Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, mobility, built environment and business leadership. 

From a new addition to the select number of companies to have set 1.5C emission reduction targets, to the unveiling of plans for Europe’s first “smart” transport hub, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: RE100 companies now collectively sourcing 188TWh of renewables annually

It’s been a week of good news stories for renewables, with Spain announcing plans to run on 100% clean power by 2050 and EU Member States voting to increase the proportion of the bloc’s energy needs which must be met with renewable generation by 2030.

Aside from green policies, the past week also marked the publication of The Climate Group’s latest update on its RE100 initiative, which encourages businesses of all sizes and sectors to publicly commit to source 100% renewable power, either from onsite arrays or through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Published on Thursday (15 November), the update reveals that the scheme is now covering 155 companies, which are collectively sourcing 188TWh of renewable power annually – 41% more than they did in 2016. According to The Climate Group, this figure is greater than the electricity demand of Argentina and Portugal combined.

“With so much depressing news at the moment, here we have refreshing, positive story of how ambitious corporate action is changing the world for the better,” The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson said.

RESOURCES: Peacocks pledges to phase out plastic bags by New Year’s Eve

With the Government consulting on whether it should raise the plastic bag charge to 10p after the 5p charge led to a significant drop in plastic waste, retailers such as Waitrose & Partners are future-proofing their plastics strategies to eliminate single-use bags altogether.

In the latest sustainability success story for plastic bags, discount fashion retailer Peacocks this week unveiled plans to remove single-use bags from all its stores in the UK and Ireland before the end of December. The company, which has more than 500 stores across the two markets, will replace its plastic bags with bio-degradable alternatives that allegedly decompose within two months when sent to commercial composting facilities.

“We are delighted to be rolling out bio-degradable bags across all of our stores as part of a wider overall strategy of reducing our environmental footprint whilst continuing to offer our customers amazing quality and value,” Peacocks’ finance director Leighton Humphreys said.

MOBILITY: Plans for Europe’s first ‘smart mobility’ centre unveiled in Warwickshire

While several big-name carmakers have launched new electric vehicle (EV) models in the past week, the past seven days have also been something of a boon for EV research and infrastructure.

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) was this week granted planning permission to build its flagship research and development facility in Coventry, for example – an announcement which was promptly followed by news that Europe’s first “smart mobility” centre is set to be built in Warwickshire.

Based across the University of Warwick’s Coventry and Warwickshire campuses, the multi-million-pound facility will serve as a hub for researchers from the University and Jaguar Land Rover, who will collaborate to develop driverless and modular EVs. It is hoped that these technologies will improve mobility, reduce congestion and limit road traffic accidents while benefitting the environment.

“The centre brings together government support for applied technology research, WMG at the University of Warwick’s research expertise and Jaguar Land Rover’s leading research and engineering capabilities,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said.

“This is a clear example of our Industrial Strategy in practice as we execute our Future Mobility Grand Challenge.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Prototype for tiny off-grid ‘eco-home’ completed in the US

Currently, 54% of the world’s population resides in urban locations, with an extra two billion people expected to migrate to cities by 2030. With this population growth and relocation set to put pressure on infrastructure and resources, companies within the built environment sector are moving at a pace to design climate-resilient, low-carbon homes which are compact enough for city living.

Among them is Gray Organschi Architecture (GOA), which has been collaborating with researchers at Yale University to develop an off-grid micro-home featuring a rooftop solar array and an indoor farming wall.

Unveiled in Connecticut earlier this week, the wedge-shaped dwelling has just 230 square feet of floor space but is designed for four people. Built from sustainably-sourced timber, it features passive heating and cooling systems, a hydroponic farming wall and a battery storage system.

The prefabricated building also collects, stores and filters rainwater. During humid weather, a dehumidifier system captures moisture from the air and supplements the rainwater supply.

The design is currently in the prototype phase, with GOA estimating that it could produce homes for less than $50,000 each if production were scaled up.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: NEC Corporation and Pukka Herbs get stamp of approval for science-based targets

In the wake of last month’s landmark climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), businesses and policymakers are already moving at a rapid pace to explore ways to reduce their carbon emissions and limit global warming before it reaches catastrophic levels.

Among them is Japanese IT giant NEC Corporation, which this week announced approved science-based targets on a 2C trajectory, including a goal to slash its Scope 1 and Scope 2 (direct) emissions by a third by 2031, compared to 2018 levels. The firm is also targeting a 34% reduction in Scope 3 (indirect) emissions from its products against the same deadline.

Elsewhere, organic tea brand Pukka Herbs has become the smallest business in the world to receive the stamp of approval for its science-based targets in line with a 1.5C trajectory. The company’s pledge to bid to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2030 has placed it into a small group of companies to have set targets compliant with the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious trajectory, along with BT, Carlsberg and Tesco.

“As the recent IPCC report tells us, there is now a small window of opportunity. Keeping temperature rises to within 1.5 degrees is, quite literally for many, the only way to live,” Pukka Herbs co-founder Sebastian Pole said.

“This demands serious commitment and bold action from everyone, no matter what size their business. It is no use waiting for governments to take action, businesses have a responsibility to act as a force for good and now.”

Sarah George

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