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Unique business initiative could deliver two-thirds of carbon reductions needed for UN climate change goal



Today, the President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Peter Bakker launches an analysis by PwC showing that the ambitions of WBCSD’s Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) could deliver 65% of the carbon emission reductions needed to keep the rise in global temperatures to under 2°C.

Led by WBCSD, LCTPi is a unique initiative whose size and scale is unmatched across the world. More than 140 companies and 50 partners have joined the initiative to lead action plans for the development and deployment of low-carbon technology, designed to reach ambitious targets on emissions reduction. The investment needed to meet the LCTPi ambitions, as well as the jobs this investment could create, would have a global impact. With half of investment expected in non-OECD countries, LCTPi would be of particular benefit to developing markets.

Ahead of the global climate change conference in Paris in December, Peter Bakker is in London with business leaders to call on governments to deliver the ambitious global climate agreement that will provide the framework in which global businesses will be able to deliver on their LTCPi ambitions.

WBCSD President and CEO, Peter Bakker said: “Business leaders from around the world are taking action and showing governments their support in tackling the climate challenge. We must keep global warming under the critical 2°C threshold.

“The ambitions outlined in the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative could deliver up to 65% of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve this.

“However, business cannot do it alone: we can only safeguard the earth’s future when business and policymakers act together. We urgently need an ambitious climate agreement in Paris to set the policy framework that will enable us deliver on our mutual goals.”

The report was written by PwC UK’s Sustainability & Climate Change team, based on business solutions developed by the nine LCTPi working groups, and in close collaboration with the WBCSD. It shows the magnitude of its potential benefits for the climate, of the business opportunities it could provide, and how it could contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Jonathan Grant, director, PwC Sustainability & Climate Change said: “Limiting global warming to below two degrees will have substantial economic benefits in the long term, but smart, targeted policies at a national level are needed to help achieve this ambition. The deal in Paris must give business the certainty and ambition to invest in these opportunities for the long term. It’s clear from our analysis that business has both a critical role to play in achieving national level targets, and has a major opportunity to grasp.

“The LCTPi is a platform for industry-wide transformation into the future, not just for the companies who are signed up to the initiative today.”

Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres said: “I would like to commend the World Business Council for Sustainable Development for their extraordinary leadership in bringing so many progressive companies together to deliver ever high levels of climate ambition now and over the years to come.”

“The analysis presented today – just weeks before the UN climate conference in Paris–underlines potential levels of emission reductions that are truly game-changing in terms of the support they provide to governments and international aspirations to keep a global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees C,” she added.

“The number of companies but also cities moving towards a low carbon world is of level, range and scope that is unprecedented. Paris offers an opportunity for more companies to come on board in order to accelerate a transition that has now become inevitable and irreversible,” said Ms Figueres.

In London today, the nine LCTPi working groups (renewables, carbon capture and storage, chemicals, cement, energy efficiency in buildings, low carbon transport fuels, low carbon freight transport, climate smart agriculture and forests and forest products as carbon sinks) are meeting to discuss the next steps in the LCTPi process. With agreement on the ambitions as set out in the PwC report for each of the sectors covered by a working group, the LCTPi action plans, which will be presented in the lead-up to and at the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris.

EDF Group Senior Executive Vice President Renewable Energies, Antoine Cahuzac said: “Our strategic plan “CAP 2030” aims to double our renewable energy portfolio from 28GW to up to 50GW in the next 15 years.

“To tackle climate change we need to develop renewable energies to reduce the CO2 footprint of the electricity sector, and hence to decarbonise our economies.

“Being a responsible partner of, and committed to, a low-carbon world, it was obvious and natural for us to join the WBCSD’s Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative.”

With only four weeks to go until the start of the UN climate talks COP21 in Paris, governments from around the world are coming together to reach agreement. In October, negotiators agreed a draft text that will now be discussed when they next meet in Paris during COP21. LCTPi shows that businesses are coming together ahead of that agreement to outline what they can achieve if that agreement is reached.

In recent months the WBCSD has showcased LCTPi across the world, working with over 140 companies to lead the change and ensure that emissions targets set in Paris at COP21 become a reality.

The international roadshow began in South Africa with the launch of a new microgrid programme, continued in India with the announcement of the renewable energy program, and was recently in New York City for Climate Week, where the nine LCTPi working groups met to discuss the action plans that will be presented during COP21 in Paris this December.

At the launch today, Peter Bakker will reveal some of the actions that have already been agreed by the LCTPi groups to advance towards the achievement of the carbon emissions reduction of up to 65%.


Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By 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 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.

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New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

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.


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