Green News

BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum: Last chance to pitch

BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum: Last chance to pitch

Deadline for clean tech firms to submit an application to pitch at annual investor forum falls this Friday

Leading clean tech firms have just a few more days to submit their application to pitch at the fifth annual BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum and present to top investors at the exclusive event.

Hosted in association with Innovate UK and Investment Week, the annual half day conference and pitch event will take place on Thursday March 26 and will see up to 16 of the UK's most exciting clean and sustainable technology firms undertake four minute pitches for investment and/or support in front of an audience of top green investors.

With over 40 leading investors already confirmed to attend, the event provides a unique opportunity for cutting edge green technology firms to promote their innovative new approaches and connect with prospective partners and stakeholders.

The event, which will be hosted at the Events @ No6 space in central London, will also feature an exclusive briefing on the current state of the clean tech investment space from one of the UK's leading analysts, and a panel debate exploring how investors assess clean tech prospects.

Confirmed panellists include Beverley Gower-Jones of Carbon Limiting Technologies, Leon Kamhi of Hermes Investment Management, and Susannah McClintock of Sustainable Ventures.

"The BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum has proven a phenomenal success in recent years, helping early stage companies attract investment and expand their sphere of influence," said James Murray, editor-in-chief at BusinessGreen. "With Innovate UK's support we've been able to bring together experienced investors and exciting clean tech pioneers in a way that enables both sides of the market to expand their networks and catalyse the development of new technologies and businesses.

"We'd urge any business with a novel clean technology and all investors with an interest in early stage clean technologies or green businesses that are scaling up fast to apply to attend."

Clean tech companies interested in taking part can apply through the BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum website ahead of a deadline of 5pm on Friday 21st of February. Similarly, investors can register to attend through the same portal at any point.

The BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum is free to attend and participate in. However, places are limited and successful applicants will be notified in early March, ahead of the event itself on Thursday March 26.

Read all about last year's BusinessGreen Technology and Investment Forum here.

CCC: Weak UK housing rules risk raising net zero costs and climate vulnerability

CCC: Weak UK housing rules risk raising net zero costs and climate vulnerability

Government's current green housing policies 'do not go far enough' to protect against climate change or cutting CO2, advisory body warns

The UK's climate advisors have criticised the government's green housing policies, warning that current plans "do not go far enough" in cutting carbon or protecting households from intensifying climate impacts.

In a letter yesterday to Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) stressed his Ministry's actions would be "vital" in defining the UK's response to the climate crisis and delivering on the UK's legally-binding goal to become a net zero economy by 2050.

Eliminating carbon emissions from the UK's housing stock is "one of the toughest challenges" in the net zero transition, but building sub-standard new homes would make the challenge even harder as well as worsening the country's preparedness for climate change, the CCC warned.

While it welcomed the government's proposed Future Homes Standard, which could impel developers to avoid building fossil fuel heating into new homes from 2025, alongside other efforts to tighten building regulations, the CCC said "stronger standards will serve future occupants better".

"These are important steps, but they do not go far enough to reduce carbon emissions, or address the growing risks of overheating, flooding and water stress - key climate risks facing the UK," the letter states, arguing that far stronger efforts and regulations were needed much earlier than 2025.

The UK's net zero target requires an end to the burning of fossil fuels for energy in homes by 2050, yet new houses that are expected to still be standing deep into the second half of the century and beyond are still being built today with fossil gas boilers, meaning future residents will likely face costly retrofit work in the coming decades. Moreover, current standards do not require for new properties to be designed in a way that minimises the cost and hassle of switching to alternative clean heating technologies, further increasing the risk of high costs in the future.

"It obviously makes no sense to build homes that will need to be retrofitted again before 2050," the letter states. "Making a new home genuinely zero carbon at the outset is around five times cheaper than retrofitting it later, and almost always will reduce residents' energy bills too."

The CCC also reiterated its long standing fears that both existing and new homes are not sufficiently resilient in the face of increasing floods and heatwaves, echoing similar warnings repeatedly made by green groups, politicians, housing experts and businesses groups in recent years.

As such, the watchdog has this week urged the government to bring forward legislation for the Future Homes Standard as soon as possible in order to provide certainty to the housebuilding sector. It also argues the planned fossil fuel heating rules should apply earlier than 2025, noting that in Scotland similar standards are set to come into effect from 2024. The CCC argued there was a compelling case for greater policy clarity, pointing to the government's controversial decision in 2015 to scrap the Zero Carbon Homes Standard - which followed lobbying against the tighter rules from major housebuilders such as Persimmon - for leaving assets stranded and weakening industry confidence.

It also raised concerns that a lack of precision in the proposed new Standard could open up loopholes for developers to use onsite renewables such as solar PV in order to offset fossil fuel heating, rather than barring the use of gas boilers altogether. "This is not a credible basis for the Standard," it warns.

Moreover, building fabric efficiency standards must be replaced and strengthened to help ensure homes are ultra-energy efficient as well as zero carbon by 2025 or earlier, and that ambitions needed to be set out immediately in order to upskill the workforce to deliver these measures.

"The UK requires buildings which are fit for purpose," the CCC letter states. "The construction sector must be made accountable for delivering outcomes, rather than the current design-for-compliance approach."

First announced in last year's Spring Budget, plans for the Future Homes Standard would see housebuilders having to gradually reduce emissions from new homes over the coming years, with an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 needed by 2025. However, concerns have already been raised that the proposals may be watered down, and that the plans may even impose weaker green building standards on some local authorities by rescinding their current ability to set their own local building standards. Meanwhile, campaigners continue to warn that existing domestic energy efficiency rules, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for rental properties, are poorly policed and widely flouted.

The CCC's intervention comes amid severe floods in the wake of major storms and heavy rainfall in recent weeks, which has devastated communities and exposed the vulnerability of UK buildings and infrastructure to severe weather and climate impacts. The Environment Agency insists it has been working to protect hundreds of thousands of homes from flooding, but suggested a shift in approach was needed to focus on building greater resilience to devastating storms and heatwaves.

Yet building regulations for new homes represent just a fraction of the challenge that needs scaling to address the climate impact and fragility of the UK's built environment, which is estimated to contribute around 40 per cent of the UK's carbon footprint, according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC). Existing homes mostly rely on gas heating and many are also poorly insulated, all of which will need retrofitting in order to bring them up to net zero standard over the coming decades. Yet there are more UK houses that need bringing up to scratch than there are minutes left before 2050.

MPs and trade bodies have also called on the government to urgently prioritise building energy efficiency with supportive financing and worker upskilling to build a stronger market for retrofit measures, amid concerns that even existing standards for homes and buildings are not being properly enforced.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) was considering BusinessGreen's request for comment on the CCC's letter at the time of going to press. However, Ministers have repeatedly touted the importancew of the new Future Homes Standard and ahead of last week's reshuffle reports suggested the Treasury is considering a range of measures to enhance domestic energy efficiency as part of next month's budget, including proposals for new financial incentives and funding programmes.

But the CCC's letter provides a timely reminder that while new incentives would be welcome, the scale of the building decarbonisation challenge is huge and more ambitious and effectively policed standards should play a critical role in driving innovation, emissions savings, and cost reductions. Efforts to decarbonise the built environment should offer a no-regrets investment, promising almost guaranteed returns from energy bill savings as a result of greater energy efficiency, while more resilient homes also guard help guard against escalating costs and damages from floods and heatwaves. Yet as it stands today, in the rush to address the UK's chronic housing shortage, new homes are being built that are still not fit for purpose when it comes to the net zero transition. As the public demands more climate ambition from the government as the country gears up for COP26 in Glasgow later this year, the pressure on ministers to strengthen green housing policies is only set to intensify further.

Glencore hails coal resource 'depletion' as it projects 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2035

Glencore hails coal resource 'depletion' as it projects 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2035

Mining giant publishes wide-ranging climate policy update, as it steps up investment in 'energy transition materials'

Global mining giant Glencore has provided the first annual update on its climate change strategy, revealing that it expects to see its Scope 3 value chain emissions fall around 30 per cent by 2035 as efforts to curb its carbon intensity accelerate.

Last February, the Anglo-Swiss multinational published a 'climate change position statement' pledging to develop a Paris Agreement consistent strategy and "prioritise capital investment to grow production of commodities essential to the energy and mobility transition and to limit its coal production capacity broadly to current levels". 

In its first update on progress against the new goals, the company said its capital expenditure throughout 2019 had been weighted towards energy transition materials, including African copper and cobalt and nickel in Canada.

It also confirmed that in part because of "natural depletion of our oil and coal resource base over time", the company now expects around a 30 per cent cut in absolute scope 3 emissions by 2035.

"We expect the depletion of our coal resource base in Colombia, and to a lesser extent South Africa and Australia to contribute," the firm added.

In addition, the multinational said it had exceeded expectations with its short term emissions reduction efforts. "We are on track to achieve a near doubling our first GHG reduction target of reducing emissions intensity by at least five per cent by 2020 compared to a 2016 base line," the report stated. "We expect to achieve a circa 10 per cent reduction."

The company is now working on new longer term targets for Scope 1 and 2 direct and energy-related emissions, which are designed to "support the Paris goals" and are due to be announced later this year.

It also promised that it was continuing to implement the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in its annual reporting with the results due to be incorporated in the company's annual report later this month. More broadly, it said it is "incorporating climate change into operational planning, most recently in our new Tailings Storage Facility protocol".

The update, which follows BP's announcement last week that it would pursue a net zero emissions goal, is the latest evidence of how carbon intensive extractive companies are working to develop more credible decarbonisation strategies.

However, environmental campaigners and some investors have consistently argued that Glencore and others should be moving faster to phase out their coal operations and step up investment in cleaner alternatives.

Environment Agency chair: 'We must build climate resilience into everything we do'

Environment Agency chair: 'We must build climate resilience into everything we do'

Emma Howard Boyd concedes flood defences 'cannot prevent flooding everywhere, all of the time' and calls instead for more resilient infrastructure

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd has pledged "to build climate resilience into everything we do", as she hit back at reports suggesting the organisation could be forced into scaling down its flood protection efforts in future as climate impacts intensify.

In a letter in The Telegraph today, Howard Boyd defended the Environment Agency's (EA) response to devastating floods across the UK in recent weeks in the wake of Storms Ciara and Dennis, which she said had led to "record-breaking river levels" across many parts of the country.

Hundreds of EA flood warnings remain in place, with further storms and heavy rain expected later this week across parts of the North of England and Scotland still reeling from intense rainfall that has left homes, businesses, and infrastructure underwater and led to at least four deaths.

The government has faced criticism over its response to the crisis and cuts to flood defence investment over the past decade, but Howard Boyd stressed Environment Agency staff had "worked round the clock" to protect over 85,000 properties from severe weather this winter, with over 1,000 staff responding to Storm Dennis alone.

She sought to downplay fears the EA would no longer look to protect homeowners from flooding, pointing out that the Agency had built defences to better protect 200,000 properties in England over the past five years. But she explained that with severe weather likely to intensify as the climate changes, flood defences alone would not be enough to protect homes, and called for a greater focus on building greater resilience to weather and climate impacts across the country.

"The nature of extreme weather like this means that flood defences cannot prevent flooding everywhere, all of the time," she wrote. It is likely that we will see similar events, in more places across the country, due to climate change."

She said the EA's forthcoming National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, which is due to be published in the Spring, would look to address these challenges, with a key focus on boosting resilience to flooding and coastal change.

"We need to build climate resilience into everything we do, whether by avoiding inappropriate development in the floodplain, working with nature to slow the flow of water or building homes, businesses and infrastructure to be more flood-resilient," Boyd added.

Her letter comes in response to reports on Monday that the strategy would include a radically different approach to flood risk. A draft version of the document reportedly recommends a "different philosophy" of "accepting that some areas will flood and erode and enabling local areas to achieve a managed transition", according to The Telegraph.

"We need to move from the concept of protection to resilience - property owners should be encouraged to build back better after a flood. This could involve home improvements such as raised electrics, hard flooring and flood doors," the draft document reportedly states. "Resilience includes accepting that in some places we can't eliminate all flooding and coastal change, and so we need to be better at adapting to living with the consequences."

The document suggests the shift in approach to floods and increasingly severe weather from the EA would look to ensure future investment in flooding projects "better reflect a range of climate change scenarios" while insurers could be incentivised to help those affected by floods "build back and in better places", the newspaper reported on Monday.

The mooted approach brought criticism from former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who building on his track record of questioning the seriousness of climate threats argued that climate change could be used as a "cop out" to justify a failure to protect homes. Critics were quick to note that during his time in charge of Defra Paterson had overseen budget cuts to the Environment Agency and was repeatedly accused of failing to sufficiently prioritise climate resilience measures.

The new strategy follows a report last year from the government's advisory body the Committee on Climate Change which warned the UK was worrying ill-prepared for worsening climate impacts such as floods and heatwaves, likening ramshackle preparations from the government to the sitcom Dad's Army.

In a statement yesterday, the EA said it was "already preparing for how we must increase out work in the face of climate change".

"These extremes of weather will become more common and we must start to prepare now, which is why responding to climate change is front and centre of our plans to make the nation resilient to flooding and coastal change to the year 2100," it said.

Net Zero: Public taking steps to cut emissions, but fear leadership lacking

Net Zero: Public taking steps to cut emissions, but fear leadership lacking

New YouGov survey reveals over half of Brits think climate change is 'the biggest risk to the Earth's future' and are taking steps to curb emissions

A majority of Brits are taking personal steps to "combat climate change", but only a small minority are embracing measures such as reducing air travel or switching to electric vehicles that can deliver big emissions savings.

That is the headline finding from a new YouGov survey of nearly 1,700 adults commissioned by PR agency Hanover Communications, which reveals significant public concern over escalating climate threats.

Echoing a host of recent polls, the survey found that that 59 per cent of the population believe climate change presents the biggest risk to the future of the planet when presented with a list of potential risks. Concern over climate change far outstripped other issues, with just 12 per cent selecting nuclear war as the "biggest risk to Earth's future", and only five and seven per cent highlighting the misuse of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, respectively.

As such there is significant support for steps to curb emissions, but willingness to embrace measures that can deliver sizeable emissions savings remains relatively low.

For example, asked to select up to two things they will do this year to "combat climate change" 65 per cent said they would use less plastic and unrecyclable materials and 27 per cent said they would eat less meat. Similarly, 16 per cent said they planned to invest in energy efficiency measures such as better insulation and new consumer goods. But only nine per cent intend to fly less and just three per cent said they were considering switching to an electric vehicle.

Moreover, the results hint at frustration at the government's response to climate change. Nearly two thirds said they were not confident the government would deliver on its net zero by 2050 target, with just 21 per cent confident the goal will be met.

When asked to pick up to two figures who had "the biggest impact on the public's understanding of climate change over the past five years", 60 per cent cited Sir David Attenborough and 33 per cent named Greta Thunberg. Political parties languished on two per cent and international organisations were named by six per cent.

Charles Lewington, chief executive at Hanover Communications, said there was a national vacuum of leadership on tackling climate change.

"It is clear that while the general public recognises the importance of tackling the climate crisis, the political class is failing to communicate effectively," he said. "Individually people are increasingly taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, though perhaps they are not yet taking the very difficult steps like flying less. However, there is a national debate to be had on this important issue - and currently only Sir David Attenborough appears to be cutting through. This is not good enough. Politicians, businesses and NGOs can all do better."

The results of the survey were published on the same day as Hanover Communications published a new report on how businesses should develop and communicate a net zero strategy.

Alison Woodhouse, head of Hanover Communications UK sustainability practice, said navigating the net zero transition was now "business-critical" for all organisations. "Consumers are looking carefully at their individual impact, but lasting emission reduction will only come as consumers and industry look beyond what's in our pockets or purses," she said. "Understanding what 'net zero' means for different industries and sharing lessons and innovations across sectors is business-critical. Those who don't get involved will find themselves left behind."

The news comes just a day after a major new study from think tank ECIU revealed that nearly half of the world's GDP is now covered by net zero goals, including a growing number of legally binding net zero targets.

UK industrial innovations win £9m energy efficiency funding boost

UK industrial innovations win £9m energy efficiency funding boost

As many as eight innovations cut CO2 from plastics manufacturing, data centre cooling and other processes win public and private support

A clutch of innovative energy efficiency projects designed to slash CO2 emissions from industrial processes such as plastics manufacturing, pulp and paper production, wastewater treatment, and data centre cooling have secured almost £9m in public and private funding, the government has announced.

As many as eight projects were announced as successful bidders to share nearly £4.6m in government funding yesterday through the second phase of its Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) programme, matched by almost £4.4m from the private sector.

The programme, which is funded through the UK government and managed by the Carbon Trust consultancy with support from Jacobs Engineering, is designed to support projects from all UK sectors that are able to demonstrate novel technologies to boost the energy efficiency of industrial processes.

By demonstrating such technologies under industrial conditions, the aim is to help spur wider adoption across UK industry in order to bolster competitiveness, reduce carbon emissions, and potentially stimulate the export market for UK tech developers, according to the Carbon Trust.

"These projects will help reduce the energy that is currently being lost in industrial processes due to inefficiency in equipment, mechanical limitations and heat loss," explained Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay. "The IEEA has the potential to deliver significant carbon emissions reductions across the UK and support the long-term competitiveness of UK industry."

Demonstration sites for all eight projects to secure funding yesterday are located across country, said Carbon Trust, taking in industrial and regional clusters in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East and North West of England.

Among the eight winning out from a pool of over 60 projects assessed for funding, Matrix Moulding Systems is teaming up with industrial demonstration partner Barley Plastics to trial an ultrasonic technology to help cut down on the energy required for plastics manufacturing, Carbon Trust said.

The University of Hull is also working with AIRCO and NPS Humber to develop efficient cooling technology for its data centres, it explained, while a new waste water filtration system designed to recycled heated waste water in the industrial laundry sector is being led by G20 Water Technologies, Hydrasyst and Johnson's Textile Service.

And water firm Severn Trent is collaborating with CCm Technologies to develop "world first" technology to convert wastewater into commercial fertiliser, while also helping to lock up captured carbon back in the soil, Carbon Trust said.

Bob Stear, chief engineer at Severn Trent, said the project "could be a real game changer".

"While Severn Trent generates the equivalent of half the energy we need from renewable sources - mainly from anaerobic digestion and biogas - we want to do more to lock up the carbon dioxide that inevitably comes from the processes we use," he said. "What's particularly exciting about this project is that it has the potential to combine carbon dioxide with otherwise hard-to-treat ammonia and make what we hope will become a 'super fertiliser'."

Latest Job Listings