corporation and French pharmaceutical company SANOFI have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. Indian cement producer ACC Limited had its science-based target approved. UK construction and engineering Hill & Smith Holdings PLC has joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. An open letter convened by the Households Declare campaign urges the UK government to develop a national strategy for decarbonizing existing buildings. SSAB-owned company Hybrit has delivered its first batch of steel produced without using coal as a trial run with Volvo, before full commercial production in 2026. National Grid and SSE have unveiled plans in the UK to capture waste heat generated by transformers and redirected it into district heating networks and homes. 55% of commercial property firms globally have recorded increased demand for sustainable buildings over the past 12 months. And investors managing $55 trillion in assets have called for urgent action by steelmakers on carbon emissions, including cutting emission from production by 29% by 2030 and 91% by 2050 as well as aligning capital expenditure plans with net zero.
Net-Zero Land and Nature
New joint report ‘Building Integrated Policies for the Planet’ from We Mean Business Coalition and Business for Nature outlines the integrated policy recommendations to address the twin crises of climate change and nature loss. The UK has opened a consultation to gain a better understanding of how nature-based solutions can assist with local strategies to contribute to rewilding and the Environment Bill. Tesco is piloting a new scheme for UK-based dairy farmers, whereby they receive subsidies to plant herbal leys to feed dairy cows, with expected benefits including improved soil quality, reduced water consumption and a boost for biodiversity. New report from WWF, RSPB and the Marine Conservation Society calls for the UK and Scottish Government to help modernise the fishing industry to tackle its climate impact. And reducing beef and processed meat consumption by just 10% could reduce dietary carbon footprint by up to one-third, according to new research. And UK food retailing company The Southern Co-operative Ltd and French alcoholic beverage producer Pernod Ricard have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. UK beverage company Fever-Tree and UK catering company apetito (UK) Limited had their science-based target approved. And supermarket chain Lidl is to trial traffic light labelling to alert shoppers to the climate impact of products with 50 own-label products badged with colour-coded “Eco-Scores”.