Environmental action is needed, not words
30 JUL, 2020 BY NADINE BUDDOO
The UK government has set a net zero emissions target for 2050, and the chancellor’s
summer statement (July 2020), pledged £3bn for Britain’s environmental efforts.
However, Green Biofuels CEO William Tebbit has raised concerns that there is little support explicitly dedicated towards green infrastructure, and the prime minister’s plans for “building back greener”.
“With lockdown measures easing, not only are more of us using our cars to commute to work to avoid the virus, but construction work has also resumed in full swing. Figures from June show that our total emissions savings have dropped to 16% from 36% during lockdown,” he said.
“This shows that in the absence of broader systematic change, the progress we made in reducing our emissions and improving air quality during lockdown will be eradicated by the habitual use of dirty fuels.”
According to Tebbit, the science has long shown that effectively tackling the climate crisis requires long term, strategic and sustained efforts on a mass scale. Policymakers have been quick to adopt this message, and slow to enshrine it, but the research is there, he added.
A few days before the summer statement, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released figures illustrating that the need for action is urgent and clear, with the UK’s mortality burden of air pollution (based on both particulate matter [PM2.5] and nitrogen dioxide [NO2]), equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths at typical
ages. “In light of these facts, every business must accept that is has an obligation to improve air quality and reduce emissions. I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the growing number of industry heads and business owners in the UK who are leading by example; executing their own green agendas in the absence of government incentive – delivering actions, not words,” said Tebbit.
“Among the biggest emissions culprits in the UK are the on-road and off-road construction companies building Britain’s infrastructure with dirty fuels. With tenders for major projects such as High Speed Two (HS2) still up for grabs, environmentally conscious companies are primed to dictate the standard for competitive and successful
“Undeniably, a significant consideration of the procurement process for HS2 should be the minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions through fossil fuel alternatives over the next 10 years and beyond.” Encouragingly, a number of tenders have already gone to low-emission or carbon neutral service providers. Ferrovial, for example, was given notice to proceed with HS2 construction in April 2020. According to Tebbit, the future of construction must be green, not least because there
is little sense in building infrastructure for a planet on fire. In market terms, he believes any company hoping to win big contracts in the future should already be keeping pace with the strides made by an expanding vanguard of eco-minded business leaders.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a guideline limit of 25μgm3 over a 24- hour mean for PM2.5. According to an April report from the Greater London Authority, since 16 March nearly all sites in London (and regional background sites)
have recorded a daily mean over the WHO recommended limit. “Companies replacing about 925,000 litres of diesel with a paraffinic fuel alternative such as GREEND+ could instantly reduce their air pollution, and make emissions savings the equivalent of 520 single flights to Sydney, with no capital expenditure or replacement of existing engines. These companies are finding commercial success in no small part due to the 77% reduction in particulates and 29% reduction in nitrogen oxides which result from this easy and simple change,” Tebbit said.
“Fleet managers of retail, supermarket, and other commercial fleets also stand to benefit from this eco-centric thinking. Few have been quick to recognise the commercial opportunities available to them due to the environmental thinking of motor manufacturers. Most consumers are fatigued with ‘greenwashing’ and virtue signalling. But amidst the pandemic and increase in home-shopping, the companies that choose low-emission fleets are delivering more meaningful climate action and groceries to customers too.
“The choice of low-emission biofuels is a strategic and urgent investment in a fragile resource we have all been made too aware of: our health. The cost of clean air should come in spite of the deceptively lowered diesel prices caused by the pandemic.”
Defra has calculated that as of July 2020, the cost of the damage to public health, the natural environment, and the economy from particulate matter amounts to £73,403/t and £6,385/t for nitrous dioxide. An investment in clean fuels is ultimately returned to businesses by the circular green economy and the improved health of society,
“With fewer long term demands for chronic conditions on the NHS, and greater longterm demand on green retailers from increasingly eco-conscious consumers, the direction forward is evident. Vehicle manufacturers and fuel suppliers who are
committing themselves to including fossil-free, low emission fuels in their operations have made their business case and set course for a better future,” he said.
“It is time for all contractors, service providers and operators to catch up with these industry leaders, whose efforts are charting a route towards cleaner air and a greener Britain.
“More importantly, it is time to wake up to the missed market opportunities businesses face if they wait for policy and regulation to take the lead first. Before it is too late for us all.”