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#Responsible Capitalism

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Has Covid-19 helped or hindered the responsible business agenda?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.The emergence of Covid-19 and its impact on the world transformed the expectations of companies – from employees and wider society and what it means to be a responsible business. The corporate world has been forced to consider everything from seismic shifts in customer behaviour and consumption patterns to employee wellbeing and hybrid working. Two years on from the start of the pandemic, what does it mean to be a responsible business? Has industry learnt to build capacity for future external shocks and can the disruption of the past two years help business stay on the front foot in terms of responsibility?  editor and invited experts Alexi MostrousEditor Ann CairnsExecutive Vice Chair, Mastercard; Chair, 30% Club; Lead non-executive board member, BEIS Caroline LaurieDirector of Responsible Business & Sustainability, Kingfisher

thinkin

Small business, big problem: are SMEs in the UK falling behind?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.SMEs account for more than 99 percent of all UK businesses. They are the lifeblood of the British economy. Yet over two-fifths of businesses have seen sales decrease during the pandemic and just under a third have cut jobs. Even before the pandemic, British SMEs were faced with Brexit uncertainty, declining productivity, and a digital skill shortage which left them less likely to digitise back office functions than their peers in other countries. From better financing to digital skills, what can policymakers do to turn the UK’s SME population into a growth engine?  editor and invited experts Alexi MostrousInvestigations Editor Emma JonesFounder of Enterprise Nation Jeff LynnCEO and Founder, Seedrs Martin McTaguePolicy and Advocacy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses Simon MeadCEO at Cambridge Wireless

thinkin

Deeds and words matter: how can we close the say-do gap?

The science is clear. There is, however, a gap between what we know needs to happen and the actions we are taking. This is true of governments, businesses, and all of us as individuals . To close the gap we need to change the way we communicate to capture public imagination, create momentum and galvanise people into action. How can we communicate the climate emergency without catastrophizing? How do we make the science of climate change easier to understand and the language jargon-free? How can we communicate the benefits of net-zero in ways that feel real to people and relevant to their lives? How do we use communications to empower consumers to change their behaviours? Who should we look to as the most trusted climate communicators – and what can we learn from them?ReadoutFor a ThinkIn about what more needs to be done to cut through to the public and capture their imagination when it comes to the climate crisis, we kicked off with relatively positive news. As per the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer global report, we should be in no doubt that the idea that climate change is an existential crisis has trickled through the public – it absolutely has. The report showed that 72 per cent of people were worried about climate change. In terms of people’s fears, it ranked second only to the prospect of losing their job. We’re in need of optimism. A worrying aspect of the findings is that there’s also a sense that we’re already past the tipping point – a degree of fatalism and paralysis has kicked in. From that standpoint, the challenge isn’t so much finding a way to communicate the seriousness of the climate crisis, but rather how to mobilise people and give them a sense of optimism about tackling it.It was a theme Ed Williams, Edelman’s president and CEO, kept coming back to, saying that key to harnessing the kind of optimism needed is highlighting the new forms of technology that are being created as part of climate solutions – waterless toilets or biodegradable computer chip boards, for instance.Addressing the climate crisis is not a zero-sum game. Ed said that many consumers see tackling the climate crisis as something that will involve trade offs; sacrificing growth, jobs and other economic gains: “there’s still an unwillingness to sacrifice their own personal comforts”. Forty-one per cent say they’re reluctant to reduce travel, and seven in ten say they’re not prepared to pay for climate-friendly solutions. So it seems that the first step is to communicate that the solutions are affordable.Trust in institutions needs to be restored.  Something else uncovered in Edelman’s Trust Barometer was that while trust in government, media and NGOs has fallen, the level of trust in business is relatively high. But when it comes to trusting companies to take action on climate, the picture is different: trust in business to do what is right was found to be around 60 per cent, but only 45 per cent when it comes to trusting business specifically on climate action. But while this means that businesses need to restore that trust, Ed said it also suggests that the public sees government regulation as the most viable path out of the climate crisis.Accountability is key. When it comes to what companies are saying on climate change versus what they’re doing, much of the conversation focused on what mechanisms exist for measuring these “say-do gaps”. The lack of such a mechanism is one of the reasons why Tortoise came up with the Responsibility100 Index – a ranking of the FTSE 100 companies on their commitment to key social, environmental and ethical objectives, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer says that if a company is genuine about behaving in a more ethical way, it becomes apparent in all the employees’ jobs. For instance, when Unilever looked at updating the work that they had done as part of their ten-year Sustainable Living Plan, they spoke to 40,000 employees globally about what their sustainability priorities were, which acted as a catalyst for reforming how jobs across the company could be done. She went on to say that in Unilever, the level of rigour that their sustainability plans are subjected to are the same as any other area of the business, and that investors and consumers alike are genuinely interested in these companies acting sustainably. Rebecca also suggested that by making events like Cop 26 less technical, elitist and intimidating in the language they use, and instead putting ordinary people at the centre of it, they can become more accessible and transparent, making it easier for the public to assess what’s being said versus what’s being done.Scrutinising institutions depends on them having something for us to scrutinise. Professor Robert Watson said that when it comes to scrutinising companies’ say-do gaps, accountability – to governments, NGOs, and their shareholders – is key. But Watson also stressed that his level of confidence in CEOs was on par with his level of confidence in government. He bemoaned the rhetoric from both the public and private sectors, as well as from individuals, and the fact that not enough of that rhetoric was being turned into action – especially so far at Cop 26: “…our goals and targets are fine” he said, “but they’re meaningless without well-defined monitorable action.” He said that the pledges made by the British government, for instance, are fine, but there is a dearth of actual policy for us to monitor when it comes to following through on them.When the conversation turned to keeping the global heating limit at 1.5 C, it was noted that if countries live up to their nationally-defined contributions when it comes to their emissions, a realistic outcome would be a global emissions limit of below 2 C – around 1.7 or 1.8. But Professor Watson disputed this. How could such a reduction occur if the four countries that use and produce the most coal – US, China, India and Australia – weren’t party to the deal to phase that particularly dirty fuel out? Professor Watson thinks that the pledges made by the British government are fine – but that there is a dearth of actual policy for us to monitor when it comes to following through on them.Long-term solutions are complementary to short-term goals. Something that was important to discuss when it came to long-term decisions was that, whether a politician or CEO, short-term pressure is misaligned with long-term climate goals. But as Rebecca highlighted, businesses’ long-term climate goals are now very much aligned with their own short-term corporate goals: changing drought and rainfall patterns mean that areas of the world where companies used to source their products from are now threatened. Likewise with politicians: the prevalence of climate-induced natural disasters, such as the floods we saw in Germany or the wildfires in Greece and Turkey over the summer, means that actually lawmakers are taking action urgently. Thinking just in the short-term would be risky – and frankly stupid.Collaboration is key. We wrapped up with Ed’s point that we’re only going to move forward by holding events like this ThinkIn, bringing together various corporate entities, scientists, politicians and journalists. It’s this kind of collaboration that Tortoise is hoping to achieve with its Accelerating Net Zero Coalition. To find out more, visit our Accelerating Net Zero homepage. editor and invited experts James HardingCo-founder and Editor Ed WilliamsPresident and CEO, Edelman EMEA Professor Robert WatsonInternational authority on climate change and biodiversity Rebecca MarmotChief Sustainability Officer, Unilever

thinkin

In conversation with Simon Sinek

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.Self-confessed ‘unshakeable optimist’ Simon Sinek has been described as a ‘visionary’. His book Start With Why, published in 2009, became a global sensation. Since then, he’s written several best-sellers including Leaders Eat Last and The Infinite Game. His first ThinkIn with Tortoise back in 2019 drew one of our biggest ever live audiences. We’re delighted to welcome him back, virtually this time, for an hour of his characteristic wit and wisdom reflecting on the power of optimism in tough times, the future of leadership and how the experiences of the past two years will impact working culture.Photograph Andrew Dolgin editor James HardingCo-founder and Editor

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The Tortoise Responsible Business Summit

Long stories short Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said the country needs to build “three to four large wind turbines” per day in order to reach its target of net zero by 2045.US president Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California, after fierce storms killed 19 people.A shift in the El Niño weather pattern could make 2024 the first year the world exceeds an average temperature of 1.5 degrees, according to scientists. A gigafactory of one’s own Britain’s attempt to enter the global race to manufacture electric car batteries is stalling. A rescue deal for BritishVolt, the UK’s only homegrown EV battery startup, has failed and the majority of its 300 staff have been made redundant. Despite the promise of government support, backing from Glencore, and a well-placed factory site on the Northumberland coast supplied with clean energy, BritishVolt failed to attract enough customers and has collapsed into administration. So what? In seven years, sales of new combustion engine vehicles will be banned in the UK. By then, the UK electric car industry will need 100 gigawatt hours of annual battery-making capacity in order to meet its net zero target – a third was due to be supplied by BritishVolt.  Both the EU and the US have announced major funding and strategies to build gigafactory capacity. The UK risks losing out. Dream vs reality. When the government pledged £100 million to the startup in 2020, ministers envisioned it would bring prosperity to the North and deliver green self-sufficiency post-Brexit. But the reality is UK plc is lagging in the race to build gigafactories: just three of Europe’s 41 open or planned sites are located in the UK. The only UK factory up and running is owned by NorthVolt, a Swedish company that boasts $55 billion of orders from car manufacturers and started producing batteries last year. Critics say that BritishVolt’s initial £800 million valuation was overblown – but that’s not the only reason for its demise.  Customers. Although it has secured exploratory deals with Lotus and Aston Martin, what BritishVolt lacks is the patronage of a large car-maker. “Lotus will barely make 2,000 vehicles a year going forward, maybe 3,000. Aston Martin might make 8,000. That is not enough to justify a battery factory,” says Ian Henry at AutoAnalysis. “Other than Jaguar-Land Rover I’ve always found it very difficult to see where UK demand for battery cells made by BritishVolt was going to come from.” That opportunity may have passed; last week the finance director of Tata Motors, JLR’s parent company, suggested moving battery production to Slovakia. Product. BritishVolt had initially planned to licence technology from existing manufacturers but later decided to develop its own in-house technology. But potential clients say prototypes have been late to arrive. “They could have easily had a collaboration with Jaguar by now, but they didn’t have any technology to share with them and this created issues,” says founder Lars Carlstrom, who left the company in 2020. Management. BritishVolt’s other founder, Orral Nadjari, was advised by the board to step down as CEO in August because, according to the Financial Times, “investors were put off by his style.” People familiar with the company say that at one point it had 300 workers on payroll, despite having never generated any revenue. The factory in Blyth is supposed to come online in 2025 but construction has been slow to start. BritishVolt refused to comment for this article. But it would be unfair to argue that the firm’s problems are solely of its own making. Being located in the UK is no guarantee of winning contracts with British automakers – for example, BMW has decided to import batteries for the Mini, built in Oxford, from Germany. At the same time automakers are increasingly bringing battery production in-house. Volkswagen and Stellantis both have plans for their own factories in Europe. The UK’s head start in technology is challenged by European governments working hard to grow the sector with subsidies. Germany has pledged €1 billion of support for production. Poland and Hungary are setting up special economic zones.  And in the background looms China’s substantial control of the processed lithium required to make batteries in the first place. It currently controls 77 per cent of global gigafactory capacity, according to Benchmark Minerals Intelligence. The boosterism that launched BritishVolt is drained. It failed to demonstrate it could secure orders or produce tech on time. When it ran out of funds, no one was willing to step in. So much for a British battery revolution. A message from Companies are investing more time producing climate risk disclosures based on the TCFD recommendations. However, these disclosures are not translating into actionable strategies to accelerate decarbonisation. The EY report analyses the reasons behind this by reviewing the disclosures made by 1,500 companies across 47 countries. This is sponsored by EY policy On a mission Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP tasked with reviewing the policy of getting to net zero emissions by 2050, said on Monday that the decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria was a “mistake”. He added that if the recommendations in his report had been in place, it would not have been approved. Skidmore’s review calls for the phase-out of gas boilers in homes by 2033, two years earlier than planned, and scaling up solar power from the current 14GW to 70GW by 2035. He warns of an “inconsistent” net zero policy environment that is harming investment. These are fine words, but little of this seems likely to be adopted by a prime minister who shows scant interest in the climate crisis – which he says will be solved by “innovation”. As Skidmore’s report shows, net zero requires much more commitment from government. eco-nomics Southern sunshine A Korean solar company is planning to take advantage of subsidies introduced in Biden’s climate bill to build a $2.5 billion solar plant in the state of Georgia. Hanwha Qcells’ announcement is the largest solar investment in US history and represents a major step in balancing the global supply chain for solar away from China and towards the US. Qcells explicitly mentioned the incentives contained within the US Inflation Reduction Act as the reason for its move. In 2021, Georgia’s Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff introduced a bill that would have provided a tax break for solar manufacturers, which was eventually included in the IRA. It appears to be paying off. activism Muddy Greens Police forcibly removed the last remaining climate activists from the German village of Lützerath on Saturday as the government prepared to demolish it to make way for a coal mine. In a speech to more than 15,000 protesters Greta Thunberg took aim at the Green Party for signing a “shameful” deal with RWE, one of Europe’s largest coal producers, to excavate the site. Activists then attempted to retake the town but were met with truncheons and pepper spray. It now seems that Lützerath’s fate is sealed; RWE has won an extensive legal battle to secure demolition rights and its machinery is already tearing up the village. But the struggle also has dangerous consequences for the Greens, which now faces a split between the so-called “realo” pragmatists, led by economy minister and vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, and the party’s more youthful activist wing. science What Exxon knew Half a century ago scientists at Exxon were making remarkably accurate predictions about how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. But for decades the company publicly denied the link. An analysis of internal global warming projections – the most produced by any single company – shows that they closely tracked subsequent real temperature increases of around 0.2 degrees per decade. Exxon’s scientists even excluded the possibility that humans weren’t to blame. Nevertheless Exxon continues to say that “those who talk about how ‘Exxon Knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.” Dr Geoffrey Supran, author of the study by the Potsdam Institute, said: “We now have airtight, unimpeachable evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science and scientists.” Thanks for reading. Barney Macintyre@barneymac Additional reporting by Jeevan Vasagar. Graphic by Katie Riley. If you want to get in touch, drop us a line at netzero@tortoisemedia.com. Sponsored by With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. Slow newscast Egypt’s bad cop The story of one man, fighting to his last breath, to reveal the darkness that lies behind this year’s UN Climate Change Conference.

thinkin

In conversation with Katherine Ainley, CEO, Ericsson UK & Ireland

This is a digital only ThinkIn.Katherine Ainley became CEO of Ericsson UK and Ireland in February of this year, midway through the global pandemic. Prior to this, she spent a decade in senior executive positions at BT. She’ll be in conversation with Tortoise editor Alexi Mostrous to discuss a range of topics including the critical role that 5G can play in enabling exponential change on the scale required to build a resilient, zero-emissions future; diversity and inclusion in the ICT sector as well as her experience of taking the reins of an international telecoms company at a time when the necessity and value of connectivity has never been higher. editor and invited experts Alexi MostrousInvestigations Editor Katherine AinleyChief Executive Officer, Ericsson UK & Ireland

thinkin

Are big investment platforms making fools of small investors?

Long stories short Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said the country needs to build “three to four large wind turbines” per day in order to reach its target of net zero by 2045.US president Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California, after fierce storms killed 19 people.A shift in the El Niño weather pattern could make 2024 the first year the world exceeds an average temperature of 1.5 degrees, according to scientists. A gigafactory of one’s own Britain’s attempt to enter the global race to manufacture electric car batteries is stalling. A rescue deal for BritishVolt, the UK’s only homegrown EV battery startup, has failed and the majority of its 300 staff have been made redundant. Despite the promise of government support, backing from Glencore, and a well-placed factory site on the Northumberland coast supplied with clean energy, BritishVolt failed to attract enough customers and has collapsed into administration. So what? In seven years, sales of new combustion engine vehicles will be banned in the UK. By then, the UK electric car industry will need 100 gigawatt hours of annual battery-making capacity in order to meet its net zero target – a third was due to be supplied by BritishVolt.  Both the EU and the US have announced major funding and strategies to build gigafactory capacity. The UK risks losing out. Dream vs reality. When the government pledged £100 million to the startup in 2020, ministers envisioned it would bring prosperity to the North and deliver green self-sufficiency post-Brexit. But the reality is UK plc is lagging in the race to build gigafactories: just three of Europe’s 41 open or planned sites are located in the UK. The only UK factory up and running is owned by NorthVolt, a Swedish company that boasts $55 billion of orders from car manufacturers and started producing batteries last year. Critics say that BritishVolt’s initial £800 million valuation was overblown – but that’s not the only reason for its demise.  Customers. Although it has secured exploratory deals with Lotus and Aston Martin, what BritishVolt lacks is the patronage of a large car-maker. “Lotus will barely make 2,000 vehicles a year going forward, maybe 3,000. Aston Martin might make 8,000. That is not enough to justify a battery factory,” says Ian Henry at AutoAnalysis. “Other than Jaguar-Land Rover I’ve always found it very difficult to see where UK demand for battery cells made by BritishVolt was going to come from.” That opportunity may have passed; last week the finance director of Tata Motors, JLR’s parent company, suggested moving battery production to Slovakia. Product. BritishVolt had initially planned to licence technology from existing manufacturers but later decided to develop its own in-house technology. But potential clients say prototypes have been late to arrive. “They could have easily had a collaboration with Jaguar by now, but they didn’t have any technology to share with them and this created issues,” says founder Lars Carlstrom, who left the company in 2020. Management. BritishVolt’s other founder, Orral Nadjari, was advised by the board to step down as CEO in August because, according to the Financial Times, “investors were put off by his style.” People familiar with the company say that at one point it had 300 workers on payroll, despite having never generated any revenue. The factory in Blyth is supposed to come online in 2025 but construction has been slow to start. BritishVolt refused to comment for this article. But it would be unfair to argue that the firm’s problems are solely of its own making. Being located in the UK is no guarantee of winning contracts with British automakers – for example, BMW has decided to import batteries for the Mini, built in Oxford, from Germany. At the same time automakers are increasingly bringing battery production in-house. Volkswagen and Stellantis both have plans for their own factories in Europe. The UK’s head start in technology is challenged by European governments working hard to grow the sector with subsidies. Germany has pledged €1 billion of support for production. Poland and Hungary are setting up special economic zones.  And in the background looms China’s substantial control of the processed lithium required to make batteries in the first place. It currently controls 77 per cent of global gigafactory capacity, according to Benchmark Minerals Intelligence. The boosterism that launched BritishVolt is drained. It failed to demonstrate it could secure orders or produce tech on time. When it ran out of funds, no one was willing to step in. So much for a British battery revolution. A message from Companies are investing more time producing climate risk disclosures based on the TCFD recommendations. However, these disclosures are not translating into actionable strategies to accelerate decarbonisation. The EY report analyses the reasons behind this by reviewing the disclosures made by 1,500 companies across 47 countries. This is sponsored by EY policy On a mission Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP tasked with reviewing the policy of getting to net zero emissions by 2050, said on Monday that the decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria was a “mistake”. He added that if the recommendations in his report had been in place, it would not have been approved. Skidmore’s review calls for the phase-out of gas boilers in homes by 2033, two years earlier than planned, and scaling up solar power from the current 14GW to 70GW by 2035. He warns of an “inconsistent” net zero policy environment that is harming investment. These are fine words, but little of this seems likely to be adopted by a prime minister who shows scant interest in the climate crisis – which he says will be solved by “innovation”. As Skidmore’s report shows, net zero requires much more commitment from government. eco-nomics Southern sunshine A Korean solar company is planning to take advantage of subsidies introduced in Biden’s climate bill to build a $2.5 billion solar plant in the state of Georgia. Hanwha Qcells’ announcement is the largest solar investment in US history and represents a major step in balancing the global supply chain for solar away from China and towards the US. Qcells explicitly mentioned the incentives contained within the US Inflation Reduction Act as the reason for its move. In 2021, Georgia’s Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff introduced a bill that would have provided a tax break for solar manufacturers, which was eventually included in the IRA. It appears to be paying off. activism Muddy Greens Police forcibly removed the last remaining climate activists from the German village of Lützerath on Saturday as the government prepared to demolish it to make way for a coal mine. In a speech to more than 15,000 protesters Greta Thunberg took aim at the Green Party for signing a “shameful” deal with RWE, one of Europe’s largest coal producers, to excavate the site. Activists then attempted to retake the town but were met with truncheons and pepper spray. It now seems that Lützerath’s fate is sealed; RWE has won an extensive legal battle to secure demolition rights and its machinery is already tearing up the village. But the struggle also has dangerous consequences for the Greens, which now faces a split between the so-called “realo” pragmatists, led by economy minister and vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, and the party’s more youthful activist wing. science What Exxon knew Half a century ago scientists at Exxon were making remarkably accurate predictions about how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. But for decades the company publicly denied the link. An analysis of internal global warming projections – the most produced by any single company – shows that they closely tracked subsequent real temperature increases of around 0.2 degrees per decade. Exxon’s scientists even excluded the possibility that humans weren’t to blame. Nevertheless Exxon continues to say that “those who talk about how ‘Exxon Knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.” Dr Geoffrey Supran, author of the study by the Potsdam Institute, said: “We now have airtight, unimpeachable evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science and scientists.” Thanks for reading. Barney Macintyre@barneymac Additional reporting by Jeevan Vasagar. Graphic by Katie Riley. If you want to get in touch, drop us a line at netzero@tortoisemedia.com. Sponsored by With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. Slow newscast Egypt’s bad cop The story of one man, fighting to his last breath, to reveal the darkness that lies behind this year’s UN Climate Change Conference.

thinkin

The Future of Money Summit

Long stories short Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said the country needs to build “three to four large wind turbines” per day in order to reach its target of net zero by 2045.US president Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California, after fierce storms killed 19 people.A shift in the El Niño weather pattern could make 2024 the first year the world exceeds an average temperature of 1.5 degrees, according to scientists. A gigafactory of one’s own Britain’s attempt to enter the global race to manufacture electric car batteries is stalling. A rescue deal for BritishVolt, the UK’s only homegrown EV battery startup, has failed and the majority of its 300 staff have been made redundant. Despite the promise of government support, backing from Glencore, and a well-placed factory site on the Northumberland coast supplied with clean energy, BritishVolt failed to attract enough customers and has collapsed into administration. So what? In seven years, sales of new combustion engine vehicles will be banned in the UK. By then, the UK electric car industry will need 100 gigawatt hours of annual battery-making capacity in order to meet its net zero target – a third was due to be supplied by BritishVolt.  Both the EU and the US have announced major funding and strategies to build gigafactory capacity. The UK risks losing out. Dream vs reality. When the government pledged £100 million to the startup in 2020, ministers envisioned it would bring prosperity to the North and deliver green self-sufficiency post-Brexit. But the reality is UK plc is lagging in the race to build gigafactories: just three of Europe’s 41 open or planned sites are located in the UK. The only UK factory up and running is owned by NorthVolt, a Swedish company that boasts $55 billion of orders from car manufacturers and started producing batteries last year. Critics say that BritishVolt’s initial £800 million valuation was overblown – but that’s not the only reason for its demise.  Customers. Although it has secured exploratory deals with Lotus and Aston Martin, what BritishVolt lacks is the patronage of a large car-maker. “Lotus will barely make 2,000 vehicles a year going forward, maybe 3,000. Aston Martin might make 8,000. That is not enough to justify a battery factory,” says Ian Henry at AutoAnalysis. “Other than Jaguar-Land Rover I’ve always found it very difficult to see where UK demand for battery cells made by BritishVolt was going to come from.” That opportunity may have passed; last week the finance director of Tata Motors, JLR’s parent company, suggested moving battery production to Slovakia. Product. BritishVolt had initially planned to licence technology from existing manufacturers but later decided to develop its own in-house technology. But potential clients say prototypes have been late to arrive. “They could have easily had a collaboration with Jaguar by now, but they didn’t have any technology to share with them and this created issues,” says founder Lars Carlstrom, who left the company in 2020. Management. BritishVolt’s other founder, Orral Nadjari, was advised by the board to step down as CEO in August because, according to the Financial Times, “investors were put off by his style.” People familiar with the company say that at one point it had 300 workers on payroll, despite having never generated any revenue. The factory in Blyth is supposed to come online in 2025 but construction has been slow to start. BritishVolt refused to comment for this article. But it would be unfair to argue that the firm’s problems are solely of its own making. Being located in the UK is no guarantee of winning contracts with British automakers – for example, BMW has decided to import batteries for the Mini, built in Oxford, from Germany. At the same time automakers are increasingly bringing battery production in-house. Volkswagen and Stellantis both have plans for their own factories in Europe. The UK’s head start in technology is challenged by European governments working hard to grow the sector with subsidies. Germany has pledged €1 billion of support for production. Poland and Hungary are setting up special economic zones.  And in the background looms China’s substantial control of the processed lithium required to make batteries in the first place. It currently controls 77 per cent of global gigafactory capacity, according to Benchmark Minerals Intelligence. The boosterism that launched BritishVolt is drained. It failed to demonstrate it could secure orders or produce tech on time. When it ran out of funds, no one was willing to step in. So much for a British battery revolution. A message from Companies are investing more time producing climate risk disclosures based on the TCFD recommendations. However, these disclosures are not translating into actionable strategies to accelerate decarbonisation. The EY report analyses the reasons behind this by reviewing the disclosures made by 1,500 companies across 47 countries. This is sponsored by EY policy On a mission Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP tasked with reviewing the policy of getting to net zero emissions by 2050, said on Monday that the decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria was a “mistake”. He added that if the recommendations in his report had been in place, it would not have been approved. Skidmore’s review calls for the phase-out of gas boilers in homes by 2033, two years earlier than planned, and scaling up solar power from the current 14GW to 70GW by 2035. He warns of an “inconsistent” net zero policy environment that is harming investment. These are fine words, but little of this seems likely to be adopted by a prime minister who shows scant interest in the climate crisis – which he says will be solved by “innovation”. As Skidmore’s report shows, net zero requires much more commitment from government. eco-nomics Southern sunshine A Korean solar company is planning to take advantage of subsidies introduced in Biden’s climate bill to build a $2.5 billion solar plant in the state of Georgia. Hanwha Qcells’ announcement is the largest solar investment in US history and represents a major step in balancing the global supply chain for solar away from China and towards the US. Qcells explicitly mentioned the incentives contained within the US Inflation Reduction Act as the reason for its move. In 2021, Georgia’s Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff introduced a bill that would have provided a tax break for solar manufacturers, which was eventually included in the IRA. It appears to be paying off. activism Muddy Greens Police forcibly removed the last remaining climate activists from the German village of Lützerath on Saturday as the government prepared to demolish it to make way for a coal mine. In a speech to more than 15,000 protesters Greta Thunberg took aim at the Green Party for signing a “shameful” deal with RWE, one of Europe’s largest coal producers, to excavate the site. Activists then attempted to retake the town but were met with truncheons and pepper spray. It now seems that Lützerath’s fate is sealed; RWE has won an extensive legal battle to secure demolition rights and its machinery is already tearing up the village. But the struggle also has dangerous consequences for the Greens, which now faces a split between the so-called “realo” pragmatists, led by economy minister and vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, and the party’s more youthful activist wing. science What Exxon knew Half a century ago scientists at Exxon were making remarkably accurate predictions about how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. But for decades the company publicly denied the link. An analysis of internal global warming projections – the most produced by any single company – shows that they closely tracked subsequent real temperature increases of around 0.2 degrees per decade. Exxon’s scientists even excluded the possibility that humans weren’t to blame. Nevertheless Exxon continues to say that “those who talk about how ‘Exxon Knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.” Dr Geoffrey Supran, author of the study by the Potsdam Institute, said: “We now have airtight, unimpeachable evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science and scientists.” Thanks for reading. Barney Macintyre@barneymac Additional reporting by Jeevan Vasagar. Graphic by Katie Riley. If you want to get in touch, drop us a line at netzero@tortoisemedia.com. Sponsored by With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. Slow newscast Egypt’s bad cop The story of one man, fighting to his last breath, to reveal the darkness that lies behind this year’s UN Climate Change Conference.

thinkin

Are business leaders stalling over disability inclusion?

Long stories short Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said the country needs to build “three to four large wind turbines” per day in order to reach its target of net zero by 2045.US president Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California, after fierce storms killed 19 people.A shift in the El Niño weather pattern could make 2024 the first year the world exceeds an average temperature of 1.5 degrees, according to scientists. A gigafactory of one’s own Britain’s attempt to enter the global race to manufacture electric car batteries is stalling. A rescue deal for BritishVolt, the UK’s only homegrown EV battery startup, has failed and the majority of its 300 staff have been made redundant. Despite the promise of government support, backing from Glencore, and a well-placed factory site on the Northumberland coast supplied with clean energy, BritishVolt failed to attract enough customers and has collapsed into administration. So what? In seven years, sales of new combustion engine vehicles will be banned in the UK. By then, the UK electric car industry will need 100 gigawatt hours of annual battery-making capacity in order to meet its net zero target – a third was due to be supplied by BritishVolt.  Both the EU and the US have announced major funding and strategies to build gigafactory capacity. The UK risks losing out. Dream vs reality. When the government pledged £100 million to the startup in 2020, ministers envisioned it would bring prosperity to the North and deliver green self-sufficiency post-Brexit. But the reality is UK plc is lagging in the race to build gigafactories: just three of Europe’s 41 open or planned sites are located in the UK. The only UK factory up and running is owned by NorthVolt, a Swedish company that boasts $55 billion of orders from car manufacturers and started producing batteries last year. Critics say that BritishVolt’s initial £800 million valuation was overblown – but that’s not the only reason for its demise.  Customers. Although it has secured exploratory deals with Lotus and Aston Martin, what BritishVolt lacks is the patronage of a large car-maker. “Lotus will barely make 2,000 vehicles a year going forward, maybe 3,000. Aston Martin might make 8,000. That is not enough to justify a battery factory,” says Ian Henry at AutoAnalysis. “Other than Jaguar-Land Rover I’ve always found it very difficult to see where UK demand for battery cells made by BritishVolt was going to come from.” That opportunity may have passed; last week the finance director of Tata Motors, JLR’s parent company, suggested moving battery production to Slovakia. Product. BritishVolt had initially planned to licence technology from existing manufacturers but later decided to develop its own in-house technology. But potential clients say prototypes have been late to arrive. “They could have easily had a collaboration with Jaguar by now, but they didn’t have any technology to share with them and this created issues,” says founder Lars Carlstrom, who left the company in 2020. Management. BritishVolt’s other founder, Orral Nadjari, was advised by the board to step down as CEO in August because, according to the Financial Times, “investors were put off by his style.” People familiar with the company say that at one point it had 300 workers on payroll, despite having never generated any revenue. The factory in Blyth is supposed to come online in 2025 but construction has been slow to start. BritishVolt refused to comment for this article. But it would be unfair to argue that the firm’s problems are solely of its own making. Being located in the UK is no guarantee of winning contracts with British automakers – for example, BMW has decided to import batteries for the Mini, built in Oxford, from Germany. At the same time automakers are increasingly bringing battery production in-house. Volkswagen and Stellantis both have plans for their own factories in Europe. The UK’s head start in technology is challenged by European governments working hard to grow the sector with subsidies. Germany has pledged €1 billion of support for production. Poland and Hungary are setting up special economic zones.  And in the background looms China’s substantial control of the processed lithium required to make batteries in the first place. It currently controls 77 per cent of global gigafactory capacity, according to Benchmark Minerals Intelligence. The boosterism that launched BritishVolt is drained. It failed to demonstrate it could secure orders or produce tech on time. When it ran out of funds, no one was willing to step in. So much for a British battery revolution. A message from Companies are investing more time producing climate risk disclosures based on the TCFD recommendations. However, these disclosures are not translating into actionable strategies to accelerate decarbonisation. The EY report analyses the reasons behind this by reviewing the disclosures made by 1,500 companies across 47 countries. This is sponsored by EY policy On a mission Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP tasked with reviewing the policy of getting to net zero emissions by 2050, said on Monday that the decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria was a “mistake”. He added that if the recommendations in his report had been in place, it would not have been approved. Skidmore’s review calls for the phase-out of gas boilers in homes by 2033, two years earlier than planned, and scaling up solar power from the current 14GW to 70GW by 2035. He warns of an “inconsistent” net zero policy environment that is harming investment. These are fine words, but little of this seems likely to be adopted by a prime minister who shows scant interest in the climate crisis – which he says will be solved by “innovation”. As Skidmore’s report shows, net zero requires much more commitment from government. eco-nomics Southern sunshine A Korean solar company is planning to take advantage of subsidies introduced in Biden’s climate bill to build a $2.5 billion solar plant in the state of Georgia. Hanwha Qcells’ announcement is the largest solar investment in US history and represents a major step in balancing the global supply chain for solar away from China and towards the US. Qcells explicitly mentioned the incentives contained within the US Inflation Reduction Act as the reason for its move. In 2021, Georgia’s Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff introduced a bill that would have provided a tax break for solar manufacturers, which was eventually included in the IRA. It appears to be paying off. activism Muddy Greens Police forcibly removed the last remaining climate activists from the German village of Lützerath on Saturday as the government prepared to demolish it to make way for a coal mine. In a speech to more than 15,000 protesters Greta Thunberg took aim at the Green Party for signing a “shameful” deal with RWE, one of Europe’s largest coal producers, to excavate the site. Activists then attempted to retake the town but were met with truncheons and pepper spray. It now seems that Lützerath’s fate is sealed; RWE has won an extensive legal battle to secure demolition rights and its machinery is already tearing up the village. But the struggle also has dangerous consequences for the Greens, which now faces a split between the so-called “realo” pragmatists, led by economy minister and vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, and the party’s more youthful activist wing. science What Exxon knew Half a century ago scientists at Exxon were making remarkably accurate predictions about how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. But for decades the company publicly denied the link. An analysis of internal global warming projections – the most produced by any single company – shows that they closely tracked subsequent real temperature increases of around 0.2 degrees per decade. Exxon’s scientists even excluded the possibility that humans weren’t to blame. Nevertheless Exxon continues to say that “those who talk about how ‘Exxon Knew’ are wrong in their conclusions.” Dr Geoffrey Supran, author of the study by the Potsdam Institute, said: “We now have airtight, unimpeachable evidence that ExxonMobil accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science and scientists.” Thanks for reading. Barney Macintyre@barneymac Additional reporting by Jeevan Vasagar. Graphic by Katie Riley. If you want to get in touch, drop us a line at netzero@tortoisemedia.com. Sponsored by With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. Slow newscast Egypt’s bad cop The story of one man, fighting to his last breath, to reveal the darkness that lies behind this year’s UN Climate Change Conference.