The irreversible momentum of clean energy (article notes)

Sketchnote summarising points from Barack Obama's article in science titled The irreversible momentum of clean energy

The irreversible momentum of clean energy (sketchnote)How can President-elect Trump make the right policy decisions on clean energy? An article by a sitting President may help.

President Obama is thought to be the first sitting US president to author an article in the high profile peer reviewed journal Science.

In the article, President Obama argues that the global momentum towards taking action on climate change is now irreversible.

The science is clear but opinion is still divided

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouses cause higher surface air temperatures, disrupting weather patterns and acidifying oceans.

Some policy makers and influential stakeholders still do not agree, however, and in the short term that continues to be a problem for a  number of economies, not least the United States.

Climate change policy could slow down or be reversed under a new administration if staffed by climate change skeptics.

This is not a good economic move. Taking action on climate change is good for business.

Cleaner economies benefit from increased:

  • Efficiency
  • Production
  • Innovation

The United States has grown its GDP by 10% since 2008 while emissions from the energy sector have fallen by 9.5%.

Ignoring carbon pollution, on the other hand, could result in economic damages annually of 4% of GDP, or between $340 – $690 billion lost in federal revenue every year.

This is without taking into consideration the impact of catastrophic events or the impact of climate change on economic growth.

Policies that encourage investment and innovation in clean energy are delivering results

President Obama’s administration has encouraged fuel economy, appliance standards and building standards that will cut over 10 billion tons of carbon by 2030.

Major corporations are setting challenging targets. Alcoa and General Motors are working to reduce their energy intensity by 30% and 20% respectively by 2020.

Clean energy creates jobs. 2.2 million Americans now work in clean energy, compared with 1.1 million in the fossil fuel supply chain.

The energy supply system is being transformed

Coal is being replaced by natural gas as the primary method of generation. Low cost gas is displacing coal and, despite problems with methane leakage, is a cleaner generation technology.

Plummeting renewables costs are ramping up the capital inflows into projects supporting wind, rooftop solar and utility scale solar, supported by public policy measures.

Battery technology could help squeeze even more power out of existing and new installations.

Major companies such as Google and Walmart are committing to sourcing 100% of their energy from renewable sources by as soon as 2017.

110 countries making up 75% of global emissions agreed to take action at Paris in 2016

For the first time the United States and China, along with other major economies, agreed to set out ambitious climate policies that would be transparent and accountable.

Delivering on this commitment would increase the changes of limiting temperature increases to under 2 degrees by 50%.

Countries will set national policies and companies will respond by innovating, creating new technologies, jobs and export markets for clean products and services.

Over $1bn has been committed by investors to support clean energy breakthroughs.

Countries that pull out now are going to miss out economically.

What will happen next?

A new policy direction will emerge under a new administration.

Will it be science based, building on the global consensus on the evidence for climate change and the need for action?

Or will it roll back policy and stop funding for clean energy and technology?

We will know more over the next year.

The long term trend, however, for global policy over the next few decades is unlikely to reverse as countries move to creating low carbon economies in order to reap the benefits and avoid the damages from climate change.

The Journey to Fleet Energy Efficiency

Sketchnote showing the journey to fleet energy efficiency
The Journey to Fleet Energy Efficiency

Pressure to cut transport energy emissions will only increase

Vehicle emissions make headline news, with Volkswagen pleading guilty to criminal charges in the US and agreeing to pay fines of $4.3 billion (£3.5 billion) as a result of committing vehicle emissions measurement fraud.

The company may end up paying more than $20 billion in the US alone. It still doesn’t know how much it will pay in Europe or elsewhere.

Pressure to cut transport emissions will continue to grow as a result of the Paris agreement.

The need to stop climate change will mean governments continue to use policy, regulation and the tax system to improve air quality and cut emissions, especially in large cities and metropolitan areas.

London’s congestion charge zone has been in place for nearly 14 years, raising over £2.6 billion and reducing traffic volumes by 10%.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wants to cut the number of cars in the capital by half.

Six city-wide clean air zones are due to be in force by 2020 in the UK in Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham, Derby and London but could be extended to another 10 cities.

The tax system in the UK already favours low emission vehicles. Tax rates are based on engine size, fuel type and carbon emissions.

The lower the emissions, the lower the rate of income tax paid by the owner or driver.

Fleet managers are in a unique position to cut costs by improving the energy efficiency of their fleet, avoiding both external charges such as taxes and congestion charging and lowering operating costs of their cars, vans and heavy goods vehicles.

Start with an audit

Many organisations still don’t have a good record of the number of vehicles they have and how they are being used.

Some of the information should be in recent ESOS audits although the data may be getting stale a year on from the compliance deadline.

You need to collect data that lets you understand how your transport energy emissions are distributed among:

  • company owned or leased cars,
  • cars where the drivers receive a cash allowance to operate a car,
  • grey fleet cars, where drivers receive mileage payments for using their cars for business use.
  • Vans
  • Heavy goods vehicles

The data you need will include vehicle details, fuel receipts and mileage logs.

If you don’t have a system to collect this information already, the data is likely to be patchy and require cleansing before being analysed.

Understand how you use transport in your organisation

How do vehicles help you carry out your company business?

Do you have a large number of staff commuting to work in central offices?

Do you have a large number of small deliveries, or a small number of large deliveries?

Do you operate a just-in-time system or a milk round?

Understanding this requires analysing the transport data you have in your organisation and have collected during the audit.

You may see patterns in how mileage is racked up. You may see where the opportunities are in reducing or eliminating mileage.

You may also start to see where the barriers are in your organisation.

Departments may not want you messing about with their journey planning and vehicle purchases.

Individuals may be concerned about how your data will affect their own positions.

In many organizations vehicles are a seen as a symbol of status, with increasing vehicle allowances as people progress upwards in the organization.

The key thing is being able to see where the opportunities might be for changes in fleet composition and usage that could lead to cost savings for the organization.

You will not be able to get leadership buy in without being able to show the cost savings that are available from increasing fleet energy efficiency.

Get the leadership team to set and commit to targets

The leaders in the organization need to see cutting transport emissions and costs as a strategic imperative, setting and committing to targets.

Marks and Spencer, for example, has a goal to improve its own efficiency by 50% by 2020.

It set a challenging target in 2007 of improving fuel efficiency in the UK and Ireland by 35% by 2015.

It nearly got there, reporting a 33% reduction in 2014/15, but where would it be without a target to aim for?

Once you have targets in place, the very next step is to set up a robust monitoring and verification system, including telematics and tracking.

Without an easy to use data collection system that can be updated quickly an energy efficiency campaign can lose momentum and start to slow down.

You need to communicate and keep people informed

Transport policy in companies can be a very sensitive issue.

The top people in the organization often have the biggest and least efficient vehicles.

Asking them to support you in reducing fleet emissions is going to be a personal issue for some of them and the people that report to them.

But cutting transport emissions is good business for the organization and will cut costs in taxes, congestion charges and expenses.

The impact needs to be managed fairly so people can see the need and reasons for changes in policy.

Fleet energy managers need to be good marketers, communicating and informing the people in their organization of how the work they are doing will impact and improve conditions for colleagues, suppliers and customers.

Get on with implementation

Make it easy for people to decide when and how to travel by putting a travel hierarchy decision tree in place. Could you do any of the following:

  • Make it easier to work remotely and from home?
  • Cut the payments you make that incentivise people to drive instead of sharing cars or using public transport?
  • Make pool cars available?
  • Improve route planning and schedule trips for when congestion is light as idling is a major source of emissions.
  • Encourage audio and video conferencing instead of travelling to meetings?

Major changes such as buying a transport monitoring system or investing in telematics will need you to pull together a business case.

Are you making sure that all the costs of transport are covered in these cases and not just the operating and fuel costs?

A full business case may include a life cycle analysis that means low emission vehicles become a more sustainable option for your business.

As you go forward, buying the right vehicles and using them more efficiently will help you transform your fleet and reduce emissions, eliminating unnecessary mileage, making the most of public transport and conferencing solutions, and cutting costs for your business.

Summary

The pressure to improve transport energy emissions will be a particular challenge for fleet managers who need to think about the carbon impact of their operations in addition to fleet purchases and journey planning.

Improved data and analytics will help make the case, guided by a clear strategy from the leadership team, with fleet managers in a position to make real and lasting cost savings for their organizations.

The Energy Glut:The politics of fatness in an overheating world – Sketchnote

Sketchnote for book The Energy Glut: The Politics of Fatness in an Overheating World. By Ian Roberts with Phil Edward. 2010.
The Energy Glut: The Politics of Fatness in an Overheating World. By Ian Roberts with Phil Edward. 2010.

How can you make the world a healthier place by taking action on climate change?

This book by Ian Roberts with Phil Edwards, “The Energy Glut”, links obesity – a health issue faced by an increasing number of countries to climate change.

These two do not seem obviously connected – surely obesity is something that people do to themselves by choosing to eat more and exercise less.

And the way to tackle obesity is to tell people that they should get better habits and train them how to eat more healthy food and exercise in gyms with all the equipment they need to keep fit.

But here lies the root cause of the problem according to the authors.

In developed countries everyone is getting fatter. Sure, there are some very thin people and some very fat people. But as a distribution, on average, populations in developed countries have a higher body mass index (BMI) now than they did a decade ago.

Why is this? Has everyone simply caught the same “bad habits”? Or is something else going on?

What is happening is that people are eating less than before on average. The problem is that they have reduced the amount of activity they do by even more than that. And the imbalance between the amount they move, and the amount they eat is stored up as fat.

So why do we move less?

Two obvious reasons are increasing amounts of TV watching and car ownership in households.

We spend a lot more time sitting and watching TV than we did before.

We also spend a lot more time in our cars.

One of the best charts in the book shows the correlation between BMI and gasoline consumption per person in 130 countries. This shows that as the amount of fuel used by individuals increases, the average BMI of the population rises.

In other words, car usage is linked to obesity.

As car usage is a major contributor to climate change, the book argues that climate change and obesity are linked.

As we make changes in our built environment to address climate change, creating car free cities and pedestrian friendly public spaces – we will tackle not just the problem of an overheating world but also population health.

Paris is leading the way, with plans to cut traffic in the capital and pedestrianize the city center and encourage low carbon transport such as electric cars.

This is not going to be easy. Transformation never is.

But there will also be opportunities for companies that see how things are moving.

For example, Jaguar Land Rover plans to build electricity vehicles in the UK if the infrastructure can be put in place. A commitment from a major player like that could make a big impact on the European market.

The book argues that cutting our dependence on fossil fuels and using cars less will lead to lower levels of obesity in populations.

But societies need to create an environment that makes walking and cycling an easier option than driving.

So… in summary, the problem of population obesity is at its heart a political problem, and needs political action to be solved – and policy measures that decarbonize transport will also help tackle obesity.

Energy Strategy for the C-Suite – article notes

Sketchnote summarizing content from the Harvard Business Review article energy strategy for the c suite
Energy Strategy for the C-Suite

How can companies use an energy strategy to unlock value for their organization? And why do so many fail to get started at all?

In their article “Energy Strategy for the C-Suite”, Andrew Winston, George Favoloro and Tim Healy look at how companies can create competitive advantage by influencing their cost structure through the choices they make about how they buy and use their energy.

Companies in sectors such as ICT, agriculture and the food industry are developing energy strategies and setting targets to cut energy and carbon in their supply chains.

Most of them, however, are doing this without an explicit framework or playbook.

The authors suggest that a systematic approach is needed.

The biggest obstacle to progress is not having a clear mandate in place. The CEO needs to lead on this.

Commitment from the top with the right resources allocated to a team is key to developing a strategy and guiding execution.

Once a team is in place, it needs to understand how the company uses energy, develop an energy and emissions reduction plan and set targets that are based on climate change science.

The team then needs to implement the plan, integrating it into operations and creating incentives for people in the company to work on energy reduction.

In particular, the people who buy energy need to work with the people who use energy to reduce risk and cost.

An important step is to record, monitor and analyse energy data. This needs to happen not just in the company’s own facilities also along the supply chain to see how it can work with suppliers and customers.

Companies need to understand their options when it comes to clean energy technology.

This includes working out which technology mix, whether generation or energy efficiency measures, will provide a least cost solution to the company, taking all costs into account.

In particular, companies need to understand how going green can increase the amount of business they do with other companies that have also committed to greening their supply chain.

A shift to local energy generation and consumption means that companies will need to engage much more with their local stakeholders and communities.

In addition, analysts are increasingly looking at how good and effective companies’ sustainability strategies are when they recommend them to investors.

Engaging employees is crucial to executing an energy strategy.

Inviting them to participate in searching for energy efficiency opportunities and communicating with them about how the company is going to meet its climate change commitments is going to cut costs and increase employee commitment to the organisation.

In summary, creating and implementing an energy strategy can unlock value for an organisation – but you have to do it the right way.

What are science based targets and how can they help with energy management?

Slide / infographic explaining science based targets
What are science based targets?

Science based targets are set to achieve the carbon reductions needed to limit global temperature increases to below 2 degrees

Science Based Targets are an initiative set up by WWF, the World Resources Institute, the UN Global Compact and CDP.

The group define science-based targets as follows:

“Targets adopted by companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre- industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5).”

The CDP holds and provides data on consumption and emissions from companies and cities around the world.

Some of these datasets are free to access.

For example you can view and chart Scope 2 emissions (emissions from purchased electricity, heat, steam and cooling).

Chart showing emissions from global top 500 companies
Scope 2 emissions from global top 500 (truncated)

This shows that major emitters include miners, steel makers and retailers.

Scope 2 emissions are important because they are caused as a result of activities that companies can control and change.

Transparent information on the level of Scope 2 emissions could cause companies to increase their purchases of renewable energy and step up energy efficiency measures.

Corporations have a clear role to play in the transition

According to the World Resources Institute:

  • The corporate sector is the world’s largest source of emissions.
  • 80% of the world’s 500 largest companies have targets in place.
  • Over 200 companies have signed up to the science based targets initiative

But the Guardian says that most global companies still don’t have any obligation to cut emissions. They do try, but what they do isn’t enough to make a real difference.

Advocates of Science Based Targets argue that the benefits of setting targets include:

  • Building long term value
  • Innovating
  • Saving money
  • Becoming more competitive
  • Being credible and influential

The pressure on companies to have some form of commitment, target and measurement and verification system is likely to continue as countries recognize the need to reduce emissions and decouple GDP growth from energy usage.

How do you set Science Based Targets?

There are 7 methods put forward by the group

1. The Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA)

The SDA looks at how similar energy intensive companies can choose the lowest cost technology mix to meet their energy demand.

The SDA looks at how sectors differ from each other, the potential for reductions and how quickly each sector grows over time. A free web-based tool has been developed for companies to use but is currently offline.

2. The 3% solution

Developed by McKinsey, WWF, CDP and Point 380, US corporates would cut emissions by 3% per year overall, while individual corporates would have tailored targets using a tool called the Carbon Target Profit Calculator.

This tool tells you how much you could save if you followed its guidance.

3. BT – CSI

BT (British Telecom) have come up with a Carbon Stabilization Intensity (CSI) target in 2008 is calculated  by comparing its emissions with how much it as a corporation contributes to GDP.

The contribution to GDP is defined as “value-added”, and the CSI is measured as the emissions per unit of value added.

BT’s CSI target is to reduce CSI by 20% by 2020.

4. C-FACT

Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilizing Targets (C-FACT) is a relative target that divides a company’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint by its GDP contribution (measured by gross profit) and calculates a Carbon Intensity Reduction Rate that takes into account growth rate.

The company then commits to the target, creates an annualized pathway and works its plan.

5. CSO’s context-based carbon metric

The Center for Sustainable Organization’s (CSO) developed a context-based carbon metric along with Ben & Jerry’s in 2006.

The metric compares emissions from an organization to targets based on climate change mitigation scenarios. It works out an individual target that looks at how the organization will grow and is updated based on what others are doing and the change in global emissions over time.

6. GEVA (Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of value added)

The GEVA analysis suggests reducing greenhouses gases per unit of GDP by 5% a year to meet the 2 degree target, which then translates into a corporate target of 5% reduction in GEVA per year. This seems similar in form to the BT-CSI at first glance.

7. MARS Method

The MARS method targets Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, where it has direct control and selects to “overdeliver” on targets on these emissions by targeting a reduction of -100% in 2040 rather than -80% in 2050. This takes pressure off Scope 3 emissions that cover agriculture and are harder to influence.

It is also based on an absolute reduction, with the objective to reduce Mars’ emissions by 8-% from its level of around 14 MT.

What about carbon budgets in the UK?

The one method missing from the Science Based Targets initiative is the system of carbon budgets in the UK – although the difference is that the initiative targets global companies.

The Climate Change Act in the UK set a target for the country to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels in order to limit global temperature increase to as little as possible above 2 degrees C.

The first five carbon budgets covering the period to 2032 are now set in law.

For UK companies, these are targets that guide the policies introduced by the government such as subsidies and carbon taxes.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) in the UK has looked at how emissions can be reduced at the lowest cost, given the available technology and policy. It recommends that:

  • Energy efficiency improvements are cost effective and save money.
  • Supporting innovation in technology will increase costs in the short term but help in long term.
  • As we move towards the long-term target, we should use measures that cost less than the carbon price projected by the government if available.

The budget is set to be consistent with EU targets – but we will need to wait and see how EU and UK climate change policy evolves after Brexit.

Summary and conclusion

The Science Based Targets initiative is a significant step in the right direction with commitment from some major companies.

Implementation by some of the largest companies in the world will cause a ripple effect through their supply chains and reduce emissions far beyond their own companies.

But there are concerns over whether the voluntary targets can be met and whether companies are even reporting their carbon footprint correctly.

Finally, companies in the UK should consider whether they should align their targets with UK policy or a global initiative – and to a large extent this will depend on whether their emissions are created in the UK or internationally.

A guide to energy management planning

2017 is nearly here and working on your organization’s energy management plan is key to making sure you reduce consumption and emissions this year.

Planning can take time and effort, but is well worth your time.

When done properly you will set your organization on the right course to achieving your energy management goals this year.

Energy management is a complex activity that involves taking action from the plantroom to the boardroom. Energy mangers need to understand technology, budgets, finance, planning and strategy in addition to emissions targets, corporate social responsibility and financial reporting.

Success in effectively managing this complex area will only come from detailed planning and preparation. To be useful an energy management plan needs to be:

  • Relevant: The plan must focus on areas that are directly applicable to the kind of organization you work in.
  • Realistic: The plan needs to be achievable with the resources and capabilities you have in place.
  • Useable: To be of any benefit at all, the plan must be a useful document that can guide your actions day to day.

A good energy management plan is like a map, helping you show people in your organisation where you are heading and the best way to get there.

That’s why we created this comprehensive guide with free templates to get you up and running for 2017. It contains everything you need to create an annual energy management plan including checklists and questionnaires to get started.

Download the guide here.

6 trends that will shape energy markets in 2017

Infographic showing 6 trends that will shape energy markets in 2017
6 trends that will shape energy markets in 2017

Download infographic as high quality pdf

1. Smart, connected devices

Smart meters are becoming a reality, and increasingly meters will be built into the equipment we buy.

Large energy using devices, such as air conditioners and chillers will be able to feed data directly into building management systems.

2. Leadership from corporations

Businesses see that going green is good business.

Not only do you cut costs, consumers are changing from passively buying to actively engaging with brands and companies that show they are committed to creating social value.

3. Unsubsidized renewables

The costs of solar energy have dropped to the point where they are comparable to fossil fuel generation without subsidies.

The business cases for green energy look increasingly viable without subsidy.

4. Professional energy managers

The need for professional energy managers has been recognized for some time, but with the roll out of energy efficiency legislation in Europe, the number of energy managers has exploded – which is good news for business and the public sector.

5. Energy management software

The number of software packages that support energy management continues to grow.

These packages cover a range of applications from energy usage analysis to energy market tracking – and 2017 will see even more of them.

6. Wavering governments

Recent elections and referendums could potentially lead to less government support for renewables and carbon reductions.

The momentum built up over the last decade needs to be sustained by businesses and social enterprises.

How nuclear power is key to meeting the UK’s carbon targets

Around 14GW of new nuclear generating capacity may be built between now and 2035.

The UK government has confirmed 8 sites where new nuclear power stations can be built.

Map of existing and proposed sites for nuclear power stations
Existing and proposed sites for nuclear power stations (Image Credit – BBC)

The new nuclear stations will take ten years at least to build and start operating from the mid 2020s.

By 2035, over 70% of the UK’s energy is expected to come from renewable and nuclear generation.

Chart showing the change of energy generation in the UK from 2008 to 2035
Projected sources of energy generation in the UK (Image Credit BBC)

The significance of NASA’s image of the world at night

This image from NASA has been put together from over 400 satellite images and shows the Earth at night.

It’s one of my favourite pictures – because it tells you something about the world that you know instantly is true.

You can’t fake where the lights are. The satellites are taking pictures of where there is light, and you see darkness where there is none.

Why is this significant?

We are surrounded by data. We use this data to make inferences and come to views on what is going on in the world.

We use GDP to figure out which countries are doing well and which ones are doing badly.

We use international trade to talk about which counties have the most economic power.

We talk about human rights, standards of living and happiness indices to demonstrate our support for countries and their policies.

All these things are conclusions and opinions we come to based on what we read and the data we select to support our conclusions.

What I like about this picture is that you can use it to sense check your conclusions.

For example, take this image from Freedom House that shows a map of freedom in the world, from where people are least free to most free.

The parts of the map in green are the most free – and make up most of the world’s main democracies.

You may disagree with the map and its makers, but I think you will see something quite interesting when you compare this map and NASA’s image.

Countries that are free tend to have the lights on.