Climate change is influencing business decisions and generating innovative ideas across the globe. Our in-country consultants have compiled some of these intriguing and creative plans from business and governments. Enjoy and be inspired.

United Kingdom (BBC, 18th Oct 2021) firms will have to disclose climate impact.

Some large UK businesses will have to start disclosing their environmental impact, under new rules set to be brought in by the Treasury. The requirements will also apply to investment products and pension schemes.

The Treasury said the new sustainability disclosure requirements (SDR) mean an investment product will now have to set out the environmental impact of the activities it finances. In addition, a company’s sustainability claims will have to be justified “clearly”, and their net zero transition plans properly set out. The aim is to combat “greenwashing”, where firms make misleading claims about their environmental commitments.

United Kingdom (Envirotec, Aug 2021) bold move to electric motorway.

The Department for Transport has awarded funding to a consortium to lead the UK’s first study on the electrification of long range trucks with dynamic charging, using overhead wires on motorways. The study is part of the UK government’s plan to reach zero net emissions for heavy road freight.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) currently emit 18% of all road vehicle CO2 emissions, despite representing 1.2% of the total number of vehicles on the road and 5% of total miles driven.

The consortium has proposed an ‘electric road system’, using the Siemens Mobility ‘eHighway’ technology, as the fastest, lowest carbon and most cost-effective route to decarbonising our road freight industry and delivering cleaner air. The nine-month study kicks off this month, and is hoped to be the forerunner of a scheme that aims to see the UK’s major roads served by overhead lines by the 2030s. These eHighways allow specially-adapted trucks to attach to the overhead wires and run using the electricity, similar to rail and trolley-bus systems. The trucks come equipped with a battery that charges while they are in motion so they can detach to both overtake vehicles and reach their final destination with zero emissions from start to finish.

India – edible cutlery, a delicious way to replace plastic cutlery.

Created by Narayana Peesapaty, Bakey’s is a green alternative to plastic cutlery. Plastic cutlery cannot be recycled, and thus results in great amounts of waste every year. Bakey’s is a brand of edible cutlery, which comes in three different flavors: plain, sweet, and savory. Different types of flours are used to bake single-use edible spoons, forks and chopsticks which can be consumed after their intended use. They are 100% natural and vegan, with a shelf-life of 24 months and are so made that they will naturally decompose between 3 and 7 days after use if not consumed.

Scotland – floating wind farms to power 12 million European homes by 2030

A big constraint on wind-generated power is the construction of wind farms in locations with a steady airstream and few neighbors. Offshore locations are an attractive solution, but constructing windmills in deep-water settings, where winds blow strongly and more steadily, has been prohibitively expensive—until recently. Enter Equinor, with new technology that enables offshore wind turbines to float, obviating fixed moorings. Motion controllers and sensors regulate the turbine blades in relation to wind speed, intensity, and direction to prevent capsizing. Equinor’s Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm, powers some 20,000 British homes. The company’s upcoming 88-megawatt Hywind Tampen floating wind farm will power five oil and gas installations in the North Sea with renewable power. Floating wind farms could power up to 12 million homes in Europe by 2030.

United States – Memphis meats offer meat grown from animal cells.

Growing demand for meat and livestock farming accounts for 15% of GHG emissions and 25% of earth’s available landmass and fresh water. Memphis Meats produces good-tasting and healthy meat products by harvesting them from cells instead of animals. This results in a direct one-to-one substitution for structurally complex animal meat without added antibiotics, providing healthier and safer food. At scale, eliminating the need to raise and slaughter animals will involve significantly lower caloric input and water, land, and energy use than conventional meat production. Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Kimbal Musk think it’s a good idea and have invested in the California based firm.

Germany – Fertilise the ocean, dump iron dust in the ocean to remove carbon.

It is acknowledged that the oceans are the planet’s biggest global sink, soaking up 2bn tonnes of carbon every year. Spreading iron dust on ocean waters can in fact trigger huge plankton blooms the size of a small city. The algae would then absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and when the algae dies, the whole lot sinks to the bottom of the ocean and is sequestered on the seabed. Proponents – notably Victor Smetacek, an oceanographer from the University of Bremen – suggest that it would take just five to 10 ocean-going ore carriers to deposit iron sulphate, a waste product from iron and titanium smelters, into the world’s oceans, and that the phytoplankton created would then remove 1 trillion kilograms of CO2 every year.

Netherlands – Fairphone: The world’s first ethical smartphone.

Fairphone is a modular smartphone designed with fair work practices and recycling in mind. To combat the growing waste caused by discarded electronic goods, Fairphone created a long-lasting smartphone that can be easily repaired.
Rather than replacing the entire phone if part of it breaks, Fairphone allows you to simply replace the broken module. Everything from the battery to the audio jack can be replaced, meaning fewer phones will end up in landfills.

United Kingdom – Reinstate drinking fountains, the rebirth of bottle-free water.

Saying “no” to bottled water – and the 13bn plastic bottles sold in the UK every year (just 3bn of which are recycled) – is catching on but is still hard work – especially during a pandemic. This begs the question of what happened to all the beautiful fountains, many donated by philanthropists in the 1800s, that were once dotted around civic centres and parks, and when are they coming back?

United States – Solar glass, change the way we create homes and commercial buildings.

Researchers at the University of Michigan are developing solar glass, a sustainable engineering project that has generated a lot of buzz in recent years. Just as the name implies, the solar glass would be able to capture and store solar energy.  According to the research team, 5 to 7 billion square meters of usable window space exists, enough to power a full 40% of US energy needs using solar glass.

Wishing everybody at COP26 the most productive of times in Glasgow.