Green trade round-up: industry responds to formation of new Net Zero department

Wed 15 Feb 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Net Zero logo surrounded by images of green energy symbols

The environment and sustainability continues to be a hot topic for international traders, as both government and industry step up their efforts to tackle climate change.

Last week, prime minister Rishi Sunak created a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to help the UK hit its Net Zero target.

Here, the IOE&IT Daily Update looks at the department’s first efforts and other key developments in green and sustainable trade.

Mixed reaction to new department

Industry has given a mixed reaction to the new energy and net zero department headed by Grant Shapps.

The new minister is tasked with “securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation”, alongside seizing “the opportunities of net zero”.

However, Edie reports that opinion is divided on whether giving Net Zero a dedicated Cabinet Office seat will give the issue a higher profile in the business community as Sunak’s reshuffle has put business support elements into the new Department for Business and Trade.

UK Corporate Leaders Group’s programme director Beverley Cornaby said the split in responsibilities will leave businesses wondering who will be leading the green growth agenda.

However, others such as Chris Skidmore MP, author of the Net-Zero Review, welcomed the move.

Hydrogen boost

The government has announced plans to introduce a certification scheme to boost the UK’s low carbon hydrogen sector by 2025.

There is currently no recognised way for producers of low carbon hydrogen to prove their credentials.

A statement said the move would “play a vital role in decarbonising the UK hydrogen sector, promoting cross-border trade whilst stimulating growth and jobs in green hydrogen.”

The news came after the first ever digger using a hydrogen combustion engine has been given government approval to operate on UK roads and building sites.

Clean air-flights

The government has also announced £113m of government investment to explore cutting-edge new aviation technologies which could support, among other applications, hydrogen powered aircraft and lightweight batteries.

Shapps said: “As the whole world moves to greener forms of aviation, there is a massive opportunity for the UK’s aerospace industry to secure clean, green jobs and growth for decades to come.”

EU representatives are also seeking proposals to access €350m of funding in the Clean Aviation initiative intended to advance decarbonisation technology for air transport.

However, a shortage of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) could hinder efforts to decarbonise air transport, Martin Drew, Etihad Cargo’s SVP of cargo and sales told the Loadstar.

Just 0.03% of the 450 billion litres a year of SAF required to fuel the sector was produced globally last year.

Greenwashing report

Samsung, Nestlé and Uniqlo are among corporate giants accused of making “misleading” claims about their plans to combat global warming, and are on course to miss their own targets.

The Times reports that the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor looked at the records of 24 big companies that committed to reducing the carbon they release into the atmosphere by more than 40% by 2030. However, the report estimated the average reduction at between 2019 and 2030 is 15-21%.

Only shipping company Maersk was judged to have a climate plan with “reasonable integrity”.

Bloomberg reports that net zero pledges made by some of the world’s largest corporations will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by just 36%, far short of the progress required to avert a catastrophic increase in global temperatures.

ECT withdrawal

The Guardian reports that experts have urged the UK to leave the controversial energy charter treaty (ECT), a secret court system that enables fossil fuel companies to sue governments over policies that could affect future profits.

In a notable U-turn, the European Commission (EC) proposed a collective and coordinated exit of all 27 member states from the ECT, reports Euronews.  

The EC said last week that remaining part of the treaty would “clearly undermine” climate targets and that an exit by EU countries appeared “inevitable”.

The EC’s proposed reform to modernise the treaty collapsed in late November due to the opposition of Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands, which had previously announced plans to unilaterally withdraw.