Panda solar parks and Uber’s e-scooter scheme: This week’s top 5 sustainability success stories

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

This weekly round-up explores how businesses and nations across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

This weekly round-up explores how businesses and nations across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

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 new Climate Leaders Coalition to a panda-shaped solar power farm, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week (9-13 July 2018)

ENERGY: China builds huge, panda-shaped solar farm

China is often viewed as a juggernaut of renewable investment, largely thanks to its unparalleled solar market, which employs two-thirds of the world’s 3.4 million solar workers. Indeed, the nation has a 60% production share for cells and 71% for solar modules, according to the latest figures from the US Trade Representative.

China’s latest solar success story came with the unveiling of a 248-acre PV farm – which has been built in the shape of a giant panda. The 50MW installation, which was unveiled earlier this month by clean energy company China Merchants New Energy Group (CMNEG), forms the first phase of a project to construct a 1,500-acre farm with a capacity of 100MW.

Once the farm is complete, CMNEG estimates that it will produce 3.2bn kWh of renewable energy over a 25-year period. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which helped CMNEG with the project, estimates it will prevent 2.7 million tonnes of CO2e emissions which would have been otherwise been created through coal-based generation over its lifetime.

RESOURCES: Coca-Cola European Partners on track to use 50% PCR plastics by 2020

Between increasing consumer pressures and sluggish policy changes, corporates are being stretched to their limits to tackle the plastics problem, with the likes of  Procter and Gamble (P&G),  Adidas and American Express recently unveiling products and packaging incorporating post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics in a bid to tackle the issue.

Another such pledge came from Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), which last year committed to ensuring that all of its bottles contained at least 50% PCR plastic by 2020.

Updating stakeholders on the firm’s progress at an event in London this week, CCEP’s head of sustainability, Nick Brown, revealed that the beverage giant was to take its “first steps” towards the aim this year by re-designing all its large polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles to include 40% PCR plastics.

Brown said this move would be “no mean feat” for the company, as it would involve the re-design of at least 14 bottles. He additionally revealed that the average proportion of recycled material in a CCEP bottle had increased from 30% in 2010 to 40% in 2018, putting the company on track to meet its 2020 ambition.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: 19th-century home achieves Passivhaus energy rating after retrofit

The past few months have proved to be a time of continued progress for sustainability ambitions in the UK's construction sector, with the Government last week committing to halve the energy use and emissions of new buildings by 2030 and edie’s own Sector Insight report finding that two-thirds of construction businesses are now more committed to taking action on sustainability than they were 12 months ago.

This week saw The Portman Estate, which owns 110 acres of land in London’s West End, complete the refurbishment of a 19th century home which has now met the Passivhaus standard for energy efficiency.

Gloucester Place Mews, a Grade II listed building, was fitted with LED lighting, triple glazing and wall insulation to minimise the amount of electricity needed for heat and lighting, while an electric vehicle (EV) chargepoint and a ventilation system were installed to further boost its sustainability credentials.

The building has achieved Passivhaus EnerPHit standard – a subcategory with the highest energy efficiency standard in the world for refurbishments - and BREEAM “Excellent” status. The refurbishment has reduced the building’s carbon emissions by 75% and its annual energy bills by hundreds of pounds, The Portman Estate claims.

MOBILITY: Uber to offer electric scooter rental in US and Europe 

Alongside its move to electrify its portfolio of taxis in the UK, Uber this week announced that customers in 46 cities where it operates will soon be able to rent pedal bicycles, electric scooters and e-bikes through its app.

The update comes after Uber contributed to a joint £253m fund for e-scooter brand Lime, which currently operates in 70 cities across the US and Europe. Announcing the news on the Lime website, co-founders Toby Sun and Brad Bao wrote that Uber had made a “sizable investment” to the fund, which was also backed by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Sun and Bao claimed that the funding would “make it increasingly easy to live without a car” in urban areas, noting that Lime’s bikes and scooters had helped to offset more than 2,375 tonnes of CO2e emissions since the company was founded in 2016.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: New Zealand businesses unveil Climate Leaders Coalition 

There is growing recognition among those in the vanguard of corporate sustainability that the transition to a low-carbon economy is a pre-competitive issue that can only be achieved through collaboration.

Evidently, businesses in New Zealand have fully bought into this ethos. In total, 60 chief executives of businesses making up nearly 50% of New Zealand’s emissions have joined forces to tackle the issue of climate change.

The Climate Leaders Coalition - which includes the chief executives of Z, Westpac, Ngai Tahu Holdings, Vector, Air New Zealand, Spark and NZ Post – will help the nation transition to a low-carbon economy, with WWF New Zealand’s chief executive Livia Esterhazy hailing the group as an “unprecedented” business opportunity.

As part of the Coalition, business leaders have announced or reconfirmed their support for the Paris Agreement and have called for a Climate Commission to be introduced by the national government to enshrine carbon budgets into law.

Sarah George


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