Even in the relatively short period of time that the world has been in lockdown – although it sometimes feels like years – the fall in energy use and emissions has had a profound impact on the environment. Clear canals in Venice was one thing but a see-through sea on Blackpool’s coast, who’d have thought we’d ever see the day!
Energy demand has plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic which is obviously a sign that the economy is suffering a major slowdown, and as a result global carbon dioxide emissions are anticipated to be eight percent lower this year compared to 2019. It is a silver lining to what is otherwise a metaphorical, if not meteorological, dark cloud.
But whilst the environmental changes mentioned are striking, carbon dioxide lingers around the atmosphere for a long time, making snapshot judgements about the long-term impact of this period hard to quantify, although atmospheric expert, Keith Shine, forecasts a mere 0.0025°C reduction in global warming in about two decades’ time.
An article that recently appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus points out that once life gets back to any kind of ‘normal’, emissions will rise, and so too will the levels of pollution that fill the skies.
In fact, the rebound could be even worse.
As the article points out, in the initial aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production decreased by 1.4 percent, only to rise by 5.9 percent in 2010.
And the crisis this time could have a longer-term impact on the environment, derailing worldwide efforts to bring about climate change.
While the need for climate change action has never been more pressing, Covid-19 has prevented world leaders from getting together to tackle the issue.
Due to the pandemic, the UN’S annual climate summit has already been put back from November to an, as yet, unspecified date in 2021.
Looking at the aviation industry specifically, one of the biggest contributors to global emissions (estimated to be 2 per cent), under-pressure airline companies are pressing regulators to delay emissions-cutting policies.
This year was supposed to be a pivotal one for progress in tackling climate change, however Covid-19 is doing its level best to prevent lift-off.
Emission reduction targets aligned to the Paris Agreement’s 2C global warming limit are set to be missed by the vast majority of the highest-emitting listed companies, according to the Transition Pathway Initiative’s (TPI) annual report.
The report assessed 238 energy, industrial and transport companies on projected emissions intensity and found that just 18% (43 companies) are on track to deliver emission reductions that are aligned to climate science, with the oil and gas industries lagging behind other sectors. Electric utilities and paper companies, for example, are on the right trajectory.
TPI’s co-chair and chief responsible investment officer at Brunel Pension Partnership Faith Ward said: “The IEA has warned that, while carbon emissions will likely decline this year, in the medium term the coronavirus outbreak could slow down the low carbon transition, as green investments are put on hold by cash-strapped governments and businesses.
“It is therefore of deep concern that so few companies were on the right path before the virus struck. Investors must now use their influence to ensure that climate commitments are ramped up, not discarded in the face of short-term financial pressures.”
The report found that heavy emitting companies in sectors like aluminium, steel and shipping are failing to disclose, or simply don’t have, emissions reduction data aligned to the Paris Agreement.
Professor Simon Dietz, research lead for TPI and Professor of Environmental Policy at the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said: “Our analysis shows that not only have relatively few companies set emissions targets aligned with the Paris Agreement goals, not all of the companies that have done so are actually on track to meet those targets.
“Particularly in the cement, oil and gas and steel sectors, few companies are reducing their emissions fast enough to deliver their targets. In some cases, companies with targets actually saw their emissions intensity go up in recent years. This shows that investors must not only look at what targets companies have set but also at what those companies are doing on the ground and in the boardroom to deliver them.”
The only zeros most business leaders used to concern themselves with were the ones added to a long line of figures on a balance sheet.
However, mention the word zero nowadays and it’ll mostly be included in a conversation about sustainability.
This is not smoke and mirrors stuff, anything but, the mind-shift can be seen in all business sectors as the world economy strives for a greener future.
Emission reduction is no flight of fancy
The budget airline, Ryanair, doesn’t always get the best press but the recent appointment of its first director of sustainability has to be applauded. Blue sky thinking indeed.
Thomas Fowler is the man responsible for the company meeting its own target of reducing emissions per passenger per kilometre from 66g at the end of 2019 to 60g by 2030.
Crucially, they now publish monthly emissions data on their website. “Once you publish [pledges and data], you have to stand over them,” Fowler said. “Transparency and disclosure are going to become a bigger play for us in the next few years.”
Following in its slipstream are Etihad Airways who have started to make long-haul flights free from single-use plastic.
Fossil fuels are history
Another company changing the narrative, this time in the financial world, is Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager. Blackrock has already made strides on its stance to remove fossil fuels from its portfolio and is committed to embedding climate action into its investment decisions.
Elsewhere, the drinks are on BrewDog, in celebration of the trendy craft beer firm’s pledge to give customers an equity stake in the company if they recycle beer cans.
And Heineken-owned cider brand, Old Mout, have unveiled a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), aimed at uniting young consumers in a drive to protect natural habitats and save endangered species from extinction.
The green machine
All these efforts are just the tip of the iceberg – admittedly not the best turn of phrase given the threat to Antarctica by global warming – as figures released by BloombergNEF (BNEF) show that there has been a large increase in new corporate sustainability commitments.
For example, BNEF’s 1H 2020 Corporate Energy Market Outlook found that corporates purchased 19.5GW of clean power through power purchase agreements (PPAs) last year, up from 13.6GW in 2018 and more than triple the levels recorded in 2017.
BNEF’s lead sustainability analyst Jonas Rooze said: “Corporations have purchased more than 50GW of clean energy since 2008. That is bigger than the power generation fleets of markets like Vietnam and Poland. These buyers are reshaping power markets and the business models of energy companies around the world.”
Small steps to sustainability
Of course, not all companies are big enough to warrant having a director of sustainability on their books or write open cheques to charitable causes, but there are plenty of small measures, such as those listed below, that can be easily implemented in an affordable way.
Green energy procurement
Power Purchase Agreements
Electric Vehicle incentives
Waste to Energy Recycling
Staff training – behavioural changes
Energy Management has a new Net-Zero business model that helps clients reduce their carbon emissions.
If you’d like us to help you join some of the biggest global companies and be at the forefront of the climate change agenda, you can get in touch with us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01225-867722.
UK government’s commitment to Net Zero Carbon emissions – they’ve pledged to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040 – and improvements in battery technology, allowing even faster charging, have also contributed to an upsurge in sales of Electric Vehicles (EVs).
However, there are still a number of obstacles that need to be overcome before the United Kingdom catches up with other countries where the take-up has been much higher.
Here’s our rundown of 5 challenges faced with the EV Revolution.
1. Change takes time – EV Revolution
Encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) is at the heart of the government’s efforts to tackle climate change. This is due to transport accounting for 23% of the UK’s CO2 emissions.
With sales of electrical vehicles up 70 per cent on last year, things seem to be moving in the right direction; however, these are still only relatively small gains.
One of the UK’s best-selling cars is the all-electric Tesla Model 3. But its success doesn’t change the fact that only about 1.1% of new cars sold this year are electric
Bigger changes are needed to meet the government’s net-zero carbon emission target, starting with improved infrastructure (more EV charging points).
Changes to the tax system may also be required due to EV users paying lower taxes and having a zero-spend on fuel: both good sources of income for the government.
Consumers also need to be convinced that electric vehicles suit their needs, which is perhaps the hardest challenge.
Nonetheless, the government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040, a move criticised by MPs who want the U.K to fall into line with nearby countries such as Ireland and Iceland and have the change made by 2030,
One of the consumers’ major concerns is range anxiety i.e. how far you can drive without your battery running down.
A petrol or diesel car is simple to fill up when fuel gets low, and doesn’t take long – unless you get distracted by the goods on offer in the garage shop!
If things were as straightforward with EVs, selling them wouldn’t be that much of a problem, but they’re not.
The vehicles currently on the market don’t last more than 100 miles and take over 8 hours to charge – this is a hurdle that needs overcoming before silencing the doubters.
2. Limited choice
The number of vans on the UK roads are increasing faster than any other type of vehicle due to the increase in online shopping.
Small e-vans are already available, and the choice is likely to increase. However, it is a lot more expensive to lease an EV version of a popular van than diesel, meaning they are still too expensive to be the vehicle of choice of smaller businesses.
There is much more choice for car buyers, although the upfront cost for buying an EV is still much higher than buying a petrol/diesel car, at a minimum of £20,000. Prices are likely to fall as electric vehicles are cheaper to run than gas but not for the foreseeable future.
3. Backing the right technology
There has been accelerated developments in battery and charging technology, but where will people charge them, especially those without a driveway or designated parking space.
The expense of battery technology is one of the major challenges the industry faces.
Electric cars could also be less expensive if the makers could ramp up the production volume and use economies of scale. However, for this to happen more consumers need to buy electric cars in the first place which won’t happen without prices coming down.
There is also the potential to have induction pads embedded in the roads that charge the vehicles as you drive over them. With chargers currently in low supply, the benefits of this technology are obvious.
4. Who will pay?
It has been widely assumed that both the private sector and local councils will build, operate and maintain charging infrastructure in the UK.
Businesses have been slow to get involved due to small profit margins and the government having heavily subsided the development of charging points. Yet, this is slowly changing with BP and Shell taking over as market leaders, while Tesla is putting its own charging network in place at motorway service stations.
5. The zero-carbon fantasy
A world in which all vehicles are electric is not the total zero-carbon solution. True, EVs don’t produce the same emissions but there would still be an environmental cost.
Sourcing minerals for batteries and dismantling old ones, as well as delivering and building vehicles all involve substantial CO2 emissions.
That said, the EV Revolution is a crucial part of the UK’s attempts to drastically reduce transport’s emissions.
With the new SECR regulations coming into effect on 1st April 2019, Energy Management explains how the changes may affect certain businesses …
As of April 1st 2019, Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) commenced, with the aim of simplifying carbon and energy reporting and promoting energy efficiency. SECR requires businesses to publish all energy and transport consumption and carbon emissions information.
The changes to the previous methods of reporting align SECR with the government’s new Clean Growth Strategy, which targets a 20% improvement in business and industry energy productivity by 2030.
You will need to comply if:
In the past, you were required to comply with mandatory Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting
Or you meet two or more of the following;
a.) Turnover of £36 million or over
b.) Balance sheet totalling £18 million or over
c.) Number of employees 250 or over
How will this affect your business?
All businesses are now required to publish electricity, gas and transport energy consumption and carbon emissions information alongside annual directors’ reports for financial years beginning on or after April 1st, 2019. As well as this, businesses will need to disclose any energy efficiency action taken in the previous financial year. The government has stated that, as it stands, you will not be required to disclose ESOS recommendations and the implementation of these. It is important to note that this intends to be revisited following evaluation of ESOS phase one.
How do I report?
SECR reporting is due annually and is published alongside annual directors’ reports.
Within the legislation, no specific method of reporting has been stipulated. However, the government will outline what is deemed to be ‘good practice’ when reporting.
Contact us on 01225 867722 and we will work with you to achieve SECR compliance.
In the meantime, please have a look at our SECR Checker Tool to see if you need to comply.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) is due to come to an end in 2019 and there will be a transition to the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regime.
The new SECR framework will implement requirements that will apply to a much wider range of companies. However, companies that use up to 40,000KWh in the 12-month reporting period will be exempt from the framework.
The changes are part of a suite of policies being implemented as part of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, to deliver on its ambition of enabling business and industry to improve their energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030.
SECR will apply to companies that have more than 250 employees, an annual turnover greater than £36m or an annual balance sheet of more than £18m.
It is highly likely that a number of businesses will be captured by SECR that have not taken part in mandatory reporting previously. Therefore, companies that are due to be affected should make sure that reporting and data collection processes are put into place prior to the introduction of the scheme in April 2019.
Now that ESOS surveying and reporting is in full swing, should you require any assistance with the upcoming SECR reporting then please contact Nick Phillips on 01225 867722 or email np@ energymanagementltd.com.