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Council and Parliament strike a deal to boost EU’s green industry

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Council and Parliament strike a deal to boost EU’s green industry
Progress towards the objectives of the net-zero industry act will be measured by two indicative benchmarks | Photo: Jason Blackeye

The Council and the European Parliament today reached a provisional deal on the regulation establishing a framework of measures for strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing ecosystem, better known as the ‘net-zero industry act’ (NZIA). The regulation aims at boosting the industrial deployment of net-zero technologies needed to achieve EU’s climate goals, using the strength of the single market to reinforce Europe’s leadership in industrial green technologies.

Under today’s agreement, there will be a single list of net-zero technologies, with criteria for selecting strategic projects in those technologies that will contribute better to decarbonisation.

“With the Net-Zero Industry Act we want to support our industry in its transition. The NZIA is an important step in creating the necessary ecosystem to boost the manufacturing of clean technologies. Europe launched a pathway towards a cleaner and sustainable future for the European industry. Now the time is ripe for Europe to take back the lead on the global scene for clean technologies and to build a competitive, green, and job-creating industrial sector,” says Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture.

The net-zero industry act aims to ease conditions for investing in green technologies, by simplifying permit-granting procedures and supporting strategic projects. It also proposes to ease market access for strategic technology products, enhance the skills of the European workforce in these sectors (notably through the launching of net-zero industry academies) and create a platform to coordinate EU action in this area.

To foster innovation, the net-zero industry act proposes favourable regulatory frameworks to be created for developing, testing and validating innovative technologies (known as regulatory sandboxes).

Progress towards the objectives of the net-zero industry act will be measured by two indicative benchmarks: reaching 40% of the production required to cover EU’s needs in strategic technology products, and their evolution in comparison to world production for products such as solar photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, batteries and heat pumps. The proposal also sets a specific target for CO2 carbon capture and storage, with an annual injection capacity of at least 50 million tonnes to be achieved by 2030.

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Sustainability

The importance of sustainability initiatives for modern businesses

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The importance of sustainability initiatives for modern businesses
Research shows that almost three-quarters of employees believe environmentally sustainable companies make for more attractive employers. | Photo: Yan Krukau

Consumers are understandably shopping with more eco-awareness than ever before considering the current climate. Not only do they want assurances that the product was made ethically, but there’s also a growing curiosity about understanding where our products come from and the impact of their journey from mine to market.

At the same time, modern customers are also wising up to greenwashing schemes, meaning they aren’t going to blindly align themselves with the first company that appears to be doing the right thing. It’s important to invest in sustainable policies in the first place, but it’s even more important to invest in the right way.

Here we explore the core benefits to promoting sustainability initiatives across your company and explore how doing so can help to future-proof your organisation in the context of the rising climate crisis.

Retaining and attracting talent

Particularly with younger generations developing a widespread eco conscience, in order to open yourself up to the best candidates in the talent pool, it’s important to demonstrate that your company aligns with these beliefs. Research shows that almost three-quarters of employees believe environmentally sustainable companies make for more attractive employers. This means that not only will you be more appealing to prospective employees, but you’re also more likely to retain talent once they join your organisation. In addition, you may find that employees are happier working in a business that has strong eco-awareness, positively impacting upon staff morale and productivity. 

To leverage your green policies to attract more talent, it’s important to publicise the work you’re doing; keeping everything internalised means prospective hires won’t be able to fully understand the company’s principles. There are several ways you can do this, from advertising your policies on your website in a company handbook to including information on job postings. Celebrate the wins and progress you’ve made to position yourself as a forward-thinking company with a clear social conscience.

Potential cost savings

It’s a common misconception that adopting more eco-friendly policies will eat into your profit margins and come at the expense of business growth. But the opposite is true. There are so many examples of small changes businesses can make that can actually save huge amounts of money over time, helping to fuel more sustainable expansion.

One of the biggest areas for potential savings is in reducing waste. In 2021 alone, businesses in England produced an estimated 33.9 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste. From food to documents, any items that contribute to this huge number ultimately amount to wasted money, while also contributing to the amount that ends up in landfill. Simple things like cutting down on inessential printed documents and using reusable coffee cups can make a huge difference.

In order for businesses to cut down on waste, it’s imperative that you get the buy-in from employees. Make waste reduction schemes accessible and provide staff the tools to reduce waste and ultimately cut costs. Even if teams are working remotely, you could provide training to educate employees on simple techniques to limit their waste, such as how to properly care for equipment to reduce the need for replacements.

Driving innovation

When businesses pledge to operate more sustainably, it encourages people at all levels to find more innovative solutions to long-standing problems. This is because they’re restricted by the ways in which they can use key resources such as water and carbon across the supply chain, encouraging them to use more inventive processes without diminishing the quality of their product or service.

Often, when businesses operate without much of an eco conscience, they’ll do as little as they can get away with and comply with only the lowest environmental standards. However, for companies who are looking to future-proof themselves and stay ahead of the curve, it’s advisable to conduct business in line with the strictest rules.

When the entire business is working to these higher standards, employees are encouraged to be proactive in solving problems to facilitate growth while also sticking to the wider corporate responsibility. Plus, you’ll be safeguarding yourself from future legislation roll-outs, with governments around the world likely to continually enforce more stringent rules to meet long-term sustainability goals.

Understanding the corporate climate

Time is running out for businesses across the globe to reduce their carbon footprint and play their part in protecting the planet for future generations. However large or small, every business has the opportunity to establish eco-friendly principles that can make a huge difference in their local communities and beyond. Best of all, your actions may just inspire others to do the same.

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New solar power plant goes live in Poland

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New solar power plant goes live in Poland
The new photovoltaic power plant is expected to generate electricity for around 16,000 households in Mysłowice

A new solar power plant, equipped with Kehua inverters has successfully connected to the grid in Poland. The project was commissioned by Tauron, one of the largest businesses in the Polish energy sector.

The 37 MW photovoltaic power plant is expected to generate 39,000 MWh of green energy annually, meeting the electricity needs of around 16,000 households. This amount of power is also sufficient to meet the annual energy needs of a city with 50,000 residents. The ecological impact of the project is significant, with solar production expected to reduce up to 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The project is located in a remote suburb of Mysłowice, one of the oldest cities in Upper Silesia, where humid summers and cold winters pose a challenge to the PV system. Kehua’s research led to the use of an inverter solution with IP66 protection, which prevents corrosion from water vapor and protects the internal electronics.

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Submissions for the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2025 cycle are open

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Submissions for the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2025 cycle are open
The prize has increased its fund from $3.6M to $5.9M, encouraging impactful climate contributions.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering global sustainability and humanitarian award is currently open for the 2025 cycle.

Submissions will be accepted until 23 June 2024 through the Prize’s online portal. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs), nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and high schools with sustainable solutions can submit an entry for consideration in one of the six categories of Heath, Food, Energy, Water, Climate Action and Global High Schools.

Commenting on the launch of the 2025 submissions cycle, H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, and COP28 President, said: “Since 2008, the Zayed Sustainability Prize has honoured the legacy of Sheikh Zayed by fostering inclusive sustainable and humanitarian development around the world. In this decisive decade for climate change, these values are more important than ever. I am optimistic that the Prize will contribute to global climate action in line with the UAE Consensus, which will pave the way toward an effective response to the Global Stocktake decision.”

In response to the pressing climate crisis, and to further support the UAE’s efforts to accelerate practical solutions needed to drive climate action and uplift vulnerable communities around the world, the Prize has increased its funds from US $3.6 million to US $5.9 million. The Prize will reward US $1 million to each winner in the organisational categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action. Within the Global High Schools category, which is split into six world regions, each school can claim up to US $150,000 to start or further expand their project. The six world regions of the Global High Schools category are The Americas, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia & Pacific.  The most recent Zayed Sustainability Prize winners were recognised at an Awards Ceremony held during COP28 UAE.

To encourage a broader range of organisations and high schools to participate, the Prize will be accepting submissions in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. This will ensure that innovative solutions from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds can be recognised.

For the Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action categories, organisations should prove that they are improving access to essential products or services in their targeted communities and are able to implement a long-term vision for better living and working conditions. For the Global High Schools category, projects should be led by students, and must demonstrate innovative approaches to address sustainability challenges.

The evaluation of each submission to the Prize consists of a rigorous, three-stage process. First, due diligence is conducted on all submissions to ensure that they meet the Prize’s evaluation criteria of Impact, Innovation, and Inspiration. This identifies the qualified entries and results in the selection of eligible candidates. Following this, evaluations are undertaken by a Selection Committee consisting of category-specific panels of independent international experts. From this shortlist of candidates, the finalists are chosen and then sent to the Prize Jury who unanimously elect the winners across all six categories.

Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be announced at an Awards Ceremony during the 2025 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

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