Race to Net Zero
Your weekly CogX briefing on green tech and the future of energy
The week's developments in green tech & energy policy, explained | 04.11.23
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In his forthcoming King's Speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to tackle vital energy-related measures, including plans for future oil and gas drilling in the North Sea. Meanwhile, a new survey found that 30% of global businesses will rely on fossil fuels well into the 2050s, with respondents citing a lack of market and policy incentives as the most significant barriers to energy transition.
Unprecedented ocean warming has set the stage for the alarming intensification of storms like Hurricane Otis, which claimed the lives of at least 45 people and left dozens missing in Mexico last week. Plus, a new cutting-edge eDNA technology is set to revolutionise the future of environmental accountability — but could it also become the next greenwashing champion?
We cover these stories and more in today’s edition — from new ways to create energy from carbon dioxide to the renewable giants’ dwindling returns.
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CogX Must Reads
Rishi Sunak set to prioritise energy at King’s Speech
The legislative package is expected to focus on energy-related measures, including plans to advance North Sea oil and gas exploration. Energy industry experts and senior figures in Whitehall say they expect ministers to include legislation for a new oil and gas licensing round, despite the UK’s commitments to move away from fossil fuels. (The Guardian)
Global firms prolong fossil fuel use despite net zero pledges
Over 30% of global businesses expect to continue using fossil fuels well into the 2050s, a new survey finds. This is despite many already committing to reach net zero targets well ahead of this date. Experts say that a lack of market and policy incentives makes it challenging for even the most innovative companies to meet targets. (Fortune)
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How rising ocean temperatures are fueling tropical cyclones
Unprecedented ocean warming is leading to the rapid intensification of storms like Hurricane Otis, which caused the deaths of at least 45 people and left dozens missing in Mexico last week. As global temperatures continue to rise and sea levels increase, scientists predict that tropical cyclones will become more powerful and destructive. (Washington Post)
Global brands at risk of missing plastic targets
Some of the world's biggest consumer goods companies — including PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever — are almost certain to miss their 2025 sustainability goals for plastic packaging, according to a new report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Experts say that over 20 trillion wrappers, pouches and sachets could end up in the ocean if ambitious measures are not enforced. (Food Navigator)
Stat of the week
Using Local Climate Bonds, UK councils could unlock up to
for essential green initiatives. These bonds serve as a valuable resource, channelling funding into projects focused on renewables and energy efficiency. (Green Finance Institute)
DNA detectives could be the future of biodiversity monitoring
Startups are harnessing cutting-edge eDNA science to help big companies monitor their environmental impacts. This technology allows scientists to assess and monitor biodiversity by detecting traces of DNA that organisms shed into their environment. While eDNA has the potential to improve environmental accountability, it could open new avenues for greenwashing if left unregulated. (Bloomberg)
Scientists develop a new method to create fuel from carbon dioxide
MIT and Harvard University researchers have developed an innovative process to convert carbon dioxide into formate, a stable fuel that can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity. With over 90% carbon efficiency and the ability to be stored for years, this breakthrough could lead to emissions-free heat and power for homes and industries, offering a safer alternative to fuel cell generation. (Science Daily)
Coal down, renewables up:
Over a century of weather records reveal significant long-term temperature shifts in the UK, with all the top 10 hottest years occurring since 2003. What's more, 2022 set a new record, with the average annual temperature passing the 10°C mark for the first time. (Met Office)
Renewable firms struggle despite surge in clean energy infrastructure
Top renewable energy companies — including SunPower and Siemens Energy AG — are facing significant financial challenges despite a record-breaking number of installations. Overseas competition, overcapacity, and rising interest rates are taking a toll on the clean energy industry. (Bloomberg)
UK grants oil and gas licences amid climate concerns
The North Sea Transition Authority has granted 27 oil and gas licences in areas prioritised for quicker production. While the government sees this as a positive boost to domestic energy security, climate activists criticised the licensing as regressive — and warned of the environmental consequences of fossil fuel overreliance. (itv)
In case you missed it
David Mc Cauley, former SVP of the World Wildlife Fund stresses the importance of putting climate change adaptation first, over mitigation. In this talk, he emphasises the need to ramp up individual, national, and global protections against ever more frequent climate-induced disasters:
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