Author Archive Geoff Mason

LUNCH & LEARN: ‘The Energy Equation’ Small Waste That Costs A Lot

They may not seem like much but small leaks can be big source of waste and be costing you money. Let us help you identfy areas of waste and what you can do about it.

This free lunchtime workshop in Accrington will cover the following topics:

  • Energy use and conservation in your business
  • Examples of energy waste and escapes in Lancashire businesses
  • Assessing energy use, losses and waste
  • Innovative and low cost approaches to minimising losses, capturing and applying unused energy
  • Making energy work to improve your bottom line

The workshop will be led by Ged Heffernan, founder and Managing Director of Fern Innovations. Ged has a track record of achievements during more than 20 years of operations and programme management within corporates including: Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, Renold Chain, Mercedes-Benz F1 and IndyCar. Building upon this led to engagement in technology based start-ups as founder, owner, CEO, Non-Executive Director and Consultant.

Fern Innovation is a consultancy providing support to start-up, SME and corporate businesses in developing and delivering new product introduction and growth programmes, with particular focus on Renewable Energy, Cleantech, Manufacturing and Energy.

The event will start at 12:00 with 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.

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.

Book your place:

19th March – Accrington

‘Rubber Duck & the Green Convoy’ Fleet Fuel Efficiency Presentation

Presentation slides for the Lunch and Learn workshop ‘Rubber Duck & the Green Convoy’ Fleet Fuel Efficiency held on 4th February 2019.  Led by Paul Jorgensen of Strategic Analytics Team.

Fleet Fuel Efficiency Presentation – Strategic Analytics Team

The Guardian makes potato starch news!

Walkers decision to recycle its crisp bags, and Morrison’s to offer shoppers paper rather than plastic carrier bags, have also made news headlines. The Government wants its new Resources and Waste Strategy to make all businesses more sustainable. But it wants to hear your views first.

Adding your two-pennyworth to major national changes

When a national newspaper wraps its weekend supplements in a compostable potato starch material meant for the compost heap, or food waste bin, rather than landfill site, it is almost guaranteed news column inches.

So too is a leading food manufacturer’s decision to tackle the complex problem of recycling multi-material crisp bags with a “difficult but not impossible to treat” metallised content, albeit after considerable public pressure.

On yet another potato theme, this time at the perishable end of the retail sector, Morrisons is running a trial to replace single-use plastic shopping bags in its stores with a recyclable paper option.

All change

The underlying message for ordinary manufacturing, trading and service companies is that any incremental improvements they can make for better waste management are not “small-potatoes”.

In fact, the opposite is true. SMEs are in pole position when it comes to helping their customers, supply chains – and the whole UK waste industry which now faces tumultuous change.

As an added bonus, more sustainable waste management also puts you in the virtuous league alongside a growing list of major brands – M&S, Sainsbury’s, Ben & Jerry, McDonalds, plus Unilever, Philips, Ikea, Samsung and many more. Not all solutions involve potatoes!

However, there is another good reason for acting sooner rather than later. The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England ( will make minimising waste and maximising resource efficiency compulsory through a series of carefully-detailed key milestones leading up to 2050. By the mid-century point, all avoidable waste – and plastic waste – must be eliminated.

A 2019 priority will be setting up regular household collections to tackle food waste. There will also be a strong emphasis on taking plastics out of the environment as microbeads ingested by marine life enter the human food chain.

Waste of crime

In parallel, there will be a huge push to end waste crime – which many firms don’t realise they are committing. Tougher regulations on the transport, management and description of waste will be backed by intelligence sharing to end criminal activity, including the misuse of waste exemptions.

There will also be digital waste movement tracking, a Joint Unit for Waste Crime, much tougher criminal penalties, plus a lot of publicity work. In 2018, the Environment Agency closed more than 800 illegal sites and achieved 93 successful prosecutions – beware the EA in 2019!

A brand-new resource (formerly known as waste)

When Dame Ellen MacArthur sailed around the world in a small boat, she noted that: “What you have is all you have”. On the crowded boat called Planet Earth, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Government and Low Carbon Programme see the Circular Economy as the best sustainable solution.

Rather than throw old, damaged bodies away, nature reuses them as nutrient for future generations in an endless cycle. We need to do the same. Waste isn’t a problem; losing or mis-using it is.

The Chamber’s Circular Economy Club starts in April to demonstrate and share examples of good practice and collaboration. Despite recent snow and ice, April isn’t far off. Please book a free place as soon as possible (

Making your voice heard

Before looking at Defra’s strategy blueprint (, two key points stand out.

The first is that when officials talks about extensive consultations, they want to understand the experiences, hopes and worries of ordinary companies before finalising details.

This is a real opportunity to influence the eventual outcome. The Chamber of Commerce monitors consultations routinely. If you would like to join a consultation but would like guidance, please contact our Low Carbon team in the first instance.

The other point is that if we look at some of the interim routes currently being used to deal with waste, it becomes clear that a huge innovative change is needed if the UK is going to meet its wider global and environmental goals. This is genuinely unexplored territory.

As an example, a significant tonnage of the UK’s waste is currently shipped to Denmark, Germany and Sweden as district heating system fuel. Incineration itself is unsustainable. But potential post-Brexit border friction emphasises the urgent need for a fundamental review of how we deal with our waste.

Resources and Waste Strategy

The strategy – supported by additional legislation if necessary – is designed to end dependency on landfill sites that produce greenhouse gases, improve poor air quality, clean up rivers and stop single-use plastics entering the oceans.

On a high level, it aims to “preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste” by turning an “inefficient ‘linear’ economic model of “take, make, use, throw” into a circular economy that keeps “resources in use for as long as possible to extract the maximum value” and “give old materials a new lease of life”.

The pathway for a national UK circular economy was outlined last year in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (

Strategy specifics

One of the strategy’s main goals is to make commercial companies fully responsible for the full costs of waste recycling and disposal under the “polluter pays” principle. There will also be a new tax on any plastic packaging that has includes less than a 30% content of recycled plastics. Deposit-return schemes will also be introduced for bottles, cans and plastic containers.

For the first time ever, businesses will also have a binding target to recycle 65% of any waste created by their goods and services. This is in addition to glass and timber recycling.

Minimum eco-design requirements will also be set to encourage more resource-efficient products. A Chemicals Strategy will help to break down barriers that stop chemicals being reused and recycled sustainably.

Does this seem unfair? Government evidence suggests that some 80% of the environmental damage caused when products become waste can be avoided by better design and manufacture. That puts companies firmly in the driving seat.

The new model also wants knowledge to be shared through “resource efficiency clusters”. This will be another Low Carbon Programme priority, whether clusters are regional or specialist-sector based.

Consumer help

People also need more help with their buying decisions. Ipsos MORI research finds that a majority of consumers want businesses to help them reduce their waste. Circa 80% preferred money-back incentives, plus spaces in shops for returning used packaging and clothing. Loyalty points are popular. There is also a trend towards “hiring not buying”.

The average life span of many products is lower now than 20 years ago. Repair, reuse and remanufacturing are three tools that will be used to reverse this trend. Consumers will be given more product information. Certain plastics will be banned when a good alternative is available.

Helping householders and councils

In addition to new food waste collections, households and municipal waste collection authorities must also raise their recycling rates. Household recycling levels in England have risen by circa 11% since 2000/1, but plateaued since 2013.

The Government wants to improve all dry recyclable material waste collection services, raise Energy from Waste (EfW) plant efficiency, publish more information on using secondary materials and strengthen the waste hierarchy where hazardous waste is involved.

How will this be funded?

Industry will pay through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). How will this work? Firms will face higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle – cars, electrical goods, batteries, textiles, fishing gear, tyres, construction & demolition materials, mattresses, furniture and carpets.

Defra estimates that EPR from packaging will generate an annual revenue stream of between £500 million and £1 billion which will help fund recycling and disposal.


If all this sounds onerous, there are sound reasons for jumping before being pushed.

When change is inevitable, moving ahead of the curve with innovative products and solutions that the new market needs can give you an edge. Particularly if financial incentives are available. Resisting change until the bitter end could mean short-term gains but long-term loses.

There is also moral and reputational value in helping to solve bad environmental problems.

Food, zips and light bulbs

Firms are creating solutions at different levels in different ways.

Unilever, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and PepsiCo are among the 24 corporate co-founders of a new ‘waste-free’ retail platform called Loop which businesses can use to give their customers branded product refills while keeping ownership of their own reusable packaging.

As an international design and manufacturing example, Samsung is phasing out all virgin plastic components from its consumer-facing packaging during the first half of 2019. Phone, tablet and smartwatch packaging trays will now be made from pulp-based alternatives.

On a different track, Dutch multinational technology company, Philips, is taking the “hire rather than buy” idea to modern long-life light bulbs. Now Ikea is to let customers lease rather than buy furniture in an environmentally-friendly project. The Swedish company’s CEO explained that when pieces of furniture are handed back at the end of a lease, “… instead of throwing those away, we refurbish them a little and we could sell them, prolonging the lifecycle of the product”.

Meanwhile, as a practical example of a small but significant service change that people value, the Californian outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, now offers to repair its customers’ damaged zips.

The Guardian, Walkers and Morrisons

Interestingly, all three companies have made deliberate decisions to accept higher waste management costs for sustainable reasons that an increasing number of customers and the public value.

The Guardian ditched polythene covers in favour of compostable packaging after listening to its readers’ feedback. Walkers says its packets are technically recyclable and the issue has been that they were not separated or collected for recycling.

Morrisons’ reusable paper bag will cost 20p. The firm will also trial raising the cost of its reusable plastic carrier bag from 10p to 15p to further cut down on single-use plastics. Plastic bag demand has already fallen by more than 85% since charges were first introduced, it says.

Every little helps!

LUNCH & LEARN: “Fit for Purpose” The Principles of LEAN Production

Reduce your waste and get LEAN!

These workshops being held in both Blackpool and Accrington will give attendees a broad understanding of LEAN fundamentals through an experiential and entertaining learning event.
LEAN principles are:-
1. Understand what is important and valued by the customer
2. Understand the current process
3. Identify and remove unnecessary wastes from the process
4. Ensure the process is driven by customer demand
5. Continuously identify opportunities for further improvement

A Lean process should deliver the product or service to the customer (however defined) as quickly as possible where waste, errors and re-work have been removed, as far as practicable.

This event will focus on one of the many potential wastes, movement.

The workshop will be presented by Graham Leather, a highly experienced business professional with operational experience across manufacturing line management, sales, and business development and with almost 20 years’ experience of implementing business improvement/ change management programmes across a broad range of industries, from food and health to metal forging and the service sector.
Graham has worked within many cultures and countries including India, UAE, Europe, USA, and the Far East.
Graham has a first degree in minerals engineering from the University of Birmingham and an MBA from the Open University.

The event will start at 12:00 with 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.

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.

Book your place:

4th March – Blackpool

8th March – Accrington

LUNCH & LEARN: “Acronym Bingo” Understand your Business Energy Bill

Ever wondered what all of the acronyms and abbreviations at the bottom of your energy bill mean?

Could understanding your bill help you save some money?

These fun and interactive free workshops in Blackpool and Accrington will give you the answers you need.

The session will be led by Andrew Warner of Green Technologies and Solutions who was a commercial energy adviser for one of the country’s biggest renewable energy installers. Andrew has advised hundreds of SME businesses, from agricultural owner managed businesses, to engineering companies with their own in house maintenance and energy departments. His experience across so many different sectors and technologies has given him a much more balanced insight into how different consumption habits call for a technology or several technologies which suit that habit, not just the energy they require.

The event will start at 12:00 with 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.

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.

Book your place here:

18th Feb 2019 – Blackpool

21st Feb 2019 – Accrington


LUNCH & LEARN: ‘Rubber Duck & the Green Convoy’ Fleet Fuel Efficiency

Want to reduce fuel costs for your fleet through a range of efficiency savings?

Want to find out how you can save money while reducing your vehicle carbon emissions during a relaxed, interactive lunchtime worksop?

Well that’s a big 10-4 from us..


We’re hosting free a Lunch & Learn session in Blackpool for all businesses on vehicle fuel efficiencies and how they can put themselves in a better position – so everything from cars to HGV’s and PSV’s.

Within this we will include information on alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport, information on green cities and the potential for additional charges, types of vehicles from traditional Petrol / Diesel to Hybrid and Electric as well as other measures such as technologies and training.

The workshop will be delivered by Paul Jorgensen, Senior Partner at the Strategic Analytics Team.

With over 20 Years Logistics Operations and HSE experience gained within Europe and the Middle East often in challenging and remote locations, Paul has a clear and deep understanding of complex business issues. He combines this with an understanding of working in a multi-cultural teams to get the very best from them to deliver to the high standards he sets.

With a focus on lean practitioner methodology enabling organizations to focus on continual improvement, combined with a strong ability to help design, deliver, implement and embed new technical and process solutions for clients allowing Paul to help his clients in multiple areas of their logistics operations and HSSE.

Paul is an identified subject matter expert in safe journey management systems for land transport operations and works closely with clients on the design and implementation of innovative logistics management systems, Paul’s clients include International Oil Companies, Government Organizations and innovative technology companies.

Paul was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year for Greater Manchester in February 2018 and is a key note speaker at Multi Modal UK 2018 in May.


The event will start at 12:00 with 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.

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.

Book your place here:

4th Feb 2019 – Blackpool

Keeping 2019’s ‘Green Rose’ resolutions

Making New Year resolutions is one thing. Keeping them is another! There are at least three good business and environmental reasons for making low carbon and waste reduction promises as the new free ‘Green Rose’ scheme is launched at the start of the UK’s 2019 Year of Green Action.

While pedalling furiously in the gym!

Battling to lose those extra Christmas pounds or kilograms is important. Good luck! However, cutting climate changing carbon emissions, and learning how to minimise unsustainable and expensive landfill waste from January to December 2019, is, sorry to say, at least equally and arguably even more important. However, help is at hand. All that is needed is commitment, plus the free input that hundreds of local companies are entitled to from the Chamber Low Carbon Programme.

2019 priorities

Why are we starting so early in January? As recent fast-changing news events show, there is a great deal to do and 12 months go by very quickly on the business calendar. The average level of CO2 in the atmosphere at circa 405.0 parts per million (ppm) is now the highest for at least 800,000 years ( The Met Office adds that record-breaking UK summer heat in 2018 was made some 30 times more likely by emissions from human activity (

In parallel, events did not go according to plan at the UN’s COP24 climate change summit in Poland from December 3th to 14th. As strong fossil-fuel advocates, the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait refused to “welcome” a high-level report ( warning that the world is way off course in meeting a critical maximum warming level of 1.50C this century. Nations now need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a dramatic 45% by 2030. Failing to tackle climate change would be “not only immoral but suicidal” for the planet, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned as he tried to push COP24 to a successful conclusion.

But there is good news too. As will be mentioned later, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) reports that UK and Chinese researchers are working closely on projects to cut worldwide CO2 production, ensure energy affordability and security for each country and build lasting best-with-best academic relationships between China and the UK in an area vital to both countries (


Three resolutions

Most companies have the potential to make major savings by cutting back their energy use, turning to commercially-viable near-zero-carbon renewable energy sources (solar and wind), taking a fresh look at waste, rationalising production and/or manufacturing and service systems, optimising transport needs and working closely with employees to track down and systematically eliminate process inefficiencies.

The Chamber Low Carbon programme has condensed these goals down into three easy-to-implement schemes for 2019: –

Green Roseone day a month for six months

The Green Rose programme is being launched early in the New Year. It is designed to help businesses working towards accreditation to the international environmental management standard, ISO 14001, or British Standard BS 8555 : 2016.

The aim is to create a documented journey of continuous environmental and energy management improvement that can be audited by external adjudicators to very high standards. However, we know that many companies often need to be able to show their clients and supply chain leaders that they are making significant advances before actually being ready to achieve certification.

This is where Green Rose can help. Not only does it take companies through all stages of preparation over a six-month period, it will also be a Lancashire recognised marque of progress towards certification.

– How will the Green Rose journey work?

The aim is to teach company environmental champions and managers and their support teams how to look for and quantify risks that can range from wasting greenhouse gas emitting energy to polluting local watercourses, contributing to poor air quality, operating inefficient lighting and many more so-called “aspects” that “impact” on the environment. These are then listed in a company Significant Aspects Register.

The next step is to identify and take mitigating measure whereby businesses are allowed and expected to prioritise which aspects they want to tackle first and how they plan to do this. It is also important to be aware of and able to comply with relevant regulations and legislation. The key aim is to show continuous improvement year-by-year.

A crucial phase in the journey is periodic high-level review by senior company executives who must be committed to the process. That leads to a further reiteration of the whole cycle and the next round of continuous improvement that certification assessors will look for each year.

– What will Green Rose give you?

Crucial to whole process is competent documentation and Green Rose provides a comprehensive set of example system and operational procedures that environmental champions and managers can customise to their own organisations.

You will be entitled to a FREE Energy and Environmental Audit and Action Plan. A grant aid system is also being put into place to facilitate energy and resource efficiency measures identified within the action plan.

As an important joined-up footnote, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has now aligned its product and management standards with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is another area of activity that the Chamber will be progressing through its Energy & Environment Forum to be launched later in the year.


Welcome to the circular economy

The UK has dragged its feet in meeting the binding European commitment for local authorities to raise their current 40% to 45% recycling rates for residential municipal waste to a much more ambitious 65% by 2035. Greenpeace suggests that this would save almost £10 billion over a decade in waste sector, greenhouse gas and social costs. Understanding and joining the circular economy will be a key step that is also important in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The indications are that the Government will introduce higher targets early in 2019. In addition, it could for the first time impose a minimum 65% recycling requirement on business municipal waste which would come into effect in the next few years.

The National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) wants to go further with separate food waste collection for households and businesses by 2025 to help provide a low-carbon future. However, all this means businesses starting to plan now.

Join the Lancashire Circular Economy Club

The Low Carbon Programme is organising a Lancashire Circular Economy Club as part of the wider international movement (

Currently, the average UK household produces more than a tonne of waste every year. This totals some 31 million tonnes annually, which is more or less equivalent to the weight of three and a half million double-decker buses that together would go around the world two and a half times if parked end-to-end. That’s a humungous figure that can be tackled nationally on a local level.

– What is the Circular Economy and why is it important to reducing emissions?

The Circular Economy provides an alternative to the traditional linear economy of extract, process, use and dump. Instead, it aims to extract the maximum value of all resources – including waste streams. In effect, one household or companies waste (poison) is another’s feedstock (meat).

The Low Carbon Programme holds regular seminar meetings that examine the waste problem, compare the linear versus the circular economy, explain why waste is really a valuable resource, and, most importantly show how you can make a practical transition to a more circular economy.

Crucially, a different business model is needed and this is a cornerstone focus of the programme.

More events will be held in 2019 and everyone is welcome. The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme. To keep up-to-date with further Lunch & Learn workshops, please subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter (

– In technical terms

The circular economy concept is a regenerative system. The idea is to methodically close down all leakages of material resources, waste, emissions and energy, and instead of losing them employ them again through repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing and recycling. Usually, materials are downgraded each time they go through one of these phases. However, the idea of upcycling, or beneficiation, achieves the reverse and produces a higher value product.

The major advantages in a sustainable world are minimum economic or environmental losses that do not unduly affect quality of life. In fact, profitability can be as high as for linear models but with important carbon gains.

– 2019 Year of Green Action

This national initiative, as part of Defra’s 25-Year Environment Plan, was unveiled in January 2018 ( to improve the UK’s air and water quality and protect threatened plants, trees and wildlife species. It is also the key driver behind Green Rose and a major avenue for the Chamber Low Carbon Programme to engage with businesses, obtain baseline carbon footprints and trigger climate and resource action.

As 2019 unfolds, many new local events and participation opportunities will be announced.


China and UK R&D

Four UK/China low-carbon research projects will start in January 2019 with £3.2 million EPSRC funding and ¥12 million from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

University of Manchester academics will work with Huazhong University of Science and Technology colleagues on a new low-carbon laser-based manufacturing process. The University of Manchester will also cooperate with Shenzhen University on a project concentrating on carbon fibre composite recycling. The University of Bradford will similarly partner with Sichuan University to explore polymer recycling, while Queen Mary University of London will work with the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. to create materials for solar cells and batteries from waste.

Happy New Year!

Lancashire Low Carbon Showcase, 6th December 2018

Chamber Low Carbon Presentation – Lancs Low Carbon Showcase

Innovate UK /KTN Presentation

Motoring in the low-carbon fast-lane

Driving in hot sticky weather is not pleasant. But the longer we rely on “dirty” fossil-fuel travel, the hotter our weather is likely to become. The “green” answer lies in learning how to motor, fly, use trains and deliver goods sustainably. And there are a growing number of low-carbon options.

The questionable joys of the open road

Travel in ever-increasing congestion is not enjoyable or environmentally-friendly. Transport creates some 26% of UK greenhouse gases – only 25% come from the energy sector. And the figure is rising. However, a lot can be done to save both money and carbon.

At a policy level, the Government is actively backing a low-carbon transport revolution based mainly on electric vehicles (EVs) with a new national support infrastructure to provide “green” renewable energy. Its flagship Road to Zero strategy is outlined below.

Introducing the worrying UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) report recently (, Environment Secretary Michael Gove also detailed the government’s active responses.

At a personal level, most business people are keen to minimise time wasted in stationery traffic on hot polluted roads. This can work at three key levels – the first and second involve designing low-carbon transport strategies, plus buying or leasing and maintaining the most appropriate vehicles.

However, the third addresses the potentially touchy subject of personal driving styles! Egos aside, most of us could probably benefit from fuel-efficient driving tips with clear bottom-line benefits.

As also explained later, sustainable transport is also a key part of the Low Carbon Programme and our experienced team can help you to optimise both existing and future “green” transport systems.

Not such good carbon news

Before that, it might be useful to review the recent series of quite negative carbon news reports released ahead of an early-December UN meeting in Katowice, Poland where nations will discuss how the spirit and letter of the ground-breaking global climate agreement signed in Paris exactly two years ago can be made to work much more effectively.

On an upbeat note, the EU announced on 28th November that it wants to become the world’s first “climate neutral” major economy by 2050. Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, also announced on the 28th that the UK’s first commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) project should be operational by the mid-2020s. Phase one of the Acorn project is due to store some 200,000 tonnes of CO2 from the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Aberdeenshire under the North Sea.

The other news is less positive. For nine years, UN Environment has tracked the world’s emissions cut gap. Its latest report (27/11/2018 – shows that global efforts to tackle climate change are well off track and getting worse. In 2017, a 1.2% increase in CO2 emissions was the first for four years. Equally importantly, international efforts to cut carbon are running out of stream, it says.

To keep temperature rises down to a relatively safe 1.50C, emissions by 2030 must be 55% lower than today, according to the UN. It adds that the world is currently heading for a 3.20C rise.

Unfortunately, the UK, Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the US are on the naughty step for missing their so-called Nationally Determined Contributions for 2030 made under the Paris agreement. In fairness, the UK’s targets are extremely ambitious.

Regional and local success stories

However, importantly for us the UN has great faith in “non-state actors” – local, regional and city authorities and businesses. It estimates that more than 7,000 cities in 133 countries, plus some 6,000 companies, are already committed to climate action. A much wider buy-in by this “sector” could cut emissions by 19 gigatonnes (or the CO2 equivalent) by 2030 – enough to keep global warming increases down to 20C.

Clearly, every little helps! Which is why the Low Carbon Programme is important.

Highest carbon levels for millions of years

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported in November ( that CO2 levels have reached 405 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 3 million to 5 million years – when surface temperatures were 20C to 30C hotter and sea level 10m to 20m higher.

The Met Office’s has also released its first major climate change update for ten years (UKCP18 – with a warning that in the worst case, UK summer temperatures by 2070 could be 5.40C higher than in 1981-2000 unless there are drastic carbon emission cuts. The figures are scenarios at the edge of scientific understanding and not firm forecasts. However, they suggest that a 5% chance in the 1990s of hot summers similar to 2018 could rise to 50% by 2070 with 70% less rain; 4.20C warmer winters may see 35% more rain. Sea levels around London might rise by up to 1.5m by 2100.

In his recent lengthy speech on climate change projects (, Michael Gove noted the importance of UKCP18 as a decision-making tool, outlined in great detail the size of the global threat and focussed in on Defra’s specific responses to the crisis.

Managing company transport emissions sustainably

Transport aspects are a key part of robust environmental management systems and important in both preparing for compliance with the international environmental management standard, ISO 14001, and making practically every day running cost cuts.

The Low Carbon team can help in a number of ways where businesses have both freight and personal transport needs. Optimising vehicles routing to minimise mileage and duplication is one priority. Replacing personal travel with Skype and Facetime digital conversations, conference calls and online meetings is another.

Buying, using and maintaining vehicles – new or second-hand – is also an important area as pressures grow to phase out petrol and diesel as soon as reasonably possible.

The third critical area is how well cars, vans and lorries are driven. On-board monitoring equipment to record acceleration, braking and fuel-consumption patterns quickly pinpoints bad habits. Coupled with driver training, this can improve not only carbon performance but also road-safety.

Road to Zero

Rail and even motorway electrification for HGVs is on the agenda, as well as both hydrogen-powered trucks and trains. However, the Government’s £1.5 billion Road to Zero Strategy is designed to promote electric vehicle uptake. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says its new policies will collectively “put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles”. He adds that it is “one of the most comprehensive packages of support in the world” that will help the UK to “win a substantial slice” of a global EV market worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050!

The strategy’s 46 zero-emission road transport measures will be implemented across “pillars” that include: – reducing emissions from existing vehicles; pushing up EV sales; greening heavy goods vehicle (HGV) fleets; investing in green vehicle design and manufacturing; improving the essential EV infrastructure and supporting local action.

Greening existing vehicles

There will also be measures to improve fuel efficiency and make existing petrol and diesel vehicles greener, plus a 15-year legal commitment for sustainable fuels to account for 7% of all road fuels by 2032.

The existing Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme, which currently only applies to buses, HGVs and coaches, will be expanded to include black cabs and vans. Retrofits to large vehicle fleets can be a cheaper and quicker way of reducing emissions that buying new vehicles.

Heavy goods with no heavy emissions

The electric vehicle revolution has also reached the heavy goods vehicle sector; ultra-low emission standards are being developed for HGVs. How zero-emission technologies work best for HGVs is being studied with Highways England. A voluntary commitment will be introduced to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025 based on a 2015 baseline.

The Government also wants EV R&D to rise substantially by 2027, with a 12% tax break for qualifying projects, plus initiatives to source UK parts and raw materials. A new supply chain competitiveness and productivity improvement programme will help the UK’s EV R&D industry to compete with European rivals.

Infrastructure and charging improvements

A lack of charging infrastructure has been identified as one of the greatest biggest barriers to EV take up, in parallel with the “range” distance travelled per charge and vehicle costs. The Committee on Climate Change found earlier this year that 29,000 charge points will be needed across the UK by 2030, of which 85% will be rapid chargers.

There will also be measures to help local and transport authorities opt for green vehicles, including a £48 million ultra-low emission bus scheme fund. In addition, local authorities will be eligible for funding to provide a dedicated taxi charging infrastructure.

Check list

Environmental performance and fuel-economy can be improved through the following tips: –

– Maintenance: –

  • Cleaning agents added to the fuel tank remove harmful deposits from older engines
  • “Premium”, “super” and “ultimate” fuels already contain cleaning agents
  • Engine oil changed at regular intervals keeps vehicles running at optimum efficiency
  • Regular servicing at intervals recommended in the vehicle handbook improves performance
  • Clogged air filters reduce airflow and should be cleaned regularly
  • Low tyre pressures raise fuel-use – 20% under-inflation can cut fuel-economy by some 20%
  • Low-rolling resistance tyres with an EU tyre label can save up to 0.5 litres of fuel per 100km
  • Roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes create resistance and drag

– Driving habits: –

  • Switch off engines in queues – idling for 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting
  • Changing gear earlier, braking sooner and driving more slowly reduces wear and fuel use
  • Maintaining a greater distance from the vehicle ahead gives room for more efficient braking
  • Driving at around 2,000 RPM reduces fuel consumption
  • Air conditioning systems use more fuel – turn them before the end of a journey
  • Air conditioning systems are more efficient than travelling with open windows causing drag

– Further thoughts: –

  • The best low carbon journeys are made by cycling or walking – car sharing is second option
  • Use public transport where the carbon footprint is shared between more people
  • Lightening your vehicle load whenever possible reduces fuel consumption
  • Company cars are taxed on both value and emissions – HMRC provides information
  • Avoid flying or fly less frequently and for shorter distances – don’t use private jets
  • Take “staycation” holidays closer to home

Avoid space travel – it is probably the most carbon-inefficient mode of transport known to man!

Lancashire Business Engagement Workshop – 13/11/2018

Presentation slides for the Local Business Engagement Workshop by Chamber Low Carbon and Electricity North West

Lancashire Business Engagement Workshop with Chamber Low Carbon & Electricity North West