Net zero: can the UK reach its 2050 target?

In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. This would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.

This was once seen as a fairly ambitious target. Especially considering the previous commitment to an 80% reduction within the same timeframe. However, it has now become clear that achieving net zero by 2050 is imperative to tackling the catastrophic effects of climate change.

How close is the UK to reaching net zero?

To reach ‘net zero’, the UK must significantly reduce its emissions while simultaneously offsetting those that can’t be avoided. In this effort, the pandemic served as a hidden blessing. Thanks to reduced traffic, travel, waste and energy consumption, there was a record-breaking 10.7% fall in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2020. This resulted in a 48.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, a milestone in the country’s net zero journey.

Yet despite this, the UK is set to breach its fifth carbon budget by at least 313Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) according to research done by Green Alliance. And as workplaces open and travel resumes again, emission levels could return to pre-Covid levels. This could make meeting the sixth carbon budget, which recommends a reduction of 68% by 2030, challenging.

Is this achievable?

A recent report by The National Grid Electricity Operator (ESO) outlines 4 potential scenarios for decarbonisation in the UK. These were designed in part to lay out steps to meet the sixth carbon budget, and 3 of the scenarios see us reaching net zero by 2050. But, while this sounds promising, the report also explains that drastic changes are required to achieve future emissions targets.

The National Grid ESO’s head of strategy and regulation Matthew Wright said, “Our latest Future Energy Scenarios insight reveals a glimpse of a Britain that is powered with net zero carbon emissions, but it also highlights the level of societal change and policy direction that will be needed to get there.

“If Britain is to meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets, consumers will need a greater understanding of how their power use and lifestyle choices impact how sustainable our energy system will be – from how we heat our homes, to when we charge our future cars – and government policy will be key to driving awareness and change. 

“Britain is making significant progress towards achieving net zero. The fundamental changes outlined in our latest FES insight show just how important a coordinated approach will be between policymakers and industry if we’re to capitalise on that momentum.”

What does this mean for businesses?

The UK ramping up its decarbonisation efforts will impact businesses and communities of all sizes. If the recently published Transport Decarbonisation Plan is any indication of policies to come, the general public should prepare for drastic changes. The plan outlines the Government’s approach to decarbonising the highest-emitting sector. It includes bringing the ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans forward from 2035 to 2030. As well as a consultation on zero-emission bus fleets and lorries by 2040.

Other expected changes could include higher energy efficiency standards and extended mandatory carbon reporting. A recent example of this is the extension of mandatory display of annual energy certificates in all larger office buildings. This means that businesses will have to prioritise their energy management in the future. Fortunately, reducing waste and boosting your green credentials often results in both financial and reputational benefits.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we help businesses monitor and manage their energy and carbon with sustainability in mind. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. We are already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations – supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets.

Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions. Helping to carry your business into a green future.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

Science-Based Targets: everything you need to know

Some large corporations are leading the way in a bid to tackle climate change with science-based targets. What are the benefits of committing to these emissions reductions and how can your business get involved?

WHAT ARE SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS?

Science-based targets came about as a result of the Paris agreement in 2015. In this legally binding treaty, 195 parties committed to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Then in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that global warming should not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To achieve this, GHG emissions must halve by 2030, and drop to net zero by 2050. A ‘science-based’ emissions target stays in line with the scale of reductions required to meet these objectives. These goalposts track progress and give the private sector a clear idea of how quickly they need to reduce their GHG emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

In the global race towards net zero, science-based targets will become crucial for business growth across the sectors. Not only do they help tackle climate change, but they boost a company’s competitiveness in a changing market.

A UNITED INITIATIVE

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was set up by CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The group supports companies that have set science-based targets. They have found that the positive effects for these businesses include increased innovation, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability.

The STBi also:

  1. Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting via the support of a Technical Advisory Group.
  2. Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption.
  3. Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SETTING SCIENCE-BASED TARGETS?

There are many benefits to setting science-based targets. By significantly reducing emissions, you are not only building a brighter future for the planet but a potentially profitable one for your business.

Here are some of the benefits of setting science-based targets:

  • Illustrate excellent CSR – For large corporates there is a growing responsibility to take action against climate change, science-based targets are a way to do this.
  • Deliver a competitive advantage – Integrating environmental policies into your business strategy helps your business stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Involve the whole company – Engage with internal and external stakeholders to help your business achieve or even exceed targets.
  • Reduce large costs – Lowering emissions often requires a closer look at your energy portfolio and making your utilities as efficient and low carbon as possible. This can result in significant savings for your business.
  • Investor confidence – 52% of execs have seen investor confidence boosted by targets. As TCFD recommendations come into play and climate-related risks become more important, this will only become more prevalent.
  • Increase innovation – 63% of company execs say science-based targets drive innovation.

HOW DO YOU SET A SCIENCE-BASED TARGET?

There are three approaches to setting a science-based target (SBT):

  1. Sector-based approach – The global carbon budget is divided by sector and emission reductions allocated to individual companies based on its sector’s budget.
  2. Absolute-based approach – All companies will equally work towards the same per cent reduction in absolute emissions.
  3. Economic-based approach – A carbon budget is equated to global GDP and a company’s share of emissions is determined by its gross profit since the sum of all companies’ gross profits worldwide equate to global GDP.

HOW CAN BUSINESSES GET INVOLVED?

For a business to get involved in the initiative there is a simple 4 step process to follow:

  1. Submit a letter to say you are committed to the scheme.
  2. Develop your own science-based target within 24 months.
  3. Submit your target for validation.
  4. Announce your target.

838 companies are currently taking science-based climate action and 343 companies have approved science-based targets.

HOW EIC CAN HELP

We can help you create science-based targets as part of a Carbon Management Plan that can also incorporate net zero goals. We are already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations – supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets. These will help them future-proof their business and help save the planet.

EIC can assist in meeting your science-based targets by:

  • Establishing your carbon footprint to act as your baseline
  • Provide recommendations to reduce your carbon impact
  • Set your target to reduce your carbon footprint to meet the 5°C objective
  • Create an ongoing Carbon Management Plan
  • Create and publish all documentation required for the scheme
  • Work with you to embed the strategy into your business
  • Assist you with carbon offset strategies

To learn more about EIC’s carbon and net zero services, contact us today.

Greenwashing – what is it and why should businesses avoid it?

As the world shifts towards a more sustainable future, consumers are opting for greener alternatives. And a growing pressure to ‘get green’ means that businesses are desperate to show their values align with environmental issues. This can sometimes result in ‘greenwashing’.

Without the correct knowledge, businesses risk prioritising superficially appealing demands to satisfy conscious consumerism. But as businesses around the world pledge to sustainability, indications of greenwashing can often go unnoticed.

Persistent greenwashing can undermine the importance of sustainability. As a consumer, trying to identify eco-friendly brands can be challenging enough. And with added greenwashed businesses, this task can feel overwhelming and next to impossible.

So, what is greenwashing and how can businesses avoid it?

What is greenwashing?

Coined in 1986 by environmentalist Jay Westerveld, ‘greenwashing’ refers to misinformation provided by a business to falsely present itself as environmentally friendly.

More often than not, greenwashing happens due to a lack of knowledge. While sustainability continues to become a more prominent topic of conversation, so does the pressure to comply. This means companies are increasingly keen to exhibit their sustainable credentials, even if they don’t have environmental expertise.

Greenwashing often distracts from significant environmental issues such as climate change and pollution. It can also misdirect environmentally conscious customers towards dis-ingenuine products. This is because it can be hard to differentiate between well intentioned businesses with those that are performatively green. ‘The six sins of greenwashing’, is a list of indicators that can help consumers spot a business that has been greenwashed.

The six sins of greenwashing

The six sins of greenwashing

No proof: Claims made about a lessening of a businesses environmental impact are not verified by third party certifications.

Vagueness: Broad, insubstantial or convoluted claims such as ‘all natural’, ‘made with recycled materials’ or ‘eco-friendly’, with no further information.

The hidden trade-off: Marketing a product or service as ‘green’ by a narrow definition that disregards other environmental impacts. An example of this was fast food chain McDonald’s switch to paper straws. Although consumers may have welcomed this change initially, it was soon revealed that these straws were still unrecyclable.

Irrelevance: Although the claim may be true, it is unrelated to the company or product.

Lesser of two evils: Touting one good sustainable aspect of the business while ignoring greater environmental harm.

Fibbing: The sin of outright lying, this was seen very clearly in the case of the Volkswagen scandal of 2015. The car company admitted to cheating emissions tests by fitting defeat devices to vehicles in question. This allowed the company to use proprietary software to detect emission tests and in turn reduce levels. Whilst they were knowingly greenwashing their products, in reality they were releasing 40x the permitted limit of nitrogen oxide pollutants.

How can businesses avoid greenwashing?

In the run up to the UK’s net zero commitments, it is within everyone’s interest for businesses to become truly sustainable. Switching to renewables, incorporating low carbon tech and educating staff are some of the ways that businesses can avoid accidental greenwashing.

To promote a sustainable ethos, a business must first achieve sustainability goals. Providing customers with complete transparency not only reassures them of your reliability, but also allows for a wider range of potential clients.

Delivering real change is essential in moving towards a green future. While greenwashing allows businesses to pull in revenue in the short term, it will have serious consequences further down the line.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we prioritise sustainability and transparency. Our expert team are on hand to help your business become as green as possible.

Years of experience allow us to identify the best areas of savings for your business. We believe the future is sustainable and we are dedicated to getting our clients on the right path towards it.

Get in touch to hear how we can help you begin your sustainability journey.

Earth Day: 5 things businesses can do to celebrate this year

After months of isolation and wintry weather, spring is finally in full bloom and the UK is reopening again. With this recent freedom has come a renewed appreciation for friends, family, and the great outdoors. This, and the rise in climate change awareness, make this Earth Day more important for businesses than ever.

Environmental awareness days are often marked with a social media post and quickly forgotten. But businesses that embrace real sustainability all year can enjoy significant financial and reputational benefits. As the UK transitions to a net zero economy, this will only become truer.

Companies with ethical and environmental strategies are already favoured by consumers and investors. This makes a sustainable strategy essential for securing future funding as well as growing and maintaining a loyal customer base. Not to mention, energy efficiency and clean energy solutions can provide valuable savings to facilitate further stability along the way.

This Earth Day, why not use the momentum to embark on your sustainable journey? Here are a few ways to celebrate the planet and ensure a green future for your business.

1.  Make a commitment

Companies and communities across the UK are pledging to reach net zero emissions by as early as 2030. This is largely due to recent shifts in policy that have made carbon monitoring and reporting an inevitable part of business practices. Climate-related risks are also beginning to play an important, even mandatory, role in investment decisions. This means large companies will have no choice but to reduce their environmental footprint.

What better day to announce your businesses commitment to net zero than Earth Day? EIC can help your organisation navigate the path to net zero from your initial carbon footprinting onwards. Our team of energy specialists streamline complex energy admin, carbon compliance, and give guidance on clean energy solutions. We go beyond what is mandatory to integrate sustainability into the core of your business.

2.  Embrace small changes

If your business is not ready to commit to a net zero target, there are numerous small changes you can make to save money and reduce your environmental footprint. Simply switching to LED lights can result in significant costs savings, especially for big energy users with extensive office or retail space. This and other efficiency solutions offer emission reductions that will prepare your organisation for future carbon reporting requirements.

Waste management is another important small but impactful change, as is water efficiency. Taking control of your utilities and ensuring there is as little unnecessary waste as possible is the first step towards sustainability.

3.  Switch to green energy

As companies and councils continue to join the race to net zero, energy suppliers are offering more green procurement options. There are different types of energy contracts in various shades of green, and choosing one can be a complex process.

If you are taking this Earth Day to switch to greener energy, EIC can help. Our procurement specialists can help you choose the contract that is right for your organisation and your net zero goals.

4.  Get smarter

Data gathering and analytics is the future of energy management. Smart energy monitoring and building control systems identify areas of inefficiency and waste. And enable you to make changes in real time. This technology is already becoming widely used to help businesses of all sizes control their costs and reduce emissions.

Make a real, impactful change this Earth Day by taking control of your utility usage. Our sister company, t-mac, offers next-generation metering, monitoring and controls solutions. These enable clients to manage their assets and energy consumption in real-time via a single platform.

“By working with t-mac we were able to identify that our immediate solution was to scrutinise the use of in-store equipment to save energy and carbon. Using t-mac’s expert advice and assistance we were able to implement a control strategy and immediately benefited from the energy reduction. To date, we’ve chalked up a substantial reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions across the 1,600 UK branches. We’re confident that the system will continue to be a winner, saving carbon and cost for years to come.” – Nick Eshelby, Director of Property Services at Ladbrokes

5.  Make it a team effort

Making structural changes to your energy portfolio is key. But genuine sustainability requires action on every level. Getting employees involved can help your sustainable efforts and also boost morale.

In August 2020, Reuters commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 UK office workers about workplace culture and environmental ethics. Of those surveyed, almost two-thirds (65%) said that they were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies.

This proves the rising interest in climate change and social equity is impacting peoples expectations of their employers. And as younger generations enter the workforce, this will only become more prevalent.

This Earth Day, ensure employees are aware of your commitment to environmental action by getting them involved in your sustainable business strategy. One way to do this is through EIC’s staff energy awareness training, which teaches employees how to reduce energy usage. By helping your employees understand how they can improve energy efficiency at work, they’ll learn how to cut their usage and costs at home too, which is great news for the environment.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we celebrate Earth Day every day by leading clients towards a more sustainable energy future. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that build a green and resilient foundation for your organisation’s future.

To learn how our net zero services can help your business, contact us at EIC today.

It’s not too early to start thinking about ESOS phase 3

The deadline for the third phase of ESOS is on 5 December 2023, but it is never too early to start your carbon reporting process. Although working on a distant deadline may not seem like a priority, planning ahead may save considerable time and money.

Regulated by The Environment Agency, the mandatory compliance scheme aims to ensure that big energy users are working as efficiently as possible. Businesses that qualify for the scheme must have compliance plans in place to avoid fines and civil penalties.

The first step towards assessing an organisation’s carbon footprint is to conduct an energy audit. Energy audits assess total consumption within a business including buildings, industrial processes and transport usage. This is also crucial for understanding where a business could save money through energy conservation.

Who qualifies for ESOS?

ESOS is mandatory for large UK organisations that meet one of more of the following criteria:

  • Employ at least 250 people.
  • Have an annual turnover excess of €50 million and an annual balance sheet excess of €43
  • Are part of a corporate group containing a large enterprise.

Businesses that qualify must carry out ESOS assessments every four years. While fines differ from case to case, they can include an immediate £50,000 fine or £500 per day for up to 80 working days. Businesses who refuse to comply also run the risk of having their information published online.

What are the benefits of ESOS?

You may be thinking, why should I start thinking about phase 3 so early? Starting work towards phase 3 now means you are able to explore different options before deciding on the perfect one for your business. Becoming more energy efficient now will also mean environmental and financial benefits in the long term.

The two most significant benefits of ESOS lie in the reduction of carbon emissions and lowering of energy bills. If approached correctly, ESOS could bring benefits for both the business in question and the environment, in the form of cost effective savings.

ESOS has been predicted to deliver a total of £1.6 billion in savings to UK businesses between 2015 and 2030. Some of the most common areas in which savings are found include lighting, air conditioning and metering. EIC can also provide intelligent procurement: further simplifying our client’s energy management and reducing their utility costs.

Putting off compliance plans may also leave you vulnerable to price increases. Phase 1 of the scheme more than 40% of businesses were still not compliant 4 months after the deadline. If this were to happen again, in excess of 2,800 firms would be fined and in turn suppliers would be forced to raise their prices again. By identifying areas of carbon reduction, ESOS can also improve your Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) narrative. While they are separate schemes, information gained from ESOS can be used to manage energy efficiency in annual reports.

How can EIC help with your compliance needs?

Our carbon team have extensive experience with complex compliance legislation and are dedicated to helping you reach deadlines efficiently. Our Lead Assessors and highly trained Auditors are on hand to assist you throughout your compliance process.

We have assisted over 550 clients with their ESOS journey, and in doing so have identified 4.65 million tonnes worth of CO2 savings. This has meant that our clients have avoided approximately £80 million worth of fines over phase 1 and 2.

Whilst balancing other jobs and responsibilities, schemes may seem like a hassle. Fortunately, EIC can help turn that obligation into an opportunity for your organisation.  Get in touch to find out how we can help you start your compliance journey.

What nuclear fusion means for big energy users

Big energy users rely on the UK’s power network to provide safe, reliable electricity for their ongoing business stability. While the use of renewable energy is reaching an all-time high, concerns linger about its reliability. Nuclear fission has been supporting the drive to lower emissions but remains controversial and recently, science has been looking to the future. Could nuclear fusion be the solution?

Every business uses electricity but smaller companies and low level energy users can often handle short outages. Unfortunately big energy users are not so lucky. While solar and wind can be powerful contributors to the grid, they can’t meet all our energy needs. To decarbonise energy-intense industries such as industry or aviation, the development of hydrogen and nuclear is essential.

How does fusion work?

Unlike nuclear fission which splits an atom to release the energy and heat we need for electricity, fusion does it by combining two atoms. Under intense heat and pressure, two positively charged hydrogen isotopes are forced together to create a heavier element.  This releases the same heat and energy we see in fission.

While the process is more complicated than fission, the end result is far safer and more sustainable. It produces almost no radioactive waste material and if the system gets overwhelmed it shuts down automatically so there’s no risk of a meltdown. Not to mention, it is 25% of the cost of nuclear and half the cost of wind energy.

Fission power is fuelled by uranium which is mined, refined and remains dangerous for thousands of years after use. The fuel for fusion power is deuterium. This is found in seawater and the earth has a near limitless supply.

Fusion power promises clean, reliable energy and a consistent output day or night whatever the weather. Renewable power will certainly remain a key part of the plan but with the help of fusion power, we could completely eliminate the use of coal, oil and natural gas.

What is the problem?

Currently, efficiency is the big issue. Existing reactor designs have struggled to produce more electricity than they require for operation. This is mostly due to the scale of the designs and the fuel used for testing. Scientists have been working on the project for decades but lately, a lot of progress has been made. Current research aims to have a functioning, economically viable fusion reactor online by 2030.

The progress of this technology is often compared to the advancements made in microchip design. The processing power of a microchip doubles every year, (following a principle called Moore’s Law). Fusion research has followed a very similar trend.

If progress continues at the current pace, scientists hope to meet their targets and bring fusion into the fight against fossil fuels.

What do we do until then?

The main problem with nuclear fission reactors is the cost. Taking an average of 6 years to build and costing billions of pounds they represent a big commitment. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until 2030 for the next advancement in energy technology. Small modular reactors and hydrogen fuel are getting ready to bridge the gap.

Small reactor, big energy

A popular option amongst energy researchers today is the Small Modular Reactor (SMR). These portable, self-contained reactor buildings are designed to be mass produced so they can be plugged into a power facility to generate electricity. Once used up, they would be returned to the manufacturer or moved into deep storage. SMR technology has made great progress in the last year and researchers hope to have a working model online in the next 5 years.

Hydrogen fuel

Nuclear power stations can also generate the temperatures required for the production of hydrogen fuel. The market for hydrogen has been growing steadily and is likely to maintain this trajectory in years to come. While not as energy dense as most fuels, hydrogen is more efficient than current battery technology and could greatly benefit the growing electric car market.

Where does EIC come in?

EIC are passionate about cutting edge technology. We regularly explore all the latest advancements and choose the best options for our clients. While fusion power may not be an immediate solution, the future for clean energy looks bright.

At EIC, we can help you manage your energy needs and ensure you meet your emissions targets. Our bespoke services can transform your energy strategy and integrate sustainability into the foundation of your organisation.

From procurement to onsite generation, we can help you find the most efficient and cost effective green energy solutions for your business. To learn more about working towards a clean, efficient energy future, contact us at EIC.

What is driving corporate sustainability?

Rising interest in climate change means businesses are facing increased scrutiny over the environmental and social impacts of their practices. Mandatory carbon reporting already makes corporate sustainability obligatory for many big energy users. And securing funding in the future may entirely rely on a company’s ESG strategy thanks to financial guidelines like the TCFD.

Fortunately, there are many benefits to embracing corporate sustainability beyond ticking boxes. An organisation’s green credentials will only rise in value as the UK races towards its net zero target. Not to mention, at the heart of decarbonisation and sustainability is energy efficiency, which can uncover considerable cost savings.

There are various forces driving corporate sustainability, including a shift in consumer behaviour, policy changes and more ambitious government targets. These forecast a more permanent transformation in the business and finance sectors.

The race to net zero

The real fuel behind the environmental movement at the moment is the global race to net zero. Over the past year, the UK government has introduced new policies and plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This includes new energy efficiency standards, increased renewable generation, hydrogen development, and a ban on petrol vehicles from 2030.

What is clear is that the green wave is coming.  To stay competitive, businesses will have to create sustainable strategies that prepare them for a net zero economy.

EIC can be your partner in this journey, from the first energy audit through to accreditation. Along the way, we help manage all your energy admin and take the stress out of complex carbon legislation. The path to net zero can be difficult to navigate, but our experienced in-house team of energy specialists provide end-to-end simplification. Giving you peace of mind, and your organisation a green, resilient future.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory in the UK. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions.

This new step towards mandatory transparency will require a more holistic view of a company’s environmental footprint. It also confirms that investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and are putting more faith in organisations that plan ahead. For this reason, it can be beneficial for organisations to follow TCFD guidelines, whether they are obligated to do so or not.

Impact investing and the rise of ESG

Environmental, Social and Governance strategies are not new to the corporate sector, but they have become more important in recent years. Now with a heightened focus on climate change and social justice, ESG is becoming essential for securing future investments.

This goes hand-in-hand with the rise in impact investing, which goes beyond mitigating risks and asks – how is your organisation positively impacting the planet? This trend has seen a rise in companies with social or environmental missions.

Why choose true sustainability?

The rise in climate action has led to some companies ‘greenwashing’. This is essentially when a company markets themselves as being ‘green’ without taking real action to reduce their environmental footprint.

There are many benefits to genuine environmental sustainability. The most important being an organisation’s longevity in a changing market.

If the recent shift in policy and finance has taught us anything it is that total transparency will be essential in the future. While ‘greenwashing’ may have some rewards now, it is poor preparation for a net zero economy. And though it may be cheaper in the short term, organisations that are ignoring their energy efficiency are missing out on significant long term savings.

Why choose EIC on your journey to net zero?

At EIC we know that building an environmentally and ethically sound business is not only the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that boost your green reputation and financial savings.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

4 Types of Carbon Offset Projects

Resource efficiency and sustainability are already integral to a business’s resiliency. All evidence points to carbon offsets becoming the next piece of the puzzle.

Climate-related policy change and litigation are on the rise across the world. It is clear that the involvement of the business sector in reducing global emissions will soon be unavoidable. This means that companies will have to take responsibility for their carbon footprint. Becoming eco-conscious will give a reputational advantage, as well as future security.

There are concerns around carbon offsets being used as a tool for “greenwashing”. This is a term used for a company masking its unethical behaviour with a green veil of traded carbon credits or PPAs. This is a valid concern, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But as we move further and faster towards a net zero economy, genuine “greenness” will carry more weight.

While there are shades of green when it comes to the carbon market, carbon offsetting projects can facilitate valuable environmental and social projects. The benefits of which can extend above and beyond the initial reduction in carbon.

How do carbon offset projects and credits work?

Every tonne of emissions reduced by an environmental project creates one carbon offset or carbon credit. Companies can invest in these projects directly or buy the carbon credits in order to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Carbon credits are tradeable on the market and can be controversial in how easy they are to attain. However, the concept is the same: a company is more or less investing in a green project in order to balance their own emissions.

 

Four main types of carbon offset projects

Forestry and Conservation

Reforestation and conservation have become very popular offsetting schemes. Credits are created based on either the carbon captured by new trees or the carbon not released through protecting old trees. These projects are based all across the world, from growing forests right here in the UK to replanting mangroves in Madagascar, to “re-wilding” the rainforests of Brazil.

Forestry projects are not the cheapest offset option, but they are often chosen for their many benefits outside of the carbon credits they offer. Protecting eco-systems, wildlife, and social heritage is significant for companies offsetting their carbon emissions for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) element.

There is some grey area in forestry offsetting. In the past, it has been difficult to distinguish just how much carbon is being reduced through forestry projects. Fortunately, thanks to emerging new technologies, methods of sustainable reforestation and calculating the benefits have greatly improved.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy offsets help to build or maintain chiefly solar, wind or hydro sites across the world. By investing in these projects, a company is boosting the amount of renewable energy on the grid, creating jobs, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, and bolstering the sector’s global growth.

Take, for example, The Bokhol Plant in Senegal. This project is one of the largest of its kind in West Africa, providing 160,000 people with access to renewable energy. It also saves the government $5 million a year and creates jobs in the region. Plus, the profits from selling carbon credits are often fed back into local community projects.

Community projects

Community projects often help to introduce energy-efficient methods or technology to undeveloped communities around the world. There are many potential benefits to these projects that far surpass carbon credits. Projects like this do not only help to make entire regions more sustainable, they can provide empowerment and independence that can lift communities out of poverty. This means that projects that were, at one time, purely philanthropic can now provide organisations with direct benefits like carbon credits.

For example, the female-led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Ethiopia provides clean water to communities by fixing and funding long-term maintenance for boreholes. How does this reduce carbon emissions? Families will no longer have to burn firewood to boil water, which will protect local forests, prevent carbon emissions and reduce indoor smoke pollution. In addition to the health and environmental benefits, the project is managed by female-led committees that provide work to local women.

The Darfur Sudan Cookstove Project replaced traditional cooking methods like burning wood and charcoal often inside the home, with low smoke stoves in Darfur, Sudan. This works to reduce the damaging health effects and emissions of indoor smoke, as well as the impacts of deforestation. This project also employs women in the region and helps to empower women and girls who now spend less time collecting firewood and cooking.

Waste to energy

A waste to energy project often involves capturing methane and converting it into electricity. Sometimes this means capturing landfill gas, or in smaller villages, human or agricultural waste. In this way, waste to energy projects can impact communities in the same way efficient stoves or clean water can.

One such project in Vietnam is training locals to build and maintain biogas digesters which turn waste into affordable, clean and sustainable energy. This reduces the methane released into the atmosphere. And helps protect their local forests which would otherwise be depleted through sourcing firewood.

When and why are carbon offsets used?

Energy efficiency, clean energy usage, and sustainable business strategies can be very effective in reducing an organisation’s emissions. But there are various scopes to the greenhouse gas emissions that organisations must consider.

Scope 1: Direct emissions from company operations such as company vehicles or factories
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from company operations such as purchased electricity generated by fossil fuels
Scope 3: Indirect emissions from company supply chains such as shipping, business travel, and raw material extraction

Completely eliminating carbon emissions through mitigation methods is not always possible. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.

How can EIC help reduce your carbon footprint?

It is important to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible before considering carbon offsets. Carbon credits should certainly not be used to buy an organisation a clean conscience or create a mirage of sustainability for consumers and/or clients. Carbon offsetting is a valuable tool, and when used to supplement a company’s mitigation efforts, creates a genuinely sustainable and resilient foundation.

At EIC, we offer comprehensive energy and carbon services to help reduce our clients’ carbon footprint in a sustainable way. Our team of experts can help advise on energy efficiency, clean energy solutions, monitoring carbon emissions, and carbon credits.

To learn more about our services contact us at EIC.

TCFD: 4 key points from the recommendations

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions. Investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and putting more faith in organisations that are planning ahead.

In a recent series of environmental measures from the government, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses. This part of the green recovery plan aims to bolster the UK’s position as a global leader for green finance.

“By taking as many equivalence decisions as we can in the absence of clarity from the EU, we’re doing what’s right for the UK and providing firms with certainty and stability.”
– Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Can increased transparency help achieve net zero and a stable green economy? We look at the key points and benefits of the guidelines for the TFCD.

What are climate-related risks?

The Task Force broke down climate-related risks into two major categories:

  • risks related to the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and
  • risks related to the physical impacts of climate change.

Transition risks include shifts in policy and litigation, market, technology and reputation. Organisations are already seeing this impact with climate-related litigation and policy changes rising. Costs of operation, raw materials, and products are all vulnerable to shifts in policy, technology, and markets. And changes in consumer preferences and customer behaviour must also be taken into account.

Physical risks involve the effects of climate change on the natural world. These are broken down into two categories: acute and chronic risk. Acute risk involves extreme weather events such as wildfires or floods. Chronic risk refers to longer-term shifts in climate patterns. These could affect anything from an organisations supply chain to their employees’ safety.

two people working on a white board

What are climate-related opportunities?

In light of the potential risks posed by climate change, the TCFD also recommends several opportunities. These are solutions that can reduce risk and provide organisations with long-term stability.

  • Resource efficiency: Making your buildings and transportation as efficient as possible by integrating intelligent energy management, reducing water usage and consumption, and recycling.
  • Energy source: Implementing the use of clean energy sources through procurement or onsite generation and taking advantage of policy incentives.
  • Products and services: Developing low-emission goods or services and/or innovative climate-related products.
  • Markets: Having access to new markets and assets and use of public-sector incentives.
  • Resilience: Boosting financial and reputational stability by adopting sustainable solutions such as energy efficiency and supporting renewable energy.

What are the recommended disclosures?

There are four recommendations laid out by the task force for disclosures.

  • Governance: Disclosure of the board’s oversight on, and management’s role in, assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities.
  • Strategy: Disclosure of the short and long term climate-related risks and opportunities, their impact on the organisation, and the resilience of the strategy in place to manage those risks and opportunities.
  • Risk Management: Disclosure of the organisation’s process for identifying, assessing and managing risks, and how this is integrated into the organisation’s overall risk management.
  • Metrics and Targets: Disclosure of the metrics used to assess risks – Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, the risks they pose, and the targets in place to manage risks and opportunities.

What are the benefits of implementing TCFD?

In the future green economy, disclosures like these will be crucial for a company’s sustainability and resiliency. Implementing TCFDs will help companies to identify and assess the risks posed by climate change. They can then address their structural weaknesses and implement mitigation and adaptation efforts to future-proof their business. Organisations that do this will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t when it comes to future funding and investments.

At EIC we are experienced in helping clients mitigate climate-related risks. Through our unrivalled energy management services and cutting-edge technology, we can help with most of the TCFD’s recommendations. From resource efficiency and clean energy to your carbon compliance, our goal is to simplify your sustainability journey. For more information on future-proofing your organisation, contact us at EIC.

Carbon Neutral: the newest Climate Change war cry

In 2019 EU leaders endorsed the European Commission’s Green Deal, a strategy through which to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Since then there’s been a slow but steady rise in legislation around, and investment in, renewable energy, low carbon solutions and, more recently, carbon sequestration and storage. The objective has recently been embraced by other global leaders, with recent 2050 pledges from Japan and South Korea. Even China has announced a net zero commitment by 2060.

We break down what carbon neutral means, why it is crucial in the fight against climate change, and how we can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

 

What does carbon neutral mean?

When we hear the word carbon, we often think of something harmful that needs getting rid of, which isn’t entirely accurate. Carbon, after all, is a part of all living things, and there is a natural cycle that balances the carbon emitted with the carbon absorbed by plants and soil.

The problem is that humans have disrupted this balance by emitting more carbon than can be absorbed. Through the use of fossil fuels, the deforestation of rainforests, massive population growth, overfishing, and harmful agricultural developments, we are essentially poisoning our planet.

Carbon neutral means there’s a balance between carbon emissions and absorption, so to achieve this we have to emit less and absorb more. This can be done through the adoption of renewable energy, carbon sequestration, reforestation projects, and regenerative farming practices. This holistic approach to fighting climate change could put us on a path towards a more sustainable future.

What it means for the energy industry

Achieving carbon neutrality will require action from all sectors of the economy, the most important being the energy industry. Energy production and use is currently responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Large-scale policy will play a large part in propelling the necessary transformation across the energy industry in order to cut and even capture carbon emissions. However, it will take action from every sector within the energy industry, from buildings being made more energy efficient to our energy sources themselves.

This will mean more commitments to renewable energy options in the UK, more efficient utility monitoring and management, as well as improved energy storage options. We will have to move towards an integrated, flexible energy system that exploits local resources and reduces our reliance on imported oil and gas. There are also recent advancements in carbon sequestration and storage that can be joined with energy generation itself which can make zero or low carbon energy options carbon negative.

As with any sector, change in the energy industry requires action on the parts of everyone who produces, invests in, or consumes energy. Every building and organisation can make a difference, and EIC can help.

 

How EIC is working towards Carbon Neutral

Major changes have to be made in every sector of the economy, from the food we grow to the way we travel. We at EIC are doing everything we can to support the changes needed within the energy industry. By helping organisations monitor and reduce their carbon footprints, navigating tricky compliance legislation, and advising on green energy procurement options, we are simplifying sustainability for businesses.

Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme: Time running out

The launch of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme last week presents an opportunity for public sector organisations to reduce their emissions using government funding. Organisations should begin formulating applications now to have the best chance of being funded.

Subsidising Energy Efficiency

Salix Finance is backing the scheme and it combines two major funds. First, the Capital Grant Scheme (CGS) aims to support heat and electricity decarbonisation efforts in certain public sector buildings. The second will help create thousands of jobs within the green development sector.

Under the CGS, public sector bodies can apply for financing for up to 100% of the costs of capital energy-saving projects fitting certain criteria. The criteria are split into four categories, which, in tandem, take a holistic view of decarbonising building heating.

This scheme will act as a non-domestic version of the Green Homes Grant, helping to address the carbon footprint of heating in UK commerce and public bodies.

Since applications to the fund will be subject to Salix’ discretion, organisations must have a robust understanding of their current energy expenses as well as accurate means to estimate the savings they stand to make.

The technologies supported by CGS are all focused on driving down the CO2 emitted in building heating. Naturally, low-carbon heating solutions like heat pumps and heat networks are deemed eligible.

Technology able to reduce heat demand or offset energy from the National grid also qualifies. Solar PV, battery storage, and metering systems fall under this category.

Window closing fast

Organisations can use this fund to subsidise the cost of external support for decarbonisation projects in a variety of ways. This includes the employment of technical expertise in putting together applications for the fund, support for project delivery, and guidance on creating a long-term decarbonisation plan.

However, applications must be submitted by the 11th of January and any planned projects delivered by the end of March 2021. Organisations should take this timeline into account when considering the scale of any project they wish to undertake.

Four months is a considerably small window for an infrastructural overhaul. That means organisations with a decarbonisation framework already in place will have a head start over those that don’t.

However, that is all moot unless applications are in before the deadline in just over ten weeks’ time. It is important to note that the scheme has been open since September 30th and that there is no ceiling on how much of the fund individual projects can apply for.

£1bn might sound like a lot, but it is still finite and approvals are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Organisations are already in a race against time and will want to start approaching sustainability specialists as soon as possible.

At EIC, our 360° Strategic Review offers a variety of channels through which you can boost your decarbonisation efforts. Key amongst these is a focus on implementing appropriate infrastructure for your organisation. A comprehensive solution that includes sub-metering, lighting solutions, on-site solar generation and CHP.

For further information on how we can support your decarbonisation journey, contact us.

 

 

 

 

Can a flexible energy system lead us to net zero?

A recent project launched by Carbon Trust and Imperial College will explore the potential for a flexible energy system and its future role in decarbonisation. EIC looks at what a flexible energy system is and how it can reduce the cost of reaching net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050.

What is a flexible energy system?

New technology has the potential to turn our passive energy system into a smarter, more sustainable one in the very near future. This means modifying generation and/or consumption patterns in reaction to change in demand or price.

There are three main ways to achieve flexibility in the energy system:

  • Interconnection: purchasing power from neighbouring markets at times of peak demand.
  • Storage: storing excess energy and using it at times of peak demand.
  • Flexibility on the demand side: consumers cut their discretionary power use at times of peak demand for financial incentive.

Until now, flexibility in the energy industry has typically been provided on the supply-side. Now it’s becoming clear that demand flexibility will be crucial for balancing the system in order to reduce costs and decrease carbon emissions. With smart meters that can reduce consumption at peak times and financial incentives, demand flexibility could be an easy and rewarding energy option for consumers and energy operators alike. A report from the National Infrastructure Commission says that £200 million a year could be shaved off the UK’s grid operating costs if just 5% of the current peak demand were met through demand-side solutions.

There are also smaller scale assets that could prove just as effective at balancing the grid, like distributed energy resources (DERs) such as nearby or on-site solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps or batteries. By reducing demand on the system, there’s less reliance on non-sustainable energy sources during peak demand periods. These smart solutions are becoming increasingly cost effective and in-demand, evidenced by their sustained fall in price and rising investment interest.

Why the UK should lead the world in smart power

Greener policies have seen increased support in recent years, with an emphasis on renewable energy. A strategy set out in another NIC report for 2020 – 2050 recommended 50% of all generation should be supplied by renewable power by 2030, and an entirely zero-carbon electricity supply by 2050.

The question is, how can this level of renewable integration be implemented in a consistent and cost-effective way?

One of the current issues with renewable generation is it is fairly inflexible, so finding more flexibility through demand, interconnection, and storage is key. It could also be the most cost-efficient way to reach net zero. According to an NIC report, Smart Power, a more flexible power system could save consumers as much as £8 billion a year by 2030.

Finding flexibility with EIC

Achieving more flexibility in the energy system is an integral part of EIC’s client commitment. Through a variety of services, including flexible procurement, smart metering, and many years of experience working with carbon monitoring and compliance, EIC goes to great lengths to offer consumers freedom and flexibility. Our goal is to find the bespoke energy package that best suits your business or property, while simultaneously lowering your costs and carbon emissions.

Find out more about our energy management services.