Net zero transition – the latest signals of change: May 26, 2023We Mean Business Coalition
The latest net zero signals of change include a record order for Volvo electric trucks.
Net Zero Economy
In a historic first, the IEA this week announced that investment in solar projects has overtaken oil production for the first time. Investment in renewable energy is up by nearly a quarter since 2021. This means that for every dollar invested in fossil fuels, 1.7 dollars are now being invested into clean energy, compared to a 1:1 ratio just 5 years ago.
Meanwhile, France’s largest lender BNP Paribas, has said it will no longer provide financing for the development of new oil and gas fields. The bank, which has a target of 80% reduction in its oil exploration financing by 2030, also confirmed this week that it was currently on track with its climate change targets for the power generation, oil and gas, and automotive sectors.
And in Japan, conglomerate Mitsubishi and MUFG Bank have launched a decarbonization fund aimed at European and US start-ups which specialize in offshore wind turbines and sustainable aviation fuel. The move is part of Mitsubishi’s “Roadmap to a Carbon Neutral Society” strategy and the firm’s wider goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
California’s grid operator has approved a $7.3 billion plan for the construction of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines – which are crucial for the state to be able to meet its climate goals. Currently there is insufficient transmission capacity to connect the massive amounts of clean energy being generated to the grid. Most of this capacity will be built by investor-owned utilities including Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric.
Spanish multinational electrical utility Iberdrola is taking its first steps into the artificial intelligence (AI) space. In partnership with Amazon Web Services, the company is launching a new energy management tool, that will reduce smart device energy consumption by between 10-30 per cent and will allow customers to take advantage of the best hourly rates via its online platform. The move aims to maximize energy consumption at the time of greatest renewable production.
Meanwhile in Senegal, the Société des cultures légumières based in the seaside town of Saint-Louis has just acquired a 604 kWp solar photovoltaic plant which will reduce its dependence on the local grid. The energy will be used to power their 2,000-hectare agricultural farm. It follows the launch of a joint initiative of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote solar irrigation to secure the livelihoods of communities threatened by drought in Senegal and eight other African countries.
Volvo Group has secured its largest order for electric trucks ever. The firm will sell 1,000 electric trucks to Swiss sustainable buildings solution leader Holcim. Over the past year Volvo has seen 5,360 orders for its electric trucks. It has also delivered 202 pieces of electric construction equipment, 34 electric buses, and 20 electric engines in the first quarter of 2023.
Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata is reportedly about to finalize a deal with the British government for the construction of a multi-billion-pound electric car battery plant in Somerset, England. The move by the Indian conglomerate would boost the UK’s green economy significantly and is thought to be worth hundreds of million pounds.
Over to Japan, where production is ramping up on Panasonic’s cylindrical EV batteries. The firm is planning to quadruple its annual production capacity to 200 gigawatt-hours by March 2031. Panasonic has been a key supplier to Tesla since its early days, but Japan’s carmakers are now showing interest too.
Land & Nature
This week saw the launch of new eagerly awaited Science-Based Targets (SBTN) guidance for companies. The nature-focused framework and tools mean that companies will be able to set science-aligned targets for reducing their impacts on land and freshwater for the first time. They mark a significant milestone on the pathway to a nature positive and net zero economy, with targets for oceans and species abundance to follow.
Staying with agriculture, Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland is turning to regenerative agriculture to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Owner of much-loved cordial brand Ribena, it is introducing measures across almost 60 hectares of blackcurrant cropland in Norfolk, England. Alongside reducing emissions, the approach will allow for better crop resilience and improved soil health.
And heading beneath the waves, the Nature Conservancy is hoping to sell its first validated blue carbon credits for seagrass restoration later this year. After the eelgrass meadows at its Volgenau Virginia Coast Reserve were all but wiped out, scientists and others painstakingly replanted it, and the seagrass now covers 10,000 acres. It is estimated that seagrass could store as much as 5% of the world’s carbon, as well as supporting biodiversity, protecting coastlines and cleaning water.
Built Environment & Heavy Industry
European Commission-led REPowerEU has set out new targets for a steep ramp up in heat pump adoption. The plan aims for at least 10 million heat pumps by 2027, increasing to 30 million by 2030. To date, uptake has been particularly strong in Germany – one of the countries worst affected by energy security issues in the wake of the Ukraine war. There, in the first quarter of 2023 alone 96,500 heat pumps were sold – a 111% increase on the previous year. Heat pump sales now make up one-fourth of the Germany heating market.
Turning to green steel, metal distributer Klöckner & Co and the Salzgitter Group have partnered to deliver CO2-reduced steel produced with green hydrogen. The CO2-reduced steel from Salzgitter will be available under the “Nexigen®” umbrella brand under which Klöckner & Co is offering its CO2-reduced steel and metal solutions.
On the same theme, H2 Green Steel will partner with Germany-based electrolysis specialist Thyssenkrupp Nucera to create a 700MW electrolysis plant in Boden, Sweden. Once completed the plant is expected to be the world’s largest alkaline water electrolysis technology (AWE) plant. Hydrogen produced in the electrolysis plant in Boden will be consumed on-site in a direct reduction process, reducing iron ore to sponge iron, enabling production of green steel.
Total number of companies committed to RE100: 407
Total number of companies committed to EP100: 126
Total number of companies committed to EV100: 127
Total number of companies committed to EV100+: 5
Total number of companies committed to SteelZero: 36
Total number of companies committed to ConcreteZero: 30
Total number of companies and SMEs committed to SBTi: 5,129 (2,397 committed, 2,732 approved)
Total number of SMEs committed to SME Climate Hub: 6,076
Total number of companies committed to The Climate Pledge: 400
Webinars & Events
Economist Sustainability Week USA: May 30-June 1
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