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

Creating science-based targets is essential for businesses of every size as we progress towards net zero targets. To create these targets, a business must first understand its consumption. At EIC we offer a range of comprehensive services that can help you help your business.

We are already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations – supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets. This will help them future-proof their business and 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 1.5°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.

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

COP26: what we need to achieve at the climate conference

The Covid-19 pandemic brought humanity’s vulnerability into sharp focus, emphasising the importance of international collaboration. Now, as extreme weather events wreak havoc around the world, the climate emergency is beginning to receive global recognition. This could spur real change at the COP26 conference, which will be held in Glasgow this November.

The summit is likely to be shaped by a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report warns that there is now a very small window to reduce emissions before exceeding the emissions limit of 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement. With this in mind, the gravity of COP26 cannot be overstated.

We look at the expected objectives for COP26, and how these crucial policy shifts could impact businesses across the UK.

Ambitious targets for 2030

So far, the focus has been on achieving net zero by 2050. But countries are now being asked to come forward with ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030.

According to the new IPCC report, global CO2 emissions need to decrease by about 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. Otherwise, if they continue to rise at the current rate, global temperatures are projected to increase by more than 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.

The UK has a significant part to play in this effort. Despite making up less than 1% of the global population, the UK is historically the fifth-largest contributor of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

For the private sector, this will most likely result in a greater emphasis on science-based targets. Science-based targets aim to reduce emissions, through concrete, corporate objectives. These shorter-term goalposts are designed to track progress for businesses, providing greater transparency on the road to net zero and beyond.

Prioritising adaptation

The IPCC report warns that even with global decarbonisation efforts, it will take decades for the planet to recover. This doesn’t mean that achieving net zero by 2050 and staying within the 1.5°C limit wouldn’t result in immediate benefits (such as improved air quality). But it could take twenty to thirty years for global temperatures to stabilise.

Critically, some of the damage could be irreversible. According to the report, numerous climate-related weather events will continue to cause disruption for centuries to come. This means that adaptation will be just as important as mitigation efforts.

Adaptation methods involve adjustments to ecological, social or economic systems in anticipation of climate change. These can range from building flood defences and early warning systems to changes in government policy and redesigning communication systems.

These methods can coincide with mitigation methods, which focus on reducing emissions.

Given the current state of play, it makes sense that adaptation and resilience are principle themes at the upcoming COP26 event. These are key considerations for large businesses hoping to thrive in the future.

Reforestation and conservation

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised new domestic pledges and plans to garner international commitments on “coal, cars, cash and trees”.

He said: “We want COP26, the UN great summit, to commit to restoring nature and habitat and ending the massacre of the forests, because trees are among our best natural defences against climate change. To be net-zero for carbon you must be net-positive for trees and by 2030 we want to be planting far more trees across the world than we are losing.”

The UK has faced criticism in the past for having the lowest levels of tree cover, compared to its European neighbours. Forests currently cover just 13% of the country. To reach its net zero target, the Committee on Climate Change has said that tree cover in the UK needs to rise to 17% by 2050.

Mobilising green finance

According to a new analysis from WWF, the UK government’s committed spending is currently well below the required rates to meet its legally binding net-zero emissions target.

Financing green initiatives is essential to combatting climate change, and mobilising green finance is a key objective for COP26.

Achieving our climate goals will require public finance for the development of infrastructure and private finance for innovation and technology. In this transition every company, bank, financial firm and investor will be expected not only to follow, but to lead change.

How can EIC help your business to prepare?

We can provide a bespoke, adaptable roadmap to net zero for your organisation – ensuring carbon compliance and long-term financial stability along the way. Our comprehensive energy and carbon services help guide organisations towards a more sustainable future.

Our goal is to help companies navigate the transition to a low carbon economy. We recognise that while policy decisions drive decarbonisation, every business has a part to play.

To learn more about our net zero and sustainability services, contact us at EIC today.

Football clubs and the path to net zero

With COP26 on the horizon, as well as the release of an alarming new report from the IPCC, the UK’s net zero target has become more urgent. This will mean more organisations will be expected to join in and stay ahead of changing policy. This is not lost on Premier League football clubs, many of whom have already committed to net zero targets. Some have even succeeded in achieving radical emission reductions.

There are numerous advantages to becoming a net zero football club. It provides a significant reputational boost and has the potential to cut long-term costs. It is clear that carbon reduction is quickly becoming a mandatory part of any business strategy.

We look at what it means to become a net zero football club and why it matters.

UN Sports for Climate Action Framework

The UN Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to support and guide sports organisations towards a more sustainable future. Similar to science-based targets, this is a voluntary framework setting out identifiable objectives for those looking to display climate leadership.

The framework sets out five principles for signatories:

  1. Promote environmental responsibility.
  2. Reduce overall climate impact.
  3. Educate for climate action.
  4. Promote sustainable consumption.
  5. Advocate for climate action.

The Premier League sustainability table

These principles have been reflected in a table published by BBC Sport and the Sport Positive Summit ranking Premier League clubs. In 2020, football teams at the top of this sustainability table included Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United, amongst others.

Points were awarded for:

  • Clean energy (2 points)
  • Energy efficiency (2 points)
  • Sustainable transport (2 points)
  • Single-use plastic reduction or removal (2 points)
  • Waste management (2 points)
  • Water efficiency (2 points)
  • Plant-based or low-carbon food options (3 points)
  • Communications & engagement (3 points)

One bonus point was available for each of the following:

  • The club actively engages fans towards positive behavioural change that reduces environmental impact in their own lives.
  • The club is a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.
  • The club tracks and reports on the percentage of fans taking different modes of transport to games.

This criteria demonstrates the level of action football clubs are expected to take beyond simply offsetting their carbon emissions. By including energy, waste and water management as well as social engagement and scope 3 emissions reporting, these principles promote real change.

Where to start

Once you have pledged your commitment to net zero, it is important to spread the word. This can be a valuable boost to your reputation, but it also helps to get staff, suppliers and fans involved in making your business more sustainable.

The next step is to calculate your carbon footprint and map a path to net zero. This is where EIC comes in.

Our carbon team has worked closely with Premier League football clubs, helping them to calculate their emissions, mapping a route to net zero, and supporting them on their journey.

Our extensive list of sustainable services includes:

  • Sub-metering and monitoring
  • Carbon footprinting
  • Carbon compliance and management
  • Energy data insights and support
  • Support for efficiency measures
  • Onsite generation guidance
  • Green procurement
  • Energy and carbon reporting
  • Waste management
  • Sustainable water solutions
  • Support with installing EV infrastructure

Why become a net zero football club?

For decades, the climate emergency has been met with apathy and reluctance. Now, there is real momentum to take action before it is too late. Unfortunately, some organisations are continuing to do the bare minimum in an effort to appear greener without making significant changes. But this ‘greenwashing’ will not support their transition to a net zero economy. The businesses that will thrive are those that embrace efficiency, reducing consumption and waste from every corner of their organisation.

By doing this, not only will football clubs become part of a net zero future – they can become leaders too.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) explained

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) came into effect on 1st January 2020, replacing the Feed-in Tariff (FiT). These schemes offered payments to businesses with installed onsite generation, a vital part of the UK’s journey to net zero.

Onsite generation can offer businesses various benefits, including self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability – and as the technology becomes less expensive and more efficient, the advantages will only increase. While these green solutions are not suitable for every business, they are becoming more prevalent in this time of economic recovery.

Here are some FAQs regarding the new scheme and how it works:

What is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?

The SEG offers payment to small-scale renewable energy generators for excess electricity that is exported to the National Grid. To do this, suppliers with at least 150,000 domestic customers will be required to provide a minimum of one tariff offer to small-scale low-carbon generators.

Do I need to apply for the Smart Export Guarantee?

If you are a small-scale energy generator with either solar PV, wind, CHP, Hydro, or Anaerobic digestion, installed in England, Scotland or Wales with a capacity up to 5MW (or up to 50kW for micro-CHP), you may fit the criteria for the SEG.

For next steps and more info download our SEG Guide

What if I already get the Feed-in Tariff (FiT)?

If you signed up for FiT before the 31 March 2019 deadline, your payments will continue until your contract runs out. The SEG is mostly for companies or households with new renewable energy installations, or for those who missed the FiT deadline.

There is no FiT subsidy for newly installed renewable energy technologies after this date. Backdated applications will also not be accepted.

What is the difference between SEG and FiT?

Whilst the SEG is replacing the Feed-in Tariff, there are differences between the two schemes. The Feed-in Tariff included both export and generation tariffs, but the SEG only provides the former. In other words, with the SEG you will only receive tariffs for the renewable energy you don’t use. This means that customers may not see the same financial benefit for the renewable energy they are generating as solar panel owners initially did with FiT. (Tariffs will vary across regions depending on network requirements.)

There is also a scheme for renewable heat technologies for both domestic and non-domestic purposes, known as the RHI and non-domestic RHI. This government scheme provides financial incentives for the installation of renewable heat technologies. Eligible technologies include biomass heat, solar thermal and heat pumps.

How do I know if on-site generation is right for my business?

On-site generation can often provide energy security: a worthwhile commodity in a volatile market. It can also help businesses avoid non-commodity costs, which can make up almost 60% of your energy bills.

At EIC, we already support our clients with initiatives that incentivise clean energy use, assisting clients with navigating the transition to a net zero landscape. We can help guide you towards the most efficient and cost-effective energy management plan. This can mean exploring on-site generation options, as well as other sustainable solutions that can reduce your carbon emissions and energy costs.

For businesses that have set or plan on committing to a net zero target, EIC would be happy to engage with you. Our carbon team works with businesses to put together an adaptable and bespoke roadmap, outlining the sustainable steps required to reduce your carbon footprint. Along the way, we will ensure you stay compliant with changing legislation, allowing you to make the most of schemes such as the SEG.

To understand more about our energy and carbon services contact us at EIC.

A circular economy – is your business ready to benefit?

The rise in extreme weather events around the world has lit a fire under the global climate movement (quite literally). This is especially true in the UK, where COP26 will take place this October. For this reason, many consider a circular economy to be the best approach in navigating a post-Covid economic recovery.

A circular economy is based on resource efficiency and would help propel the UK’s path towards net zero. Fortunately, a research programme initiating the country’s shift to a circular economy launched in May. The initiative, encompassing 34 universities and 200 industry partners, aims to ease the transition away from taking, making and disposing.

We take a look at what the circular economy means and how UK businesses stand to gain from this approach.

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is designed to make resources as sustainable and efficient as possible. This means reducing, reusing and recycling resources as much as possible to extend their value and reduce waste.

The main principles behind a circular economy are:

  • Design out waste and pollution.
  • Keep products and materials in use.
  • Regenerate natural systems.

While it is clear that a circular economy can benefit the UK from an environmental perspective, the advantages of this transformation aren’t just climate-related: UK businesses stand to gain as well.

A 2015 study has shown that a circular economic approach could offer costs savings of over half a billion euros by 2030 in Europe alone. It stands to reason that this approach would also benefit those businesses seeking to make financial savings through increased efficiency.

Why should we accelerate our transition to a circular economy?

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day creeps progressively closer. This is an annual milestone, marking when we have used up the natural resources that can be regenerated in a single year. In 2019 and 2021 it fell on 29 July, the earliest date on record.

This means that until the end of the year, the global economy is operating in what is being called an “ecological deficit”. Humanity currently uses 74% more resources than the planet is able to regenerate each year – the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.

In this global culture of waste and inefficiency, the UK is far from unimpeachable – our own national Overshoot Day fell on 19 May this year. The need to transition to a circular economy is becoming more urgent.

How can I prepare my business for a circular economy?

Think about which resources are critical to your business and how you could use them more efficiently. Here are a few areas to consider:

Utilities & Energy

Utilities are usually an excellent starting point, as most businesses need electricity, water and heating. Investing in metering and sub-metering technology across your sites means that you can track these resources and identify areas of waste. A study from the non-profit Club of Rome concluded that installation services for these types of improvements would be central to realising a circular economy in Europe.

Onsite generation may also be a pragmatic energy option for your business. This sustainable solution offers self-sufficiency and energy stability. Onsite generation can play a significant role on the road to net zero. Not to mention, you can avoid rising non-commodity costs which make up a large portion of energy bills.

Waste Management

Waste management is another easy and pragmatic step for businesses looking to adopt a circular approach. The UK generated 222.2 million tonnes of total waste in 2018. Of that, commercial and industrial waste accounted for almost a fifth (19%). This demonstrates the pressing responsibility on these sectors to adopt responsible waste management practices.

Sustainable Design

In November 2020, the UK government invested £22.5m into five new circular research centres. At the heart of this new funding scheme was the development of sustainable design and disposal principles. These centres will explore and improve the processes of several heavily polluting sectors in the UK.

Sectors under the microscope include textiles, metals, construction, chemical production and electronics waste. Construction alone produces a shocking 154m tonnes of mineral waste per year – enough to fill 30,000 Olympic swimming pools.

How can EIC help?

At EIC, we support the transition to a circular economy by leading our clients towards efficiency and sustainability. Our comprehensive services cover metering and monitoring, waste management, carbon compliance, and even guidance regarding onsite generation.

Whether you are looking to take the first step in becoming more circular, or revolutionising your business to be as sustainable as possible, EIC can help.

To learn more about how we can help you accelerate the shift to a circular economy, contact us at EIC today.

What the new IPCC report means for big energy users

Authored by a group of 234 scientists from 66 countries, the latest IPCC report warns that we have very little time to deliver the emission cuts we need to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

This comes just months before the COP26 climate conference is set to take place in Glasgow. Consequently, the report is predicted to play a significant role in shaping future policy – much like the IPCC’s last report influenced the Paris Agreement.

This could mean radical change for energy intensive industries over the next decade. Given the urgency indicated in the report, businesses should prepare for this sooner rather than later.

Expect a rise in climate-related risk factors

In the UK’s 2020 Roadmap and Interim report, the government announced its intention to make the TCFD-aligned disclosures mandatory across the economy. This will mean accounting for any business risks related to global warming, including threats posed by extreme weather events.

Over the past decade, we have seen a rise in destructive wildfires, devastating heat waves and flooding on a massive scale. This is already impacting business supply chains, transportation and employee health and safety. In this new report, the IPCC draws a definitive link between global warming and the frequency and intensity of these events. This means that as temperatures continue to climb, these calamities will only worsen, putting businesses at further risk.

The report also indicates that even with the required emission reductions, it could take two to three decades for global temperatures to stabilize. This means that, at least for the moment, extreme weather events must be planned for in the long term.

That the disclosure of these climate-related risks will become mandatory for UK businesses is indisputable. But, it is just as important to mitigate these risks as much as possible now.

Net zero targets will become more important than ever

The IPCC report has been referred to as a “wake-up call”, and this could mean a radical overhaul of energy intensive industries. As the UK government ramps up its decarbonisation efforts, large companies will be expected to follow suit. This means setting ambitious net zero targets.

For big energy users, the route to net zero will not be straightforward. Yet, there are many advantages to becoming a net zero or carbon negative organisation. For one thing, it puts you ahead of the curve when it comes to compliance with carbon legislation. It can also maintain your competitiveness in an increasingly green marketplace (both investors and consumers alike).

Perhaps most importantly, especially in a time of economic recovery, reducing your waste and embracing resource efficiency lays a clear path to financial stability. This circular economy approach is considered key to creating a thriving, net zero future.

Carbon offsetting won’t be enough

Many big energy users have turned to carbon offsetting to reach their emission reduction targets. However, the IPCC report states that the oceans and forests that once served as a buffer by absorbing CO2 will become less effective, if emissions continue to rise at the current rate. This means that while it is still crucial to develop reforestation and conservation projects, they are not silver bullets.

Instead, companies will be pushed to reduce their emissions as much as possible before turning to offsets solely as a last resort. In this effort, clean energy methods such as green procurement, onsite generation and energy efficiency will play a large role. Responsible waste management, low-carbon transportation and sustainable product design will also be crucial.

We are running out of time

If there is one key takeaway from this new IPCC report, it is the urgency of our state of affairs. Over the last century, temperatures have risen to 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. If it continues at this rate, the global temperature is projected to increase by more than 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. This means that the pathway laid out in the Paris Agreement is slipping out of reach.

The promising news is that scientists now have a better idea of what will work. With more accurate projections and a clearer picture of what the future holds if temperatures continue to rise, we are better equipped to drive change. But this change needs to happen now.

How can EIC help?

Our comprehensive energy and carbon services help guide organisations towards a more sustainable future. We can provide a bespoke, adaptable roadmap to net zero for your organisation – ensuring carbon compliance and long-term financial stability along the way. Our extensive energy management services cover everything from metering and monitoring to controls and carbon footprinting.

Our goal is to help companies navigate the transition to a net zero economy. We recognise that while larger policy decisions will drive nationwide decarbonisation, every business will play an important part.

To learn more about our net zero and sustainability services, contact us at EIC today.

The UK Transport Decarbonisation Plan: EIC responds

The long awaited UK Transport Decarbonisation Plan, published 14 July 2021, sets out a net zero timeline for all domestic transport in the UK. The plan brings forward the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030. And aims to decarbonise the aviation sector by 2050, among other things.

How will the plan impact the country?

Transforming the transport sector is essential for achieving net zero emissions in the UK. And could greatly benefit our cities and towns. While some are saying the plan is not progressive enough, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says it is “just the start”.

“Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities, and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good, or for bad. Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.” Shapps said.

“It’s not about stopping people doing things: it’s about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive, but increasingly in zero-emission cars.”

Highlights of the plan include:

  • End the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030.
  • The government’s own fleet of vehicles will transition to electric vehicles from 2027. As an interim step, 25% of the fleet will also change to ultra-low emissions vehicles by December 2022.
  • Petrol with up to 10% ethanol (E10) blend will be introduced as standard petrol from September 2021 in the UK.
  • End the sale of new petrol and diesel heavy goods vehicles (HBVs) and buses by 2040 (subject to consultation).
  • Plan to bring aviation sector’s emissions to net zero by 2050.
  • Plan to commit to the 2040 target for domestic aviation and airport buildings and operations in England

EIC’s expert analysis

Victoria Pollard, a Carbon Compliance Manager at EIC, weighs in:

The changes required to transform the transport sector go beyond switching your domestic vehicle to a plug in electric. The shift to low carbon transportation will require a comprehensive review of our public and commercial transport and radical infrastructural change. The transport decarbonisation plan is a progressive stride in this direction.

A ‘modal shift’ is being seen as the most cost effective choice to begin this effort. A ‘modal shift’ essentially means driving gradual changes from one form of transportation to another.  Making petrol more expensive, for example, as a way to encourage the use of public transport. This method can be an effective way to change consumer perception, raising questions like, is there a need for multiple cars per domestic dwelling, or even any cars?

But is a modal shift really viable? There are many options for public transport or zero emission transport out there, but this is usually perceived as more of an inner city option. And while the UK’s size has always afforded easy commuting to various parts of the country, this would not be an easy transition for those living in more rural areas.

This concept also relies on public transportation being able to rapidly change from traditional petrol/diesel to an electrified network, which could prove challenging. Commercial vehicles and long distance public transport like coaches are unsure of how and when they will be able to achieve decarbonised transport options. Electric batteries are not yet seen as an option for these sized vehicles as their charge times are currently commercially unviable.

One thing is clear, the private and public sectors need to work as one to ensure the whole transportation spectrum is considered in the decarbonisation plan.

To learn more about how EIC can help you on your path to net zero, contact us today.

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.

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.