Through close collaboration and partnerships, passing on good practise and plugging into the many leads now being pioneered by familiar corporate brands, small companies can make an important low-carbon difference both locally and to the deepening climate crisis.
It can be frustrating running a small company and wondering whether your factory unit, work on site, consultancy or office-based business is improving or harming the local environment.
You might also be keen to know if the products you sell, services you deliver and technical solutions you create are adding to or subtracting from the growing global warming crisis.
Fortunately, SMEs in the Northwest don’t have to answer this question alone. Free advice and support from the Chamber Low Carbon (CLC) team across a wide range of sustainable issues can be just a phone call or email away – tel. 01254 356 487 or email@example.com.
In addition, with autumn looming an important knowledge-sharing programme starts in September as the fifth cohort of our Green Rose programme gets underway. Full programme details, how it works and how to join are given later after we look at monthly developments and green finance.
Meanwhile, whatever your specific problem, issue or opportunity, the CLC team is here to discuss ideas, explain how grant funding works and visit you on site, if that is the best way forward.
Climate change is once again on the policy agenda. The Government is under pressure to explain how the UK’s new net-zero policy will be rolled out by 2050, if not sooner – with a warning that having “put up a new speed sign”, ministers must now find practical ways to slow down the traffic!
In the North of England, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have joined a growing list of UK and European cities declaring local climate emergencies with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, switching to non-fossil fuel energy sources and tackling the growing waste mountain.
These local emergency declarations coincide with the Government reporting its Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the UN in New York on UK progress towards the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as a “blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.
The agenda enshrines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that countries are committed to meeting in a global partnership to end poverty and other deprivations, hand-in-hand with strategies to improve health and education, reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth – while tackling climate change and preserving oceans and forests. The SDGs are an important part of Green Rose.
One of the most symbolic environmental events of a long, wet summer ascribed to oscillations in the jet stream linked to rising temperatures in the melting Arctic, has been young climate activist Greta Thunberg’s zero-carbon Atlantic voyage to speak at UN climate summits in New York and Chile.
Against a background of political and environmental uncertainty, the summer has also seen a growing number of physical environmental tipping points around the world.
In July, parts of the Mexican city of Guadalajara were buried under a 1.5m thick layer of hail stones. State governor Enrique Alfaro commented, “Then we ask ourselves if climate change is real. These are never-before-seen natural phenomena”. Also in July, parts of Alaska within the Arctic Circle sweltered in a heatwave, with outdoor swimming in Anchorage and children walking barefoot.
In fact, with wildfires blazing across northern Canada and Siberia in August, rapid melting of the Arctic permafrost is causing concern. Frozen soils are thawing, often for the first time in thousands of years, and releasing carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide; it is estimated they hold twice as much carbon as the atmosphere at circa 1,600 billion tonnes.
Another area where many enterprises need help is funding. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research says there is no shortage of global finance to drive the low-carbon transition, but there is a “lack of political will” to quantify risks and create the confidence needed to put money where it is needed.
Small companies, as good supply chain partners, can often show clients their green credentials directly. The problem is more complicated for listed national or international corporate business organisations with remote investments from banks, pension funds and other financial institutions.
The question until recently has been how to bring the interests of both parties together. In September 2017, the Government asked finance expert and former Mayor of London, Sir Roger Gifford, to chair the independent Green Finance Task Force.
As a result, the Government Green Finance Strategy and Green Finance Institute were launched this summer to improve how capital is allocated.
The aim is to close the data gap between developers and investors anxious, firstly, to fund “green” projects such as renewable energy, green house-building and low-carbon infrastructure, and secondly make sure that any investments they make themselves, or on behalf of financial customers, won’t be future hostages to environmental misfortune.
The Green Finance Strategy will support the UK’s radical net-zero emissions by 2050 policy and put clean growth at the centre of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. The Government describes it as “a comprehensive approach to greening the financial system, mobilising finance for clean and resilient growth, and capturing the resulting opportunities for UK firms”.
One question often asked is how committed is business, and the financial sector, to the UK’s low-carbon transition? We know that many companies are delivering sustainable solutions that are inspiring examples to others. But by “simply getting on with it” they miss the recognition they merit.
National and international projects that other businesses can learn from include Tesco taking the lead in the Champions 12.3 initiative which aims to cut food waste by 50%, the Carlsberg zero-carbon strategy and a lot of detailed work by IKEA mentioned later. Regional examples include programmes run by Nandos and Booths in the North West with local suppliers.
However, there is another way where by sharing knowledge Northwest companies, charities and service providers are upgrading their skills and credentials as reliable green partners and sustainable supply chain members.
And that is building – and very importantly operating – their own highly-bespoke environmental management system (EMS) with free professional help on the Green Rose programme.
Green Rose participants have a series of options. Many choose to prepare for external accreditation to the internationally recognised ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 50001 (energy) management standards, the British Standard BS 8555: 2016, or EMAS. Those not aiming for the standards can still provide evidence of their environmental commitment with their Green Rose certificates.
Our next Green Rose group of ten cooperating companies begins on 11th September and is structured over six months with monthly half-day masterclasses. For more information, please see – https://www.lancschamber.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Chamber-Green-Rose.pdf.
The overall goal is to create a documented journey of continuous year-by-year environmental and energy management improvement to high standards by enabling company environmental champions, managers and support teams how to find, quantify, mitigate or eliminate risks.
These can range from cutting greenhouse gas emissions linked to poor energy use, water pollution from process effluents, transport contributing to poor air quality, inefficient lighting and many other environmental “aspects” that “impact” on the environment. These are then listed in a company or organisation Significant Aspects Register.
The next stage is identifying and taking mitigating measures; businesses can prioritise which aspects they want to tackle first. It is also important to be aware of, and comply with, relevant regulations and legislation.
A periodic high-level review by senior executives committed to the programme is crucial, followed by reiterating the cycle to achieve the continuous improvements assessors look for each year.
Session 1 introduces key environmental and climate change issues, highlights the benefits of improved environmental management, explains environmental management standards and stresses the importance of commitment and active leadership.
Session 2 looks at how individual businesses operate, the importance of identifying, understanding and documenting interested-party requirements, what environmental impacts a company causes, plus the role of legislation and regulations.
Session 3 considers UN SDGs, assessing carbon footprints, developing carbon management plans, and compiling a compliance obligations register.
Session 4 sets company goals, looks at the role of environmental management programmes, plus roles and responsibilities.
Session 5 covers implementation and communication, operational control and emergency preparations.
Session 6 reviews internal auditing, non-conformance and corrective actions, the importance of management review and the external accreditation process.
Green Rose provides a comprehensive set of example system and operational procedures. Participants are also entitled to a FREE Energy and Environmental Audit and Action Plan. A grant aid system supports energy and resource efficiency measures identified in action plans.
As the saying goes, when neck-deep in alligators it is easy to forget that the original aim was to drain the swamp. SMEs busy making their own important contributions can learn from big brand names that have the resources to act on a much wider-scale. The Co-op is an example.
Keen on ethical values, the Co-op recently joined a long list of businesses committed to the Paris 1.5C goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025; others include BT, Tesco, Carlsberg, Pukka Herbs, Carbon Credentials and Burberry.
The Co-op aims to halve direct emissions and reduce supply chain emissions by 11%; it halved emissions from 2006 to 2016 and plans a 50% reduction by 2025; last year it achieved a record 20% decrease. As chief commercial officer, Michael Fletcher, explained, “How we do business really matters. The world is experiencing a climate crisis and we need to work together to avoid it.”
Toshiba wants to reduce environmental impacts throughout product lifecycles via energy-efficiency, improved resource use and new low-carbon technologies. Its business model is to generate a “virtuous circle” in all business activities while still meeting stakeholder needs.
IKEA has invested €1.7 billion in renewable energy projects that include building 416 wind turbines and installing 750,000 solar panels on its buildings. By 2020, it wants 100% of its energy to be renewable and will use only renewable and recycled materials in its products, shops and restaurants. Home deliveries will be emissions-free by 2025.
It’s good to talk and we know that every little helps. But it’s particularly good to cooperate and share low-carbon experiences.
New technologies, more efficient products and improved ways of working – coupled with a circular economy mentality, renewable energy and big behavioural changes by us all as consumers – are essential for a complete low-carbon transition. They also make good business sense.
Victorian engineering, clever 20th century ideas and smart 21st century thinking have brought us to where we are today – a rapidly heating world with toxic waste streams and hard-to-meet growth ambitions. Something different is needed.
But recent messages are mixed and confusing. While the UK now has a binding net-zero 2050 emissions target, Heathrow airport – described as Britain’s largest carbon emitter – wants to build a third-runway. This means that to meet our overriding legal and moral obligations, large, medium and small low-carbon innovations are needed more urgently than ever before.
Fortunately, we have inspiring examples on our doorstep. The Energy Ace case study later in this piece shows the Chamber Low Carbon (CLC) team in action speeding up the company’s innovation route to market.
It also illustrates how the £4 million part-European funded programme helps to remove barriers that many businesses find it hard to shift.
Traditionally, taking good ideas to market has been linked to vision but mostly shear hard work. Entrepreneur, Thomas Edison, didn’t foresee the low-energy LED. But as inventor of the incandescent light bulb he described genius as “… 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.
As encouragement, he added, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – a path familiar to modern day entrepreneur, James Dyson, who developed more than 5,000 revolutionary vacuum cleaner prototypes over 15 years before eventual success in 1993.
Edison also said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless”.
To remove the hassle faced by earlier pioneers for sustainable inventiveness, part of the CLC mission is to support innovative-breakthroughs in low-carbon technology with product development support and prototype design verification, plus sourcing local manufacturers along with marketing and demonstration event support.
The CLC team is also geared up to expand low-carbon supplier networks, provide business consultancy support, organise meet-the-manufacturer-and-supplier networking events and showroom space.
Another important aspect of our work is helping companies to adopt low-carbon and renewable energy technologies on-site through demonstrator visits, showcase opportunities and installation support.
As a Chorley-based manufacturer and green energy solutions provider, Energy Ace has developed a range of energy saving systems that reduce power consumption and improve energy-efficiency for industrial, commercial and domestic users.
In typical cases, the company achieves 10% to 30% electricity savings. However, it faced a marketing communication problem with clients.
The CLC team worked closely with Energy Ace on a trial project to identify and overcome a key marketing barrier – the need for remote data analytics and accurate diagnostic evidence relating to customer sites that can be used to improve energy consumption and reduce wastage through applying Voltage Optimisation and Power Factor Correction.
As CLC Consultant Ian Trow explained, defining a product/service clearly with CLC’s help means greater transparency for both customers and the company. The result is improved visibility to measure and design specific solutions for individual clients. CLC was able to “help bring this new low carbon product to market in a defined project plan underpinned by a robust marketing and promotion strategy”.
The key differentiator is that remote data management now allows Energy Ace engineers to target energy-efficient products correctly to specific customers with the right demand profile and right configuration for their personalised needs.
The upshot is that, to date, 14 x Beta site sales have been installed and are operating as expected on large industrial plant processes, agriculture, commercial and manufacturing sites. First estimates suggest a reduction of 131 tonnes CO2e (equivalent) in the first three months of the beta trial.
With this trial evidence, Energy Ace’s next goal is a volume launch of its product to the marketplace.
CLC Supply Chain Manager, Darren Thomas, explains the Chamber Low Carbon programme’s input. “Our role was to identify market opportunities and provide development support. We helped Energy Ace to update and clarify its business planning and strategy to better understand its market. CLC also provided training in Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) enabling technologies.”
“This led us to the need for remote diagnostics and analysis of real-time customer data to pinpoint problem bottlenecks and appropriate solutions swiftly and impressively,” he adds.
The Government actively encourages and funds innovation through Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to drive productivity, economic growth, cost-reductions and the power of new UK world-class ideas.
On a national-scale, Innovate UK de-risks innovation across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions; since 2007, it has invested some £2.5 billion in 8,500 organisations, with £1.8 billion match funding from industry, resulting in 70,000 new jobs and £18 billion added to the UK economy.
BEIS also manages a competitive Energy Entrepreneurs Fund aimed at SMES and start-ups to improve energy-efficiency, power generation, heat and electrical storage.
In addition, BEIS is encouraging 11-to-16-year-old entrepreneurs to develop future technologies and apps designed to cope with challenges such as measuring air pollution, climate change and healthy ageing in a £1 million competition along the lines of the Dragon’s Den.
To end her premiership, Prime Minister Teresa May committed the UK to be one of the world’s first counties to create a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions economy by 2050, with transport, heating and industry as major targets. Norway and Finland also have ambitious goals.
She did so against a background of mounting UK public concern, further evidence of extreme weather events at home and globally, European pressures, and probably a future-eye on her legacy.
The Times said the target was “welcomed worldwide”, the FT added that shadow chancellor John McDonald is talking to experts about a possible 2030 deadline. But popular movement Extinction Rebellion (XR), which wants immediate action for Britain to reach net-zero in the next decade, described the 2050 delay as an avoidable “death sentence”, adding, “… people are already dying and this will only get worse with far off dates”.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – the Government’s environmental advisor – recommended a net-zero emissions goal in May. From a business perspective, former CCC head, Adair Turner, commented, “The way I see it is that 2030 is really forcing it … The 2050 target is a sensible one, there is a logic about being able to roll over capital bases, if you take 30 years to do something you can transform at a lower cost.”
President Trump, who wants the US to be a major oil and gas exporter, disagrees actively with the idea of dangerous man-made global warming. His UK state visit in June highlighted the environmental contribution America could make in achieving key 2015 Paris climate agreement goals if it wasn’t planning to leave in 2020.
However, actions and attitudes could be changing, as the confirmation hearing of the US’ United Nations nominee ambassador, Kelly Craft, suggests. She said she will “be an advocate for all countries to do their part in addressing climate change”, adding that “human behaviour has contributed to the changing climate”. “Let there be no doubt: I take this matter seriously.”
April statistics show that US renewables capacity has now past coal – 21.56% compared to 21.55% for the first time – according to US Government data. An extra 1.5GW of wind capacity and 1.4GW of solar were installed in the first four months of 2019.
A University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute study found this year that 70% of Americans now believe that climate change is real, based mostly on personal experience. Elsewhere it was reported that US “peak negativity” has been reached.
The Economist noted that floods and storms are altering American attitudes to climate change. A University of Washington research report also predicts that on the current trajectory hot conditions could kill 5,800 people in New York annually, 2,500 in Los Angles and more than 2,300 in Miami.
Meanwhile, six Democrat-led US states have adopted CO2 emission elimination policies. Connecticut now expects utilities to take up to 2GW – a third of the state’s electricity needs – from renewables and could invest $70 billion in an offshore wind expansion. It previously planned for 300MW.
Oregon is on the verge of passing legislation capping GHG emissions, bringing it into line with neighbouring Washington State and linking it to giant California’s carbon trading market.
However, the UK does not escape with free conscience. Environmental Audit Committee MPs accuse the UK of sabotaging its climate credentials by “claiming victory on home soil” but investing billions in high-carbon power plants through “unacceptably high” of fossil-fuel subsidies to developing nations. Meanwhile, MPs on the International Development Select Committee say the Government must “help the poorest countries tackle climate change, or UK aid will be rendered useless”.
Closer to home, Heathrow Airport controversially hopes to construct a third runway by 2026, with terminal 2 and 5 expansion until 2050. The plan includes diverting rivers, moving roads and rerouting the M25 through a tunnel.
Local and environmental groups argued that this will mean unacceptable levels of noise, pollution and add carbon emissions from more than 700 extra planes a day.
Heathrow’s plan has Parliament’s backing and survived multiple High Court challenges. A public consultation until 13 September is the final step before a planning application is submitted. If successful, runway work will begin in early 2022.
Edison’s long-term business success and persistence caused him to comment that, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Today’s equivalent is likely to be a combination of overalls, software and laptops!
On perseverance, he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up”. But he had a strong commercial trait too, adding that, “Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait”.
Together, we can help to turn failures into successes.
Following the success of our joint workshop in November 2018 we’re joining up once again with Electricity North West to involve businesses in Lancashire as they create their priorities for the electricity distribution network across the North West.
This free event takes place on Wednesday 17th July 2019 between 9:30am – 2pm right the heart of Preston.
Electricity North West would like to invite you to come and join our directors and local managers at an interactive session to discuss the region’s changing needs for electricity now and as we create our longer-term investment plans.
As the operator of the electricity distribution network across the North West, we face the challenge of investing and managing a reliable network capable of delivering the UK’s ambitious targets for reductions in carbon emissions. New technology is changing the way that companies, communities and customers generate, distribute and use energy. The changes require us to be more proactive and adaptable in network management and develop new types of relationships with our stakeholders.
We want to use this opportunity to reflect on the work that we have undertaken together over the last year and to listen to your views on what’s important to you, your businesses and your community as we create our investment plans for the future requirements of the electricity distribution network in the North West.
We hope to see you there.
Date: Wednesday 17th July 2019
Time: 09:30 – 14:00
Location: Avenham Pavilions, Avenham Park, South Meadow Lane, Preston, Lancashire. PR1 8JT
Join Chamber Low Carbon and the 2030hub for this free workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals and the benefits to your business.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda ‘End poverty, protect the planet, ensure prosperity for all’ is backed by 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each with hard, measurable targets.
Targets that are impacting each and every business, regardless of size or geographic location, as a combination of public pressure and formal legislation comes into effect to achieve the demanding targets.
And yet awareness of the UN Agenda and the SDGs is low, despite the imminent Government benchmarking report.
Which is why 2030hub is raising awareness through our ‘2030hub SDG Tour: How businesses can benefit’.
• Why is the UN Agenda such high priority?
• What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
• How doing good is good for business
• How your business can benefit
Presented by David Connor, Founder 2030hub
The event will start at 12:00 for lunch and networking, with the session starting from 12:30. Following the session there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and for further networking over refreshments.
The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme.
The 2030hub is the world’s first UN Local2030 Hub, created to make cities better through an entrepeneurial people-centred and intelligence focal point to help accelerate impact reaching the furthest behind first.
Built around the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals) the 2030hub cross-fertilises passionate local with national and international people across all sectors.
David is a creative, big picture connector and communicator with experience across international responsible business boundaries.
Over 20 years he created the award-winning charity at Everton FC, managed the England Amputee Football Squad and has constantly pushed an entrepreneurial approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, especially engagement and communications.
He also worked closely with US based 3BL Media on multiple projects, including integrating CSRwire after acquisition.
David created the 2030hub concept in early 2016 as the UN Sustainable Development Goals were being launched and has already travelled far and wide sharing the success story and learning.
He is also the UK Regional Voice Lead for IMPACT2030, a Regional Champion B Leader for B Corp UK … and a lapsed triathlete.
This workshop is part of a regular Lunch & Learn series giving Lancashire businesses the knowledge and tools to go green. To keep up-to-date with further workshops subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter.
Replacing our wasteful ‘extract: transport: process: use: dump’ manufacturing and consumption system with a modern ‘use: reuse; repair: extend-use: convert: don’t-create-waste-in-the-first-place’ circular economy (CE) is crucial for a net-zero carbon UK by 2050. And everyone can help.
Recent decisions by the Philippines and Malaysia to follow China, India and Taiwan in re-labelling low-grade waste sent by rich countries for processing out of sight and out of mind as “return to sender – not wanted here” has set alarm bells ringing. However, it is also an opportunity.
For too long, developed nations have relied on low overseas wage levels to make waste sorting profitable. With that route blocked, the circular economy (CE) is the natural sustainable alternative.
However, the CE is also crucial to a net-zero UK emissions target. Why create waste in the first place? And with it, dangerous greenhouse gases (GHGs)?
The UK is almost certain to set into legal stone an ambitious world-leading 2050 net ban on GHG emissions – and carbon dioxide in particular.
Although the Government has yet to officially accept new recommendations from its official environmental advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), mounting political and popular pressures will make it hard for ministers to say no.
The CE is one of the key tools that will make achieving this tough target possible. The aim is to control global warming and keep air temperatures rises down to levels where climate change damage is limited. However, CE also means good business!
As mentioned later, on 18th June we will be looking at the environmental and business benefits of CE at a double Circular Economy Club launch in Preston. We would very much like you to join us.
CE aims to replace the linear ‘take, make, use, throw’ system that has driven industrialisation since the 18th century with something that is far more efficient – and cost-effective – than continuously extracting, transporting, processing and finally dumping raw materials from remote sources.
As an alternative, CE also means much lower, and ultimately zero, levels of loss, leakage, landfill … and emissions. The majority of waste, it is often argued, is the result of bad design.
This is quite a mental leap from 70-years of post-WWII throw-away society to a greater awareness of the long-term cradle-to-grave lifecycle of disposable goods that we have learned to take for granted.
The circular economy is described as a regenerative system that replaces the resource-hungry and waste-creating linear economy. However, it is much more than simple recycling. One recent study found that remanufacturing – returning worn parts/products to a ‘like-new’ or ‘better-than-new’ condition – typically uses 85% less energy than original manufacturing from new materials.
The idea is to systematically eliminate all loses of materials, waste, emissions, plus energy, and redirect the savings towards cost-efficient repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing and recycling. Where materials are downgraded, upcycling or beneficiation can lead to higher value products.
For many SMEs, this can mean environmental solutions and business opportunities rolled into one. Innovative products and services that minimise energy use and extend lifecycles in one form or another make good commercial sense.
Such good sense in fact that the most obvious question is perhaps why hasn’t the world taken CE on before? The three-point answer is complacency, the rising cost of commodities and urgent environmental warnings that have together reached a crisis-point. But it is never too late to begin!
Small businesses are the UK economy’s backbone, represent more than 99% of EU businesses and account for 85% of recently-created jobs. They provide two-thirds of the private sector employment.
But when it comes to CE, many busy companies also find themselves hamstrung by shortages of staff, time, resource, funding and information. And this is where our Circular Economy Club can help.
Fortunately, for businesses in the Northwest advice will be available after the co-launch of two Lancashire-based Circular Economy Clubs (CECs) – the Chamber Low Carbon CEC and the Preston CEC. For more detailed information about this free event at Brockholes, Preston New Road, Preston PR5 0AG, and to sign up, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/circular-economy-club-launch-18th-june-2019-tickets-59181763247?aff=ebapi.
Finance is another important factor for many companies. Which is why we are holding “Green Money and How to Spend It” on Wednesday, 5th June – a “Drop In” style launch promoting the Chamber Low Carbon Grant for installing low carbon and energy efficient technologies.
Come and join us at a series of 30 minute seminars from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, see an exhibition of available low carbon technologies, and meet more than 30 exhibitors, at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel BB4 5JP. Details are at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/green-money-how-to-spend-it-wednesday-5th-june-2019-tickets-59181431254?aff=ebapi.
Incidentally, the date has been chosen carefully; 5th June every year is recognised as World Environment Day in some 143 countries. We are also approaching the mid-point of the Year of Green Action 2019. The 5th of June is also the last day of EU Sustainable Development Week.
A major piece of new legislation, and an equally important strategy published by Defra, are both very relevant.
The first is the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill which will define the UK’s post-Brexit environmental regulatory framework. The second is the Resources and Waste Strategy for England.
The latter has a direct bearing on the CE and aims to “preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste”, keep “resources in use for as long as possible to extract the maximum value” and “give old materials a new lease of life”.
One key goal directly affecting businesses as well as local authorities will be new regulations to raise recycling rates from the current 40% to 45% to 65% by 2035. Greenpeace calculates that this will save some £10 billion over a decade in waste sector, greenhouse gas and social costs.
To make this work, Defra has consulted on proposals for businesses and organisations to increase the segregation of their dry recyclable materials from residual waste; ditto for separate food waste that can be collected and composted such that zero goes to landfill by 2030.
Some 2 million mainly small businesses will be affected; Defra says it is keen to minimise the cost burden and improve the collection of performance data. Statutory guidance may be issued.
Ten days of direct action by Extinction Rebellion activists in London over Easter, reinforced by an avalanche of reports and warnings, seem to have triggered high-level action in both the UK and EU.
The CCC now says that the UK’s legally-binding GHG reduction goal of 80% over a 1990 baseline set by the Climate Change Act 2008 must be raised to 100%. It adds that the new total target can be reached with no overall increase in the cost of 1%-2% of GDP each year until 2050.
A date earlier than 2050 would be “very risky” for social and economic reasons, says the CCC, even though mid-century is the last date by which the International Panel on Climate Change says zero must be reached for global temperature increases is to be kept below a relatively safe 1.5OC.
However, the UK is not alone in aiming for a total cut in carbon. In a joint statement, France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – but not Germany – say that the EU must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 “at the latest”.
They add that this can “go hand in hand with prosperity” and cite “profound implications for the future of humanity” with “the heat waves and scorching fires of last summer”. As things stand, the EU uses almost 20% of the Earth’s “biocapacity” for only 7% of the global population; 2.8 planets would be needed to sustain the whole world at the same rate.
To emphasise the point further, a new report from WWF and the Global Footprint Network says that Europeans emit too much carbon, eat too much food, use excessive amounts of timber, occupy too much building space and generally take more than their fair share of the world’s resources. It adds that if the rest of world had the same environmental impact, from 10 May onwards humans would be taking more from nature than the planet can replace annually.
One casualty of net-zero carbon is likely to be aviation. The Department for Transport defends a proposed third runway expansion at Heathrow on the basis that it would “provide a massive economic boost to businesses and communities” across the UK, all at “no cost to the taxpayer and within our environmental obligations”.
Until now, the idea has been to counter-balance expansion with additional CO2 cuts in other sectors. The CCC says this is not an option in a zero-carbon Britain. Yes, people will continue to fly using fuels made from waste, or ultra-efficiency electrical battery storage. But growth must be constrained.
One million species at extinction risk
One other consequence of excessive waste and emissions on the earth comes in a 1,800 page global assessment of the state of nature compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
It explains how “scratches” made on the planet by humans have now become “deep scars”. The world’s population has doubled since 1970. In the same period the global economy has grown four-fold and international trade has increased ten-fold.
The net result is that circa one million of the Earth’s estimated eight million species now face extinction within decades at a rate of destruction tens to hundreds of times faster than the average over the past 10 million years.
Soil degradation is named as a major cause. But so too is the “mountain of waste” that includes a ten-fold increase in plastic pollution since 1980 and 300-400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes released into the seas annually.
All of which makes it even more important to come and join us on 18th June.
The Circular Economy Club (CEC) is an international network in more than 100 countries. It is not-for-profit, global and open to anyone to join for free. CEC’s aim by 2022 is for 200 cities, 200 university curriculums and 200 start-ups and companies worldwide to end the age of waste.
Our inaugural meeting will include a screening of the world’s first feature-length circular economy documentary. “Closing the Loop” which explores five key strategies for achieving circularity – reduce, reuse, recycle, renew and reinvent. This will be followed by a Q&A session with an expert panel, a light lunch and a chance to network with fellow attendees.
We look forward to seeing you in Preston.
We’re bringing together businesses who want to move to a more sustainable future with the launch of our own Circular Economy Club.
The Club is free to join and open to any business or organisation interested in sustainability and tackling the problem of waste. We’ll be running regular events across Lancashire linking people from all sectors of the economy to share best practice and build relationships with like-minded professionals.
We will officially launch our Club with a special event on 18th June at Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston.
In partnership with Circular Economy Club Preston this event will provide an introduction to the circular economy and the aims of the Club. There will also be a screening of the world’s first feature-length documentary on the circular economy, “Closing the Loop”.
We’ll finish with the opportunity to put your questions to a panel of local industry experts before lunch and networking.
The Circular Economy Club is the international network of over 3,100 circular economy professionals and organisations from over 100 countries. Non-for-profit, global and to open to anyone to join the club for free.
We envision a new era where all cities worldwide function through a circular model, setting the end of an age of waste.
We aim to bring the circular economy to cities worldwide by building strong local networks to design and implement circular local strategies, embed the circular economy in the education system and help circular solution scale.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Club or even hosting an event get in touch.
Phone: 01254 356482
New business energy and carbon reporting rule changes don’t affect SMEs … yet … although early volunteers for SECR can benefit. Meanwhile, how big is the UK’s real carbon footprint, can zero-carbon be achieved and is our 80% greenhouse gas reduction target about to get much tougher?
Beware – SECR is coming! In fact, for many “large” companies, SECR arrived on 1st April 2019. Most SMEs, however, will have to wait a while for “streamlined energy and carbon reporting” to fundamentally change how they work.
The alternative, which the Low Carbon Programme recommends, is to volunteer for the best practice scheme designed to help investors assess companies and their proactive climate change commitments.
What exactly is SECR (Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting)? This does seem to be proving to be a bit of a mystery for many UK companies.
SECR is the Government’s method of choice for encouraging business and industry to use less energy, raise productivity, cut costs, increase growth and radically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), including carbon.
However, BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has been accused of introducing SECR very quietly. So quietly, in fact, that with only guidelines and a press release published in the New Year, outlining the full details now is particularly important.
But first, it may help to summarise why carbon made dramatic headlines again during April.
One piece of good news is that Britain broke its own record for the longest continuous period of electricity generation without coal and carbon – more than 90 hours, which is the longest since 76 hours and 10 minutes in April 2018. The UK is also said to have done relatively well compared to the rest of the world in cutting its carbon emissions for the sixth year running – albeit at a slowing rate.
But while a new Government/wind sector agreement for 30% of UK electricity to come from offshore wind by 2030 is positive, other news is less reassuring. Greta Thunberg has questioned whether the UK has really cut its carbon by some 42% since 1990.
The young Swedish climate activist says the official figure only covers “terrestrial emissions”. With aviation, shipping and embedded carbon in imports, the figure is nearer 10%, she told MPs recently.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says the question is complex when global supply chains are involved; its approach follows the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.
Also in April, MPs on the BEIS Committee claimed that 15-years of “turbulent” government policy have held back vital development of the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology needed to achieve zero-carbon. They want more clarity and funding for rapid development.
But MPs have passed a non-binding motion urging the Government to declare an environment and climate emergency. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” in her April SNP conference speech. The Welsh Government has made a similar move.
This was one of the demands of Extinction Rebellion members who, after ten-days of direct action in London, said they were disappointed in a meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove that he declined to back a climate emergency motion tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Perhaps the most far-reaching development moving into May is recommendations from the Government’s advisory body, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that the UK must legislate for a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. More details are mentioned later.
Meanwhile, SECR is designed to help working businesses tackle carbon.
From October 2013, companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, in the European Economic Area, or on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, have had to measure and report their GHG emissions through a robust independent standard that not only presents all data clearly but also shows how it differs from information given in conventional consolidated financial statements.
It was soon recognised that measuring, managing and reducing carbon emissions is an effective way for companies generally to identify their carbon footprints and set important environmental targets within their supply chains.
Until recently, the rules only applied to large listed companies. Now, as a result of the Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations 2018, they are being trickled down to large unlisted businesses through SECR.
Under SECR, qualifying organisations must include new energy and carbon reporting data in their annual reports to cover forthcoming financial years starting within the 12-months leading up to 31st March 2020.
BEIS has communicated via Companies House and the Financial Regulatory Council, Environment Agency newsletters, business trusts and professional bodies – plus EMA and IEMA – and estimates that some 11,900 organisations are affected at this stage – including circa 1,200 quoted companies.
However, because SECR will only apply to financial years starting after 1st April 2019, companies have time to prepare. The earliest reports will be submitted in April 2020, meaning that companies can put new systems in place and synchronise them with existing corporate reporting cycles.
SECR builds on – but does not replace – existing requirements, such as Mandatory Greenhouse Gas (MGHG) reporting for quoted companies, the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Climate Change Agreements (CCA) Scheme, EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Climate Change Levy increase. It also coincides with the end of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.
What happened on 1st April 2019 is that SECR updated the rules and extended the requirements not only to quoted companies but also to all unquoted companies or limited liability partnerships (LLPs) seen as “large” under the Companies Act 2006.
“Large” is generally defined as meeting two of the three following criteria within a reporting period: – having more than 250 employees; an annual turnover greater than £36 million; and/or an annual balance sheet greater than £18 million.
Quoted companies, according to the Carbon Trust, must continue to report their “global scope 1 and 2” (direct and indirect) GHG emissions in CO2-equivalent tonnes (all seven gases under the Kyoto Protocol) within their Directors reports, plus at least one emissions “intensity ratio” for current and previous reporting periods.
However, they must now also report their underlying global energy use split between the UK and offshore countries, again with previous year comparisons after the first SECR reporting period.
Unquoted large companies and large LLPs now have to report at a minimum their UK energy use from electricity, gas and transport fuels (in company vehicles, including reimbursement for employee business mileage, but not external air, rail or taxi journeys, or third party contractors), plus associated GHG emissions and at least one intensity metric – such as tonnes of CO2/kWh for the energy sector, or tonnes of CO2/m2 for the property sector
Reporting must include a description of steps taken to improve energy efficiency in the relevant year, plus resulting savings if known. Where no measures are taken, this should be reported.
Although no specific methodology is prescribed, the selected methodology must be shown and be robust, transparent and widely-accepted. Scope 3 “corporate value chain” indirect emissions should also be given, with the voluntary disclosure of any additional sources of energy or GHG emissions.
There are of course exceptions. Although local authorities, government departments and statutory agencies are not covered by SECR, they report carbon in their annual reports under other legislation. Devolved administrations have their own systems. Not-for-profit bodies, such as companies and LLPs owned by universities or NHS trusts, come under SECR rules.
Another important area for clarification is the distinction between group and subsidiary level SECR reporting – the rule is to avoid duplication on an either/or basis. One other sub-group is companies within the SECR definition using no more than 40MWh. They must submit total energy calculations but also state why they are low energy users.
A further area for temporary exemptions is sensitive situations, such as takeovers, where releasing information could arguably be prejudicial. Also, if specified data cannot be collected in a specific year, it is important to explain why, the impact and how it will be provided in future.
Business is increasingly concerned about emissions. Legal & General Investment Management – covering £1 trillion of UK pension funds – believes the world faces a climate catastrophe that businesses must tackle urgently or risk losing shareholder support. Director of Corporate Governance, Sacha Sadan, says L&G is getting tougher with boards and managements.
In parallel, Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and his counterpart, François Villeroy de Galhau, warn that companies and industries which don’t meet dangers facing the global economy “will fail to exist”. They add that: “Carbon emissions have to decline by 45% from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital”.
The CCC says meeting the popular call for net-zero emissions by 2025 is not practical but can be achieved by 2050.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set the current 80% target which the CCC agrees has achieved a 43% cut since 1900, with economic growth of 66%. To meet a 100% target, it recommends big cuts in red meat-eating, millions of new trees, onshore wind turbines, more electric vehicles (EVs), less flying, less waste, plus more households replacing domestic gas boilers with renewable alternatives.
On CCUS, the Government’s 2030 ambitions have been described as “so broad as to be meaningless; BEIS select committee members say delay could double the cost of meeting the UK’s climate change targets from 1% of GDP in 2019 to 2% by 2050.
UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 2.5% in 2018 compared to 3% in 2017 and 16% in 2016 – making a total of 43.5% since 1990. This means that theoretically at least, Britain is over halfway towards its self-imposed commitment of an 80% reduction by 2050. However, this was the easy half.
Specifically, UK CO2 emissions fell by 2.4% to 364.1 million tonnes while global releases reached a 2018 all-time high, rising by 4.7%, 2.5% and 6.3% in China, the US and India. But there is potentially bad UK news on the horizon that needs urgent action.
Having beaten its first and second carbon budgets by 36 MtCO2e and 384 MtCO2e, with an 88 MtCO2e surplus predicted for the third from 2018 to 2022, BEIS acknowledges that the UK is on course to breach its fourth and fifth budgets by 139 million and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
The Chamber Low Carbon programme is happy to support Connecting East Lancashire as a fantastic initiative helping people engage in active commuting. Not only is cycling or walking to work great for health and well-being but it is also an effective low carbon option both reducing emissions and improving air quality.
Connecting East Lancashire is a Department for Transport funded project delivered in partnership between Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Through a variety of initiatives, the project supports businesses, organisations and colleges in East Lancashire (Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen) to increase health and well-being through smarter travel choices as well as opening up access to work opportunities for apprentices and job seekers.
Businesses will have the opportunity to engage in:
To find local cycle routes please visit www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/hyndburn-cycling-map-p747390
The Project Officers cover different areas of East Lancashire and these are detailed below along with their relevant contact number:
We’re host a joint event on 12th June at the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce offices. Drop-in anytime between 7:30am and 10am and take part in these activities:
Lancashire businesses will be urged to play their part in the fight against climate change in order to achieve Government ambitions to be net carbon neutral by 2050.
One simple way that businesses can support this is to switch to renewable power, and Lancashire-based energy consultant Businesswise Solutions is on a mission to empower this change, by bringing market access to renewable energy to mid-sized companies without a price premium for the privilege.
“Previously, access to competitive renewable energy products has long been monopolised by some of the largest corporations, or only available to small and medium sized businesses at a premium,” explains Businesswise Solutions’ managing director Frazer Durris.
“But we’re working together with businesses to help embrace the switch to a 100% wind-based energy option that won’t cost companies the earth; but might just help save it.”
The company will harness its group buying power, combined with its use of intelligent data, to empower Lancashire businesses to collectively spearhead action against climate change.
Frazer added: “It has never been a more relevant time to purchase renewable energy rather than carbonised, unclean energy for your business.
“Consumers are demanding change and the economics behind purchasing renewable power are starting to make good business sense. Our renewable offering presents Lancashire businesses with a risk-free way to contribute towards the effort and embark on their carbon reduction journey.”
The company will leverage its network of supporters in order to reach businesses and spread the word about the renewable energy option.
Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This a fantastic news for the area. It underpins exactly what we are trying to achieve through our Chamber Low Carbon programme and supports Lancashire’s journey to a green future.”
The initial, short-term target is to pool a total of 100GWh annual energy consumption and shift this from brown to renewable energy, representing a reduction of 16 kilo tonnes of CO2; that’s equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted from 3000 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
“If we can achieve this, it’s a great start to making a significant contribution towards the national carbon targets set,” Frazer concluded.
Find out how you can access funding to help your business install renewable energy technology or energy and resource management measures available to Lancashire SMEs via the Chamber Low Carbon Grant.
On the day there will be a full programme of insightful and thought-provoking seminars highlighting the challenges and opportunities afforded by renewable technology – see below for the detailed agenda so you can schedule your visit.
The Low Carbon Marketplace will house over 30 exhibitors highlighting the latest technologies available from Chamber Low Carbon’s Lancashire-based solution providers.
The event will start at 10am – registrations and refreshments from 9:30am. The event will run until 4pm. Don’t worry if you cannot make the full session – we’d be delighted to see you for part of the day.
Welcome & Grant Overview – Miranda Barker, CEO, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
The Green Energy Basket – Peter Catlow, Director, BusinessWise Solutions
A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment – Ellyse Mather, 25 Year Environment Plan Pioneer Programme Manager, Environment Agency
Introduction to Local Energy – James Johnson, Head of Regional Programme, Local Energy North West Hub
Leading the NW to Zero Carbon – Helen Boyle, Strategic Decarbonisation Manager, Electricity North West
Latest View from Boost – Andrew Leeming, Senior Project Manager, Lancashire County Council
Zero Hour – Charley Rattan, Energy Consultant
Grant Summary, Q&A & Close – Stephen Sykes, Programme Manager, Chamber Low Carbon