Climate stress tests, EV factory developments, and all the big green business news from around the world this week

China delivers record 17GW of offshore wind capacity in a single year

The Chinese government has this week released new figures on the performance of its offshore wind industry, revealing that it has become the world’s largest offshore wind generator following a remarkable surge in new development.

State media reported that the country added 17GW of new capacity last year, meaning the country has seized the title of the world’s largest offshore wind market from the UK.

An analysis from Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans highlighted that the UK currently boasts just over 10GW of offshore wind capacity, meaning China had added 1.5 times more capacity than the entire UK market in a single year.

Wow – China just built more offshore wind capacity, in 2021 alone, than the rest of the world had managed in the last 5yrs put together

Its 26GW now accounts for half of the world’s 54GW total

Also, it added twice as much in 2021 as IEA had forecast in…December 2021

— Simon Evans (@DrSimEvans) January 25, 2022

The news came in the same week as Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that China’s State Council has set a new target to cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5 percent by 2025 compared with 2020 levels in a move designed to “lay a solid foundation for achieving carbon neutrality”.

It also came as Bloomberg reported that Chinese authorities have jailed almost 50 executives from the steel industry for faking emissions data within the country’s new carbon market.


ECB kicks off climate stress tests

The European Central Bank (ECB) confirmed yesterday that it has launched a stress test of European banks’ preparedness for handling escalating climate risks.

“This is not a pass or fail exercise, nor does it have direct implications for banks’ capital levels,” the ECB said in a statement. “It aims to identify vulnerabilities, best practices and challenges banks face when managing climate-related risk.”

However, the results of the exercise is set to inform a broader review of banks’ stability through the ECB’s so-called Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process, and as such it could ramp up pressure on regulators to impose stronger capital requirements on banks that are deemed to be exposed to climate-related risks


Deloitte: Inaction on climate change could see US face $14.5tr of economic costs by 2070

The Deloitte Economics Institute has this week published a major new report detailing how the US could secure $3tr of economic benefits if it rapidly decarbonises over the next 50 years, compared to $14.5tr of economic costs if it fails to act to slash emissions over the coming decades.

The report, titled The Turning Point: A new economic climate in the United States, argues that the US could engineer a once-in-a-generation transformation that could add nearly one million more jobs to the US economy by 2070.

“The Deloitte Economic Institute Turning Point report makes the case for another industrial revolution in the US – one built on low-emissions growth – to avoid significant losses from the climate crisis and to create a more dynamic, prosperous economy for the US,” said Alicia Rose, deputy CEO for Deloitte US. “The analysis shows that the battle to slow climate change is not only an aspirational goal, but an economic imperative for the US.”

The report also warns that if global warming reaches around 3C toward the century’s end, economic damages would “grow and compound, affecting every industry and region in the country”. Deloitte’s analysis shows that insufficient action on climate change could cost the US economy $14.5tr in the next 50 years. “A loss of this scale is equivalent to nearly four per cent of GDP or $1.5tr in 2070 alone,” the repoirt said. “And over the next 50 years, nearly 900,000 jobs could disappear each year due to climate damage.”

“The analysis demonstrates that we have a narrow window of time – the next decade – to make the bold decisions needed to change our climate trajectory and reach a turning point,” added Rose. “The decisions made by governments, businesses and communities would reinforce our early progress and could unlock extraordinary economic possibilities for the US.”


Rihanna pledges $15m for climate justice causes

Music star Rihanna this week announced she is to provide $15m to a range of climate justice organisesions operating across the Caribbean and the US through her Clara Lionel Foundation, which is named after her grandparents.

Eighteen climate justice focused organisations working in seven Caribbean nations and the US, including the Climate Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the Movement for Black Lives, are to share the new funding.

“Climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of colour and island nations facing the brunt of climate change,” Rihanna said.


GM and VW ramp up EV production plans

General Motors (GM) has become the latest auto giant to drastically strengthen its electric vehicle (EV) investment plans, confirming it is set to invest $7bn in four new Michigan EV manufacturing plants.

GM CEO, Mary Barra, said the new investment would underpin the company’s plans to become “the market leader” in the fast expanding EV market by 2025.

GM is planning to co-invest $2.6bn with LG Energy to build a new facility near Lansing, to develop GM’s Ultium battery and engine platform, which will support a growing range of electric pickups and SUVs. It is also set to invest $4bn to adapt an existing facility in Orion Township to produce electric Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

President Biden hailed the announcement as “the latest sign that my economic strategy is helping power an historic American manufacturing comeback”.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Volkswagen announced it is start production of its sixth battery electric model, the ID.5, at its Zwickau plant in Germany. The company said the factory was the first in the world to be fully converted from producing internal combustion engine models to solely manufacturing EVs.

“The Zwickau production plant has paved the way for the group to do this with six ramp-ups from three brands in just 26 months,” said VW production chief Christian Vollmer. “The knowledge and experience gained will help us to continue to electrify our production network quickly and efficiently.”


Ineos faces fresh legal action from ClientEarth over planned Belgium plant

Lawyers at ClientEarth and a group of 13 green NGOs this week confirmed they are appealing the approval for petrochemicals giant Ineos’ proposed plastics plant project in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.

The appeal comes after Flemish authorities gave Ineos’ controversial ‘Project One’ plans a greenlight, after the company scaled back its initial plans.

ClientEarth said the new permit was Ineos’s fresh attempt to get the project signed off after first cutting the project in half before deciding to drop its initial permit altogether last year. Prior to this decision, the environmental groups had challenged and successfully blocked Ineos’s first permit for the €3bn project.

“In approving this project, the Flemish authorities have once again brushed its gigantic impacts under the carpet,” said ClientEarth lawyer Tatiana Luján. “Beyond the local effects on nature and health Project One would cause, we cannot ignore that the basis of this project is fossil fuels, and they’ll be used to create the building blocks of plastics. Plants like Project One are the fossil fuel industry’s ‘Plan B’. An investment of this scale would not only provide a lifeline for this climate-damaging sector, but also generate serious environmental and climate impacts that would be felt at each stage of its lifecycle.

“Approving Project One’s permit for the second time despite its far-reaching consequences is nonsensical. We are renewing our fight to stop this project from going ahead once and for all.”

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