February 13, 2024 Fiona Harvey
Amber’s 2023 Environmental Year-in-Review
2023 was a huge year for Environmental news, so we’ve rounded up some of our most notable moments of the year…
Wind and solar produced more electricity than gas for the first time in EU history in 2022. Ember, an energy think-tank released the European Electricity Review reporting that wind and solar made up a record 22% of the mix, an increase from just below 20% in 2021.
CDP (formally Carbon Disclosure Project) reported that less than 1% of companies have a credible climate transition plan to Net Zero. With the key gap on how to finically fund the transition in the future. Whilst upfront capital is often a challenge, there are many financial advantages for companies to benefit from an increased understanding of their business including efficiency opportunities and new ways of working.
IPCC launched their 6th Assessment Report. We’ve included some of the notable findings of the report below:
- Human induced global warming of 1.1C is causing more widespread and severe impacts to people and ecosystems than expected
- There must be a rapid shift away from burning fossil fuels at a global scale
- Adaptation can build resilience with sufficient financial support
The Plastic Packaging tax was introduced on the 1st April and was designed to support the increase of recycled plastic for both produced and imported materials. The tax applies to plastic with less than 30% recycled content and is anticipated to rapidly expand the recycled plastic market, reducing the need for virgin oil based plastics.
Is greenhushing becoming as prevalent as greenwashing? In May, research by Earthwatch Europe found that 1 in 4 British companies have under communicated sustainability practices in the previous 12 months. This could restrict collective growth in this spaces with positive steps not celebrated and embraced.
UK Government invests £7.5m in restoring peatlands. Half of the UK’s terrestrial carbon is stored in peat soils and restoring these is a critical step in nature-based solutions against climate change. It will additionally improve biodiversity, increase food security and provide better protection from flooding. In the same month the UK Government launched the Species Survival fund focused on restoring wildlife rich habitats and protect fragile ecosystems.
Could Nature save the NHS? A report by the Wildlife Trust outlined that ‘green prescribing’ tackling depression, anxiety and isolation could save the NHS £635 million per year. Net Zero is not just about reducing carbon it focuses on fixing systems to rebalance.
Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 2nd 2023, a full 151 days before the end of 2023. Earth Overshoot Day is the point at which the Earth’s annual biological capacity to regenerate is exceeded by humanity’s demand on nature. Currently Humanity’s Ecological footprint is 2.6 global hectares per person whilst the biocapacity is only 1.5 global hectares per person. To align these we must boost ecological capacity and reduce humanity’s dependence on lineal use of natural resources.
Future Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in the UK domestic rental sector were scrapped by Rishi Sunak. The timeline had seen all new tenancies achieving an EPC rating of C or better by 2025 and all existing tenancies by 2028. Whilst touted as a relief on landlords, this withdrawal is reported to impact 250,000 households who will potentially see energy costs rise by an estimated £40 million annually.
Businesses in England and Wales were banned from selling single use plastic items. This includes cutlery, containers, plates, straws and cotton buds. Outlets are encouraged to use reusable where possible and if not recyclable or biodegradable items – a great first step away from a linear system.
UK Government committed, in the Autumn Statement, to “speed up access to the national grid”. This is currently a key challenge to decarbonisation with renewable projects facing lengthy delays. This is crucial if the network is to achieve the aim of entirely low-carbon energy by 2035.
COP28 was hosted in Dubai and achieved record commitments. For the first time countries have committed to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”. Whilst many feel this is too little, the enormity of the step, especially within the global political sphere cannot be understated. Commitments were also made to progress the loss and damage fund along with a commitment to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030. This is a clear call to action for businesses to take action to reduce energy usage and invest in renewable energy.
In 2024, it’s vital to embrace transparency and celebrate your position on your Net Zero journey. Whether it’s still in it’s infancy stages or, you’re already well on your way, approaching it with an honest outlook is the way to go. Our experts can help you no matter where you are in your Net Zero plan. If you’d like to speak to one you can get in contact here.