UK Climate Action is Falling Behind Ambitious Commitments, Climate Body Warns

The Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK government’s climate advisor announced today the publication of its annual progress reports to Parliament, appraising the country’s progress on the key climate goals of cutting emissions to net zero and adapting to climate risks.

The reports warn that a lack of progress on firm climate policies are causing the country to fall behind on its commitments to meet these challenges, with continued inaction making it increasingly difficult to get back on track.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee said:

“We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The Government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26 the world will look for delivery, not promises.”

Over the past several months, the UK has announced a series of ambitious climate-focused commitments, including the launch by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November of a 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution,’ including investments in renewable energy, clean mobility, and green building initiatives.  In December, the UK committed to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 68% by 2030, setting its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, and in April this year, the government set a goal to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035.

While applauding these major goals, the CCC stated that they have yet to be backed with firm policies, and that the public has not been informed or engaged regarding the changes that must lie ahead.

On the road to net zero, while some areas are seeing progress, such as initiatives to decarbonize electricity, commitments still need to be made to decarbonise major emitting sectors such as buildings, transport, industry and agriculture. Similarly, in terms of climate adaptation, the CCC notes that only 5 of 34 sectors have shown notable progress in the past two years in preparing for climate risk, with no sector scoring highly in terms of lowering its risk level.

The CCC made a series of recommendations in its reports, including implementing a Net Zero Test to ensure that all Government policy, including planning decisions, is compatible with UK climate targets, and developing and strengthening plans and strategies for sectors including buildings and the power sector. On the climate adaptation front, recommendations include implementing a public engagement programme on climate change adaptation, building a strong emergency resilience capability for the UK against climate shocks, and making Adaptation Reporting mandatory for all infrastructure sectors.

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said:

“The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Click here to view the CCC reports to Parliament.

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BASF Acquires 49.5% Stake in World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm from Vattenfall

Chemical and materials giant BASF and Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest electricity producers, announced today an agreement for BASF to acquire a 49.5% stake in the Hollandse Kust Zuid (HKZ) offshore wind farm from Vattenfall.

With 140 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 1.5 GW, HKZ is expected to be the largest offshore wind farm in the world when it becomes fully operational in 2023. It will also be the first offshore wind farm ever to be built without price subsidies for the power produced.

BASF will commit approximately €1.6 billion to the wind farm, including contributions for the project’s construction, as well as €0.3 billion for its stake in the project. Offshore construction of the wind farm will start in July 2021. 

Utilizing a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA), BASF will acquire electricity from the wind farm to help implement innovative, low-emission technologies at several of its production sites in Europe, including the company’s chemical production site in Belgium, Antwerp Verbund.

Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, said:

“This wind farm will be an important building block to supply our Antwerp Verbund site and other European sites with renewable electricity. It is the first major investment of BASF in facilities for renewable power. With this investment, we are securing significant volumes of electricity from renewable sources for BASF, which is a key element of our transformation towards climate neutrality.”

The announced transaction aligns with BASF’s recently announced climate goals, including its target to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25% by the end of the decade and reach net-zero in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050. The company has identified the development of new technologies to replace fossil fuels-based energy with electricity from renewable sources as the basis for its long-term transition toward net zero CO2 emissions.

The deal also aligns with Vattenfall’s mission to enable fossil-free living within one generation, with major investments being made in renewable energy capacity, and as the company engages with partners to balance the significant investment costs involved.

 Anna Borg, President and CEO of Vattenfall, said:

“Vattenfall and BASF share a common objective of phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from our operations. With this cooperation, Vattenfall once more proves that partnerships with industries are a key element to accelerate the European energy transition across sectors. I am particularly proud that we can do this, while at the same time securing the delivery of fossil-free electricity to our Dutch customers.”

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PepsiCo, Nestlé, L’Oréal, and Suntory Unveil ‘Endlessly’ Recyclable Bottles for Key Brands

Leading consumer brands L’Oréal, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe announced today the production of the first food-grade PET plastic bottles to be made entirely from a new endless recycling-focused technology. The technology was developed by biotech solutions company Carbios.

Carbios CEO Jean Claude Lumaret, said: 

“In a world first, we have created food-grade clear bottles from enzymatically recycled colored and complex plastic with identical properties to virgin PET, and in partnership with the Consortium, we have proved the viability of the technology with the world’s leading brands. This is a truly transformational innovation that could finally fully close the loop on PET plastic supply globally so that it never becomes waste.”

Carbios’ solution utilizes enzymes from naturally occurring microorganisms to break down PET plastic into componential parts, regardless of color and complexity, and then converting it into new, virgin-grade plastic, making it infinitely recyclable. The new technology allows the recycling of more types of PET plastic that would otherwise go to waste or be incinerated. It can also be developed at an industrial scale, increasing the amount of PET plastic that can be recycled. 

The new prototype bottles were produced for some of the companies’ leading brands including Biotherm, Perrier, Pepsi Max, and Orangina.

Ron Khan, Global VP of Packaging, Beverages, PepsiCo said:

“PepsiCo is committed to building a circular economy to achieve our vision that packaging never becomes waste. We are dedicated to reducing the virgin plastic we use and with the breakthrough Carbios enzymatic recycling technology, we can help keep valuable material in the circular economy, reduce waste and take another step toward a truly closed-loop system.”

The new technology aligns with the sustainable packaging goals at several of the companies, including targets at Nestlé to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, and at L’Oréal to move to recycled or bio-based sources for 100% of the plastics used in product packaging by 2030.

Jacques Playe, Packaging and Development Director, L’Oréal, said:

 “We have been working with Carbios since 2017 to develop this first bottle made from PET derived from enzymatic recycling technology, an alternative to mechanical recycling. We are pleased to announce today the feasibility of these bottles in a pilot phase and are delighted to be in a position to create the packaging of the future with our partners. This is a promising innovation for the years to come that demonstrates our commitment to bring to market more environmentally friendly packaging and which is part of a circularity initiative begun more than 15 years ago”.

Jean-Francois Briois, Head of Packaging Material Science and Environmental Sustainability Nestlé Waters global R&D, added:

“It is very exciting to see that the quality of the prototype bottles made from 100% colored recycled PET materials is virtually identical to clear virgin PET. Thanks to this partnership with Carbios, we are able to achieve the great challenge of combining quality, iconic design and sustainability. When we reach industrial scale, this enzymatic recycling technology will enable us to produce high-quality rPET bottles and help Nestlé in its journey to reduce the use of virgin plastics.”

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GM and Shell to Provide Free, Renewable Energy-based Charging for EVs

Automotive giant General Motors (GM) and energy major Shell, through its MP2 Energy subsidiary, announced today an initiative aimed at expanding access to renewable energy for GM customers and suppliers in Texas, including providing free overnight charging to electric vehicle owners.

Under the new program, owners of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac vehicles can now access fixed-rate home energy plans backed by 100%  renewable energy sources, and owners of GM brands’ EVs will be able to select plans with options to schedule their EV charging during the free overnight hours, from midnight to 5am. The home energy plans will be expanded to employees of GM suppliers, and the suppliers will be also be offered access to a tailored suite of renewable energy products to assist in setting and achieving their individual emissions-reduction goals.

Kristen Siemen, Chief Sustainability Officer at GM, said:

“Addressing climate change requires incredible scale. At GM, we’re committed to helping bring everybody in on a more sustainable future.”

Both GM and Shell have emerged at the forefront of their respective industries in terms of their climate and clean energy initiatives and targets. Earlier this year, GM launched a series of ambitious climate goals aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2035. Last week, the company also announced it is ramping its investment in its EV and AV business to $35 billion through 2025.

Shell is targeting net-zero across at its Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions by 2050, and recently became the first energy major to receive shareholder approval for its climate transition strategy.

Glenn Wright, VP of Renewables and Energy Solutions at Shell, added:

“Shell is working across many sectors to help address greenhouse gas emissions and to serve as a partner for change. We see opportunities amidst the challenges of the energy transition, and we are excited to work with GM to provide options for consumers and businesses focused on their emissions impact.”

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Siemens Identifies Sustainability as Key Driver of New Growth Strategy, Launches ESG Framework

Technology-focused industry, infrastructure, transportation, and healthcare solutions company Siemens presented today its new growth strategy, with sustainability as one of its key growth engines, along with digitalization and automation. Unveiled at the company’s Virtual Capital Market Day, Siemens also announced the launch of DEGREE, its new ESG strategy, with targets including achieving a carbon neutral supply chain by 2050.

Siemens also stated that it is officially adopting the topic of sustainability as an additional strategic imperative for its investment decisions.

Roland Busch, President and CEO of Siemens AG, said:

“Digitalization, automation and sustainability are growth engines for our business. Here, our core business and our digital business reinforce each other in a virtuous cycle. This effect forms the foundation of our growth strategy for achieving more profitable growth. As a focused technology company, we want to strengthen our position in all our markets and enter adjacent profitable markets. And we’re now making our commitment to sustainability clearer than ever.”

As companies increasingly incorporate sustainability concerns into their own investment plans and strategies, Siemens has identified multiple opportunities help customers meet these goals, and to drive growth across its sectors. These include data-based solutions to make products more resource-efficient and use less energy and enable supply chain transparency, infrastructure solutions targeting eMobility and energy-efficient indoor climate, and transportation solutions including train battery technology and the development of hydrogen trains.  

Siemens announced that its new DEGREE – Decarbonization, Ethics, Governance, Resource efficiency, Equity and Employability – sustainability framework will apply to all activities across the company’s businesses worldwide, with each factor incorporating numerous ESG targets. These include decarbonization targets to reach net zero operations by 2030, and achieve a 20% reduction in supply chain emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050; ethics training commitments; governance pledges to align incentive pay with ESG criteria; resource efficiency goals including zero waste to landfill by 2030; Equity targets to reach 30% female share in top management by 2025, and; employability initiatives to expand learning, training and employee assistance programs.

Judith Wiese, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Sustainability Officer and member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, said:

“Sustainability is in our very DNA. It’s not an option. It’s a business imperative. Based on our successful track record, we’re now setting ourselves even more ambitious targets. We’ll accelerate our efforts and raise the bar to create considerably more value for all our stakeholders. Sustainable business growth goes hand in hand with the value we create for people and our planet.”

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Guidehouse and Jupiter Intelligence Partner to Provide Climate Risk Assessment to Utilities

Consulting services provider Guidehouse announced a strategic alliance with climate analytics company Jupiter, aimed at helping utilities understand and address climate risks and opportunities.

Jupiter’s platform enables actionable intelligence for physical assets at the portfolio level, leveraging climate science and economic impacts to address a broad range of use cases and climate scenarios, among other factors.

Rich Sorkin, Jupiter CEO, added:

“Our software solutions deliver climate risk analysis of multiple perils, in spatial resolutions from portfolio to asset level, globally and across flexible time horizons and climate scenarios. Guidehouse, a global leader in sustainability and resiliency consulting, is an ideal partner for us as we join forces to provide utilities with the insight, they need to make real progress building resiliency programs that mitigate the impact of climate change on their assets and operations.”

Through the collaboration, the companies aim to provide clients in the utilities sector with a comprehensive and transparent climate change risk assessment as a key part of an advanced integrated planning strategy, by combining Guidehouse’s utility industry expertise, and Jupiter’s global-scale analytics platform.

Hector Artze, partner in Guidehouse’s global Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure segment, says:

“By leveraging Jupiter’s best-in-science climate risk platform, we can provide a detailed and full lifecycle approach that enables energy providers to continuously manage complex energy system infrastructure investment planning needs, project execution, and reporting to help organizations as they look to decarbonize and tackle climate risks that impact resiliency and reliability.”

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Amazon Takes the Title of Largest Corporate Renewable Energy Buyer in U.S.

Amazon announced a new series of renewable energy projects today, including 11 across the U.S., as well as solar and wind projects in Canada, Finland, and Spain. With today’s announcement, Amazon becomes the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the U.S. with more than 6GW of capacity, adding to its similar titles in Europe and Globally.

In total, Amazon’s total renewable energy investments to date have reached 10 GW of electricity production capacity, including 232 renewable energy projects globally, including 85 utility-scale wind and solar projects and 147 solar rooftops on facilities and stores, sufficient to power 2.5 million U.S. homes. The new investments bring Amazon closer to its goal of powering 100% of company activities with renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its original 2030 goal.

The new utility-scale projects will supply renewable energy for Amazon’s corporate offices, fulfillment centers, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers.

Amazon has emerged on a leading corporate voice in the fight against climate change. The company, together with climate change-focused organization Global Optimism, is a co-founder of the Climate Pledge, an initiative calling on companies to achieve net zero carbon across their businesses 10 years ahead of the Paris Accord’s 2050 target. Launched in 2019, the pledge has signed on more than 100 major businesses globally, representing more than $1.4 trillion in revenues, all committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said:

“We’re driving hard to fulfill The Climate Pledge—our commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Our investments in wind and solar energy in the U.S. and around the world send a signal that investing in green technologies is the right thing to do for the planet and citizens—as well as for the long-term success of businesses of all sizes across all industries everywhere.”

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Oracle Targets 100% Renewable Energy Use in Global Operations by 2025

Cloud-focused tech giant Oracle announced today a new commitment to power its global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, including its facilities and its cloud infrastructure.

The new pledge marks the continuation of the company’s efforts to source clean energy for its operations. The company’s European  Cloud regions are already powered with 100% renewable energy, and Oracle has 51 offices around the world using 100% renewable energy.

Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz, said:

“Relying on renewable energy is an important step toward a more sustainable future. Oracle will always make its biggest impact on the environment by providing customers with technology that enables them to reduce their carbon footprint, but this new goal reflects the shared values of our customers, partners and investors.”

The growth of cloud infrastructure powered by renewable energy can have a significant sustainability impact on companies’ value chains. Recent research from Accenture indicated that shifting from on-premise data centers to the public cloud can cut carbon emissions dramatically, particularly if the infrastructure utilizes low carbon energy, with other benefits including power, cooling and hardware efficiency, compute utilization, and sustainable software engineering, among others.

Commenting on Oracle’s new commitment and its impact on its own sustainability efforts, Telenor Group’s Cecilie Heuch, EVP and Chief People and Sustainability Officer, said:

“Telenor Group recently set science-based targets to reduce our own emissions by 57% by 2030, and work with our suppliers in order to also reduce our supply chain emissions. It is critical for us that our suppliers share our commitment so we are pleased to see Oracle set a goal to have its operations be powered 100% with renewable energy by 2025.”

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Leading Businesses Urge Biden Administration to Adopt Ambitious Vehicle Tailpipe Emissions Standards

A group of leading global businesses issued an open letter today to the Biden administration to support robust vehicle standards, including a target to achieve 100% sales of new light-duty vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions ideally by 2030.

The letter was issued by key members of the Climate Group’s electric vehicle-focused EV100 initiative, including Siemens, HP, IKEA, and Lyft, ahead of an expected announcement of new vehicle standards by the Biden administration in the next few weeks, in the lead-up to COP26.

According to the letter, an ambitious emission standard will help make EV’s the new normal in the U.S., with benefits of the transition including job creation, improved public health, and a revitalized economy.

The companies also highlighted that:

“Strong vehicle standards will send a strong market signal that the US is committed to emissions reduction and is intent on restoring global automotive leadership. These standards, when paired with the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), will create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. In 2020 alone, the clean vehicles industry in the US created more than 270,000 jobs, and, as projections indicate, the US can create 2 million jobs by 2035 with the right regulatory support from our nation’s leaders.’’

Similar standards have been introduced in other countries. In the UK last year, PM Boris Johnson announced that the country will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by the end of the decade. Several vehicle manufacturers are also striving towards similar goals, including automotive giant General Motors’s recent announcement of an aspiration to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035. 

Paul Augustine, Senior Manager of Sustainability at Lyft, said:

“When we announced our 100% EVs by 2030 commitment, we said that meeting our goal will require the collective action of industry, government, and nonprofit organizations to overcome the barriers currently preventing wide-scale electrification, including vehicle availability and affordability. Federal vehicle standards will drive automotive industry innovation to solve both of those problems and in turn, help us encourage drivers on our platform to make the switch to EVs.”

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LEGO Unveils Bricks Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles

LEGO Group unveiled today its first prototype bricks made from recycled plastic. The new brick was produced using PET plastic from discarded bottles, sourced from suppliers in the U.S.

According to LEGO, the development of the recycled plastic brick marks the latest step on the company’s journey to make its products from sustainable materials. In December 2020, the company announced a series of climate-focused sustainability commitments, including initiatives to invest in sustainable materials research to reduce the carbon footprint of products and packaging.

Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the LEGO Group, Tim Brooks said:

“We are super excited about this breakthrough. The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks – and fit with LEGO elements made over the past 60 years. With this prototype we’re able to showcase the progress we’re making.”

According to LEGO Group, the company currently has a team of over 150 people working to find sustainable solutions for its products, and the company has tested over 250 variations of PET materials, along with other plastic formulations. The company stated that it will continue testing and developing the PET formulation of the new prototype brick, and then assess whether to move to the pilot production phase. It expects this phase of testing to take at least a year.

The company said that on average, a one-litre plastic PET bottle provides enough raw material for ten 2 x 4 LEGO bricks.

Brooks added:

“We know kids care about the environment and want us to make our products more sustainable. Even though it will be a while before they will be able to play with bricks made from recycled plastic, we want to let kids know we’re working on it and bring them along on the journey with us. Experimentation and failing is an important part of learning and innovation. Just as kids build, unbuild and rebuild with LEGO bricks at home, we’re doing the same in our lab.”

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