Zero-Carbon Transition – Latest signals of change (26.03.21)We Mean Business coalition
Here are just some of the signals of change from the past week, demonstrating the transition to a resilient and inclusive zero-carbon future is accelerating.
Japan plans to set a bolder 2030 emissions reduction target before the June G7 summit. The US is expected to unveil – before its April 22 summit – a new, aggressive plan to cut its GHG emissions between now and 2030, while the country’s $4tn recovery plan includes an infrastructure bill rooted in the effort to halt CO2 emissions. The Canadian supreme court upheld the federal governments’ carbon tax, finding that “global warming causes harm beyond provincial boundaries and that it is a matter of national concern”. 21% of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies, representing sales of nearly $14 trillion, now have net zero commitments. UK emissions have fallen for the last eight years in a row and are now 48.8% below 1990 levels. The Irish government has committed to cut the country’s emissions by 51% between 2018 and 2030 and to net zero no later than 2050, while Northern Ireland saw its first piece of climate legislation introduced to the assembly with a bill that proposes a net zero target of 2045. The world’s top central banks have outlined nine ways they could use monetary policy to tackle the risks of climate change. The pensions and insurance group Legal & General will tie its executives’ bonuses to specific climate-related goals. And ad agencies step away from oil and gas in a shift likened to the ad industry’s move away from tobacco.
German electric utility company E.ON and UK gas distribution company Cadent both joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. More than 50 companies from the RE100 initiative urged the Japanese government to increase its renewable energy target to 50%. Europe is halfway towards closing all coal power plants by 2030, while the UK is closer to its goal of phasing out coal by 2024 with the closure of its second to last coal-burning power station. Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner, will invest $83m in solar power projects by March 2024 as it also closes small coal mines. The US aims to cut the cost of solar energy by 60% over the next decade, while Pennsylvania will source almost half of its state government’s electricity through seven new solar arrays by 2023. The UK’s offshore wind industry is set for strong growth over the next five years and forecasts $82bn investments that will drive 69,000 jobs. The world’s largest floating offshore wind farms will be built along the Welsh coastline and be capable of powering around 165,000 homes each. And more than 1 billion people – about 25% of the urban population – live in a city with a renewable energy target and/or policy, thanks to city governments’ climate leadership.
French car manufacturer Groupe Renault and Dutch maritime company Van Oord both joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. The cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 97% over the past three decades, a new MIT study shows. In the UK, the car industry backed the Labour party’s call for government investments in EV battery factories, while in Australia, it urged the country’s government to adopt the sector’s own 2030 climate targets and prioritize EVs. German postal service Deutsche Post DHL is investing $8bn in climate-neutral logistics until 2030. In a first for the UK, an EV charging point uses purely tidal energy. The Scottish Government has approved $55m funding to replace diesel buses with low-emission, electric models. UK MPs called for a rolling program of rail electrification projects to cut carbon. The UK announced $75m of new funding to cut emissions from heavy transport, while the country’s Department for Transport launched a $28m competition to develop technology to halt the rise in carbon emissions from shipping. The UK may also include the shipping industry in its new emissions trading platform as it seeks ways to eliminate transport pollution by 2050. And Sweden plans to increase airport fees for high-polluting planes.
Zero-Carbon Built Environment & Heavy Industry
Colombian cement company Cementos Argos, and respectively UK and Irish construction engineering companies Troup Bywaters + Anders and Johnson Controls International joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. Chinese property company Shui On Land and US manufacturer Armstrong World Industries committed to set science-based targets, while UK housebuilding company Taylor Wimpey, UK property development company British Land Company and Japanese engineering and construction company Takasago Thermal Engineering Co. had their targets approved. BASF, SABIC and Linde will jointly develop the world’s first electrically heated steam cracker furnace. The UK’s transition to low-carbon and renewable energy sources – by decarbonizing the country’s 12 most carbon-intensive industries – could create 1.7m jobs. Industries – such as steel, cement, aluminum or fertilizer – will no longer receive free CO2 allowances under the EU’s emissions trading scheme, according to a statement from the European Commission. The UK will unlock $770m to upgrade the country’s least energy efficient homes.
Zero-Carbon Land Use & Nature Based Solutions
JBS, one of the world’s leading food companies, committed to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2040. Dutch animal feed company Nutreco had its science-based targets approved. Unilever has become one of the first multinational companies to publish a corporate net zero action plan for oversight by its shareholders. Starbucks plans to make its green coffee – which refers to growing, harvesting and transporting to ports – carbon neutral by 2030. A $2tn group of investors urged the European Commission to prioritize climate change and biodiversity protection in its proposed reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy. A recent report by CDP shows that 93% of companies analyzed are taking at least one industry-accepted action to safeguard forests. Contrary to previous assumptions, there is a “trade-off” between the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 levels on plant biomass and on stocks of soil carbon, a new study suggests. Non-meat protein consumption is expected to increase more than seven-fold from 13m metric tons in 2020 to 97m by 2035. And Heineken is turning wasted beer into green energy.