Net zero transition – the latest signals of change: April 28, 2023We Mean Business Coalition
Signals of change in the sustainable transition this week include the launch of the Venture Capital Alliance for net zero, and new ways for UK businesses to ‘Save Our Wild Isles’.
Net Zero Economy
Lawmakers have adopted a common position on proposed EU rules to hold companies accountable for doing business responsibly, paving the way for a final plenary vote on June 1. The corporate sustainability due diligence directive aims to ensure companies identify, prevent and mitigate adverse impacts on the environment or human rights due to their activities. After intense negotiation, some financial sector firms will be included within the scope. Parlimentary members also voted in favor of paving the way for mandatory climate transition action plans, starting with the highest-emitting sectors.
Countries including Barbados, Sierra Leone and Spain have backed a renewed call to accelerate the flow of climate-related finance to the world’s poorest countries. The ‘Power Our Planet: Act Today. Save Tomorrow’ campaign, co-chaired by the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, calls for the World Bank and wealthy countries to speed up pledges to mobilize climate finance ahead of a conference on the topic hosted by France in June.
A new coalition of 20+ venture capital firms launched this week with the aim of making private investment in tech more climate-friendly. The Venture Capital Alliance, made up of firms with a combined portfolio worth over $60 billion, has the backing of the UN’s Race to Zero campaign and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Generalist VC firms will need to ensure their early-stage startup bets are aligned with net zero goals, while climate tech backers will need to ensure the technology they’re investing in can potentially save at least 100 megatons of CO2.
In South Africa, PepsiCo is developing an energy recovery project to convert food waste from its Johannesburg site to electricity. In partnership with local firm Tecroveer, the company will build a plant capable of converting 11,500 tonnes of waste per year. As well as producing power, some of the waste will be used to create fertilizer for PepsiCo’s agricultural operations in the country.
Google and EDP have partnered up to build 500 MW of community solar power generation across 13 states in the USA. A third of the 80 local projects will be built in low to moderate-income communities, creating jobs and directly reducing energy costs for households. Google will use some of the energy generated to help decarbonize its own data centers – as efforts to do so have in the past been held up by long backlogs to connect renewables projects to the electricity grid.
And nine European countries have pledged to increase offshore wind capacity in the North Sea eightfold by 2050. The nations, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, agreed to collaborate on the construction of more wind farms, the development of ‘energy islands’ – connected renewable generation sites at sea – and carbon capture projects. Driven by the need to increase energy security and cut emissions, the countries aim to boost their combined offshore wind power generation in the North Sea to 120 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by mid-century.
The International Energy Agency’s EV Global Outlook Report has shown that almost one in five cars sold worldwide this year will be electric. Sales are projected to rise to 14 million vehicles in 2023, including both battery-only models and hybrids, with China making up the largest share of the market. The IEA now projects that EV sales globally will constitute 35% of the market in 2030, compared to a forecast of 25% by the same date just a year ago.
Swedish car-battery maker Northvolt is expanding into aviation via its subsidiary, Cuberg. Producers of lithium batteries have so far progressed slowly towards creating batteries light enough to be fitted in commercial airplanes. However, Northvolt is confident that combining its experience in battery packs and systems could open new opportunities in the emerging market for electric-powered aircraft.
In the US, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – the largest transit system in the country – has launched plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2040. The MTA aims to upgrade its train yards, maintenance shops, bus depots, and rail stations to cut emissions. It had previously announced plans to transition its entire bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.
Land & Nature
Three UK charities – the National Trust, the RSPB and WWF – have called on businesses to protect nature and released a series of instructional films to help them. The group says that stopping the degradation of the world’s nature and climate is “the biggest business opportunity this century,” and that companies must publish nature-positive transition plans as an urgent priority. The Save our Wild Isles films for business follow on from a recent David Attenborough-narrated nature documentary series.
In Togo, efforts are underway to plant 14 million trees in 2023, with the aim of restoring 11,000 hectares of degraded land this year. One of the projects outside the country’s capital, Lomé, has seen Sogea-Satom, a subsidiary of the French group Vinci, plant 2,000 mangroves in partnership with a local NGO. The country’s annual tree-planting initiative – a collaboration between government, business and civil society – has the long-term goal of completely restoring its depleted forest.
The US-based startup Propagate has been making the case for agroforestry practices that support farmers to produce food more sustainably. Agroforestry – growing crops among trees – is used on less than 1% of US agricultural land but has greater carbon sequestration potential than regenerative annual cropping, which is currently the dominant form of regenerative agriculture. Propagate’s solutions include providing technology to help farmers make informed decisions, and new financing models with the support of major food producers such as Cargill.
Built Environment & Heavy Industry
H2 Green Steel has secured a €250 million supply agreement to deliver low-carbon steel to Germany’s Bilstein Group – producer of cold rolled steel strip for the automotive, tooling and furnishings sectors. The steelmaking startup, based in Sweden, uses hydrogen power to remove the oxygen from iron oxide, avoiding 95% of the CO2 emissions normally produced in the process. The new seven-year supply agreement with Bilstein is set to begin deliveries in 2026.
Modular housing developer TopHat has received a boost in its plans to deliver 4,000 ultra-low-carbon homes per year through landing £70 million in new funding from investors including Aviva. The funds will support TopHat to open its UK facility – set to be the largest modular housing factory in Europe and create 1,000 jobs – by summer 2024. The construction of a TopHat modular home emits only 12% of the carbon used in building a traditional home of the same size.
And in India, the government has signaled that it’s working on a new policy to make it mandatory for steelmakers to devote part of their capacity to green steel. In a statement last week, the country’s Steel Minister indicated that firms will need to set up new green steel facilities as well as converting existing plants.
1 company committed to reaching 100% renewable energy via RE100:
IWG – Swiss real estate company
16 companies committed to set science-based targets through the SBTi Net Zero Standard pathway:
A1 Telekom Austria Group – Austrian telecoms company
Aurisco Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd – Chinese pharmaceutical company
Bilfinger SE – German construction company
Brookfield India Real Estate Trust – Indian real estate company
Clearvision (CM) 2005 Limited – UK-based software company
Excellerate Services UK – UK-based trading company
Fractal Analytics Private Limited – Indian software company
La Lorraine Bakery Group – Belgian food company
olam food ingredients (ofi) – UK-based food company
PureHealth Holding LLC – UAE-based healthcare company
Statnett SF – Norwegian utility
Sun King – US-based consumer goods company
TEXEN – French packaging company
Tunas Sawa Erma (TSE) Group – Indonesian food company
UCB – Belgian pharmaceutical company
United Group B.V. – Dutch telcoms company
10 companies committed to set near-term science-based targets through SBTi:
3i Group plc – UK-based finance company
Daled BidCo SAS – French auto component company
EAE AYDINLATMA A.Ş. – Turkish electrical equipment company
HEXPOL AB – Swedish chemical company
Molkerei Ammerland eG – German dairy company
PT PAKUWON JATI TBK – Indonesian real estate company
SMCP GROUP – French textiles company
Syneos Health, Inc. – US-based pharmaceutical company
TEKKEN CORPORATION – Japanese construction company
UBE Corporation – Japanese chemical company
15 companies had their science-based targets approved by SBTi:
Advance Auto Parts, Inc – US-based retailer
Cabify – Spanish software company
Fastweb S.p.A. – Italian telecoms company
Golden Goose S.p.A. – Italian textiles company
Guerbet – French pharmaceutical company
HH Global – UK-based media company
JD Components Co., Ltd. – Taiwanese components company
Moncler Group – Italian textiles company
Morgan Sindall Group plc – UK-based construction company
Muhr und Bender KG – German auto component company
Patagonia Works – US-based clothing company
SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD – Japanese chemical company
Terumo Corporation – Japanese healthcare company
Uponor Corporation – Finnish building materials company
Watches of Switzerland Group – UK-based retailer
22 SMEs had their science-based targets approved by SBTi:
ASM Technologies – UK-based tech company
CNS Co.,Ltd. – Japanes software company
Earth Support Corporation Co., LTD – Japanese waste management company
Gebhardt-Stahl GmbH – German building products company
Ikedagiken Kougyou Co., Ltd. – Japanese construction company
Japan Prime Realty Investment Corporation – Japanese real estate company
Kalkancı Pres Döküm ve Kalıp San. Tic. A.Ş. – Turkish auto components company
Kanda Printing Industry Co., Ltd. – Japan ese paper company
Kerry Airport PLC – Irish airport
M/s Recruitment Cell – Indian professional services company
MIYABI co.,ltd. – Japanese building products company
Neinor Homes – Spanish real estate company
Nippon Building Fund Inc. – Japanese real estate company
Pacage center fukujuu Co.,Ltd. – Japanese trading company
Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group – UK-based seafood company
Skymark PromoPrints – Indian trading company
SOLARIA ENERGIA Y MEDIO AMBIENTE – Spanish utility
Space Matrix Design Consultants Pte Ltd – Singaporean construction company
Thrust Carbon Ltd – UK-based software company
TOKIUM, Inc. – Japanese software company
Türmerleim GmbH – German chemical company
Up2You S.r.l. SB – Italian professional services company
Total number of companies committed to RE100: 403
Total number of companies committed to EP100: 126
Total number of companies committed to EV100: 127
Total number of companies committed to SteelZero: 31
Total number of companies committed to ConcreteZero: 28
Total number of companies and SMEs committed to SBTi: 4,918 (2,377 committed, 2,541 approved)
Total number of SMEs committed to SME Climate Hub: 5,728
Total number of companies committed to The Climate Pledge: 400
Webinars & Events
FT Moral Money Europe: May 24-25
(20% discount with code WMBC)
Economist Sustainability Week USA: May 30-June 1
Manager, Industry & Built Environment at We Mean Business Coalition
Europe Advocacy Manager at Climate Group
Various posts at BSR
Various posts at CDP
Various posts at Ceres
Various posts at CLG Europe (CISL)
Various posts at WBCSD
Various posts at SBTi