US daylight saving changes, Qatari recycling islands, and Dutch offshore wind farms, all feature in this week’s round up of green business news from around the world
Senate approves emissions-saving plan to end changing of the clocks
The US Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent from 2023, in a move that is widely expected to reduce carbon emissions by delivering brighter afternoons across the country.
The Senate approved the Sunshine Protection Act, clearing the path for a vote on the change in The House of Representatives.
Neither the White House, nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have confirmed whether or not they would support the change. But the proposals represent one of the remarkably rare areas in US politics where there is a high degree of bipartisan support.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the bill’s sponsors, said: “I know this is not the most important issue confronting America, but it’s one of those issues where there’s a lot of agreement. If we can get this passed, we don’t have to do this stupidity anymore. Pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.”
Campaigners maintain the move could improve health, boost economic activity, and lead to lower energy demand and carbon emissions. The state of California has estimated it could save 3.4 per cent of winter energy usage by making the switch, while the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently estimated the US would saved more than $4.4bn in energy cost savings and cut carbon emissions by 10.8 million metric tons over the past decade if it stayed on daylight saving time.
Dutch government doubles offshore wind goal
European governments continued to ramp up their clean energy plans in response to the Kremlin’s threat to EU energy supplies, with the Dutch government announcing it is to double its 2030 wind offshore targets.
The government said it will add 10.7GW to its current North Sea wind ambition, delivering a new target to install 21.7GW by 2030.
Germany backs 2035 fossil fuel car phase out 2035
Similarly, the new German government this week signalled that it would drop plans to water down EU proposals to phase out internal combustion engine cars. Germany had previously been planning to lobby for key exemptions in EU car and van emissions legislation, but in an interview with POLITICO Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said the government would now formally back proposals for a target 2035 date to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.
The move is a major boost to proposals to effectively end the sale of new internal combustion engine cars and vans, which have already secured backing from many of Europe’s largest economies.
“The new German government stands behind the [European] Commission’s draft and thus fully supports the end of the internal combustion engine [for cars and vans] in the EU from 2035,” Lemke said.
Science Based Targets initiative delists oil and gas firms
The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has confirmed it has delisted five oil and gas companies from its website, as it finalises a new standard for how fossil fuel producers can set climate targets that align with 1.5C or 2C of global warming.
Speaking to Climate Home News, the standards body technical director Cynthia Cummins said: “We decided it was just a reputational risk for SBTi to continue to accept commitments from oil and gas companies when we don’t know when the method will be available to use.”
The SBTi told the news website that it had new criteria for oil and gas companies drafted, but the standard needed to be checked internally and then reviewed by an external group before coming into force.
In the meantime, it has kicked five oil and gas companies off its website, including Russian oil company Tatneft, which is part-owned by the government of Tatarstan province, according to the report.
In an interview with BusinessGreen earlier this month, SBTi CEO Luiz Amaral revealed the organisation is in the midst of an overhaul of its corporate governance structures in the wake of calls for greater transparency over its methodology and internal validation processes.
Green Island: Qatar announces plans for first recycling hub
The Qatar Foundation marked Global Recycling Day this week with the unveiling of plans for the country’s first recycling hub through a project dubbed Green Island.
“It is no secret that there is a gaping hole when it comes to recycling in Qatar,” said Nawal Al-Sulaiti, sustainability manager for the Qatar Foundation (QF). “And the desperate need to fill that gap and do more to empower the community, particularly the younger generation, and arm them with the tools needed become environmentally conscious citizens, is what led to the birth of Green Island.”
The site will initially process six recycling streams: paper, plastic, aluminum cans, e-waste, batteries, and organic waste.
Ground has been broken at the project site and the recycling hub is expected to be open to the public by October, if not sooner, the Foundation said. Green Island will also feature research labs, a themed giftshop, an open space for exhibitions and lectures, organic cafes, and a farm-to-table restaurant with its vertical farm onsite. Additionally, it will house an art gallery where students can exhibit pieces of recyclable waste, as well as a 3D printing lab that prints using recycled concrete.
“Think of Green Island as an incubator for any person or initiative that thinks green – it will have something for everyone,” Alami said. “Awareness sessions for people that are yet to start recycling. Lectures and talks for those that already do but want to learn about the nitty gritty of recycling. Workshops for those that want to upcycle waste. Mentoring sessions and a launch pad for those with a sustainable business idea.”
Australian firm hails green hydrogen breakthrough
Australian researchers have this week announced a “giant leap” in improving the efficiency of electrolysers, which could drastically boost the competitiveness of green hydrogen.
According to reports in the Guardian, Hysata, a company harnessing technology developed at the University of Wollongong, said its patented capillary-fed electrolysis cells achieve 95 per cent efficiency, beating current efficiencies by around a quarter.
The achievement, published in the peer-reviewed Nature Communication journal,could significantly reduce the cost of green hydrogen, which according to some analysts is already cost competitive with hydrogen produced from fossil gas in some parts of the world as a result of soaring international gas prices.
“We’ve gone from 75 per cent [efficiency] to 95 per cent – it’s really a giant leap for the electrolysis industry,” said Hysata chief executive, Paul Barrett.
Australia is emerging as a major player in the nascent green hydrogen industry, with developers banking on low cost wind and solar power to produce hydrogen at scale using electrolysis.
New Zealand halves public transport prices
The New Zealand goverenment this week announced it is to halve public transport fares for at least three months in response to the rising oil prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would cut fares by 50 per cent as part of a wider package of measures to try and ease increases in the cost of living, including cuts to fuel duties.
“The global energy crisis has quickly become acute,” Ardern said. “We cannot control the war in Ukraine nor the continued volatility of fuel prices but we can take steps to reduce the impact on New Zealand families… In the long term we need to build greater resilience into our transport system so we are less vulnerable to spikes in the price of petrol. But for now halving the cost public transport will provide some families with an alternative to filling up the tank.”