Connect with us

Economy

A Guide To Steer Momemntum on Climate Risk In The Automotive Sector Is Launched

Published

on

car-by-bertknot-via-flikr

Less than a week has passed after the UN acknowledged that the Paris Agreement would come into effect on 04 November 2016, a worldwide network of more than 250 institutional investors (representing assets worth over $24 Trn) has released a guide on climate risk in the automative sector.

The guide sets out the threats facing the automotive sector and investor expectations for how these companies must shift gear to adapt their business strategies to address climate related risk and build a sustainable low carbon transport system for the future.

Launching Investor Expectations of Automotive Companies – Shifting gears to accelerate the transition to low carbon vehicles Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO for European investor network IIGCC said, “This guide signals a new area of concerted engagement between big investors and one of the most significant sectors when it comes to tackling the climate challenge. As a consequence of the Paris Agreement, investors expect regulatory frameworks affecting the automotive sector to become far more stringent, not least those governing vehicle fuel performance standards in the EU and elsewhere. Several automotive companies have already recognised they must increase capital expenditure in sustainable driving technology and product pipelines if they are to develop a climate resilient business model. Likewise, that they must engage with policy makers to ensure sustainability is placed at the heart of the industry’s future.”

Commenting on the guide, Dr Hans-Christoph Hirt, Co-Head of Hermes EOS, the stewardship team of Hermes Investment Management which led the drafting of the guide said, “Long-term investors want to ensure that automotive companies are prepared for the challenges stemming from climate change, new technologies, changing policies and shifts in demand caused by global trends. Investors expect the industry to embark upon a smoother route to future prosperity by developing and implementing long-term business strategies which are resilient to climate change and resulting regulatory shifts. Investors expect that such a strategy will feature board-level responsibility for climate change and sustainability, and emission reduction targets with challenging goals. Automotive companies should work together with policy makers to manage the shift to lower emissions vehicles and develop the new infrastructure required to deliver a sustainable low-carbon transport system.”

Chris Davis, senior program director of the Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk said, “Strong fuel efficiency regulations are in the economic interest of the auto industry; acting as an insurance policy for automakers in the event of future fuel price spikes, and providing significant benefits to suppliers of fuel saving technologies.

A growing number of institutional investors recognise that climate change will impact their holdings, portfolios, and asset values in the short and long-term.

“To achieve sustainable returns for clients and beneficiaries, investors in the automotive sector must engage to ensure companies are prepared to thrive in a carbon constrained environment and support robust policy action sufficient to drive the transition to clean vehicles.”

Emma Herd, CEO at Investor Group on Climate Change and representing the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change said, “Established automotive companies are highly exposed to competition from new entrants responding to growing consumer demand for cleaner vehicles and smart transport services. Consumer demand, combined with targeted government support, is already driving a shift to lower emission fleets in Japan, India, China and South Korea. Auto makers in all regions have significant challenges beyond simply producing cleaner cars, trucks or buses. To show they can act in the long-term interest of investors and beneficiaries they must drive wholesale change across their manufacturing base and through every part of their global supply chains to shrink the carbon footprint of the entire industry.”

About the guide

Investor Expectations of Automotive Companies – Shifting gears to accelerate the transition to low carbon vehicles was developed by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) with support from other investor networks in North America (Ceres’ INCR), Asia (AIGCC) and Australasia (IGCC) in the Global Investor Coalition ( http://globalinvestorcoalition.org/ ). It is intended to be used in tandem with Institutional Investors’ Expectations of Corporate Climate Risk Management (http://www.iigcc.org/publications/publication/institutional-investors-expectations-of-corporate-climate-risk-management ) and is the latest in a series of sector focused guides produced to support investor engagement with key sectors to curb carbon asset and climate risk. It joins existing guides addressing engagement with oil& gas, mining, and utilities companies.

This guide is intended to enable investors to engage with the boards of automotive (and component supply) companies about their efforts to re-think their business models and contribute directly to the development of more sustainable driving technologies in order to mitigate long term climate change related risks. The expectations in the guide go further than suggesting automotive companies should support compliance with 2°C regulatory regime. They call on auto companies to:

· actively engage with suppliers, governments and industry peers to innovate for zero emissions vehicles and supporting infrastructure

· close the gap between real world and emissions testing

· pro-actively adjust their business models to incorporate a long-term strategy that includes decarbonisation and the shift to providing mobility services and maintaining competitive advantage over peers

· invest substantially in sustainable driving technologies and product pipelines

· set meaningful targets and metrics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in operations, fleet and supply chain.

· engage publicly with policy makers, investors and the rest of the sector to place sustainability at the heart of the industry’s future.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

Published

on

self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

Continue Reading

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

Published

on

renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending