Term time again … online. The Chamber Low Carbon programme (CLC) is back with a busy Green Rose agenda, free carbon- and cost-saving advice plus financial support, expert webinars … and a 23rd September invitation to join a key Environment Bill conversation.
Carbon made the headlines this summer as the chief suspect behind increasingly destructive climate change, violent wildfires, record Arctic and Antarctic ice melts and a new urgency to curb emissions.
However, our own good news is that the low carbon programme has been expanded and extended to operate until July 2023.
With two successful years behind us, we look forward to helping even more companies become more energy-efficient, adopt circular economy principles and take new technologies to market.
If we haven’t worked with you yet, we hope to soon as part of a green UK Covid-19 recovery and drive to mitigate climate change by cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050.
To join us, please contact Debbie Treadwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), or call 01254 356 487.
Later, we list some of our early autumn online events and services, plus obvious and strange ways in which carbon affected the way we live this summer.
These include US west coast fires, violent Asian flooding, wilting UK wheat harvests … plus injecting bio-methane made from cow manure into the National Grid and eco-friendly low carbon concrete.
There is also news that renewables could satisfy 66% of UK energy demand by 2030, of a greenhouse gas direct air capture (DAC) technology competition, 5G’s positive role in decarbonisation and plunging wind and solar energy costs. Google and Facebook are also going carbon-zero.
Autumn’s first diary date – “Targets for Green Growth – setting the targets under the Environment Bill” – is an opportunity for you to join a key public conversation with Defra Secretary of State, George Eustice, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, Chris Stark, IEMA’s CEO Sarah Mukherjee, and other leaders exploring what is required to: –
The event on Wednesday 23rd September from 9.30am to 11.30am is organised by the Broadway Initiative in partnership with IEMA and the influential Aldersgate Group.
To register, go to https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6079171612046041355.
Second diary date – “Leading the Charge: Electric Vehicle ChargePoints for your community” is a local chance to take part in our opening autumn Chamber Low Carbon LIVE Lunch and Learn online webinar on Thursday, 1 October 2020 from 12.00pm to 13.30pm.
We will be joined by Daniel Heery and Ady Powell of Charge My Street which installs and maintains publicly accessible EV chargepoints to encourage people to switch to EVs (https://www.chargemystreet.co.uk/host).
Daniel, with 20 years funding and community project experience, wanted a chargepoint on his Lancaster street which led to the idea of using community shares to unite local people in co-operative solutions. Ady, who manages the SOSCI (Scaling On-Street Charging Infrastructure) project for Charge My Street, finds sites, manages delivery partners and sets up site owners.
They will discuss increasing electric vehicle (EV) uptake, EV charging technology, Charge My Street operations, plus practicalities and options for becoming a host site.
Green Rose autumn blooming
We should also mention the CLC team’s six-month Green Rose Programme helping businesses to develop bespoke Environmental Management Systems to recognised standards. The aim is to: –
2020/21’s six diary dates are: –
Again, please contact Debbie Treadwell at email@example.com
Global goals week – 18th to 26th September
We mentioned in January 2020 the importance of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to tackle huge challenges facing mankind and change society and life for the better. In September 2019, a huge push was planned by world governments for September 2020.
“2020 Global Week to Act4SDGs”, as part of Global Goals Week (https://globalgoalsweek.org/), is a joint action-call for leaders, citizens, organizations and institutions to make “now” a ‘true turning point for people and planet’ by making SDGs central to their recovery plans in the coming decade.
The UN has made a universal promise to build back better and leave no one behind in achieving a peaceful and prosperous world by 2030. A detailed list of the 17 SDGs covering poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice can be seen at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/.
That’s the end of the commercials messages!
What low carbon did this summer
However, having local and regional action plans is clearly important given the growing global problems of a warming world.
Scientists at NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) say 2020’s northern hemisphere summer was the hottest recorded, with wildfires from the Arctic to the tropics. The San Francisco Chronicle even accused President Trump of “fiddling while California burns”.
With a quarter of June, July and August 1.170C above the 20th-century average, and the second-hottest August recorded globally, 2020 could be one of the world’s five warmest years yet.
Annual snowfall is now too low to replace melting ice flowing to sea from Greenland’s glaciers. Thawing northern hemisphere peatlands will release greenhouse gases this century at a rate 30%-50% higher than estimated previously, say researchers. Heat also reduced US Mid-West and UK grain harvests, exposing the vulnerability of food chains.
And for only the second time ever recorded, five tropical cyclones have been active together in the Atlantic Ocean. However, while Louisiana and Mississippi residents faced hurricane winds, typhoons also brought devastating flooding to China, India and Asia.
Environment Bill update
Meanwhile, an August Environment Bill update shows that Defra is developing time-bound, numerical targets to tackle a range of key environmental issues, with at least one “strong and meaningful” target for the four priority areas of biodiversity, air quality, water and waste. There will be mid-to-late 2030s deadlines backed by interim targets.
The UK’s post-Brexit green issues watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will report annually on target progress; recruitment for OEP’s first chairperson in 2021 has also begun.
CBI director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, says Britain must become a global climate action leader creating green jobs and boosting productivity for a post-pandemic economy recover. The CBI has launched a “green recovery roadmap” and called for the Government to reignite global efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The CBI also warns that air pollution is causing 3 million lost UK working days annually.
Lego, meanwhile, will replace plastic packaging with paper bags from 2021 at a cost of £310 million after receiving letters of environmental concern from children. The company is exploring alternatives to replace the plastic from which its bricks are currently made.
Google, Facebook ITV say they are now committed to zero-carbon; Google says it has wiped out its historic carbon footprint, although some of its “high-quality carbon offsets” have been questioned. It became carbon-neutral in 2007.
By one measure, the fightback is not impossible. A new report from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) backed by industry majors, says that by scaling up energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy generation capacity more rapidly the world could “technically and economically” transition to net-zero by 2050 for less than 1% of global GDP annually (https://www.energy-transitions.org/publications/making-mission-possible/).
Wind and solar “levelised cost” electricity is 30-50% cheaper than previously thought new Government figures show, giving it a dramatic 50% edge over gas-fired power by 2025.
O2 has also published a new analysis – ‘A Greener Connected Future’ – of how ultrafast 5G could help to decarbonise the UK economy by 269 megatonnes of CO2e emissions from transport, utilities, manufacturing and healthcare sectors by 2035 (https://news.o2.co.uk/press-release/o2-reveals-vision-for-a-greener-connected-future-5g-to-play-key-role-in-building-a-greener-economy/) with smart heating cutting domestic energy use by 20% and support for the EV transition.
Fossil-fuels and flight
Diesel and petrol engines do not get away scot-free. To cut high emission and air pollution, speed limits on parts of the M1, M5 and M6 will be cut to 60mph for a trial 15 months linked to £100 fines and three penalty points.
In the higher atmosphere, British Airways, Qantas and American Airlines are among 13 flight operators signing a new joint commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Airlines will invest in more fuel-efficient aircraft, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and carbon offsetting. Emissions from waste will be included, forcing some groups to hand out fewer single-use items while improving recycling and reuse processes. Electric aircraft are not mentioned specifically.
Concrete accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions and if it were a country would rank third in emissions behind China and the US. Carbon dioxide is part of the manufacturing process. Its ingredients are also carbon-unfriendly, including cement as 15% of the mix which is particularly unsustainable. Experiments are underway to reduce both or use alternative materials.
At the cutting-edge of technical innovation, the Government is launching a new programme to develop and demonstrate the direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) removal technologies (GGR) to “suck” existing GHGs out of the atmosphere. A competition should be announced before the end of 2020, with projects starting in April 2021 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/direct-air-capture-and-other-greenhouse-gas-removal-technologies-competition?utm_source=27a154d2-b23a-4187-b309-f1e0abc69aa7&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate).
Biogas (mainly methane) from straw and cow manure produced in an oxygen-free environment with naturally-occurring micro-organisms by a Cambridgeshire Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant has been injected directly into the gas grid in what the National Grid describes as a UK first.
The plant operated by BioCow Ltd feeds a pipeline which will supply ten local homes with gas for heating and cooking on a trial basis for a year at a claimed rate of up to 15,000 m3 per hour.
Of less interest to cows is the “wonder plant” Seagrass which absorbs carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and can store 10% of annual global ocean carbon which may be locked up in sediments for millennia.
But Seagrass has been in sharp decline, almost disappearing from Britain’s coast. Now a Pembrokeshire University of Swansea, WWF and the Sky Ocean Rescue charity restoration project aims to create a 20,000 square-metre meadow to reinstate the plant around Britain and the world.
Good green cheer
On a more spirited note, the Chancellor announced £10 million of new R&D funding in his 2020 budget to help distilleries go green. Competition applications are now open.
Phase 1 will provide up to £500,000 for feasibility studies to develop low carbon fuel technologies. Phase 2 considers applications to pilot key components and new fuel switching solutions – including electrification, hydrogen, biomass and waste.
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