Go for Green: Britain’s HS2 trains powered by zero-carbon energy

Go for Green is our regular check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful green technology and sustainability innovation news and trends.

This week, we look at the latest worrying news coming out of Mexico on regressive moves in the country’s energy sector, controversy around Edelman PR’s latest environmental guidelines to steer their work away from climate-unfriendly clients and, in the most positive news of the week, the plans for all of Britain’s new HS2 trains to be powered exclusively be zero-carbon energy.

Is Mexico turning away from clean energy?

Mexican lawmakers are debating President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposal to regressively overhaul the country’s energy industry, reported WindpowerMonthly.com earlier this month.

“Work is kicking off with a four-week open parliament at which experts, business leaders and others will meet with lawmakers to discuss every aspect of the wide-ranging changes which critics say has stopped the country’s wind energy boom in its tracks.”

For background, President Obrador is pushing hard for reforms in the energy sector in a bid to reverse the partial privatisation introduced in 2014 and instead reinforce and protect the state’s involvement in the energy market.

This move would allow the country’s state-run electricity company, the CFE, to prioritise electricity produced by state-run facilities. Unfortunately, this energy is far-more reliant on fossil fuel sources and is at the expense of private producers who are at the forefront of greener, more-renewable energy efforts. The US Chamber of Commerce has called the rule changes “deeply troubling”, while Mexico’s National Chamber of the Manufacturing Industry (CANACINTRA) said it would lead to “poorer quality services [and] higher costs.”

AMLO’s energy nationalism has far-reaching consequences, as American producers are looking to shorten supply chains and produce goods in Central America rather than China – which in itself is a positive. Thanks to ESG investment and net-zero targets, businesses looking to make less of a negative impact upon the earth will not be able to choose Mexico as a manufacturing site. In turn, this will reduce investment, infrastructure, and jobs in the fifteenth biggest economy in the world – and right after its most severe recession since 1939.

For further background on this story, you can read more on Forbes and Solsystems.com.

Edelman adopts new environmental guidelines

Edelman PR has adopted new environmental guidelines to steer their work away from more emission-intensive clients this month. Through their work with polluters such as ExxonMobil, Edelman is now the world’s biggest PR group.

The Financial Times reports that Richard Edelman, the firm’s chief executive, said that if they could not “come to an understanding” about certain customers’ climate commitments, then they’d “part company”. So far, no clients have been dropped.

We certainly hope these statements are more concrete than Edelman’s previous promises. In 2019, they restated their commitment to not work with environment-damaging brands – but their words soon rang hollow. The America Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers group, a lobbying institute known for extreme positions on climate change, paid Edelman at least $12 million for public relations work from 2017 to 2019. The AFPM is so controversial in its lobbying efforts that even oil giants BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total, three of the most-polluting companies themselves, cut ties.

With growing concerns surrounding climate change, particularly after COP26, PR agencies would be wise to choose their next clients carefully – as working with known polluters will damage reputations, hiring efforts, and ultimately growth prospects.

Britain’s HS2 trains to be powered exclusively by zero-carbon energy

In what is perhaps the most positive news of the week, HS2 Ltd has announced that all of the networks HS2 trains will be powered exclusively by zero-carbon energy, according to a report by Engineering & Technology online.

This is undoubtedly good news – and will help support Britain’s net-zero pledge as agreed in the Paris Climate Accord. Mark Thurston, HS2 CEO said: “HS2 Ltd is completely committed to reducing our carbon emissions as we design, build and operate the new railway.

“We’ve ensured that tackling climate change is an essential feature of all areas of our work – in design, in early works, and throughout major construction, allowing the project to build towards net zero from 2035.

“The new targets announced today demonstrate the significant role HS2 will play in addressing the climate challenge, by providing a low carbon, long-distance transport solution and leading the construction sector to drive down carbon emissions.”

HS2’s other primary environmental targets include:

  • Introducing the first diesel-free site in 2022 – and stop using diesel on all sites by 2029.
  • Working with supply chain partners and industry peers to set ambitious new science-based targets in 2022 to tackle carbon emission ‘hotspots’ year-on-year.
  • Cutting emissions from concrete and steel by 50% (tCO2e/t) by 2030 compared with 2021 levels.
  • Investing in innovation and forming partnerships to speed up ways to cut emissions in HS2’s supply chain.
  • Cutting emissions from sources HS2 owns or controls and indirect emissions from electricity production.
  • Offsetting residual carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated as HS2 is built, maintained and operated from 2035. This includes looking at ways to capture and store carbon emissions using nature-based interventions such as planting new trees to absorb carbon dioxide.