The European Union is stepping up its green tech subsidies as it aims to compete with the United States and China. And find out what made a geologist describe a recent discovery as “new and terrifying at the same time” in today’s ESG Spotlight.
The European Commission will present the centrepieces of its strategy to ensure its industry can compete with the U.S. and China in making clean tech products and accessing raw materials required for the green transition.
The EU executive's Net-Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act, part of its Green Deal Industrial Plan, are designed to ensure the bloc is not just a frontrunner in cutting carbon emissions, but also ahead on the technology required. There are signs it is currently lagging.
Global investment in the green transition is set to triple by 2030 from $1 trillion last year, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament. "The race is on," she said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Brussels, Belgium Feb 1, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
The EU will set a target of producing at least 40% of the clean tech products it needs by 2030, partly by streamlining the granting of permits for green projects and by fostering investment. The Commission will propose simpler state aid schemes, allowing subsidies to promote green technology, with the possibility of offering tax breaks and using existing EU funds.
The Commission will also outline plans for a hydrogen subsidy scheme that would make clean versions of the fuel more competitive with fossil fuel-based hydrogen, a draft document showed.
EU industries use about 8 million tonnes of hydrogen, but the vast majority of that is produced using gas in a process that emits planet-heating CO2. The EU wants to switch to CO2-free hydrogen produced from renewable electricity to cut industry emissions.
The EU will launch a hydrogen funding "bank", consisting of auctions to award a fixed premium to hydrogen producers per kilogram of hydrogen for up to 10 years, according to a draft document seen by Reuters which is due to be published later today.
The first auction this year would offer around 800 million euros. The payments will be made once the hydrogen has been produced. To apply, projects would need proof that they have an interested buyer and a renewable energy supply to power the production site.
And finally, in another emissions busting move for the EU this week, Austria has shown support for a law to phase out new sales of CO2-emitting cars from 2035 and sees no reason to withdraw its backing for the deal, according to the Austrian Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler.
The EU's landmark law to accelerate Europe's shift to clean vehicles is currently on hold after Germany declared last-minute opposition, despite EU countries and lawmakers approving a deal on it last year.
The ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc, downtown Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. Feb 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yereth Rosen/File Photo
A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil and gas project in Alaska, saying the “enormous” project’s greenhouse gas emissions would undermine federal climate goals.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is unlikely to have a "material" impact on the availability of capital for climate-related technologies, Mark Carney, the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, said.
A California civil rights agency suing Tesla over alleged widespread race bias at its flagship assembly plant asked a judge to narrow the scope of his tentative ruling requiring the agency to provide more details about the probe it conducted prior to filing the lawsuit.
- A farmers' protest party shook up the political landscape in the Netherlands, emerging as the big winner in provincial elections that determine the make-up of the Senate.
Breakingviews: It’s 15 years since Bear Stearns showed large-scale failure is contagious. Yet U.S. regulators still struggled with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a group half its size. If buyers cannot come to the rescue and depositors won’t bear any risk, then even lesser groups will need more protection.
Kentaro Kawamori, CEO and co-founder of Persefoni, a U.S.-based climate management & accounting platform shares his thoughts on Blackrock CEO Larry Fink’s annual letter to investors
"Larry Fink is exactly right when he says 'climate risk is investment risk.' But, we go a step further and say 'climate risk is financial risk.' It's a business risk. The transition to a low-carbon economy requires companies to think about carbon with the same rigour as their financials in terms of how it's tracked, used, and disclosed.”
"Have you used your climate data to engage with a broad group of stakeholders, including investors and regulators, to demonstrate that you take the business impact of climate risk seriously? If not, you will soon.”
“More importantly, has this climate data or your net zero targets or transition plans undergone the same scrutiny as your financial documents? “
“We are already seeing an accountability crisis as public climate statements are being held to increasing levels of scrutiny. It’s clear we’ve crossed the Rubicon when leaders like the UN Secretary-General publicly endorse climate lawsuits.”
"The SEC is late! U.S. businesses are already filing mandatory climate data in other jurisdictions. The U.S. is in danger of being left without a seat at the table if they continue to ignore this sea of change in the way business is done."
As Japanese companies offer their heftiest wage raises in decades, women in the world's third-largest economy are hoping it won't take as long to close the vast gap in pay with men.
Wages have hardly budged since the late 1990s due to years of deflation and stop-start growth. But it's even tougher for women, who make around 78% of what men earn. That gender wage gap is the worst among the Group of Seven nations and almost double the OECD average.
Researcher Fernanda Avelar Santos holds "plastic rocks" found on Trindade Island, state of Espirito Santo, lab of the Federal University of Parana, Curitiba state of Parana, Brazil March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer
The geology of Brazil's volcanic Trindade Island has fascinated scientists for years, but the discovery of rocks made from plastic debris in this remote turtle refuge is sparking alarm in today’s ESG Spotlight. Elsewhere, two direct air capture firms teamed up with a non-profit company to bid for a $500 million U.S. grant.
Melted plastic has become intertwined with rocks on the island, located 1,140 km (708 miles) from the southeastern state of Espirito Santo, which researchers say is evidence of humans' growing influence over the earth's geological cycles.
"This is new and terrifying at the same time, because pollution has reached geology," said Fernanda Avelar Santos, a geologist at the Federal University of Parana. Santos and her team ran chemical tests to find out what kind of plastics are in the rocks called "plastiglomerates" because they are made of a mixture of sedimentary granules and other debris held together by plastic.
Computer-rendered image of Climeworks' Mammoth direct air capture plant, undated handout picture obtained by Reuters June 28, 2022. Climeworks/Handout via Reuters
Two companies developing technology to suck carbon out of the air, Switzerland's Climeworks and California's Heirloom, have teamed with non-profit firm Battelle to bid for a $500 million U.S. grant to commercialize the climate-friendly technology.
The U.S. Department of Energy launched a five-year programme last year to spend $3.5 billion to build four regional Direct Air Capture, or DAC, hubs to kickstart commercialization of technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it permanently.
“We are in a race for global investment, given the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. and the counter measures being implemented under the EU ‘Green Deal’, so the UK can't afford to be half-hearted if we want to build world leading hydrogen and CCUS industries."
Simon Virley, vice chair and head of energy and natural resources at multinational accounting firm KPMG, UK
- March. 17, Lake Montbel, France: Read a Reuters story on how an enduring winter drought at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, Lake Montbel has become France’s latest symbol of climate change.
- March. 17, Portugal: The nation’s civil servants' union Frente Comum calls for a national strike demanding higher wages amid a cost of living crisis.
- March. 17, Düsseldorf, Germany: Germany's Verdi trade union plans a strike by aviation security employees at the Dusseldorf and Cologne Bonn regional airports to increase pressure on employers amid wage negotiations.
- March. 18, England: British railway union RMT will have its members working at 14 train operating companies take part in a 24-hour strike in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
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