22 Feb 2022

Carbon Trust launches new net zero standard, minerals vital for batteries in short supply, and govt faces legal challenges against its net zero plans

Excavating minerals

Go for Green is our weekly sustainability blog – where we share and analyse some of the most fascinating and fury-inducing stories from the last seven days. The Carbon Trust launches a new net zero standard.

As reports, The Carbon Trust has today launched a new certificate to authenticate the net zero ambitions, targets, and methods set by businesses.

Called the ‘Route to Net Zero Standard’, it will be open to all businesses, no matter size or sector, and in all geographies. Businesses will be able to propose goals, and the plans for achieving them, and have them badged as either “taking action”, “advancing” or “leading”. They will then be given support to help move up to the next tier.

Setting standards for what constitutes ‘net zero’ will be vital for ensuring we are taking the right steps towards a more sustainable economy. Currently, due to the lack of global standards, companies across the board have been criticised for greenwashing – and setting vague or incomplete sustainability goals.

Currently, attempts at greenwashing are little more than a marketing tactic – with little or no recourse in the courts, or even the court of public opinion. Companies are skewing or misrepresenting their data to gain a market advantage – which risks becoming a race to the bottom to see who can make the least amount of effort in order to please as many investors and accountants as possible.

This new initiative by the Carbon Trust is not just a certification – it is also a consultancy service, following from last week’s news that one of the Big Four, EY, is launching an environmental division. As new national requirements force businesses to release their net zero goals, these consultancy services will become more common – and more necessary.


Net zero in jeopardy unless world meets lithium and copper demands

As reported today via Sky News, mining companies have expressed concerns that the supply for certain minerals that are particularly vital for making batteries is not meeting the demand. Lithium and copper are crucial to the production of batteries, which are of course used in a huge variety of green innovation; from energy storage for renewables powering the national grid to electric cars.

The CEO of the International Council of Metals and Mineral Mining, Rohitesh Dhawan, said that lithium was a particular challenge for many of the council’s members, which include mining giants Rio Tinto, Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. The shortage of lithium has caused its price to jump from $9,600 per tonne in January 2021 to more than $50,000 per tonne in January 2022.

As this New Scientist article discusses, there are several alternatives to lithium batteries – including the use of sea water, salt or magnesium. Many of these new technologies are in development, and do not pose a suitable alternative just yet, but battery technology is developing at incredible pace, which will only increase as we require ever-more batteries, with more storage.


Legal challenge launched against UK’s Net Zero Strategy

As reported in DeZeen, a not-for-profit organisation, the Good Law Project, is taking legal action against the UK government’s strategy for achieving net-zero carbon emissions, claiming it fails to meet the legal obligations of the Climate Change Act. According to the suit, the Government will be forced to strengthen and specify its net zero strategy by the 30th June.

The group states that the strategy is unlawful because it fails to set out the policies or proposals needed to achieve its target – which is to reduce the greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere down to net-zero by 2050. According to the Climate Change Act of 2008, the government is legally committed to achieving this target.

“Right now, there is no way the government’s Net Zero Strategy meets its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act,” said Jo Maugham, founder of Good Law Project.

“The government may have set out a vision, but it hasn’t set out the specific policies needed to lead us to net-zero, and it isn’t measuring the emissions reductions its initiatives are meant to achieve,” said Maugham.

“So while the government has set the grand target of net-zero by 2050, it fails to set out how we will actually get there. We believe this is unlawful.”

The government is facing a separate legal challenge from environmental organisation ClientEarth, which has also accused the business department of breaching its legal duty of the Climate Change Act.