The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 reversed a decades long trend for increasing global emissions, which fell by 6.4% across the year as a whole, the equivalent of 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon. For several major economies the drop was even more profound: the United States saw a 13% drop, while the UK’s emissions fell by 10.7%. What is important now is that 2020 isn’t simply an outlier on an otherwise annual upward trend.
Despite the fall in emissions, the scale of disruption required to achieve them is concerning when compared to the progress needed to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Accord. Even with the majority of the globe entering strict lockdowns for a large portion of 2020, the 6.4% fall in total emissions was below the 7.6% cut required annually over the next decade to limit global warming to 1.5C.
The Green Recovery
The term Green Recovery has been adopted by the UK, European Union and United States to describe packages of environmental, regulatory, and fiscal reforms designed to help economies rapidly recover from the impact of the pandemic. At the same time, policies will focus on reducing the impact of global warming, reducing fossil fuel use, and introducing more renewable energy and sustainable business practices and infrastructure.
For the UK, which has established itself as a frontrunner in terms of committing to concrete carbon reduction targets, the Green Recovery represents a significant opportunity for businesses to address sustainability, adopt innovative new technologies and access new funding options and business opportunities. The CBI announced this week that they calculate the total collective benefit of the Green Recover at £700 billion in the coming decade.
A Unique Opportunity
The prospect of a Green Recovery presents a unique opportunity for businesses to overhaul their sustainability efforts and accelerate actions towards reducing carbon emissions. A survey by Edie carried out in August 2020 found that 9 in 10 sustainability, energy, and CSR professionals believed that COVID-19 recovery plans presented a valuable opportunity to accelerate climate action.
The need to put science-based targets in place and make quantifiable progress towards net zero carbon hasn’t changed, with businesses still facing a combination of legislative, consumer, and investor expectation to go green. As businesses and the wider economy recover from the impacts of lockdown and lay out plans for future growth, it offers an ideal opportunity to rebuild energy strategies to ensure that consistent, effective measures that will deliver quantifiable sustainability improvements are put in place.
During lockdown, many businesses faced the need for bold changes in their operations to survive, particularly around where staff were located and how meetings were conducted, with large portions of day-to-day activity shifting online. The significant reduction in emissions linked to transport is one example of an immediate, substantial step towards net zero that would perhaps have been overlooked or delayed if it had not become a necessity.
With that in mind, there is now a clear opportunity for businesses to embrace more radical, dramatic changes in their energy strategy, operations, or processes that could offer similarly substantial boosts to sustainability. A broad and growing range of technologies and techniques are available to explore, meaning that finding the right advice is vital to rolling out an effective sustainability strategy while ensuring ongoing profitability and resilience.
EV charging represents one major step that offers significant carbon reductions for a wide variety of businesses and organisations. While implementing EV charging on-site may not be as simple as just having the charging points installed, getting the infrastructure in place offers a dramatic reduction in your transport-related carbon footprint. As on-site generation such as solar and wind becomes both more efficient and cost-competitive, it offers another source of potential carbon reductions. At the same time, it can offer additional benefits such as reduced energy bills, particularly when paired with a battery storage solution to ensure the energy generated is used as efficiently as possible.
Implementing major changes to your energy strategy and infrastructure requires careful planning and consideration to minimise disruption and ensure suitable carbon savings are secured. Every site is different, and a comprehensive feasibility study should be undertaken beforehand. The growth of simulated systems and digital twins means that it is now possible to model an entire system and test for potential problems digitally, ensuring that it will be running as expected once actually implemented.
To find out how Powerstar can provide a solution that fits with your organisation’s sustainability goals whilst providing better energy resilience and control over your energy use, speak to one of our team here.
27 May 2021