B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
Guy has been involved in the energy sector since 1984 working initially in the oil and gas industry as an exploration geologist for Amoco before joining the newly formed PowerGen in 1990. At PowerGen Guy worked initially in the UK core business before transferring to be part of the International expansion of developing conventional power stations in Portugal, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Pete is the Programme Director for Transport at the European Climate Foundation, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he spent 10 years analysing and reporting on politics, business and markets for the international newswire Reuters. Since 2008, he has been living in Brussels, focusing on the European politics of climate and energy. He has published several books and papers on ecology, travel and communications.
By Ilario D'Amato
This article was originally published on The Climate Group and is republished with permission.
LONDON: The renewable energy industry employs a total 9.4 million people around the world, the latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states.
Excluding large hydropower, which counts 1.3 million direct jobs worldwide, today the renewables sector employs more than 8.1 million people – a rise of 5% compared to 7.7 million last year.
Favorable policy frameworks are supporting this growth according to the report, which emphasizes the crucial role national and sub-national governments play in shaping the pathway to a clean, sustainable and prosperous economy.
To this end, the national climate pledges representing the foundations of the historic Paris Agreement must be seen “as investor prospectuses, designed to attract the brightest and best business of the low carbon future,” saysMark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. “A clean revolution is key to growth, investment, jobs, health, security: there is no high-carbon prosperous future.”
Adnan Amin, Director-General, IRENA comments on the report’s findings: “The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector. This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for renewables strengthens and as countries move to achieve their climate targets agreed in Paris.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR SOLAR
On the technology side, solar photovoltaic (PV) continues to lead the renewables revolution, employing about 2.8 million people in the world – the highest rise in all energy sectors, 11% more than the previous year. In particular, solar jobs grew in Japan and the US, counting 377,100 (+28%) and a record 194,000 jobs respectively. Globally, PV installations in 2015 were 20% larger than during the previous year, IRENA says.
The Asian region played a primary role in this boom. Last year, the Government of India announced an ambitious target of increasing solar installed capacity to 100 GW by 2022, of which 40 gigawatts (GW) would come from rooftop solar PV sector.
India’s shift to cleaner energy will bring 1 million jobs by 2022, revealing “an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike to unlock business potential and boost the nation’s energy security and access,” said Dr Parimita Mohanty, Director-Strategic Initiatives, The Climate Group.
On the contrary, solar PV employment in the European Union has fallen by 13% in 2014, the report shows. This was primarily due to a decrease in manufacturing caused by mass production in China and Taiwan, that led to a 80% reduction in the cost of panels since 2008.
WORST POLLUTER, CLEANER INVESTOR
China continues to have the lion’s share of renewables employment worldwide, with more than 3.5 million people in the sector supporting the country’s irresistible rise in clean energy. As a comparison, the country’s oil and gas sector employs 2.6 million people.
Last year, China added more than a third of the global renewable energy capacity additions, the report states. The country’s solar boom is shifting it from its chronic coal dependence, which has caused chronic air pollution in many cities.
China’s solar PV installations increased to a record 15 GW (up from 9.5 GW in 2014), while wind reached 507,000 jobs. Crucially, the country continues to lead in overall clean energy investment, having invested more than US$110 billion in the last year – demonstrating how finance is crucial to accelerate the transition toward a low carbon economy.
US SOLAR HAS WIND ON ITS BACK
Renewables employment in the US increased by 6% last year, reaching 769,000 people, driven by a boom in solar and wind. In fact, solar grew by almost 22% to reach 209,000 employees – 12 times faster than job creation in the whole US economy – mostly thanks to PV and the installations subsector.
Wind employment in the country rose by more than 20% to 88,000 jobs, as new capacity additions grew by two-thirds since 2014 and annual installations by 77% to reach 8.6 GW in 2015.
The residential market is pushing this growth, which is expected to continue thanks to policies drafted by the Congress, IRENA’s report underlines.
But while the clean energy sector at large employs more than 2.5 million Americans, the vast majority (1.9 million) work in the energy efficiency sector, a recent report by Environmental Entrepreneurs shows.
EUROPE STILL LAGGING
Conversely, adverse policy conditions – combined with economic crises – led to reduced investments in the EU’s renewables sector. Clean jobs dropped 3% to reach 1.17 million in 2014, with the wind sector accounting for the majority of them.
While offshore wind dominated jobs growth in the UK, Germany and Denmark – with the three countries leading total global jobs in the sector – the PV sector dramatically dropped, reaching a third of its peak in 2011. The report suggests this decrease was again due to the manufacturing crisis.
“As the ongoing energy transition accelerates, growth in renewable energy employment will remain strong,” concluded Adnan Amin.
“IRENA’s research estimates that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 – enough to meet global climate and development targets – would result in more than 24 million jobs worldwide.”
This article was originally published on Eco – Business and is republished with permission.
Even if he wins the US presidency, Donald Trump will be unable to halt international progress towards a low-carbon economy, a British expert says.
Donald Trump’s statement that he would want to renegotiate the Paris Agreement on climate change if he is elected US president is “meaningless”, one seasoned British climate expert says.
“Donald Trump doesn’t appear to know much about anything except headlines”, Tom Burke told the Climate News Network. “He knows less than most of the political leaders I’ve dealt with in the last 40 years. This is meaningless posturing.”
Burke, a former head of Friends of the Earth UK, is chairman of E3G, a group which works to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
In an interview with Reuters news agency Trump said he was “not a big fan” of the Paris climate accord, which provides for reductions in carbon emissions by more than 170 countries.
He said he would want to renegotiate the deal because, in his view, it treats the US unfairly and gives favourable treatment to countries like China.
“I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else”, the Republican frontrunner told Reuters.
There are concerns that any such renegotiation of the deal would be a significant setback for the first truly global climate accord, which commits both rich and poor nations to tackling the rise in the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
France’s former foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, one of the chief architects of the Paris Agreement, said recently: “Think about the impact of the coming US presidential elections. If a climate change denier was to be elected, it would threaten dramatically global action against climate disruption.”
But Burke scorns the idea that Trump – if he means what he says about renegotiation, and if he wins the presidency – could do serious damage to the Agreement.
“This is a vacuous piece of posturing, a message to his potential supporters on the political right”, he said. “If the media interrogated Trump rigorously, people would recognise him as a soap bubble.
“Who would he renegotiate the Agreement with? He can’t renegotiate on his own, and the rest of the world is moving on.
"Trump can repudiate the Agreement, but it won’t make a scrap of difference to the rest of the world." Tom Burke, chair, E3G
“Trump can do what George W Bush did when he was president: he can withdraw the US from its obligations, as Bush did with the Kyoto Protocol. But it made no difference.”
“Trump can repudiate the Agreement, but it won’t make a scrap of difference to the rest of the world. The drive towards a low-carbon economy is being propelled, not by law, not by constraints, but by opportunity. China and the US reached a deal in Paris because it was in their interests to do so. What Trump cannot do is renegotiate the Agreement.”
What Trump’s own supporters will think of his statement is anyone’s guess. A recent survey found that more than half of them believe global warming is happening. Although almost all those surveyed blamed natural causes, nearly half thought the US should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries did.
Tom Burke thinks many people have not yet recognised how little Donald Trump really knows. “All this sends a very negative signal to the rest of the world, that he’d be a very ignorant president”, he says.
“And of course it sends a clear signal to people who have property in Florida: sell now while sea levels still leave you something to sell.”
This article was originally published on Trucost and is republished with permission.
Companies using sustainable plastic could deliver $3.5 billion environmental savings, according to a discussion paper published today by Trucost. To achieve these benefits, business and policymakers have to massively scale up initiatives such as plastic recycling and bioplastics.
The Trucost paper Scaling Sustainable Plastics: Solutions to Drive Plastics towards a Circular Economy identifies the actions needed by companies, governments, environmentalists and researchers to achieve industry-wide scaling up of sustainable plastics. The paper draws on interviews with plastics and recycling experts, as well as case studies of companies that have worked with Trucost to measure the environmental benefits of initiatives, including US computer giant Dell and green technology company Algix.
Plastic has many benefits ranging from reducing food waste by providing packaging to cutting transport pollution due to its light weight. However, around 8% of current fossil fuel dependency is attributed to plastic production and much of our plastic is used just once and then thrown away. The environmental cost to society of plastic use by the consumer goods sector alone is estimated at $75 billion, largely due to climate change and pollution impacts, in particular marine pollution.
Innovations to achieve a more circular economy such as closed loop recycling, plant-based plastic and biodegradable polymers offer ways to reduce the environmental cost of conventional, fossil fuel-based plastic. But so far, few companies are pioneering these new processes and technologies.
For example, Dell’s OptiPlex 3030 computer is produced using recycled plastic recovered from electronic equipment from its own take-back scheme. Trucost’s environmental benefit analysis identifies environmental cost savings to society of $700 million per year if the entire computer manufacturing industry switched to closed-loop recycled plastic.
“There are significant benefits to embracing a circular economy“said Scott O’Connell, Director, Environmental Affairs at Dell. “Our closed loop plastics supply chain enables a resource-efficient product made from recycled content that costs Dell less. Companies need to realize sustainability programs are just good business.”
Algix makes a low-carbon polymer called Solaplast from algae. Trucost demonstrates that if the footwear sector switched to Solaplast, it could reduce its environmental cost by $1.5 billion per year. If the soft drinks sector used the algae-based plastic, it could deliver benefits to the tune of $1.3 billion.
Trucost’s paper identifies the barriers that are preventing business sectors from scaling up use of sustainable plastic and recommends solutions to overcome them. First and foremost is that waste plastic is undervalued in our economy. This is because the market does not price in environmental costs such as climate change and human health impacts from petrochemical plastic production, or the damage done to the marine environment by plastic waste.
The solution is for policymakers to correctly value plastic, providing an incentive for companies and consumers to recycle it into new products and reduce the need for virgin polymers. It would also encourage the switch to plant-based and biodegradable-plastic where appropriate. Businesses can benefit from this shift to a circular economy by acting now to understand the risks and opportunities it presents. By valuing the environmental costs and benefits of plastic use, companies are in a better position to take informed decisions.
The paper contains a dozen further recommendations for different stakeholders aimed at increasing access to feedstock, improving product quality, addressing financial challenges, and boosting market demand.
“Our research identifies solutions to the challenges of scaling up the market for sustainable plastic,” said Richard Mattison, chief executive of Trucost. “By assessing the environmental cost benefits of sustainable plastic initiatives, companies and governments can better understand the business case for investment.”
Doug Woodring, co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance which supported the discussion paper, said: “Companies now realize that environmental sustainability has a positive impact not only on the communities they serve, but also on their own bottom line. Managing the plastic ecosystem through recycling, reuse and closed-loop methods can create jobs, save money, improve brand value and create supply-chain efficiency.”
© Copyright 2013. B4E Summit by Global Initiatives. All rights reserved.