Published every week, the new series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energyresourcesinfrastructuremobility and business leadership.

This edition of the ‘Achieving Mission Possible’ round-up highlights some of the tremendous progress we are now seeing right across the globe. From a huge government investment in renewable energy generation to a nationwide ban on single-use plastics, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week (4-8 June 2018)

ENERGY: South Africa plans to add up to $4bn of renewable projects

As a new report reveals that that investment in new renewable power capacity last year was more than double that of new fossil fuel and nuclear power capacity combined, speculation has grown this week that South Africa will invite bidders for additional renewable power projects that may amount to as much as 50 billion rand ($4bn) of investment.

The fifth bid window for 1,800 MW of renewable projects under the government’s independent power producers program will start in November, a copy of Energy Minister Jeff Radebe’s speech given at a conference in Johannesburg last Friday revealed.

The programme, which was initiated in March, saw South Africa’s government sign deals with 27 independent power producers (IPPs) in a move that is set to create 61,000 jobs by 2021.

At present, 95% of the nation’s electricity comes from utility provider Eskom, which generates the vast majority of its power from coal – so government investments in renewable alternatives indicate a nationwide desire for this model to change.

RESCOURCES: India to ban single-use plastics by 2022

As the war on plastics reaches a fever pitch, a string of big-name companies across the retail, hospitality and leisure and food and drink sectors have recently announced plans to phase out single-use plastics in their operations – but India has gone one step further and banned them nationwide, setting an ambitious target date of 2022 – 20 years ahead of the UK’s proposed ban – in a bid to reduce the 25,000 metric tons of plastic waste produced by the population daily.

The UN environment agency described the policy, which was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (June 5), as “unprecedented”; while some nations such as Kenya and Chile have already banned plastic bags, the move from India has a noticeably wide scope and rapid turnaround.

“The choices that we make today will define our collective future,” Modi told the World Environment Day summit in Delhi. “The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices.”

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: World Green Building Council calls for net-zero building sector by 2030

In the wake of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent vow to halve the energy use from new buildings by 2030, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has called on the built environment sector to set ambitious targets that eliminate carbon emissions for building portfolios by 2030, in order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The WorldGBC launched its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment on Wednesday (6 June), calling on companies to track, verify and report on commitments to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their building stocks. Majid Al Futtaim, a shopping mall, retail and leisure firm in the Middle East and North Africa, Integral Group and IoT lighting firm Signify are the first three signatories of the commitment.

“This new Commitment is a huge step forward on the path towards net zero. Our vision is ambitious, but we know that the building industry has the knowledge, the technologies and the capability to deliver,” the WorldGBC’s chief executive Terri Wills said. “The Commitment will help to create unprecedented demand for green design and construction, stimulating the market to deliver net zero carbon buildings at scale.”

MOBILITY: Ryder orders 500 electric vans

Businesses are now widely expected to shift away from diesel and petrol vehicles, with several big-name brands outlining how they will use electric vehicles (EVs) to achieve their sustainable mobility goals in recent weeks, including Canary Wharf GroupZipcar and UPS.

One of the most recent developments in the EV business agenda came from US-based truck rental firm Ryder, which this week announced that it had ordered 500 fully-electric vans to scale up its North American electric commercial truck rental and ChoiceLease fleet.

The zero-emissions vehicles are made by startup Chanje and have a range of 65 miles with a full 6,000-lb payload or 150 miles of with a 3,000-lb payload. The move comes after Ryder ordered 125 Chanje vans last year.

“Ryder continues to see broadening interest in EVs from businesses of various sizes and industries, and especially from those companies in the parcel, final mile, or beverage delivery space,” Ryder’s president of global fleet management solutions, Dennis Cooke, said. “Additionally, there’s interest from customers who have daily return to base routes of 40 to 100 miles and in markets with incentives available for electric vehicles.”

LEADERSHIP: Ikea sets ambitious People and Planet Positive strategy

Widely hailed as a sustainability leader, Ikea this week unveiled several notably bold updates to its People and Planet Positive strategy, including plans to remove all single-use plastics products from its range globally, eliminate more greenhouse gas emissions than its value chain emits, and generate more renewables than it consumes.

Designing all products using only renewable and recycled materials by 2030 is a further headline goal, with the strategy also outlining plans for the global furniture retailer to champion the circular economy through take-back schemes.

“Our ambition is to become people and planet positive by 2030 while growing the Ikea business. Through our size and reach we have the opportunity to inspire and enable more than one billion people to live better lives, within the limits of the planet,” Ikea Group’s chief executive Torbjörn Lööf said.

“Change will only be possible if we collaborate with others and nurture entrepreneurship. We are committed to taking the lead working together with everyone – from raw material suppliers all the way to our customers and partners.”

 Sarah George

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