• 22 April 2022

Climate News Update April 2022

Each month, Waterman’s environmental expert, Drew Stewart, brings you a round-up of all the latest climate news, upcoming webinars and fascinating opinion pieces from across the UK and Europe, and around the world.

UK climate news bulletin

Scottish Widows is moving to divest from tobacco for ESG reasons and tightens exclusions policies for fossil fuels. Companies deriving more than 10% of their revenue from tobacco will be excluded from their investments, with Scottish Windows calling the decision important ‘for the long-term health of people and our planet’. Furthermore, the pension provider and investment giant is to exclude companies deriving 5% or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining or tar sands. Previously the threshold was 10% of revenues. Last year, Scottish Widows, which manages funds totalling almost £190bn, has committed to halving financed emissions by 2030 on the pathway to net-zero.

This month, the UK Government has introduced mandatory climate risk disclosures for some large businesses and financial firms. It is the first major economy to introduce such a mandate, with nations including New Zealand, Switzerland and France set to follow suit in the coming years. From 6 April 2022, listed companies and certain other large businesses will need to measure and report climate-related risks and opportunities in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations. The TCFD’s framework covers governance, strategy, risk management and climate targets. Read more about the disclosures here.

In a recent survey of over 3,200 workers conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva, the majority of UK adults (three in five) would consider leaving their current job in order to pursue a role they perceive as ‘greener’. Among those surveyed, 97% said they care about, or worry about, climate change to some extent.

Figures from the Governmenthave revealed that emissions in 2021 increased by 4.7% compared to 2020 levels. This increase, the largest recorded since the UK started tracking against a 1990 baseline, has been attributed to the lifting of pandemic restrictions such as lockdowns.

Jaguar Land Rover’s new emissions reductions targets have been approved by Scienced Based Targets initiative (SBTi) which aim to reduce operational GHG emissions by 46%, value chain emissions by 54$ and vehicle use emissions by 60% by 2030. The automotive manufacturer aims to create a net zero value chain by 2039. Meanwhile, The Department for Transport (DfT) has set out new plans to require auto manufacturers to produce a certain amount of zero-emission cars and vans from 2024.

The Government had issued £400m to explore the development of innovative low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen, with reports emerging that a 5GW national capacity target for hydrogen will be doubled to 10GW.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that VAT will be scrapped for domestic solar panels, heat pumps and insulation for the next five years. Meanwhile the UK government has set out plans for 300,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2030, BBC News reports, up from the current level of 30,000. It says that the targeted level would be “almost five times the number of fuel pumps on UK roads today”, according to the Department for Transport.

European round-up

New rules presented by the European Commission aim to target greenwashing in new consumer rules to better protect consumers against false environmental claims and introduce a ban on planned obsolescence. To enforce this, the EU executive proposed to update the “black list” of banned practices under the unfair commercial practices directive(UCPD). Making “generic, vague environmental claims”, for instance, will no longer be allowed if the benefits are not properly demonstrated. The amendment to the EU’s consumer rights directive would oblige traders to provide consumers with more detailed information on products’ durability and reparability. A digital product passport will also be introduced for a wider range of products, with the ‘A to G’ rating set to become the norm in upcoming product-specific rules.

Ryanair outlines ‘carbon neutral’ plans by 2050 that rely heavily on sustainable aviation fuels to address 34% of absolute emissions from flights, however electric and hydrogen planes and plans to cap growth are notably absent from its strategy.

Global News

The US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has unveiled a new draft rule which, if implemented will require businesses to mandatory climate risk reporting and to disclose their emissions, including Scope 3 (indirect) emissions. The draft directive will require businesses to publicly outline how they plan to reach their emissions targets and detail future climate-related risks and opportunities to their businesses and supply chains. Risks may arise from the physical impacts of climate change, from changing legislation and investment trends amid the clean energy transition, or through company reputation. It is expected that the directive will be finalised later this year and a timeline set out for its implementation. A public comment period will now begin, followed by a final rule proposal by the SEC and, finally, a vote. The UK is notably introducing mandatory climate risk disclosures for some corporates in Apriland will gradually widen the scope of the mandate in the coming years. At the G7 meeting last summer, all member nations committed to follow suit by 2025.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a landmark report outlining the need to ensure emissions peak by 2025 and are halved by 2030 in a ‘now or never’ plea to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, detailing the urgent need to scale existing low-carbon solutions to deliver this reduction.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published their 2022 edition of the World Energy Transitions Outlook warning that the energy transition remains ‘far from being on track’ with fossil-fuel based responses to Russia’s war in Ukraine likely to worsen the situation. According to the report, keeping the world on a 1.5C pathway will require ensuring that renewables account for at least 40% of the global annual energy mix in 2030, up from 14% at present. Simultaneously global energy-related emissions must fall by 30% this decade. Global electric vehicle (EV) stock is predicated to be 20 times larger than in 2030 than it was in 2021.

New research indicates that the global green finance market has grown by over one-hundred fold over the last decade, however still accounts for only 4% of the global financial market.

BlackRock has released a statement claiming that three-quarters of the assets it has invested in will have science-based targets by 2030, up from around 25% today.

This month’s sustainable new innovations

Two-bladed wind turbines

Engineering and tech company Seawind Ocean technology has developed a floating offshore wind turbine demonstrator that can produce 6.2 megawatts of energy. The company claims the floating wind turbine can be installed in any ocean environment – including ultra-deep waters and areas that see frequent cyclones, which are not suitable for the installation of traditional turbines.

Called the 6-126, the turbine uses a teetering hinge to separate the shaft and rotor, protecting the turbine from harmful and heavy loads. An active yaw control allows the turbine to run at higher speeds. The turbines are assembled harbour-side using land-based cranes, and do not require the use of installation vessels, making them easy to site.

The company has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Petrofac—a leading international service provider to the energy industry—to install its first full-scale turbines. Completed turbines are expected to be installed in European waters by the first quarter of 2024.

Solar panels that look like bricks

Traditionally, installing solar panels has been difficult for urban dwellers with little or no access to a rooftop or garden. Now, Canadian company Mitrex has developed a new system that can bring solar generation to almost any home. The company has created a building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) material that looks like a regular stone, brick, glass, or wood facade.

Used as cladding, the BIPV material can cover old siding or be used as a first choice in new builds. The material can be cut to a range of sizes and shapes to fit in with the desired design, making it possible to generate power from any surface that gets sunlight.

A single panel generates up to 350 watts of power, and the company offers several different pricing options. Customers can choose between owning the entire system and the power, or just the installed hardware. Mitrex handles the full installation process.

Building blocks made from plastic waste

A major OECD report released last month revealed that the growth of the plastics market has outpaced economic growth by almost 40.  Yet recycling hasn’t scaled up in keeping with this trend. Just 9% of all plastics produced have ever been recycled, and much of this is recycled into products that come with their own environmental challenges, like clothing that sheds microfibres.

Now, US startup ByFusion has come up with a potential solution: using discarded plastic as a building material.

ByFusion’s eco-friendly process—called ‘Blocker’—uses steam and compression to convert plastic waste into construction blocks – without the use of chemicals. One of the key benefits of this process is that, unlike many forms of plastic recycling, the feedstock does not need to be washed or pre-sorted. All types of plastic can be fed into the system, where they are shredded and fused into the blocks.

The blocks that are produced are construction-grade and can be used for applications such as sheds, walls, fencing, landscaping, and furniture. Each block measures 40cm x 20cm x 20cm and weighs around 10 kilogrammes. Unlike their concrete counterparts, the plastic blocks don’t crack or crumble. ByFusion also boasts that the material produces 41% less CO2 over its lifecycle than concrete.

Webinars & Useful Resources:

Webinar: Bring your suppliers on your net zero journey. Wednesday 27 April 1-2pm. Register here.

Engage 2022 Webinar: The sustainability reporting and communications sessions. Thursday 28 April 12.30 – 16.00. Sign up here:

Dispelling sustainability myths and overcoming greenwash (12:30-1:30)

Behaviour Change Case Studies to drive embed sustainability across the business (1:45-2:45)

45-Minute Masterclass: TCFD disclosure: looking beyond compliance (3-3:45)

SME Climate Hub: Net Zero for Small Businesses. Thursday 3 May at 10-11.15am. Register here.

Built Environment Plus: Intro to Designing a Net Zero Building. Thursday 5 May at 8pm. Register here.

Global Compact Network UK are hosting a series of webinars on reducing Scope 3 Transportation and Distribution, 27 April 10-11am

Waste-Related Emissions, 12 May 10-11am

Leased Assets, 26 May 10-11am

Sold Products, 16 June 10-11am

Purchased Goods & Services and Capital Good, 23 June 10-11am

Fuel and Energy-Related Activities, 5 July 10-11am

Sign up here.

Edie 2022: Business guide on integrating EVs into fleets. Download the report free here.

Edie 2022: Net-Zero Business guide Download the guide here.

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