5 recent green news stories showing how global trade is moving towards carbon neutrality

Wed 25 Aug 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

green trade

Global trade has often been framed as the problem, not the solution, when it comes to a more sustainable future.

However, the IOE&IT Daily Update has here trawled through the news to find five examples of large firms and governments taking action to move global trade in the right direction, as part of the wider effort to get net-zero carbon emissions.

1. Maersk invests £1bn in carbon-neutral ships

The world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, is investing £1 billion in eight new ships that can run on carbon neutral methanol.

According to Lloyds Loading List, the investment is part of the company’s decarbonisation programme.

Each of the ships will provide 16,000 teu of space and the first is set to be delivered by ship builders Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2024. The company has an option for another four of the vessels in 2025.

More than half of Maersk’s 200 biggest customers – including Amazon, Disney and Microsoft – have set their own supply chain emission reduction programmes, reports the Guardian.

The new ships alone could save one million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

2. Department for Transport announces new ‘eco lorries’

Extra-long ‘eco lorries’, that carry more goods and could cut one in eight road freight journeys, are predicted be on British roads by next year.

The Telegraph reports that longer semi-trailers (LSTs) are set to be given the green light to be used in the UK, with a 15-year trial cut short after nine as the Department for Transport felt it had enough data to make a decision.

The Road Haulage Association welcomed the move as also helping to ease the ongoing HGV driver shortage. LSTs are up to 2.05m longer than current limits of 13.6m.

A trial of 2,600 LSTs between 2012 and 2019 led to savings of 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide – equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of about 6,000 households – and cut pollutants by 6%.

The government is intent on delivering a green industrial revolution, including its recently launched hydrogen strategy, as part of its bid to cut carbon emissions.

As well as heating homes and powering HGVs and trains, the government claims the hydrogen economy will create thousands of jobs and grow export opportunities.

3. Virgin Atlantic signs up to direct air capture

Virgin Atlantic is an early customer for a new direct air capture (DAC) facility planned for Northeast Scotland by carbon capture and storage (CCS) firm Storegga.

Edie.net reports that the airline will purchase carbon credits for the “permanent” removal and capture of CO2, which will be stored under the seabed off the Scottish coast.

Air is sucked over a liquid chemical mixture that binds the CO2, with the resulting liquid then turned into solid calcium carbonate pellets that are super-heated until they decompose into CO2 and CaO. The CO2 is treated before it is stored or sold.

According to Freight Waves, air transport is responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions, but the sector is looking at a range of interventions to reduce this figure – including more fuel-efficient planes, more sustainable aviation fuels, lighter loading pallets to reduce overall weight, and carbon offsetting schemes.

4. Supermarkets take action

Lidl is introducing traffic light eco labels to provide customers with more information on the carbon and biodiversity impact of their shopping.

Fifty products in Scotland are being subjected to a trial in which the food goods are given a total score out of 100, as well as a colour-code and a grade from A to E, reports Edie.net.

Scores take into account life-cycle assessment and the resource and nature impact of the product and its packaging. Extra points can be added for third-party certification under schemes such as Fairtrade or the Rainforest Alliance.

Also reported in Edie.net, Tesco is adding soft and flexible plastics recycling to all its large UK stores following a trial last year. The company expects to collect 1,000 tonnes a year.

Plastics will be washed and sorted before going to be made into new products and packaging. Material that cannot be reprocessed in this way will be kept out of landfill, primarily through energy-from-waste systems.

5. UKEF grants first green transition loan

The first ever government-backed ‘green transition loan’ was last week awarded to Aberdeen-based engineering and consultancy firm Wood to pursue new clean growth export opportunities.

As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, the £430m loan will be used to help the company accelerate its growth by investing in future low-carbon growth areas linked to energy transition in the UK and abroad.