Signals of Change – February 2024We Mean Business Coalition
Here are the signals of change towards…
A just transition from fossil fuels to clean solutions
As we finalize this newsletter, the European Commission is set to propose a 2040 climate target. According to drafts leaked in mid-January, the body is expected to recommend that the EU reduces its net greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040. The target would transform the EU’s energy mix – reducing fossil fuel use by 80%.
A new report from BloombergBEF shows that global spending on the clean energy transition – including electric vehicles, renewables, hydrogen and other technologies – has reached a record $1.8 trillion, increasing by 17% in the past year.
Meanwhile, new research from the IEA found that under existing policies and market conditions, global renewable capacity in electricity, transport and heat is forecast to reach 7300 GW by 2028. This growth trajectory would see global capacity increase to 2.5 times its current level by 2030, though still short of the tripling goal agreed at COP28.
President Joe Biden has halted approvals for pending and future applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from new projects owing to pressure from climate activists. If all proposed US LNG terminals were built, potential emissions would rise to 704 million tonnes (17% of the US’s annual emissions).
Meanwhile, the largest combined solar and energy-storage project in the U.S., has begun operating in California’s Mojave Desert. Spanning 4,600 acres with nearly 2 million solar panels and over 120,000 batteries, the project is providing power to customers including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, the city of San Jose, the Clean Power Alliance, and Starbucks.
India’s Adani Group is constructing the world’s largest renewable energy park located in the Rann of Kutch. Upon completion, the park will supply 30 GW of clean energy annually, enough to power 18 million Indian homes. While praised for its ambition, campaigners have raised concerns around the impact on its unique salt desert landscape.
This month, we look at global developments around electric trucks:
First up, European lawmakers have agreed on emission targets that will phase out almost all sales of new diesel trucks by 2040. The heavy-duty vehicle sector is responsible for over 25% of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport in the EU. Under the new standards, truck manufacturers will need to cut the average emissions of new trucks by 45% in 2030, 65% in 2035, and 90% in 2040.
Next to the U.S., where truck makers Daimler Truck, Navistar, and Volvo have joined forces to create “Powering America’s Commercial Transportation,” an association advocating for increased government support for charging infrastructure and improvements to the grid, to support electric and hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks.
In Europe, Mars is introducing 300 electric heavy-duty trucks across Europe, partnering with freight technology firm Einride to further its goal to halve value chain emissions by 2030. The first delivery was made between a factory and distribution center in Germany, and there are plans to expand into the UK and the Netherlands next.
Meanwhile, Japanese automakers Isuzu Motors and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus are entering Southeast Asia’s growing electric vehicle markets, with Mitsubishi Fuso exporting its eCanter small electric trucks to Hong Kong and Singapore, starting sales as early as this month. Isuzu plans to invest ¥120 billion ($812 million) over the next five years to produce electric pickup trucks in Thailand, aiming for local sales by 2025.
First up, low-carbon cement developer Sublime Systems has secured a site for its first large-scale commercial plant, with the aim of producing up to 40,000 tons of its Sublime Cement by 2025. The firm chose the Holyoke, Massachusetts site for its hydroelectric resources.
Meanwhile, Boston Metal has secured an additional $20 million in Series C2 funding from Marunouchi Innovation Partners, as it seeks to accelerate the commercialization of its Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE) technology for green steel production. The company aims to generate revenue from its high-value metals business as early as 2024.
Lastly, scientists have discovered a method of turning a toxic aluminium mining byproduct – known as red mud – into a feedstock for ironmaking and indirectly green steel. In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists used an electric arc furnace to transform red mud into iron and water, offering a more sustainable way to handle the byproduct.
This month, we look at global developments around heat pump technologies:
First up, the UK Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero has committed nearly £80 million in funding for four green heating projects across England. Among these is a project which involves extracting heat from Bolton’s sewer to power a heat pump, heating nearly 2,000 homes and businesses. The other initiatives include an air-source heat pump network and a district heat network using excess heat from a chemicals park.
In neighbouring Scotland installations increased by 113% between 2020 and 2023. While in Germany heat pump installations reached 356,000 in 2023 – rising more than 50% for the second year in a row.
This comes as the EU has reached a political agreement to ban fossil fuel boilers by 2040 and reduce subsidies for them from 2025, as part of the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Bosch, Daikin, Midea, and Johnson Controls have successfully passed its Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump (CCHP) Technology Challenge. Launched in 2021, the challenge aims to accelerate the deployment of heat pump technologies by addressing technical challenges and market barriers. The four will now move into the next phase, involving the installation and monitoring of more than 23 prototypes in cold-climate locations throughout the US and Canada over the next year.
First up, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants has launched a public consultation on new ethical standards for sustainability reporting. The proposed standards aim to address greenwashing concerns and enhance the quality of sustainability information by setting out a framework of expected behaviours and ethics provisions for sustainability assurance practitioners and professional accountants involved in sustainability reporting.
Meanwhile, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) has released exposure drafts containing proposed sustainability reporting standards for SMEs under the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The proposed standards aim to support SMEs in accessing finance and reduce the burden of dealing with uncoordinated data requests, providing standardized sustainability information.
Lastly, the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, an advisory body to the European Commission, has released a report examining how the EU’s sustainable finance framework can support the transition efforts of economic actors. The report includes contributions from large corporates, credit institutions, investors, insurers, public institutions, auditors and consultants, and SMEs, focusing on business strategy, finance and transactions, and reporting, monitoring, and assurance.
Protecting and restoring nature:
Louis Dreyfus Company and The Nature Conservancy have announced a collaboration to promote and implement regenerative agricultural and habitat conservation practices in strategic agricultural supply chains, with a focus on grains, oilseeds, coffee, and cotton in North and South America. The move aims to accelerate the shift towards a net-zero, nature-positive role for agri-commodities. Currently, the global agrifood system accounts for 31% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Frozen food giant, McCain is also driving regenerative agriculture through its Regenerative Agriculture Framework, focusing on improving soil health, water quality, water use optimization, biodiversity, and reducing synthetic inputs. The company’s Farms of the Future project, currently operating in Africa and Canada, has already achieved a 9.4% improvement in water-use efficiency in water-stressed regions and delivered over 23,500 hours of training to farmers.
A new report from the Food System Economics Commission estimates that a radical overhaul of the global food system to address climate change, biodiversity, and health would bring $5tn to $10tn a year worth of benefits even after the additional costs of transforming production and consumption were factored in.
And new in nature tech, Palmoil.io has launched PlotCheck, an online tool aimed at helping palm oil companies check their compliance with deforestation regulations. The tool enables companies to upload plot boundaries and analyzes the plot for deforestation based on publicly available satellite data, providing companies with a statement that can be submitted to authorities to prove that their shipment is deforestation-free.
Decarbonizing global supply chains
Schneider Electric has launched the Catalyze program in collaboration with Google, ASM, Intel, Applied Materials, and HP. Focused on the decarbonization of semiconductor supply chains, the initiative aims to provide opportunities for suppliers to participate in utility-scale power purchase agreements (PPAs). It will also increase awareness of renewable energy availability in specific regions
Meanwhile, Tesco and Asda are the latest members of a new partnership of 10 supermarkets aimed at limiting supply chain emissions. The initiative, led by Manufacture2030, will collaborate to on projects and share best practices to achieve a common goal of net-zero supply chains by 2050.
Latest from the We Mean Business Coalition
Last month, in response to news that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev had appointed only men to the Organisational Committee for the COP29 summit in Baku, we convened a letter from 88 women leaders across business, civil society and science, to urge Azerbaijan to reconsider. The letter was published in the Financial Times and, just as we made the official delivery, we learned that the President Aliyev had announced the addition of twelve women to the team.
Ahead of the European Commission’s Communication on the EU Climate Target 2040 – discussed above – we stood with a broad alliance of 14 European non-state actors calling on the EU to demonstrate climate leadership with a science-based target covering at least 90% net emission reductions by 2040. Read the letter here.
Lastly, our CEO María Mendiluce returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos, sharing her reflections on how the world can weather stormy waters ahead in 2024 in her regular column for Forbes.
Companies taking action
As of this month, over 14,000 companies are taking action through Coalition partner initiatives. See all companies who committed in the past month on the We Mean Business Coalition website.
Companies setting their ambition for net zero include:
- 7380 companies are working to cut their emissions in line with science through SBTi
- 7398 small and medium-sized enterprises are working to cut emissions with the SME Climate Hub
- 464 companies have now signed the Climate Pledge, to reach net zero by 2040.
Meanwhile, companies are driving down emissions through the following demand-side initiatives:
- 130 companies are accelerating the transition to electric vehicles with EV100, and 5 companies are kickstarting the transition to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with EV100+.
- 128 companies are committed to improving their energy efficiency through EP100.
- 426 companies have committed to 100% renewable energy with RE100
- 38 companies have joined ConcreteZero to create a market for net zero concrete
- 45 companies have committed to SteelZero to create a market for net zero steel
Africa Green Economy Summit 21 – 23 February
10th World Water Forum 18-24 May 2024
Bonn Climate Change Conference – 3-13 June
G7 Summit – 13-15 June