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What Juliet did next: Good Energy founder launches on-site renewable energy investment trust

What Juliet did next: Good Energy founder launches on-site renewable energy investment trust

Atrato Onsite Energy is aiming to become the first London-listed company with an all female board after it floats next month

Six months after stepping down as CEO of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport has unveiled her next venture.

Today it was revealed that the green entrenpreneur is launching an investment trust geared towards on-site clean energy generation at retail stores, factories and industrial units.

Atrato Onsite Energy, which plans to invest primarily in solar systemson industrial and commercial buildings, is aiming to raise £150m when it floats London Stock Exchange next month, it said.

Davenport, who stepped down as CEO of Good Energy in May after two decades at its helm, said the trust would play a "leading role in providing new green power capacity" as demand for on-site generation accelerated over the coming years as companies worked to deliver on their climate goals.

The firm, part of UK London investment group Atrato Partners, claims to have identified a £300m pipeline of potential acquisitions, £50m of which it said it had "under exclusivity".

Atrato Onsite Energy boasts an all-female board, with Davenport set to be joined at the top level by the head of its audit committee, Marlene Wood, and non-executive director Faye Goss. Atrato claimed that this made it the first all-female board company to IPO, or to be listed, on the London Stock Exchange - and possibly worldwide.

"The UK's binding net zero emissions target in 2050 and the resulting future demand for green energy means that additional generation from low carbon sources such as rooftop solar is growing," Davenport said. "The company will play a leading role in providing new green power capacity, delivering businesses a dedicated clean energy supply at a low fixed cost. The Atrato team have a proven track record in renewable energy investments and building infrastructure, which is why I'm very excited to be part of this compelling project as chair."

The company confirmed it plans to commercialise behind-the-meter solar generation systems by brokering long-term, indexed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the occupiers of the properties where the assets would be installed. It stressed that ramping up on-site generation at commercial properties would deliver a host of benefits to businesses and the UK, from reducing firms' carbon footprint, bringing down energy bills, and reducing pressure on the national electricity grid.

Davenport added the company, which is aiming to publish a prospectus on or around 1 November and to close the IPO by the end of November, was aiming to receive the London Stock Exchange's ‘Green Economy Mark', in a recognition that the fund would have "a material contribution to the global green economy".

Gurpreet Gujral, managing director of Atrato, confirmed the company planned to deploy the net proceeds of the IPO within 12 months, stressing that onsite energy generation assets had a "number of unique and attractive features" for companies and investors.

"These include allowing corporates to directly reduce their carbon footprint whilst reducing their energy bills," he said. "They can also provide investors with a stable income stream with limited exposure to the wholesale energy market."

COP26: Rich nations prepare to ramp up climate funding package

COP26: Rich nations prepare to ramp up climate funding package

Momentum builds ahead of Glasgow Summit as Saudi Arabia and China unveil new climate plans, but questions remain over whether new funding pledges will go far enough

Final preparations for the COP26 Climate Summit are now well underway, with the UK hoping a flurry of announcements in the run up to the start of the Glasgow Summit can ensure the fortnight of negotiations it is hosting get off to a positive start.

Today a group of the world's richest nations will unveil proposals to ramp up levels of climate funding over the next five years, in the latest bid to ensure the goal of mobilising at least $100bn a year of climate finance for developing countries from 2020 is met.

The UK hosts of the Summit are to present the new plan alongside Ministers from Germany and Canada, who were tasked with leading efforts to ensure the $100bn target is delivered.

The $100bn a year target, which was first agreed back in 2009, has been a totemic issue at the long-running UN climate talks for much of the past decade. Poorer nations have routinely accused richer countries of failing to ramp up levels of funding to meet the target, arguing that the countries that have contributed the least to worsening climate impacts are now facing the most severe climate-related threats.

Developing countries have consistently warned that they are willing to block other aspects of the talks unless the climate funding pledges are honoured, while also arguing that it is difficult to trust countries' decarbonisation pledges if they refuse to make good on their funding commitments.

The most recent analysis from the OECD concluded that in 2019, the latest year for which data is available, only around $80bn was provided by richer nations.

Reports suggested the new package of funding is expected to meet the $100bn target, but potentially by taking an average of the level of annual funding provided throughout the period from 2020 to 2025. The uptick in funding is also expected to increase the focus on financing climate resilience measures.

It remains unclear how the group has resolved reported disagreements with the US over plans to make up shortfalls in previous donations with higher levels of funding in future years.

It also remains to be seen whether the various groups of emerging and developing nations welcome the new funding pledges as being in line with the targets agreed back in 2009 or continue to accuse industrialised nations of failing to provide sufficient financial support.

COP26 President-designate Alok Sharma suggested meeting the $100bn target would represent a major step forward for the talks. "Developed countries must deliver on the $100bn a year promised to developing nations," he said. "This is a totemic figure, a matter of trust, and trust is a hard-won and fragile commodity in climate negotiations."

However, there are also widespread concerns that the pledges could be overshadowed by the British government's controversial decision to cut Overseas Development Aid (ODA) from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of GDP - a move that could be further exacerbated by this week's Budget from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Guardian revealed this month that Sunak was considering classifying funding created by the International Monetary Fund in response to the Covid pandemic as ODA spending, potentially leading to further on-the-ground cuts.

The UK government has repeatedly insisted its £11.6bn five year climate funding package is protected from the ODA cuts, but critics have countered that the decision to ringfence climate projects simply means steeper cuts will be required elsewhere to the UK's development spending.

Elsewhere, calls for governments to come to Glasgow with new net zero targets and strategies secured another victory, as Saudi Arabia became the latest major emitter to announce a net zero goal.

The Gulf state and oil exporting giant announced over the weekend that it would aim to deliver net zero emission by 2060, matching the decarbonisation date announced by China last year and Russia earlier this month.

The announcement was made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the opening of the state's first Saudi Green Initiative Forum, with the government unveiling plans to plant 450 million trees by 2030 and ramp up investment in clean technologies.

The new target drew a mixed response, with some commentators welcoming further evidence that net zero targets are now being adopted by the most carbon intensive economies and others decrying a lack of detail around how the Kingdom intends to meet the new goal.

Sharma said he welcomed Saudi Arabia's announcement that it will reach net zero by 2060 and expressed hopes that the "landmark announcement… will galvanise ambition from others ahead of COP26". He also said he was looking forward to "the detail of Saudi Arabia's revised NDC and working together to keep 1.5C in reach".

In addition, hopes that China could submit an ambitious new national action plan - or NDC in the UN jargon - received a boost with state news agency Xinhua reporting that the government is to set a new target to reduce fossil fuel use to below 20 per cent of its energy mix by 2060.

A cabinet document released yesterday set out a raft of new decarbonisation targets for the energy sector, including plans for non-fossil fuel consumption to reach a quarter of total energy use by 2030, contributing to a 65 per cent cut in the carbon intensity of the economy compared to 2005 levels. The guidelines also reiterated a previous target to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 18 per cent against 2005 levels by 2025.

The update will fuel hopes that China's long-awaited NDC will mark a significant increase in ambition from the world's largest emitter and serve to damp down fears that the government is planning to ramp up investment in coal infrastructure to drive the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest developments came as UN climate change chief Patricia Espinosa issued a stark warning as to what was at stake at the COP26 Climate Summit. "We're really talking about preserving the stability of countries, preserving the institutions that we have built over so many years, preserving the best goals that our countries have put together," she said in an interview with the Observer this weekend. "The catastrophic scenario would indicate that we would have massive flows of displaced people… It would mean less food, so probably a crisis in food security. It would leave a lot more people vulnerable to terrible situations, terrorist groups and violent groups. It would mean a lot of sources of instability."

She also hinted that resolving the question of when countries should next update their national climate action plans is likely to be a top priority for the Summit.

Under the Paris Agreement countries are meant to submit a new NDC every five years, but the 2020 deadline for finalising the first wave of updates since the Paris Summit in 2015 was deferred by a year due to the Covid pandemic. As such, there is uncertainty over whether the next round of submissions should come in 2025 or 2026, while some countries are arguing that countries with inadequate plans should resubmit them sooner still.

Espinosa signalled that she would like to see a tighter timetable for countries to submit strengthened plans.

"It is probably not the most attractive idea to government representatives - when you have finished the plan, come back and tell all those involved, 'OK, now you have to continue revising your plan'," she told the newspaper. "But this is the biggest challenge humanity is facing, so we really don't have an option. And we know that situations change, technologies change, processes change, so there's always room for improvement."

Finally, the hosts of the Summit this weekend provided further details about the menu delegates will enjoy in Glasgow, stressing that sustainability has been a key factor in sourcing decisions.

The organisers said 80 per cent of food to be served at conference will be seasonal and sourced from Scotland, while overall 95 per cent of the food will be from the UK.

Ingredients will be replicated across the conference's menus to ensure produce can be repurposed for other meals, if necessary, to avoid food waste, while the cups used to serve drinks at COP26 sites will be reusable, potentially saving up to 250,000 single use cups.

"There will be a tremendous amount of work to be done at COP26, with many hours of negotiations and long days, so the choice of food that we serve our visiting delegations, staff and all our volunteers, is very important," Sharma said. "It is exciting to see such innovation in the menus that will be on offer and to understand the thought and effort that has gone into making dishes both healthy, sustainable and suitable for different diets and requirements.

"We very much look forward to giving our international visitors a flavour of the wide-ranging cuisine the UK has to offer."

Kevin Watson, business director at SEC Food, said the venue hoped to provide a template for other events to follow. "We hope our sustainable food strategy will shape menus of the future as we all work to protect our planet," he said. "As well as providing great tasting and nutritious food, our menus are focused on local and seasonal sourcing, with a plant-forward approach. We have been delighted to showcase and work with so many local Scottish suppliers and our teams are looking forward to supporting the event."

RenewableUK warns onshore wind approvals must double to reach climate goals

RenewableUK warns onshore wind approvals must double to reach climate goals

Latest figures from trade body reveal healthy pipeline of projects but warns slow approvals process is impeding sector’s growth

The rate of consenting for new onshore wind farm projects is less than half what it should be to reach the UK's climate targets, trade body RenewableUK has warned.

Figures published by the group late last week reveal that roughly 600MW a year of onshore wind projects are being given the go ahead annually in the UK, which marks an uptick on recent years but is still roughly half the 1,250MW needed to meet the 35GW by 2035 target recommended by government climate advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

The pipeline of onshore wind projects in the UK has grown in the wake of the government's decision to end the controversial ban that stopped onshore renewables projects from bidding for government backed clean power contracts. The Onshore Wind Project Intelligence report notes that the capacity of onshore wind projects operating, under construction, consented or being planned has grown to nearly 33GW, up from 30GW a year ago.

If every project in the pipeline were given the green light, the UK would double its operational onshore wind capacity by the end of the decade, growing from 13.9GW today to 30GW by 2030, it calculates.

As such RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail urged the government to overhaul the clean energy planning system to ramp up levels of onshore wind deployment, pointing out that the Net Zero Strategy published this week called for more onshore wind to be installed in the 2020s.

"We need planning systems in place in all four UK nations which reflect the consistently high level of public support for this technology and allow projects to go ahead where they have a majority of local support," he said. "This must include encouraging the repowering of older onshore wind projects as they reach the end of their lifespan with taller, even more efficient turbines."

The upcoming Contacts for Difference (CfD) auction will see onshore wind projects compete for contracts for the first time in five years. McGrail called on the government increase the frequency of clean energy auctions from next year to deliver a further boost to UK renewables capacity.

"To maximise job creation and investment, we need to move from holding auctions every two years to annual auctions, framed by a government target to 30GW of onshore wind by 2030," he said. "Doing this would show great leadership in tackling climate change at a time when the UK has an unprecedented international platform at COP26".

Previous analysis from the trade group has estimated that a doubling of onshore wind capacity would reduce consumer bills by £16.3bn over the course of the decade, which would shave roughly £25 off each annual household energy bill.

Financial firms call for 'clear UK strategy' to ensure just transition to net zero

Financial firms call for 'clear UK strategy' to ensure just transition to net zero

Just Transition crucial to delivering on the government's 'levelling-up' agenda, argues group of 40 banks and investors

UK banks, investors, and policymakers should embed high social standards far more deeply into their net zero strategies if the burgeoning green economic transformation is to benefit workers, suppliers, communities, and consumers right across the country.

That is the core conclusion today from the more than 40 banks, investors, campaign groups and other organisations - including Barclays, Aviva Investors, ShareAction, and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) - which together make up the Financing a Just Transition Alliance.

They are calling for a clear UK strategy to maximise the social opportunities and minimise the jobs risks associated with the transition to net zero over the next three decades, arguing a 'Just Transition' should be front and centre of the government's 'levelling-up' agenda.

A report by the Alliance today urges financial institutions and the government to take practical action to support a so-called 'just transition' which ensures no workers or communities are 'left behind' as the market shrinks for carbon intensive products and services.

Published today, it echoes growing calls for a UK-wide Just Transition Commission similar to that already established in Scotland to help embed issues of fairness into government policymaking, as previously backed by business groups such as the CBI, Make UK, the Institute of Directors, and the Federation of Small Businesses, among others.

It also calls for a Green Jobs Plan from the government to help capitalise on growing green employment opportunities, boost skills, and better support workers adversely affected by the shift away from fossil fuels, echoing proposals today from the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs.

Moreover, it makes the case for stronger financial regulations and standards to ensure just transition considerations are incorporated into net zero strategies from businesses, and that reporting of corporate social performance - not just financial and climate performance - becomes mainstream.

The report was produced by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and follows the launch of the Financing a Just Transition Alliance last November.

Professor Nick Robins, lead author of today's report at the Grantham Research Institute, said a just transition should be seen as "the policy glue that connects net zero with the government's 'levelling-up' agenda".

"It's not only the right thing to do and necessary also to build public support for bold climate action, but for financial institutions it's also strategically smart as it will build stronger and more resilient investments," he argued.

Other recommendations in the report include using the new UK Infrastructure Bank and British Business Bank to play a leading role in financing the net zero transition, while pledging to ensure the infrastructure and SME projects they fund provide positive social impacts.

And, it calls for a greater focus across government on 'place-based' policies that recognise there is 'no one-size fits all' approach to delivering a just transition and levelling up across every part of the UK, suggesting the establishment of local climate finance hubs could help support the development of more localised solutions and support.

The report also includes 20 case studies of financial action that is already supporting a just transition, and highlights efforts that are underway to more deeply embed social impact considerations into green policymaking. These include the UK government earlier this year issuing its first sovereign green bond, which will also be the first to report on its social-co-benefits.

Bob Wigley, chair of UK Finance, said financing a just transition to net zero was a "top strategic priority" for the trade association's members, as he emphasised the importance of taking into account the impacts on wider society when building net zero strategies.

"Engaging communities and businesses is not only essential to delivering challenging targets progressively and effectively but also ensures that the risk and opportunities are fairly distributed," he explained.

There have already been signs of the challenges facing companies and workers in higher carbon industries as markets, regulations, and consumer demand lead to a shift away from high carbon products and practices. In 2019, for example, Honda announced plans to close its car factory in Swindon in 2021, putting 3,500 jobs at risk, with the company citing the market shift to electric vehicle manufacturing as a major driver behind the decision. Meanwhile, a number of leading oil companies are embarking on restructuring plans amidst speculation oil demand may soon peak as demand for electric vehicles and renewables soars. 

As such, trade unions have stepped up calls for the government to develop a 'just transition' strategy that would seek to mobilise investment in retraining programmes, maximise the job creation that will result from the shift to net zero emissions, and ensure the costs and impacts of emission reduction policies are spread fairly across the country.

The Scottish Government has set up its own Just Transition Commission to look in particular at the impact of the shift to net zero on the North Sea oil and gas sector, but to date the government in Westminster has yet to follow suit with a similar UK-wide commission.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last year unveiled plans to create two million new green jobs by 2030, and has set up a Green Jobs Taskforce to investigate training needs and identify skills gaps. But those plans were today criticised by the EAC, which argued a more comprehensive and ambitious green jobs strategy was still needed.

BEIS has previously said it wants "everyone to feel the full benefits of this green industrial revolution" on the pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

UK's first sustainable food and farming school opens in Shropshire

UK's first sustainable food and farming school opens in Shropshire

First students arrive at School of Sustainable Food and Farming in Newport, a partnership between Harper Adams University, the NFU, Morrisons, and McDonald's UK

The UK's first sustainable food and farming school is set for its inaugural intake of budding green farmers from today, thanks to a partnership between Harper Adams University, the National Farmers Union, supermarket Morrisons, and fast food giant McDonald's UK.

Based at the University's Newport campus, the School of Sustainable Food and Farming claims to be the first of its type in the UK, offering both undergraduate and short courses on regenerative farming methods for livestock, soil health, and biodiversity to help equip students with skills in climate-friendly food production.

The University claims the new school will bring together "all of the latest thinking and learning on farming using sustainable methods", covering a wide range of topics from carbon sequestration, on-farm green energy such as anaerobic digestion plants, and better understanding of the value of carbon.

The school plans to provide on-the-farm learning, led by experts in agronomy, veterinary practice, and nutrition, while also acting as a hub for sharing the latest thinking, learning, and policy engagement on sustainable farming practices.

Professor Michael Lee, deputy vice chancellor at Harper Adams University, said the nature of farming was changing and there was a need to better understand the importance of sustainable food production.

"It is time for modern agricultural institutions to develop the systems we need to support this production for the 21st Century - such as this School, which brings together the expertise we have at Harper Adams with the experience of industry, wherever it is needed in the country," he explained. "What we are doing here is pioneering, and it will help the UK to lead the world in agricultural thinking and practice."

Sophie Throup, head of agriculture at Morrisons, stressed the need to "revolutionise our food production", as she hailed the "unique" new school.

"It's the first time the NFU, restaurants, supermarkets and universities have come together to act with one voice for the greater good," she explained. "We have supported the development of this school both for our own farmers - but also for the nation's farmers. It will play an important part in helping all of Morrisons farmers to get to net zero agri by 2030, but Morrisons also wanted to help create a legacy for all of UK farming."

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said the new school would help equip the UK with the skills and knowledge required to support the farming sector's target to reach net zero emissions by 2040, and for the country as a whole to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

It comes amid concerns were raised again last week by the NFU that the UK's free trade policies and recent deals with New Zealand and Australia could open the door to imports of food produced to lower environmental standards than in the UK, which risks undercutting British farmers and undermining green standards.

But Batters suggested the new School could play an influential role on the world stage. "It will help our farmers - both established and new - take on the role of world leaders in climate-friendly food production, paving the way for farming across the world in a sustainable and beneficial way," she said.

'The Blender': Innocent unveils plans for all-electric juice plant

'The Blender': Innocent unveils plans for all-electric juice plant

Coca-Cola Company subsidiary claims factory will be world-leading on sustainability

Smoothie brand Innocent has announced it is to open an "all-electric" factory in Rotterdam next year that it claims will be the most sustainable facility of its type in the world.

The drinks firm unveiled plans for the "carbon neutral" factory late last week, as it announced it was bringing forward its corporate goal to achieve carbon neutrality across its business and supply chain by five years to 2025. 

Innocent said the new facility, dubbed 'The Blender', would play a major role in delivering on the company's new emissions goals, noting that it will run on 100 per cent renewable energy, be equipped with on-site renewables, and rely on shipments delivered by two 50-tonne all-electric HGVs.

The site is being built to meet BREEAM sustainability certification standards and will use a system where energy generated from cooling the factory is re-used for heating so as to reduce its energy consumption by 45 per cent, the company said. It added that The Blender had been designed to reduce water usage by 75 per cent, and said it expected it to consume 28 per cent less energy than comparable facilities.

The company also announced it expected the new facility to help it reach 100 per cent renewable energy across its drinks production facilities by 2023, up from 86 per cent today.

Innocent CEO Douglas Lamont said the new factory and climate goal were an important "stepping stone" for the company, which has signed up to the Business Ambition for 1.5C initiative.

"We know that our [climate' pledge must be backed by a strong roadmap to ensure that we are taking the right action to rapidly reduce our footprint on our way to net zero, but believe that investing in becoming carbon neutral by 2025 through nature-based solutions is a ‘belt and braces' approach consistent with our purpose."

The company also pointed to plans to ramp up the amount of recycled and plant-based plastic in its bottles by 2025 and reiterated that it was lobbying in favour of "quality" deposit return schemes that would boost recycling rates of its bottles.

The announcement comes after the drinks company launched a new Farmer Innovation Fund that aims to find innovative carbon reduction projects and boost awareness of sustainable agriculture practices among its suppliers.

The climate announcements come as Innocent's parent company, the Coca-Cola Company, has been ranked the world's top polluter for the fourth year in a row in a scorecard published by the Break Free From Plastic campaign.

The results of a worldwide plastic audit, published this morning, reveal that Coca-Cola produces more plastic than the next top two polluters combined, which were identified as PepsiCo and Unilever.

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