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Carbon Trust launches footprint verification service

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The Carbon Trust has launched a new service to provide companies and organisations with independent verification of their corporate carbon footprints.

The Footprint Verification service is intended to help companies and organisations manage the increasing demand for carbon emissions data in CSR & annual reports and websites, as well as to support the disclosure of emissions to third party stakeholders, including shareholders and investors. 

Organisations that use the service will be able to display a Footprint Verification logo in conjunction with the carbon footprint data, showing that their emissions have been independently verified. The Trust says that the verified carbon footprint provided is compliant with both the internationally recognised GHG Protocol, as well as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

The new service follows new findings from the Carbon Trust that 50% of multinationals will look set to select their suppliers based upon carbon performance in the future.

Carbon Disclosure Report says carbon reduction plans deliver better stock market performance

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A report by the Carbon Disclosure Project has suggested that companies that implement policies to reduce carbon emissions perform better on the stock market compared with those that do not.

The 2011 edition of the annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Global 500 report, which examines carbon reduction activities at the world's largest public corporations, has found for the first time in the ten year history of the survey, that the majority have climate change actions embedded as part of their business strategy. The report, written by professional services firm PwC, attributes this to growing board-level awareness of the link between energy efficiency and increased profitability.

The report, entitled Accelerating low carbon growth, analysed disclosures from 396 of the world's largest companies, which revealed 68% have climate change at the heart of business strategies, compared with 48% in 2010. There was also a marked rise in the number of companies reporting reduced greenhouse gas emissions as a result of emissions reduction activities (45%, up from 19% in 2010).

A correlation was also established between higher stock market performance over time, and representation on CDP's Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) and the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI). Companies with a strategic focus on climate change provided investors with approximately double the average total return of the Global 500 from January 2005 to May 2011.

Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project, said: "The improved financial performance of companies with high carbon performance is a clear indicator that it makes good business sense to manage and reduce carbon emissions. This is a win win for business - the short ROIs many emissions reducing activities have, can help increase profitability. Companies yet to take action on climate change will have to work hard to remain competitive as we head towards an increasingly resourced constrained, low carbon economy."

Alan McGill, partner, sustainability and climate change, PwC said: "Historical financial performance is being exposed by climate change as an outdated model to assess long term business profitability and growth, when you consider the much wider range of financial and non - financial risks associated with business today. Today's investors have different information needs, which are leading to tougher verification regimes, more emphasis on executive and staffing responsibilities and incentives, and much more unforgiving examinations of the contribution of business to society. We are accelerating towards newer reporting models that better balance financial and non - financial performance."

Rising oil prices, energy supply risks and growing recognition of the commercial returns on investments in emissions reduction activities contributed to the growth in importance of climate change as a boardroom issue. Over half (59%) of reported emissions reduction activities delivered payback in three years or less according to company submissions. These include energy efficiency projects (building fabric, building services and processes), low carbon energy installations and staff behavioural change. Employee incentives to reduce emissions are now offered by 65% of companies, compared with 49% in 2010.

 The top 10 best performing companies this year are:

USA: Bank of America, Cisco Systems
Japan: Honda Motor Company, Sony Corporation
Germany: Bayer, BMW, SAP
United Kingdom: Tesco
Netherlands: Philips Electronics
Australia: Westpac Banking Corporation

CDP says there are 14 new entrants to the 2011 Carbon Performance Leadership Index, which counts only 29 companies due to more demanding criteria applied by CDP. These are:

USA: Air Products & Chemicals, Lockheed Martin, Morgan Stanley
Japan: Honda Motor Company, Sony Corporation
Germany: SAP
France: AXA Group, Schneider Electric
United Kingdom: British American Tobacco, BG Group, Glaxo SmithKline
Switzerland: Novartis  

Eco-Xchange's ComOOt plan to offer commuting alternative

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The Government's new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale
take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.


The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.


Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.


A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green 'in black and white'  argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.


 The paper, 'Why Commute When you can ComOOt', argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange  argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions.  The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.


There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London's transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games' venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.


The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton. 


There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt  will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a  Community Interest Company model.  The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level. 


According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from  gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies. 


What Eco-Xchange is looking for now is a founding partner and sponsor to support the development of ComOOt to deliver low carbon personal transport schemes to large organisations, local workforces and visitors in the Capital,  in time for the Olympics. 



Tiptoeing towards a Green Investment Bank

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There's an interesting discussion on the FT blog about progress towards a green investment bank, the suggested investment route for funding clean energy projects.

According to this post, not only are there are question marks over the amount of funding for the bank, there is also some debate over who will fund the Green Deal plan: the government (which says it won't) or third party financiers (if they have the money!) 

Scotland bids to attract Cleantech sector

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The economic potential offered by the Cleantech sector, not least in the jobs opportunity, is creating a number of national suitors, one of which is Scotland.


The Scottish Government published its Low Carbon Economy Strategy on 15 November, setting out the major opportunities for Scotland in the development of low carbon goods and services. The Strategy also sets out strategic opportunities and immediate actions for central and local government to support business in the transition towards a low carbon economy.

Scotland's low carbon market was worth around £8.5 billion in 2007-08 (within a GDP of around £100 billion), and is forecast to rise to around £12 billion by 2015-16. It is estimated around 60,000 new green jobs could be created in Scotland by 2020.


Launching the Strategy, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said that that moving to a low carbon economy was "Scotland's biggest opportunity this century" to create new jobs and grow the economy while tackling climate change.


Actions in the Strategy include:

·                       Co-ordinated support for businesses and academia in the Environmental and Clean Technologies sector, to maximise opportunities in a market potentially worth £12 billion to Scotland's economy

·                       Channelling innovation support to low carbon technologies where there is greatest chance of commercial success - the Scottish Government will reprioritise £15 million of innovation funding from the Lowlands and Uplands European Structural Funds Programme, which, along with match-funding from the private sector and other public sector funders, could create £60 million of support for low carbon activity

·                       Supporting the planning, design and construction of new infrastructure and the retrofit of existing facilities to support low carbon activity, such as renewable energy and electric vehicle infrastructure

·                       Supporting skills development through the Low Carbon Skills Fund and working with partners and employers to predict and respond to future skills demands

·                       Holding an annual Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, with next year's focus being investment for resource and energy efficiency


The Strategy makes clear that there are low carbon business opportunities not just in energy but across the economy, including: green tourism, green financial products, sustainable transport, building technologies, sustainable health, local sourcing of food and drink, and sustainable business practices.


With in mind the future economic opportunities to be created by what is essentially the birth of a new industry driven by a need to get to grips with climate change, it's no surprise that every country is upping the ante and wanting its slice of the Cleantech action. The UK Government believes the value of the global low-carbon goods and environmental services market will reach £4 trillion by the end of this Parliament. It is growing at 4% per year, faster than world GDP. It believes its share of that market is £112 billion. In the UK, it suggests, nearly a million people will be employed in the low-carbon sector by the end of the decade.


Getting there, however, is likely to take some time, and the reality is that there is unlikely to be a Fast Track route to Cleantech-created prosperity. That's not to say it won't happen - but it'll probably take longer than many governments would wish - or hope.


The environment, sustainability and the Spending Review

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There's no escape from the Spending Review today, though a couple of conversations this morning have already suggested that there may be less detail in terms of implementation than we expect. In other words, we may get less of Chapter and Verse, and more a case of title, author, contents and preface.

Interesting post on the Guardian environment blog with a list of things to look out for. (though not a lot here that screams too much about Green IT.) And some more background on George Osborne's green challenges.

And there's an interesting piece about corporate sustainability, discussing five key corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability trends over the last year.

Broadly these are:

1. The influence of a new generation

2. The impact of social media

3. Leadership

4. The need for actions, not just words

5. Collaboration                                                                                   




IT: succeeding where government fails

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I wrote yesterday about business's failure to lobby government on climate change. It would be wrong, however, to tar everyone with the same brush. The IT industry - IBM, Microsoft and Google - are all leading their own initiatives. IBM is delivering on Smart Planet; I'm looking forward to meeting up with Mary-Anne King, Microsoft's Head of Environmental Sustainability, at Green IT Expo next month; and Google too has been involved in a number of headline-grabbing developments.

This excellent piece by Andrew Winston in the Harvard Business Review blogs about how the IT business is driving development of a $5 billion "transmission backbone" for offshore wind farms along the US East Coast.


The Green NGO to watch: The Carbon Disclosure Project

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There is an interesting piece written by Andrew Winston on the Harvard Business Review blogs about the Carbon Disclosure Project.

You can read it here 

The carbon sector starts to see more encouraging investment and M&A developments

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With finance still in mind, I was interested in this piece on the Cleantech Blog about carbon investment which suggests that the carbon sector has done well in merger and acquisitions (M&A) this year. You can read the post by Neal Dikeman here

Neal has also produced some cleantech investment 'rules' which say:

  1. Energy is slow and big - Energy technology R&D and commercialization time frames are longer and costs higher
  2. Technology is "cheap", the scale up is where all the risk is
  3. There is no disruptive technology in energy, only disruptive policies and resource shocks that make certain technologies look disruptive after the fact - aka, "it's the policies (and subsidies), stupid"
  4. At scale, there is no capital efficient investing in energy
  5. Commodity prices and policy tend to be more important variables than technology and management
  6. Energy is at heart a resource play, the price you pay matters more than what you do with the resource

You can read the whole story behind the rules here




London gets a warning on Green financing

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Nowhere's too far from having to think about financing, and investment in low-carbon energy and cleantech is no exception. That's why a piece the Financial Times ran yesterday by Fiona Harvey, all about green funding, makes for interesting reading. I've reproduced it below.


London risks losing its pivotal position as a centre of green finance and missing out on a growing market worth many billions of pounds a year, according to Greg Barker, energy and climate change minister.

"The vital role of capital markets in tackling climate change has been overlooked for far too long," said Mr Barker, who is holding a meeting of City financiers, government officials and policymakers from overseas on Tuesday to discuss ways of using private-sector capital to tackle climate change.

Last year, global investment in low-carbon energy topped $160bn (£104bn), and by 2020 the amount invested in helping developing economies alone to cut their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change is projected to reach $100bn a year, according to the international accord signed in Copenhagen last December.

Mr Barker said these fledgling markets presented an obvious opportunity for City institutions.

London already has a strong position in green finance - being a leading centre of carbon trading, with a large number of investors focused on "clean technology".

However, Mr Barker pointed out that many of the UK's experts in green finance were in "boutique" or small-scale institutions, and that if Britain wanted to expand in this area, mainstream financial institutions, including banks, pension funds and other big investors, would have to be encouraged to take part.

"The market is in such infancy that London could easily be overtaken by New York or one of the Asian capitals," he said. "We want to make sure that we plant the Union Jack firmly in the middle of this agenda."

He pledged government help in the form of forging links with the developing economies likely to provide much of the green-finance growth in the next decade, and in ensuring that the market was well-regulated and not dogged by fraud.

Mr Barker said many developing economies were "sceptical" of the involvement of the private sector in green finance, and would require persuasion before they were willing to provide the framework needed for big institutions to invest.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.



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