We don’t want to be preachy or boring but this blog is where we share our values and experiences and write about the issues shaping the future of our businesses and our society. Catch a glimpse into our lives and find out what’s new in our world...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Fierce Competition For Green Jobs

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action held a Round Table earlier this month with the heads of some of Europe’s largest companies to discuss how the EU can best maintain its lead in the transition to a climate-friendly, low-carbon global economy.  Top managers from a number of major companies, including BASF, BP, Nokia, Philips, Shell and Siemens were invited to participate in the event.

At a press conference after the Round Table, the Commissioner remarked that global competition for green growth and green jobs is getting fiercer and that Europe no longer leads in the field of renewable energy in terms of the installation of new capacity.  She cited a 2010 renewable energy attractiveness index which now ranks China and the US as the most attractive places for investment in renewables installations.

The Commissioner said business leaders showed a strong belief that Europe should make use of market forces in the transition to a climate-friendly economy.  The price of carbon, for example, should be higher than it is as without it, there is not enough of an incentive to apply and disseminate new technologies and invest in renewables and energy-efficient solutions.  Business leaders also called for a better electricity grid, to get Europe’s infrastructure right in this field.

Gerardus Ruizendaal from Philips noted that next to a good carbon price system and market mechanisms, the EU needs to set clear and demanding standards in terms of the energy-efficiency of products. With such standards he said, companies would innovate, allocate resources, reach these standards and then export on the basis of these standards.

The event was organised against a backdrop of government efforts in many countries to support green infrastructure and clean energy production and boost climate-related research and development,  according to the Commission.

Separately, the European Commission announced last week that emissions of greenhouse gases from EU businesses participating in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell 11.6% in 2009 compared with 2008, according to data from Member State registries.  In response, Commissioner Hedegaard said the economic crisis had made it easier for business to reduce their emissions but on the flipside “European business did not invest nearly as much as planned in innovation, which could harm our future ability to compete on promising markets.”

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Changes To The Network

We’re happy to welcome Faye Shanley and Anne-Sophie Duchene to the Sustainability Consult Network.  As the snow melts and we move into Spring 2010, we’ve been looking to strengthen the Network, to make the best of the great mix of skills and experience at our disposal.

Faye Shanley comes to us from New York with a background in international relations and Anne-Sophie Duchene is a Brussels old hand, having worked in a number of trade associations and more recently as a freelance consultant. 

They are both an excellent fit with the Sustainability Consult philosophy that being flexible, whether that be for travel, family or just to be open to new experiences, and having choices leads to better quality of work and life.  When we are fulfilled in our personal lives, our work is better and we are more creative.  Our clients notice the difference.

Welcome Ladies!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

New UK Govt Stance On Environment

The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in the UK is setting out its stall on a host of policy issues, including its plans for the environment.  Some of the proposed measures represent a continuation of the policies of the Labour government while others are a departure from previous strategies. 

In its initial negotiations, the Coalition has agreed on a programme of measures to achieve a “low carbon and eco-friendly economy” including a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.

The new government supports public investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for four coal-fired stations and seeks to increase the target for energy from renewable sources.  The provision of home energy improvements will be paid for by savings from lower energy bills, according to initial policy statements from the Conservative party.  Also on the agenda are a “green investment bank” and a high-speed rail network, which were previously Labour government initiatives.

The Coalition also intends to set up a smart grid and the roll-out of smart meters and a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

On nuclear power, despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives will allow the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided that they receive no public subsidy.  

Controversially, the new government has ruled out plans for a third runway for Heathrow airport or additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted and the UK’s air passenger duty will be replaced by a new “per-flight” tax.

The new Minister for the Environment is the Conservative MP, Caroline Spelman, who has a background in agriculture.  Liberal Democrat and former MEP Chris Huhne is the new Minister for Energy and Climate Change, something which many environmentalists should presumably welcome, provided his hands are not tied by their coalition partners. 

Another loss in Brussels is former MEP Caroline Lucas, who became the first Green Party Member of the UK Parliament, representing the southern English town of Brighton.