GALLERY: Top 10 sustainability stories in November 2014

What were the biggest stories for sustainability professionals in November? Find out in our round-up which takes a look-back at the month in pictures.

In the second instalment of top-10 round-up, edie has highlighted some of the news and features our readers were keen to read and share during the month of November 2014.

It was a month of big green pledges from multinational companies including Amazon’s 100% renewable energy commitment and a collective agreement from 50 major players in the electricals sector to reduce their environmental impact. There was also a stark statement from UN Sectretary General Ban Ki-moon on the dangers of inaction on climate change and an historic deal between the US and China – the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

But by far the most-read story of the month was the announcement of edie’s Sustainability Leaders Award-winners.

GALLERY: November’s top 10 sustainability news stories

1) Sustainability Leaders Awards 2014: Winners announced at glittering ceremony

The great and the good of the sustainability sector descended upon the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on the night of 19 November for the eighth year of edie’s Awards which celebrate the very best in sustainable business.

A glittering ceremony, hosted by TV comedian and environmentalist Alistair McGowan, saw 74 shortlisted finalists whittled down to winners in 14 categories ranging from Carbon Management to Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Reporting. 

2) IPCC: Fossil fuels ‘must be phased out by 2100’ to limit climate change

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

Those were the stark words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the launch of an equally stark Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 2 November – the most important assessment of global warming yet.

After a week of intense debate between scientists and government officials in Copenhagen, the Report concluded that climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts will involve phasing out fossil fuels by 2100 and growing the use of renewables from its current 30% share to 80% of the power sector by 2050.

Poland and other eastern Europe countries categorically rejected the target put forward by the world’s top climate scientists to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2100 to avoid dangerous global warming, leaked documents show.

3) Ed Davey: ESOS regulation will accelerate UK’s green growth

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey fended off criticism of the Government’s impending Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), insisting that a regulatory approach to improving the nation’s energy efficiency is the right one. 

Speaking to edie at an ESOS business event in London on 26 November, Davey said the implementation of the mandatory scheme for all large businesses is ‘completely necessary’ and will have an ‘important impact’ on the UK’s energy future, despite some aspects of the scheme overlapping with similar efficiency regulations.

4) Judicial review on solar subsidy cut dismissed by High Court

A judicial review launched earlier this year by four solar companies in response to DECC’s decision to end subsidies for large solar farms was rejected on the morning of 7 November by the High Court. 

Early this summer, DECC announced plans to end the Renewable Obligation scheme – which is the main support mechanism for renewable electricity projects in the UK – for solar farms larger than 5MW from April 1 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

5) China and US strike deal on carbon cuts in push for global climate pact

The United States and China unveiled a secretly negotiated deal to reduce their greenhouse gas output, with China agreeing to cap emissions for the first time and the US committing to deep reductions by 2025. 

The pledges in an agreement struck between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jingping on 12 November, provide an important boost to international efforts to reach a global deal on reducing emissions beyond 2020 at a United Nations meeting in Paris next year.

The industry reaction was vociferous and diverse, as experts shared different views, even from within the same organisation. The agreement was described as a massive symbolic step, an empty unambitious gesture and everything in-between.

6) UK pledges £720m to Green Climate Fund

On 20 November, the UK committed to fund 12% of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) up to a maximum of £720m, in order to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate. 

The $1.1bn sum is more than France and Germany gave (both $1bn), and less than the US and Japan, who gave $3bn and $1.5bn respectively. 

7) Electrical giants sign green pledge

Global electrical powerhouses including Panasonic, Samsung and LG Electronics were among 50 major players in the electricals sector to sign up to a new green commitment that focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the products they manufacture. 

The commitment, called Electrical and Electronic Sustainability Action Plan (esap), was launched at WRAP’s Resources Limited conference in London on 18 November. 

8) Timberland and Omni United champion circular economy with ‘road-to-shoe’ tyres

On 4 November, global outdoor-wear company Timberland and tyre manufacturer and distributor Omni United teamed up to produce a line of tyres intended to be recycled into footwear out-soles once finished with on the road. 

The tyre and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. Timberland Tires will ensure no tyres are used for fuel or end up in landfill through an innovative tyre return chain of custody process.

9) Amazon makes long-term renewable energy pledge

On 20 November, Amazon pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy usage, after criticism from Greenpeace for being ‘stuck in a dirty energy past’. 

This week, Amazon – on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) website – has stated a ‘long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for [its] global infrastructure footprint,’ following a Greenpeace April report which ranked Amazon as one of the poorest performing data centre operators. 

10) All aboard the Bio-Bus: UK’s first human-waste-powered bus unveiled

On 20 November, the UK’s first bus powered by human and food waste made its debut journey in Bristol.

The Bio-Bus is capable of travelling up to 300km on gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste. Engineers believe it could provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport – producing fewer emissions than diesel-powered vehicles and helping improve air quality in towns and cities.

Lois Vallely

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