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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 | 16.03.24

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Today we're diving into a new study that reveals Europe's positive progress in reducing pollutants (but with a catch), exploring how the EV boom is turning China's gas car factories into zombies, we get the scoop on Shell's climate targets shake-up and investigate a report casting doubt on the ecological benefits of having a global electric vehicle fleet.

We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.

Chart of the Week

As of 2024, Sonnedix and OVO Group spearhead the green tech wave across the UK renewable energy sector, amassing £284 million and £259 million in funding, respectively.

Top Stories

🌬️ Air pollution levels have improved in Europe over the last 20 years — with significant reductions in pollutants like PM2.5 and NO2 — a new study shows. Despite this, researchers found that over 98% of Europeans still face unhealthy levels of PM2.5.


💀 Zombie car factories on the rise in China as buyers opt for EVs. This surge in EV demand has left numerous factories built for gasoline-powered cars idle, with some facing permanent closure.


🏭 Shell shakes up climate targets as it plans to keep gas business growing. The energy giant sparked criticism after it decided to water down its commitments to tackling climate change. The company's new strategy prioritises increased oil and gas production despite warnings from climate experts.


❄️ Greenpeace report links lack of Insulation to thousands of winter deaths. Poorly insulated homes in the UK are estimated to claim 58 lives every winter day. Government decisions to cut insulation funding have contributed to this outcome, the report claims.

Climate Change

🌳 New study shows planting trees may not be as good for the climate as previously believed. The absorption of sunlight by dark forests and the release of compounds slowing methane destruction could offset carbon storage benefits.


🧊 Arctic could become 'ice-free' within a decade, new research warns. While complete absence of ice isn't predicted, a critical threshold will be met when the Arctic dips below 20% of its historical summer ice cover.


🦖 Fossils of giant sea lizards reveal a past ocean teeming with diverse life. These newly discovered fossils, dating back 66 million years, show a dramatically more biodiverse ocean ecosystem to what we see today.


🗻 Grounding zone discovery explains accelerated melting under Greenland's glaciers. Researchers discovered "grounding zones" — areas where warm ocean water directly reaches the underside of the glaciers, causing faster melting.


Stat of the week 

Rising greenhouse gas concentrations helped make February 2024 about


warmer than "pre-industrial" times, said the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service last week.


Green Tech

🤖 AI to reduce annual carbon footprint by 50% in the built world. By optimising construction design, managing energy use, and streamlining waste disposal, AI tech could significantly reduce the built environment's carbon footprint.


🚜 Ammonia production is filthy — but this ‘nitrolyzer’ tech could clean it up: The machine boasts the ability to produce ammonia directly on farms using just air, water, and renewable electricity, eliminating carbon emissions altogether.


🪵 Plywood Turbines? Meet the startup reinventing this humble material for clean energy. Swedish startup Modvion is building 105m wind turbine towers made almost entirely of plywood. This building approach promises a cheaper, lighter, and more sustainable future for wind farms across Europe.


🚗 Volvo invests in UK software startup to boost EV charging speed by 30%. The innovative technology works by intelligently managing battery health, allowing EVs to charge faster without needing new hardware or materials.



 In case you missed it

Watch the first ever test of a magnetic levitation train running on a regular track, courtesy of Italian firm IronLev. Was the trial a success? See the video evidence here:

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