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A year in the life of Earth’s CO2

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A truly fascinating visualisation from NASA showing how CO2 moves around the globe and patterns change with the seasons.

This high-resolution computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide and monoxide in the atmosphere travels. Plumes of Co2 in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons. This model will help predict climate change and will also support other models.

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The Environmental Outlook for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)

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Carbon Trading PermitsSandbag are doing amazing work pushing to create a clean renewable based future for us all. They focus where they can do most, on the carbon trading market – The EU emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the only large scale policy yet implemented to cut carbon emissions. The simple idea is to destroy excess trading permits. To give you some idea how big the problem is click on this image of the live counter to get the latest reading:

Sandbag’s latest report Slaying the Dragon: Vanquish the surplus and rescue the Emissions Trading Scheme reveals how hundreds of millions of excess carbon allowances continue to be issued, with a disproportionate share of these being awarded for free to Europe’s “Carbon Fatcat” companies which are shifting from being steel to cement companies. What is the environmental outlook for the ETS?

You can download the report by clicking on the image:

The Environmental Outlook for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

More news from Sandbag

As the latest emissions figures came out, showing the EU has all but met its 2020 target to cut emissions by 20%, Sandbag released projections showing that by 2020 EU emissions could be down by 29% on current trends. They’re using this research to call for a higher 2020 target, and were pleased when sharing a platform with a senior DG Energy official to hear them already talking about potential increases to the 2020 target. As emissions are likely to be very low this year the pressure to move this target is only going to grow, internationally and at home.

MSR knight small As coal prices seem to plunge ever lower we are now engaged helping NGOs EU wide to develop coal phase out plans with a big focus on Germany, the UK and Poland. They’ve helped Greenpeace with some research, looking at loopholes in the ETS that have subsidised coal power plants and in the UK they’ve been analysing the effect of the capacity market which looks set to keep old plant going longer than necessary or sensible.

Buy carbon permits here at £6.47 to take them out of the system.

c/o Bryony (in Brussels), Damien (in Australia), Alex (in China), Dave (in Brussels), and Phil, Laurence and Tricia (in London) - Illustrations by the marvellous Kerry Hyndman - About Sandbag.

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The Netherlands as a circular economy hotspot

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This short video made by Circle Economy looks at organisations and businesses involved in the Dutch circular economy and what they are doing currently. We are proud to be highlighted too.

Circle Economy is a non-profit open platform that aims to accelerate the transition to the circular economy. We believe it is time to move away from our current linear take-make-waste economy, towards a system that is in balance with and inspired by nature. Together with our members we are accelerating the transition towards this new circular economy, in which we close the loops and not only focus on economic growth, but also take social and ecological value into account in every decision we make.”

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Human Spaces

Human Spaces is a portal and resource that collects reports, thoughts and ideas about our relationship with our working environment – A world of biophilic design.

“This initiative is dedicated to humans and the spaces we inhabit. Human Spaces explores the relationship between the built environment and our health and wellbeing. Biophilic Design in the Workplace is the first report on Human Spaces. It explores how biophilic office design affects our productivity, creativity and happiness. We hope you will enjoy. Human Spaces is a collaborative effort.”

Click on the image to download the report – the infographic is here.

Biophilic Design in the Workplace

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IPCC AR5 And Carbon Tracker – Where the research intersects

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IPCC AR5 And Carbon Tracker - Where the research intersects. Here is a great infographic using IPCC data to detail potential outcomes of anthropogenic GHG emissions.

About Carbon Tracker – “We are a team of financial, energy and legal experts with a groundbreaking approach to limiting future greenhouse gas emissions.”

Click on the image to enlarge

Carbon Tracker Infographic

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Resources To Help Business Understand Climate Science

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Climate Change: Implications for BusinessHere are some great resources for the business community such as infographics, briefings, and presentation slides.

CISL, together with the Cambridge Judge Business School and the support of the European Climate Foundation is summarising the latest climate science for the business community. These short, sector-specific briefings in different languages are based on the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the most comprehensive climate assessment. All documents have a Creative Commons License and are free to use.

Click on the image to access the full set of resources:


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The Environmental Footprint Of Carpet Tile

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Commissioned by Interface to celebrate our Mission Zero anniversary, John Elkington has written a case study titled – ‘Interface: The untold story of Mission Zero in Europe’, which charts our journey over the past 20 years highlighting the systems changes we have brought into the core of our business. Here is an excerpt that looks at the footprint of carpet tile. You can download the full study here.

“Interestingly, in a pattern seen with many other industrial products, LCA research reveals that the environmental footprint of carpeting is disproportionately concentrated at the point where basic raw materials are extracted and processed. It is estimated that 68% of the total impact is created at the raw materials stage, with 17% produced during the stages that Interface has direct control over (with manufacturing accounting for 9%, transportation for 8%), a further 8% during use and maintenance, and 7% at the end of the carpet’s life, critically including disposal.

When it comes to the environmental impact of Interface products, the image below illustrates how particular materials have significantly greater footprints than others. The nylon yarn that forms the walkable surface of a carpet turns out to have around four times more impact than the backing material, according to Connie Hensler, Interface’s Global LCA Director. The analysis assumes a product life of 10 years, although many factors can impact that life expectancy. Ultimately, the design, use and final fate of carpeting products reflects the prevailing market paradigm, a subject we turn to next.

At the waste disposal end, to give some sense of the rate of carpet recycling, in the U.K. 85,000 tonnes of carpet were diverted from landfill in 2012. This represented an increase in diversion from 16.5% in 2011 to 21.4% in 2012. Of this volume, 36,000 tonnes were recycled or reused, with 49,000 tonnes used for energy recovery. Clearly, again, there is an enormous gap still to be bridged. More positively, in California, where an estimated 400 million pounds of carpet are disposed of each year in the State’s landfills alone it recently passed a law to recycle 75% of waste by 2020. And as of July 1, 2011, California law AB2398 requires a 5-cent “carpet stewardship assessment” on every square yard of carpet sold. The pressure may be building slowly, but the sense at Interface is that it is all headed broadly in the same direction, of tightening controls.”

Carpe Tile Footprint


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CLG position on EU Climate & Energy Package #EU2030

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EU Climate and Energy packageThe Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), of which we are a member, released the following press statement on Friday clearly defining our position on the EU Climate and Energy Package #EU2030:

EU Climate and Energy package is a major step forward but weak on renewables and energy efficiency.

European Council has just agreed a new climate and energy deal that sets a binding domestic Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) target of “at least” 40% but which failed to agree ambitious targets for the share of energy from renewable sources and for energy efficiency. The influential European Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group representing major EU businesses welcomes today’s agreement on the EU Energy and Climate package as a ‘major step forward’.

Philippe Joubert, Chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group said:

“In agreeing this framework for emissions reductions, European Leaders have signalled to the rest of the world a clear ambition to achieve a robust international climate agreement in 2015. A united
Europe committed to deliver at least 40% of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can boost the momentum toward an agreement in international climate negotiations in Paris, speaking louder at the table and capitalising on its leadership.”

“However, with weak targets for renewables and energy efficiency and a low carbon price the EU must act urgently to unlock investment and spur the innovation needed to deliver its ambitions. In this respect we welcome the agreement to reform the EU emissions trading system and address the benefits of carbon capture and storage technology. ”

To deliver on the greenhouse gas emissions target the EU will now also need to put in place clear governance rules, legislation and standards to enhance the uptake of low carbon technologies and energy efficiency, especially in transport and buildings.

Earlier this week the group of 25 EU companies wrote an open letter to EU President Herman Van Rompuy and EU leaders calling for ambitious, binding targets on domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least (40%), with a share of energy from renewable sources (30%) and energy efficiency (30%), which it said would support EU jobs and competitiveness.

CISL CLG EU2030 Position

More on CISL here.

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Technology coupled with clever product standards policy is the answer

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SitraThis week I’m in Finland at a Chief Technology Officer’s forum organized by SITRA, the Finnish Innovation Fund.

After talking to some CTOs at these very innovative companies, you realise that technology has most of the answers. Today I’m very optimistic about the task ahead, a feeling I never get when coming out of conferences full of sustainability wonks or brand/marketing folks talking empty stuff…

Some lessons…

* The main learning was confirming that technology, supported by strong product performance standards, will be a key part of the fight against climate change.

* I saw a presentation from KONE, an elevator maker, who says their new volume elevator models launched in 2012 consume 70% less energy in Europe, 60–75% less in Asia and 40% less in the US compared to the typical KONE elevator configuration from 2008. To put that in perspective, 40% of global energy is due to buildings and between 2% to 10% is related to elevator and mechanical stairs. Imagine if we came up with legislation similar to the car industry eg. Minimum energy performance, more taxes for elevators that consume more energy, more taxes for building that consume more energy…

* I also saw a new company called Eniram who has pioneered a system to reduce fuel consumption in cargo ships by collecting intelligent data to monitor vessel performance and then suggest a number of optimization actions such as going at the optimum speed, when the hull should be cleaned or using optimizing the engine. The global emissions of shipping are double the ones from aviation. $20m is the annual cost of fuel per year per cargo vessel. In this case, costs savings are already a great incentive and this technology is expanding. But if strong cargo vessel efficiency standards or taxation of fuel were more stringent, then the technology would be adopted immediately.

* Another interesting company is ST1 - a petrol retailer that is investing heavily in bioethanol from waste sources such as out-of-date bread, organic waste or food containing starch and sugar. Their next big project is making ethanol from saw dust. Again, these innovations have a strong business case but the reason why there are successful is due to mandatory blending of ethanol with gasoline. Again, a product standard regulation. Their blends high on bio ethanol have a carbon footprint of 80%-90% less than gasoline. Why would that fuel pay the same tax?

* I heard a mining company complaining that they know technologies that could cut the energy in mining by 40% but their customers won’t pay the price difference. Do you think that all these losers working on sustainable marketing would convince this mining company’s clients to self flagellate themselves and pay a premium or will product standards and best available technology regulation have to fix it?

* Another company, Tamturbo produces gearless, durable, high efficient turbo compressors. Around 10-12% of industrial energy consumption is used to make compressed air, so strong energy standards for compressors is key to drive innovation and product performance.

Caverion gave a great presentation - a company that follows a full life cycle business model by designing, building, operating and maintaining buildings that are user-friendly and energy-efficient. They have a contract with the Swedish municipality of Kalmar, Sweden where they have guaranteed, to its town hall customer, savings of €21 million during 20 years of building upgrades. Here again, if we had policy to push local government towards more efficient buildings, these types of projects would not be anecdotes, but daily business.

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EU 2030 Climate & Energy Declaration

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Confronted with an economic downturn, the challenges posed by climate change, fuel import dependency and rising fossil fuel bills, Europe needs to move rapidly towards a sustainable economy based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
By promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, we will be able to improve our energy security and reduce carbon emissions, while boosting the economy and creating high quality green jobs. However, these fundamental changes in our society and economy will not happen without dedicated policies.
Europe has made good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy goals. Europe must now set three ambitious, binding targets for 2030 to ensure we continue reaping the benefits. We therefore call on EU leaders to agree an ambitious EU 2030 climate and energy package no later than October 2014.

This package should be based on:
- A binding domestic greenhouse gas reduction target well beyond the proposed 40% reduction compared to 1990;
- A binding renewable energy target of at least 40%;
- A binding energy efficiency target of at least 40%.

Europe must use this opportunity to move towards a more sustainable future.
Actiam, ASN Bank, Eneco Group, Heijmans, IKEA Group, Interface, Philips, Spar Group, Swarovski, Unilever, Zwitserleven.


 “With massive shifts in the energy supply occurring around us, it is critical for Europe to take control of its future and unlock its low-carbon economic potential. What we need is for Europe to step up – to take radical action and drive the market changes we need to transform our economy towards a more sustainable path. To make this shift, binding targets on energy-efficiency and renewable energy aren’t nice to have, they are vital.
The only way to push the boundaries is to set seemingly impossible targets. It takes you away from the ordinary and challenges you to widen the scope and look for alternatives that you didn’t know were possible. Just like we did, when we committed ourselves in 1994 to have zero impact on the environment by 2020. Therefore, we ask the European politicians to take the lead and make clear to the rest of the world: this is the moment to act.”
- Rob Boogaard, CEO Interface EMEA


To add your company support to this statement please contact:
Maurits Hekking,
De Groene Zaak



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