Electric Vehicles in Germany Emit More Carbon Dioxide Than Diesel Vehicles

A study by the IFO think tank in Munich found that electric vehicles in Germany emit 11 percent to 28 percent more carbon dioxide than their diesel counterparts. The study considered the production of batteries as well as the German electricity mix in making this determination. Germany spent thousands of euros on electric car subsidies per vehicle to put a million electric vehicles on the road, but those subsidies have done nothing to reach the country’s greenhouse gas emission targets. This is just the latest example of government programs expecting one outcome and getting quite another, instead. To some it is ironic; to others it is funny. At IER, we believe it to be sad, as it is a waste of time and money that could be better put to use solving real problems.

The researchers compared the carbon dioxide output for a Tesla Model 3 (electric) and a Mercedes C220d sedan (diesel). The Mercedes releases about 141 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven, including the carbon emitted to drill, refine, and transport its fuel. The Tesla releases between 156 and 181 grams, including battery production. Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt, and manganese used for batteries consume a lot of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Given a battery lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometers, 73 to 98 grams of carbon dioxide are emitted per kilometer.

Germany’s growing reliance on coal for electricity generation was also considered in the study. The country relies on coal when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. As a result, charging a Tesla in Bavaria releases about 83 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven.

The European Union also provides benefits for manufacturers of electric vehicles, by allowing them to claim zero emissions under its strict emissions limits. Not all European countries may emit more carbon dioxide from electric vehicles than from diesel or gasoline vehicles, however. In France, for example, electric vehicles may emit less carbon dioxide than diesel vehicles because France gets the majority of its electricity from nuclear power. But in many other European countries, that is certainly not the case.

Other Alternatives         

According to the German researchers, the European Union target of 59 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 liters of diesel or 2.6 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers. The researchers believe it would be preferable to look at other sources of power for automobiles—for example, methane engines, “whose emissions are one-third less than those of diesel motors.”

Other Studies

study in 2017 by researchers at the University of Michigan found that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by electric cars varied wildly by country. The study found that an electric car recharged by a coal-fired plant produces as much carbon dioxide as a gasoline-powered car that gets 29 miles per gallon, which is a slightly higher efficiency than the 25.2 miles per gallon that is the average of all the cars, SUVs, vans, and light trucks sold in the United States over the past year. If the electricity comes from a natural gas plant, recharging a plug-in electric vehicle is akin to driving a car that gets 58 miles per gallon.

Using the U.S. electricity mix, which is generated mainly be fossil fuels (about 64 percent), the researchers at the University of Michigan found that the average plug-in vehicle produces as much carbon dioxide as a conventional car that gets 55.4 miles per gallon. In China, which has been pushing widespread adoption of electric vehicles, the cars emit as much carbon dioxide as a car that gets 40 miles per gallon, due in large part to their heavy dependence on coal.

Note that the above findings are optimistic for electric vehicles because the researchers at the University of Michigan did not take into account the additional substantial carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing batteries, as did the German study.

A different study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that, depending on the type of plug-in being built, manufacturing a battery-powered car generates 15 percent to 68 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than a conventional gasoline-powered car because of the energy intensity of manufacturing batteries.


The above studies indicate that the terminology “zero emission” is a misnomer when referring to electric vehicles. Also, lawmakers should be cautious about subsidizing electric vehicles when their electricity is generated mainly by fossil fuels because they are not lowering the carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles by doing so. The old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” may well apply to many of the gimmicks and work-arounds advocated by whatever group is popular with a political and media elite at any given time. Germany’s lessons should be a case study for political leaders everywhere.

Disruptive change: Net zero requires government to keep all options open

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

Speaking at the launch of the report, UKERC director Jim Watson said that it’s “hard to conclude that disruption is not going to happen”. With transport, electricity and heat now more integrated than ever, if changes are made to one, it will disrupt another.

However, evidence from the report suggests that the extent of disruption is uncertain, with results from a survey of 130 stakeholders and researchers showing a split of opinion between whether a highly disruptive transition, or a continuity-based transition, is most likely.

Survey results show a divide in whether change will be disruptive or continuity-based. Image: UKERC

Survey results show a divide in whether change will be disruptive or continuity-based. Image: UKERC

Under a continuity-based approach, the transition will occur mainly through adapting and repurposing existing organisations and infrastructures. Under a disruptive approach, policies, technology, business models and behaviours will all provoke fundamental remodelling of the energy system.

Achieving net zero by 2050 could be highly disruptive, Watson said, but the specifics of that disruption are unclear. As such, the government should be keeping its options open and treating policy as a hypothesis as opposed to setting out a single policy pathway for achieving net zero.

The phrase ‘policy as a hypothesis’ cropped up more than once during the launch, with Matthew Bilson, head of strategy for energy innovation at BEIS, saying that policy needs to become more adaptive, with models and systems in place that allow government to adapt.

“Government is starting to recognise it can’t plan everything,” Bilson said, continuing to say that reaching net zero is not only about energy policy and that he is “optimistic” that there will be a greater integration of cross-department policy.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, agreed that options should be kept open and that the CCC’s net zero recommendations are “not a plan, merely a guide”.

Greater localisation of policy was also suggested in the report, as well as the coordination of policy across systems and scale and the creation of more iterative policy.

There was also discussion of the strategies of the Big Six and their changing strategies towards decarbonisation, with Watson saying that the power sector is different to any of the other sectors examined in the report due to the disruption already occurring.

Strategies across the Big Six are varied, with those like Centrica focusing more on a decentralised model compared to SSE and ScottishPower more focused on a traditional centralised approach with portfolios of large scale renewables.

Digitisation amongst some is presented as a priority, with Centrica’s Hive products and innogy, whereas others such as EDF appear to not consider it a priority.

Likewise, the various strategies towards decarbonisation of heat were a hot topic. However, Stark said that whilst “we do need to focus on heat”, there is uncertainty over whether some of the options will work at scale, and that scale trials may need to be conducted over the next decade.

Stark continued to say that there will be a “really big disruption” over the next five to ten years, but that what this disruption will be – or how it will happen – is not easy to predict.

Visualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

Here we have an interesting chart from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA showing where US energy use originates and where and how it is used. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that 68% of all energy harnessed is then 'wasted' or rejected to the ecosphere. This is mostly in the form of low grade heat but with some effort, imagination and determination we can reduce this significantly. Achieving a much reduced rejected energy target is one of the key missions of Agile Energy.


Visualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

Visualizing U.S. Energy Use in One Giant Chart

If you feel like you’ve seen this diagram before, you probably have.

Every year, it’s assembled by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a research center founded by UC Berkeley and funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The ambitious aim is to chart all U.S. energy use in one Sankey diagram, including the original energy source (i.e. nuclear, oil, wind, etc.) as well as the ultimate end use (i.e. residential, commercial, etc.) for the energy that was generated.

U.S. Energy Use in 2018

According to the research center’s most recent published version of the diagram, U.S. energy use totaled 101.2 quads in 2018.

In case you are wondering, a single quad is equal to 1 quadrillion BTUs, with each quad being roughly equivalent to 185 million barrels of crude oil, 8 billion gallons of gasoline, or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Here is how the recent figure compares to previous years:

YearU.S. Energy Consumption% Fossil Fuels in Mix
2018101.2 quads80.2%
201797.7 quads80.0%
201697.3 quads80.8%
201597.2 quads81.6%
201498.3 quads81.6%

As you can see in the table, U.S. energy use has been generally increasing, eventually topping 100 quads per year by 2018. During this time, the total percentage of fossil fuels in the mix has dropped, but only from 81.6% to 80.2%.

Taking a closer look at the data, we can see that the largest percentage increases in the mix have come from solar and wind sources:

Source20142015201620172018Change ('14-'18)

Energy use measured in quads (1 quadrillion BTUs)

Solar use has increased 122% since 2014, while wind jumped 46% over the same timeframe. Not surprisingly, energy derived from coal has fallen by 26%.

Dealing With the Rejects

One interesting thing about the diagram is that it also shows rejected energy, which represents the energy that actually gets wasted due to various inefficiencies. In fact, 68% of all energy generated is not harnessed for any productive use.

This makes sense, since gasoline engines are usually only about 20-40% efficient, and even electric engines are 85-90% efficient. Put another way, a certain percentage of energy is always released as heat, sound, light, or other forms that are hard for us to harness.

As electric cars rise in popularity and as modern gas-powered engines also get more efficient, there is hope that the amount of this rejected energy will decrease over time.

Vertical farming startup attracts £5.4 million Series A Funding

Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd (IGS), the Scottish-based vertical farm technology business, has raised a £5.4 million Series A funding round led by US-based S2G Ventures, one of the world’s leading agri-foodtech investor.

IGS supplies highly sophisticated plug-and-play vertical farming technology to indoor farms to enable the efficient production of food in any location around the world.

To demonstrate the unique technology stack it has developed, IGS opened its first vertical farming demonstration facility in August 2018. Since that announcement the company has received significant interest from around the world with orders mounting for its ground-breaking, patented technologies.

The unique technology has been designed specifically to address some of vertical farming’s biggest challenges, including the cost of power and labour, as well as the inability to produce consistently high-quality produce at scale. These economic and operational barriers to growth have inhibited the sector’s expansion to date. IGS has designed all its products to be highly pragmatic, flexible, modular and scalable in-line with market requirements.

The £5.4 million investment will allow IGS to create jobs in areas such as software development, engineering, robotics and automation. It will also help IGS to increase its product development, including continued innovation in AI, big data and the Internet of Things. IGS will also be building global marketing, sales and customer support teams in three continents.

This growth is pivotal for IGS to meet significant demand from growers, retailers and governments aiming to address food security issues through alternative methods of production and new business models in their regions. In 2019, IGS will be deploying indoor farming systems for clients in every major territory globally.

With global market growth in vertical farming predicted at 24 percent per annum over the next three years, the opportunities for IGS are substantial, with over 95 percent of its sales expected to be exported either directly or through regional channel partners.

The Series A funding round was led by S2G (Chicago), the most active agri-foodtech investor globally in 2018, with online venture capital firm AgFunder (San Francisco), the second most active and Scottish Investment Bank (SIB).

“Indoor agriculture production is at a tipping point. Grocery and food service firms have never been more interested in adopting this in their future supply chain. Cost and quality of product will be critical to scale this adoption. IGS’s revolutionary technology has proven itself to reduce power consumption, improve ventilation and hence reduce the capital and human costs to deliver fresh and differentiated products to consumers,” commented Sanjeev Krishnan, Managing Director of S2G Ventures. “We are excited IGS will help enable this emerging movement”.

“We see IGS as the perfect foray for AgFunder into the indoor agriculture arena,” said Michael Dean, founding partner at AgFunder. “As a developer of highly sophisticated energy and control system technologies for third-party indoor farms, IGS satisfies our bias for investing in enabling technologies rather than technology-enabled production with the inherent risks associated with building and operating a large asset.”

Kerry Sharp, Director of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “We are delighted to support the continued development of IGS as it looks to take its technology to the global marketplace.  The company has been account managed by Scottish Enterprise since 2014 and has received both financial and non-financial assistance covering innovation and R&D as well as supply chain management and international market entry.  The company has made significant progress over the last 12 months and has assembled an impressive team with a clear focus on taking the IGS offering to an international market.”

IGS Chief Executive Officer David Farquhar said “We are thrilled to have the backing of the world’s leading agri-tech investors and the Scottish Investment Bank. We have recruited a world-class international management team, to be announced soon, to drive our plan forward with support from a board of senior international business people bringing industry expertise and best practice governance to the table.

“This industry is just at the starting line and we look forward to working with our customers, partners and colleagues at the James Hutton Institute to enable the highest quality produce to be grown at economically viable prices and help feed the burgeoning global population.”

The Scottish-led R&D team at IGS has developed, patented and productised a breakthrough, IoT-enabled power and communications platform consisting of patented electrical, electronic and mechanical technologies. All this is managed by a SaaS and data platform using AI to deliver economic and operational benefits to indoor growing environments across the globe. This technical solution enables the potential for reduction of energy usage by up to 50 per cent and labour costs by up to 80 per cent when compared with other indoor growing environments. It also can produce yields of 225 per cent compared to growing under glass.

Thorntons’ corporate and commercial team (led by Alistair Lang and with support from Victoria McLaren and wider team) acted for IGS throughout the Series A funding process.

A Shepherd and Wedderburn corporate team (led by Stephen Trombala with support from Christina Sinclair and Cath Macrae) acted for Chicago-based S2G Ventures – the lead investor in the first closing of the series A financing of Intelligent Growth Solutions Limited.

'Hugely important for business': Green economy reacts to UK's net-zero target for 2050

12 June 2019, source edie newsroom Sarah George

Green leaders have come out in force to praise Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to amend the Climate Change Act of 2008 to account for a net-zero target by 2050 - and urged Ministers to detail how they plan to reach this long-term goal as soon as possible.

The changes to the Climate Change Act will be laid in Parliament today 

The changes to the Climate Change Act will be laid in Parliament today

Key figures from across the UK’s green economy have welcomed the Government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which last month advised Ministers that reaching net-zero by 2050 was the “right thing to do” for environmental, social and economic sustainability.

May will today (12 June) lay the statutory instrument to amend the Climate Change Act – both to alter its legally binding target for 2050, and to include all sectors, including international shipping and aviation – in Parliament.

Groups of politicians, industry bodies, pressure groups, associations and consultancies across the sustainability sector have heaped praise on the decision, hailing it as a “historic” moment for green policy in the UK.

But some have argued that 2050 might be too little, too late – particularly given that the Government has confirmed that it will deviate from the CCC recommendations through the use of international carbon credits. Umbrage has also been taken with the Government's decision to accept a clause, proposed by Chancellor Philip Hammond, that will enable it to reverse the decision if other nations fail to follow suit within the next five years.

Here, edie rounds up what key figures from across the UK's green economy make of the announcement.

Chair of the BEIS Committee chair Rachel Reeves MP said:

“I’m pleased that the Government has adopted the legislation on net zero which I introduced in Parliament. Strong, early action on cutting carbon emissions is vital and will help ensure the UK reaps the health, environmental, and business benefits of achieving net zero.

“This puts the UK firmly at the forefront of tackling climate change. However, this commitment can only be the first step. The Government will now need to come forward with the co-ordinated policies, actions, and regulations needed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said:

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement, but it is too little, too late from the person who got rid of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, scrapped funding for solar panels, home energy efficiency and hybrid electric vehicle grants.

“We now have just 11 years to avoid irreversible damage to our water and food life support systems, decarbonise our economy and stop dumping our plastic overseas.

“We need greener finance, greener fashion, greener cities and greener diets to meet that challenge for our children. Where is the plan to achieve this?”

IEMA’s chief policy adviser Martin Baxter said:

“We welcome the Government’s decision to set a legally binding 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target, reaffirming the UK’s climate leadership position.  Tacking the urgency of climate change and meeting the 2050 target will require comprehensive policies and all parts of the economy and society will need to play their part in rapidly reducing UK emissions.”

“We also believe that the forthcoming Office for Environmental Protection, being established through the new Environment Act, must be given powers to enforce climate change laws to give build trust and provide assurance to the public and businesses that government policies and plans to them are consistent with the long-term net-zero target.”

Green Alliance’s policy director Dustin Benton said:

"In a country as politically split as the UK, climate action is a unifier: the Prime Minister, the contenders to be her successor, opposition parties and the UK’s devolved nations all agree that we must end our contribution to climate change."

"The UK has moved first, but the rest of the world is following fast. If ever there was a reason to be the host of the pivotal 2020 climate conference, this move to be the first major economy to legislate for net zero is it

"Legislating for net zero means we now have to deliver it: if the UK is to get on track, and to benefit from all the upsides of clean growth, we need a budget and spending review that is equal to the challenge. The next Chancellor must count not only the cost of climate action but the benefits it will bring to the UK."

CDP’s executive chair Paul Dickinson said:

“This is good news both for the world and for the UK economy. In the face of the climate crisis, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions must be the direction of travel, and reaching it by 2050 is in line with the IPCC’s latest research and the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement: to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. To get there, we need to consider the whole economy, including the UK’s contributions to climate change globally. Climate change does not respect national borders.

“Setting the target into law is a vital step, but now the government needs to ensure the policies and funding are in place to implement it. There is broad support among the business community and the wider public, with concern at an all-time high. From CDP’s work with companies, cities and investors over the last 18 years we know climate change has quickly risen up the agenda to become a boardroom and city hall issue. 

“And there’s absolutely no question that this is the right economic choice. The financial cost of climate impacts is enormous while the benefits of a low-carbon economy are even greater. Just last week CDP’s latest climate analysis showed that just over 200 of the world’s biggest companies are exposed to close to $1trn of potential climate risks in the next five years. But it’s not all bad news. They also reported business opportunities from the low-carbon transition worth $2.1trn and, crucially, estimated the value of these opportunities to be over seven times the cost of achieving them. The business case is clear, the time to act is now.”

TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We now need a fair and robust plan to get there that everyone can get behind. That means government, business and trade unions working together on a ‘just transition’.

“Working people must have a say through transition agreements in their workplaces, and there must be a guaranteed path to high-quality work in a green economy for anyone whose job may be at risk.”

Friends of the Earth’s chief executive Craig Bennett said: 

“In the dying days of a premiership characterised by chronic inaction on climate breakdown, this sends a powerful message to industry and investors that the age of fossil fuels is over. But it is disappointing that the government has ignored its climate advisors’ recommendation to exclude carbon offsets – as well as caving into Treasury pressure to review the target in five years’ time. 

“Fiddling the figures would put a huge dent in our ability to avoid catastrophic climate change – and the government’s credibility for taking this issue seriously. Having declared a climate emergency, Parliament must act to close these loopholes.

“2050 is still too slow to address catastrophic climate change, the UK can and must go faster. The next Prime Minister must legislate to end our contribution to climate breakdown earlier, put carbon-cutting at the centre of policymaking and pull the plug on plans for more roads, runways and fracking. It’s now time to build the carbon-free future that science requires, and the public is so loudly demanding.”

Kevin Hollinrake MP said:

“As the first country to introduce long-term legally-binding carbon reduction targets (in 2008), the leading nation in the G20 for cutting emissions, and with a low-carbon sector that already supports almost 400,000 jobs nationwide, the UK can be proud of our action to tackle climate change so far. However, we know that there is more to be done, and this important legislation is the right step forward, presenting an important opportunity to invest, innovate and grow our clean-tech industries.”

James Heappey MP said:

“Alongside innovation and investment opportunities, clean growth offers the jobs and skills of the future. A decarbonised economy could generate more than 65 million new low-carbon jobs worldwide by 2030, while increased investment in energy efficient, low-carbon homes will lower consumer bills as well as emissions. Today’s net zero target is a step towards the next stage in British business and development: the zero-carbon future.”

Zac Goldsmith MP said:

“The UK can now set the gold standard on climate leadership and responsibility. As we work towards a zero-carbon future, we can also take the opportunity to promote clean growth with our global partners. The fight against climate change can only be tackled by global cooperation. As the first major economy to set a net zero emissions target in law, this new target offers the UK the prospect to lead worldwide concerted action.”

Caroline Lucas MP said:

“This is good news but it does not go far or fast enough. The five-year ‘re-assessment’ undermines business certainty; dithering at the door, looking over your shoulder, isn’t leadership.

“And it’s wrong that the plans mean outsourcing our responsibility to poorer countries.”

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) director Richard Black said:

“This is probably the most important UK move on climate change since Parliament brought in the Climate Change Act more than a decade ago. By becoming the first major nation to set a net zero target in national legislation, ahead of the likes of France and Germany, it restores the UK to a position of international leadership with a target that’s fully in line with science and will deliver the UK’s fair share of keeping global warming below the ‘safe’ level of 1.5 Celsius.

“It brings the clarity that business has been asking for, enabling companies to make rational investment decisions and so make the clean energy transition as efficient as possible.

“And it’s going to act as a massive spur to the UK’s bid to host the UN climate summit in 2020, because the UK can now legitimately say that it has done what all governments will have to soon, committing to ending its contribution to climate change.”

WWF’s head of climate Change Gareth Redmond King said:

“Today’s net-zero announcement is a crucial first step, demonstrating that those in power are beginning to listen and acknowledge the critical state of our planet. 

“If we want future generations to live on a viable planet where the mass extinctions we’re witnessing halt, food security is ensured and coastal regions are safe, then Government must accelerate policies and commit resource to slashing emissions, heat our homes with clean energy and make climate action a priority across all departments.

“The past decade has shown what is possible – we know what is needed to get to net-zero and the speed of development in innovative technologies like solar panels and wind turbines should give us hope that we can go even further and faster, reaching net zero by 2045.”

The Aldersgate Group’s director Nick Molho said:

This is a crucial step forward and a landmark achievement for the Prime Minister and all the ministers and MPs who have supported an increase in the UK’s climate ambition. The message from business is clear: the UK will strengthen the competitiveness of its economy by being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious net-zero target – as long as this is supported by a comprehensive policy package.

“We now look to the Prime Minister’s successor to introduce a robust policy package that puts the UK on a credible path to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 and supports business investment and competitiveness. It is important that the review planned in five years’ time does not undermine the robustness of this package. As we have seen recently in the UK’s offshore wind and recycling sectors, complementing clear targets with ambitious innovation and market creation policies is what rapidly brings down the costs of new technologies and grows domestic supply chains.”

Marks & Spencer’s director of sustainable business Mike Barry said:

“It’s hugely important for business that the UK Government has committed to net-zero for 2050. There is a climate crisis threatening economic and social stability that must be acted on.

“Equally, there is an enormous green growth opportunity with attendant jobs and exports for the nations that lead. As we step into the 2020s UK business must respond to this long-term gauntlet with pace, scale and entrepreneurship.”

WSP’s UK director of sustainability David Symons said:

“It’s great news that the Government’s set out legislation to make the UK a net-zero economy by 2050. And it’s more than great news. It’s a huge opportunity for the UK economy, it shows just the leadership that a progressive, global economy should take, and it will help to preserve the UK’s wonderful landscape, nature and way of life that makes Britain special.

Make no mistake though, delivering a net-zero economy needs more than words and legislation. It needs action. Even today, most of the UK’s carbon reductions have come from the power sector. Building and transport emissions have barely budged over the past five years. The UK’s not on course to even meet current targets of 80% reduction by 2050, let alone a net zero target. We need to up the pace and take action much faster. And that will require some tough decisions.”

BT's chief digital impact and sustainability officer Andy Wales said:

“Since the Paris Agreement, BT and others have called on policymakers to set more ambitious targets and provide the right legislation so that we can take quicker, more meaningful climate action. As BT works towards its own net-zero target, it’s great to see the Government send a real signal of intent which we hope will inspire others as we look to tackle one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Coca-Cola European Partners’ vice president & general manager Leendert den Hollander said:

“A clear sense of direction from the Government’s policies on climate change is vital to allow everyone in business to plan for a zero-carbon future.”

Ingka Group's (the holding company for Ikea stores in the UK) chief executive Jesper Brodin said: 

“We hope this can inspire more European leaders to follow and implement net-zero emission goals and policies. For every part of society to contribute to the Paris Agreement and reach climate neutrality by 2050, we need an EU-wide long-term strategy."   

CAFOD’s director of advocacy Neil Thorns said:

“This commitment is one of the most important any government could make. In the face of some dark clouds internationally, putting this target in law shows our Government is acting as a good global citizen.

“This must be undertaken honestly, transparently and without caveats – especially if the UK is seeking to show leadership credentials ahead of its bid to host [COP26]. We need everyone in Government to get behind delivering on the target urgently and put in place the policies we need to turn the target from a goal into a reality.”

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change's (IIGCC) chief executive Stephanie Pfeifer said:

“We strongly welcome the decision by the UK Government to implement the advice of the CCC to set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Such a clear signal of global climate leadership will contribute to increased investor confidence and help to ensure that the many opportunities for economic growth, new jobs, technological innovation and increased competitiveness are realised.

"Investors look forward to working closely with the UK Government as this target is implemented so that all supporting policy measures and instruments are designed to attract the private capital which is required to create a clean economy.”

Abundance Investment's co-founder and joint managing director Bruce Davis said:

"Writing net-zero into the landmark Climate Change Act will give investors and businesses the long-term confidence they need to build the great transition that is needed to make the UK a leader on action to deal with the urgent climate crisis and remove carbon emissions from our economy and society. The opportunity is for that transition to be a 'just transition' which addresses the pressing social and economic issues which the UK faces and deliver not just a greener but a better world too for current and future generations to enjoy.”

Triodos Bank UK's chief executive Bevis Watts said: 

We welcome the commitment to the UK achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but the work starts now to identify the credible policy measures and concerted actions needed to ensure that the target can be achieved.

"Reviewing the role of the banking and the financial sector – and ensuring it is using money to make the transition to a fairer and more sustainable society – is one of the most important elements of achieving this ambition.”

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change's director Nicky Philpott said: 

Health professionals welcome today’s announcement that the UK is committing to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, because we know that doing so is vital to our physical and mental health and the health of future generations.

“Climate change remains the greatest threat to public health in the 21st century. By cutting fossil-fuel-driven air pollution and encouraging more active lifestyles, we could instead realise the huge health benefits of early and transformative action. We are encouraged to see the Government begin to recognise this, and call on ministers to set out a bold policy programme to reach this target without delay.”

Ashden’s head of cities Simon Brammer said:

“While aiming for net-zero by 2050 is an improvement on aiming for an 80% cut by the same date, it is still woefully short of what is required. The whole world should be aiming for net-zero by 2030 or soon after if we want to avoid a descent into climate chaos.

“The UK should actually be cutting faster than this so that developing countries can create the vital infrastructure and energy access they need to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ashden is calling on local authorities in the UK to act on the Climate Emergency we are facing, by showing that climate action doesn’t have to be seen as ‘short term pain for long term gain’, but that the benefits can be seen and felt now. Cutting carbon emissions now immediately improves people’s health, creates huge opportunities for the economy, improves resilience for the future and will ensure the success of our economy.”

Executive Director for Global Conservation, RSPB's executive director for global conservation Martin Harper said:

“It’s great news that the Government is legislating to bring our climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement. Now we need bold policies and investments to turn this into a reality – including a massive improvement in how we protect, restore and manage land. Nature has a key role to play, by locking up carbon in wildlife-rich habitats such as peatlands and woodlands.”

Woodland Trust's head of campaigning Adam Cormack said:

“The Woodland Trust welcomes the adoption by Government of the CCC's advice to commit to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. This sets us on a challenging but necessarily achievable pathway that will require all sectors of business and society to decarbonise. The expansion of the UK’s tree canopy cover and restoration of its globally significant peatlands are an essential part of the solution.

“There is a unique opportunity to link the response to the climate crisis to the equally vital response to the biodiversity crisis. In creating new woodlands and planting more trees into the landscape, existing woodland and other semi-natural habitats can be extended, restored and linked to enable wildlife to respond to climate change over the coming decades. The scale of the challenge is immense but so are the potential benefits to people and wildlife alike.”

The Climate Group's campaigns director Clara Goldsmith said: 

“Accepting the CCC's advice is a historic moment, setting the UK on a trajectory to end our contribution to climate change. Government must now step up to ensure our short-term emissions cuts match this longer-term target, ramping up investment in electric cars, more energy efficient homes and restoring our British nature.

“The last ten years have shown incredible cost reductions in clean technologies, so we firmly believe the UK can go even further, driving innovation to reach net zero before 2045.”

ClimateCare's chairman Edward Hanrahan said:

“We welcome the announcement today; even though it’s a long-term target, it’s a very important step in the progress towards clear, focused legislation to reduce UK emissions to responsible levels.

"The message is clear, businesses will need to eliminate what [emissions] they can to start with, then they must reduce what they can’t eliminate, and, finally, they will need to offset the remainder through financing an equivalent amount of emissions reductions outside of the business.

“Offsets will come from both international and UK projects which reduce emissions at scale but also deliver unequalled outcomes in terms of adaptation, economic development, biodiversity, gender, education, food security; all key climate-change-related issues. In the UK specifically, we have a unique opportunity to hit many objectives at once around biodiversity, flood management and using soil carbon, peatland restoration, afforestation and rewilding to rehabilitate marginal farmland.

“This will help us address not only the climate emergency but also the declared environmental emergency. The direction of travel is clear, let’s not wait for further individual policies to come into force. Let’s all act now.”

The Carbon Trust's chief executive Tom Delay said: 

“This ambitious new net-zero by 2050 climate change target for the UK sends an important message – environmental sustainability and economic prosperity can go hand in hand. We do not have to compromise on climate action.

"The CCC's 1.5C recommendation was pivotal, making a compelling case for action in response to the existential crisis we are facing. The UK’s Climate Change Act set the global standard in climate leadership and this raises the bar. It is in the UK’s national interest to drive action, allowing businesses and the wider civil society to benefit from the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.”

Ørsted's UK managing director Matthew Wright said: 

“Today, the UK Government has taken a historic step in the fight against climate change. As the first major economy to legislate for a net-zero target, the UK shows a bold commitment to a cleaner and greener future.

“As the global leader in offshore wind, with 3.7GW already in operation in the UK, we are proud to be leading the country’s green transformation. Let’s create a world that runs entirely on green energy.”

SolarCentury's chief executive Frans van den Heuvel: 

“The move by Theresa May to commit the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is undoubtedly an important step in tacking the biggest issue of our time, but the Government must move with urgency to deliver on its pledge, with other countries such as Finland and Norway having already committed to net-zero in shorter timeframes.

"Building on the current momentum, we need the UK Government to take the policy brakes off the solar sector - removing persistent subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels to put solar on a level playing field with all other energy generation technologies. The fact that the government is proposing a 20% VAT rate on solar home systems, when just 5% VAT is added to a bag of coal, says it all.

"It is time to get serious on renewable energy if the country is to combat climate chaos and deliver on the net zero targets set out by the UK Government today. The Green New Deal sets out the pathway to do this and propel the country into a prosperous, clean new era.”

Shell's country chair for the UK Sinead Lynch said:

“Shell fully supports this ambition for the UK to move faster. Achieving net-zero in the UK by 2050 will require unprecedented collaboration between government, business and society. Government needs to set clear and ambitious targets and create the right policies to enable companies like Shell to adapt and respond quickly. We stand ready to play our part."

LowCVP's managing director Andy Eastlake said: 

"This is an important moment in terms of our national efforts to tackle climate change and one with international significance, butut it's vital that targets are backed by robust, practical and fair policies that can deliver the objectives. Climate change cannot be an optional extra, it must be front and centre when we're developing policies in transport, as well as other key areas of the economy.

"Transport is one of the most challenging areas for decarbonisation and has, so far, proved one of the most intractable. There are real signs of progress - in road transport at least - but much more must be done by Government and all other key stakeholders to ramp up progress and help ensure that the UK is, at least, amongst countries leading the world into a new green, clean industrial revolution." 

The STA's chief executive Chris Hewett said: 

Enshrining net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 into law is a vital step in tackling the climate emergency, but long-term targets are meaningless without action. In the case of solar and energy storage, the Government must move quickly to remove barriers that have needlessly slowed progress.

"In contrast to the view of the Treasury, the whole country will benefit from the energy transition if Government creates a level playing field for all clean energy generation technologies to compete on. Solar and wind are now the lowest cost forms of power generation in the UK, yet there is no route to market and government is continuing to subsidise the fossil fuels it is aiming to phase out.

 "A 100% renewable energy system, including powering heat and transport, is entirely possible but only with the integration of energy storage, which represents a notable industrial opportunity for the UK." 

Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science Lord Stern said:

“This is a historic move by the UK Government and an act of true international leadership for which the Prime Minister deserves great credit.

"A priority for the Treasury and all parts of government is now to put in place policies and institutions which can foster the change at the pace we need. 

 In particular, the Treasury should recognise that the significant investments required for the zero-carbon transition will yield very substantial economic returns, such as reductions in local air pollution and greater energy efficiency, as well as the avoided impacts of dangerous climate change. This is a very attractive path of inclusive and clean growth with great advantages nationally and internationally for the UK.  

“It is unfortunate that the Government is including a review of the target after five years, as this could create uncertainty for businesses, ultimately making the transition more expensive.”

PwC's climate change adviser Lit Ping Low said: 

"While not a surprise, this announcement is a big deal that will drive the behaviours and tech innovations needed to meet the ambitious target.

"The CCC has been advocating the net zero target for some time, and the UK government had signalled that it was moving in this direction.  But signals are not the same as commitment.  The new target gives businesses clarity that low-carbon targets must be an essential part of business strategy and decisions, whether it's about building or upgrading their infrastructure, developing new products and services, implementing policies for employees, or sourcing supplies." 

UK Green Building Council's chief executive Julie Hitigoyen said:

“UKGBC knows that the built environment contains some of the biggest opportunities to slash emissions. We must accelerate action in all areas including improving the efficiency of our ageing building stock and overcoming the challenge of decarbonising heat. To do this, we need to see both policy and industry leadership to ensure the built environment is at the vanguard of emissions reductions. There is no time to lose, now is the time to act.

“This is a powerful and positive move by the Prime Minister that will give her time in office a legacy beyond Brexit." 

Tolvik predicts EfW capacity up to 2023

10 JUNE 2019 by Will Date

Consultancy firm Tolvik has predicted that the UK will have the capacity to treat 16.9 million tonnes of residual waste through energy from waste plants by 2023, in figures published this month.

The consultancy published its 2018 Energy from Waste statistics report at the end of last week, looking at the current and future availability of energy from waste treatment capacity in the country.

Tolvik’s forecast for EfW capacity up to 2023

The latest forecast for 2023 represents an increase of around 1.2 million tonnes of capacity compared to what Tolvik had projected in 2018.

This is given a number of EfW projects having reached financial close during the year, as well as additional capacity having been secured at existing facilities.

Current capacity

Looking at the current picture, Tolvik suggests that UK energy from waste capacity increased to 13.48 million tonnes in 2018. This is based on operational capacity of energy from waste plants across the UK, as well as the capacity of new facilities currently in commissioning.

Tolvik’s assessment of current EfW capacity

According to Tolvik’s figures, as at December 2018, there were a total of 42 operational EfWs in the UK, with a further five accepting waste as part of ‘late stage commissioning’.

Veolia is reported to have the largest overall market share of EfW capacity (2.3 million tonnes), followed by Viridor, Suez and FCC.

As well as the plants currently in operation, around 3.3 million tonnes of additional treatment capacity will come online through facilities that are currently in construction, Tolvik suggests.

Looking at the latest data in comparison to Tolvik’s 2017 report, the new data suggests that the UK’s EfW capacity increased by around 1.22 million tonnes.

Sources of waste

Tolvik adds that in 2018 a total of 11.49 million tonnes of residual waste was processed in UK EfWs, an increase of 5.6% on 2017. The rate of growth has continued to slow down from the 2013-16 peak, Tolvik says.

Around 82.4% of EfW inputs were derived from local authority residual waste, with the remainder coming from commercial and industrial sources, the report suggests. “The continued (albeit modest) increase in C&I Waste inputs reflects the development of “merchant” EfW capacity in the UK,” Tolvik noted.

EfW treatment did not surpass landfill as a route for residual waste, as the consultancy firm had predicted it would in its 2017 report, partly due to “commissioning challenges faced by a number of EfWs during the year”. Additionally, Tolvik estimates that RDF Exports from the UK declined by around 8% when compared with 2017.

EfW capacity gap prompts landfill review

10 JUNE 2019

OPINION: Phil Piddington, managing director of Viridor, says that his company sees evidence of a long-term gap in residual waste and treatment capacity, with a potential impact on landfill sites in areas not served by energy from waste plants.

With our fleet of Energy Recovery Facilities (Runcorn, Ardley, the joint venture at Lakeside, Exeter, Cardiff, Peterborough, Glasgow, Beddington and Dunbar), and only one (Avonmouth) remaining under construction, Viridor conducts regular market analysis and the key message from this is that demand will continue to surpass supply, with arisings expected to remain almost flat at about 80 million tonnes per annum and the residual waste capacity gap forecast to remain at circa 7MT by 2035.

Phil Piddington, managing director of Viridor

This demand is likely to drive exploration of future energy recovery opportunities, but it is important to note that this under-capacity varies by geography and this will also strongly inform landfill strategy.


Our UK focus remains one of landfill diversion, however, these sophisticated, modern sites do play an important role in areas not served by energy recovery and where haulage costs to direct residual waste to ERFs would be prohibitive.

In the South West, where Viridor has its headquarters, planning permission was granted lsat year to reopen Heathfield Landfill site in South Devon.

The site was closed in January 2016, with the decision based on the common understanding that existing Exeter, Plymouth and Cornwall waste sites, including Viridor’s Energy from Waste facility in Exeter, would be sufficient to meet waste needs in the South West.

However, due to changing market conditions, it became clear that demand for residual waste was greater than the current capacity of waste sites in Devon and Cornwall.

With Broadpath Landfill site in Tiverton, Mid Devon, due to close, it became necessary to review the status of the region’s waste sites. Heathfield has a significant void which made it the most sensible option to meet the region’s waste requirements.

Capacity gap

There will be a shift over time to meet ambitious government targets but with the Resources & Waste Strategy, the 2022 tax on packaging with less than 30% recycling material and the sustainability targets of major consumer brands, we have forecast a plastics reprocessing capacity gap (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Heathfield landfill site in Newton Abbot, South Devon – Viridor has secured planning permission to reopen the site

As part of Viridor’s expansion in this area, Pennon announced in the Full Year Results a £65m investment in a plastic reprocessing plant at Viridor’s Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre, with the plant powered by and receiving heat from our £252m energy recovery facility.

Government policy helps create an impetus for a long-term investment strategy and market demand but clearly the industry needs to be heard on Deposit Return Schemes and Extender Producer Responsibility, enabling us to capture resources currently escaping the recycling net and ensuring the investment needed to future-proof recycling effectively and efficiently supports UK circular economy and sustainability ambitions.

Parliament to debate bill committing UK to net-zero by 2050

7 June 2019, source edie newsroom

A bill which would commit the UK Government to reducing national carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 will be put to Parliament next Tuesday (11 June), the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee has confirmed today (7 June)

The CCC's advice on legislating for net-zero by 2050, requested by the Government after the IPCC report last autumn, was published on 2 May

The CCC's advice on legislating for net-zero by 2050, requested by the Government after the IPCC report last autumn, was published on 2 May

Developed in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendations on legislating for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, which was published last month, the new bill will be introduced to the House by BEIS Committee Chair Rachel Reeves MP.

The specifics of the bill are yet to be revealed, but the framework is broadly expected to echo the measures proposed by the CCC. These include bringing the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2035; quadrupling the UK’s renewable energy generation capacity; rewilding 20,000 hectares of land annually and deploying carbon capture and storage (CCS) at scale.

The BEIS Committee has confirmed that the bill would also include international aviation and shipping. Under the existing Climate Change Act, the UK currently excludes international aviation and certain types of international maritime activity from its overall carbon footprint calculations – a caveat which will be removed by an alteration of the Act if the bill is passed.

Reeves said the aim of the bill is to “bring home to the Government the urgent need to commit to the net-zero 2050 target and give the UK the best possible chance of meeting this challenge.”

“In the UK we have a golden opportunity to deliver environmental benefits, new jobs, and sustainable green industries - but this won’t happen without a coordinated, cross-departmental effort from Government and a cast-iron commitment to achieving a net-zero target,” she said.

“In the final days of her premiership, Theresa May should take this opportunity to take the crucial next step to ending the UK’s contribution to global warming and set out that the whole of Government is committed to achieving net zero by 2050.”

The bill has already received verbal backing from MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

Political shifts

The news from the BEIS Committee comes just hours after May stepped down as Conservative Party leader – a move she confirmed late last month after repeatedly failing to gain support for her Brexit Withdrawal agreement.

She will remain Prime Minister until her successor is chosen, with most reports indicating that she will back the BEIS Committee’s bill, along with the majority of MPs, before being replaced.

Nonetheless, comments made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond this week have cast doubts over whether there really is top-level Tory support for legislating for net-zero. Hammond claimed that spending cuts for schools, hospitals and the police force would be needed to fund total decarbonisation of the UK economy, which he price estimated at £1trn.

Both the CCC and No 10 have refuted Hammond’s calculations. The CCC’s advice prices the cost of reaching net-zero within the same cost envelope of achieving the 80% carbon emissions reduction which the UK is currently bound to under the Climate Change Act, at between 1-2% of GDP in 2050.

Green campaign groups have also been quick to take umbrage at Hammond’s sentiments, emphasising the fact that failure to act on climate change is also likely to result in large costs in the form of stranded assets, resource scarcity, reduced competitiveness and increased social and healthcare spending.

WWF’s chief executive Tanya Steel, for example, said the Government should know by now “how to tackle the climate and environment crisis, and do so in a way that leaves the UK public with greater economic security, not less”.

“The investments this requires will not only give future generations security, but in the process create jobs from new, clean industries,” Steele said. “What’s more, this investment will cost less than dealing with a climate breakdown – the reality if we fail to act.”

UK net zero transition to cost £1 trillion, chancellor claims

Image: HMT.

Image: HMT.

The UK’s transition towards a net zero economy will cost the country more than £1 trillion, 40% more than the Committee on Climate Change has suggested, HM Treasury has claimed.

The Financial Times  has reported that a letter from chancellor Philip Hammond to Prime Minister Theresa May last month claimed that the true cost of setting a net zero emissions target by 2050 would be north of £1 trillion.

The letter, since published by FT journalist Jim Pickard, addressed to the Prime Minister and dated from last month, argues that while the chancellor agrees that government must legislate for a net zero target “as soon as possible”, it is essential that it “fully considers the implications of adopting a more ambitious target” before enshrining it in law.

The letter goes on to question the Committee on Climate Change’s forecasted cost of attaining net zero emissions by 2050, stating that the £50 billion per year estimate the CCC put forward last month is 40% lower than the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s estimate which stands at £70 billion per year.

Without any formal clarification on the issue, it remains to be seen how the government’s own analysis differs so markedly from the CCC’s.

The Committee’s analysis was exhaustively detailed in a 256-page report last month, examining the impacts establishing such a target would have throughout the economy, but limiting costs to within 1-2% of GDP.

Within the three-page letter, Hammond suggests that while his department’s analysis places costs within the CCC’s envelope of 1-2% of GDP, it forecasts them to be significantly higher.

It also stresses the level of disruption establishing a net zero target would cause to areas such as housing, industry and transport, arguing that “significant changes” to agricultural practices would be required.

The chancellor concludes with a recommendation that the PM accept the Committee’s target, writing: “The UK has shown excellent leadership on climate change over the past decade and must continue to do so. However, in order for this radical transformation to be successful, it is essential that we better understand the implications of setting a target that will shape our economy and society for a generation, before it is set in law.”

Publication of the letter follows what has been a trepidatious week for the issue of decarbonisation in Westminster.

On Tuesday it was claimed that cabinet ministers had agreed to use flexibilities to meet future carbon budgets, an issue which has sparked strong condemnation from the CCC in the past, followed a day later by news that the Treasury select committee was to launch an inquiry into the department’s decarbonisation efforts.

It also took centre stage during yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions when shadow energy secretary Rebecca Long Bailey, standing in for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, clashed with David Lidington over the issue.

Long Bailey initially questioned whether or not the Prime Minister had raised environmental issues with repeated climate change denier and US President Donald Trump during his state visit this week, before moving on to ask why the government is off track in meeting its own, legally-binding commitments.

Lidington’s reply, that the government is “not off track” in meeting respective targets, prompted a strong rebuke from the shadow energy secretary, who raised reports from earlier this week that the government is to use flexibilities to “fiddle” with forthcoming carbon budgets and scrutinised its record on solar PV, with domestic installs having fallen 94% month-on-month following the closure of the feed-in tariff.

“How much authority do this government actually have on this issue? Three current cabinet ministers have denied the scientific consensus on climate change, and several of those standing in the Tory leadership contest have close links with organisations and individuals promoting climate denial. It does not bode well,” she said.

Lidington’s assertion that the government remains on track to meet its carbon budgets is also only strictly true when referring to the third carbon budget. In respect of the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, covering the period from 2022 - 2032, the gap to meeting those budgets is actually widening by the government’s own assertion.

The government is also still yet to confirm publicly whether or not it has taken the decision under Section 17 of the Climate Change Act to use previous over-performance in emissions reduction to offset predicted underperformance within forthcoming budgets, a move which the Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly warned against.