ONA awarded Michelin star in major milestone for vegan cuisine
A new chapter has been opened in the long history of French haute cuisine, after a restaurant in the country’s south-west became the first vegan restaurant to be awarded a coveted Michelin star.
The restaurant ONA – which stands for Origine Non Animale – in the city of Ares, near Bordeaux, was founded by Claire Vallée in 2016 after she secured crowdfunding from supporters and a loan from French green bank La Nef.
In addition to the standard star, Vallée was also awarded a green star, which Michelin introduced last year to highlight restaurants with a strong environmental credentials.
A Guide Michelin spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that ONA “the first vegan restaurant in France to win a star”.
‘Gas is over’, declares European Investment Bank chief
The President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has issued a stark assessment of the long term future for gas infrastructure across the continent, declaring at apress conference this week that “to put it mildly, gas is over”.
“This is a serious departure from the past, but without the end to the use of unabated fossil fuels, we will not be able to reach the climate targets,” said Dr Werner Hoyer, as he presented the bank’s annual results for 2020.
The comments represent a significant strengthening of the EU’s line on the future of gas, which has previously seen policymakers endorse the idea new gas infrastructure would be required to help more coal-dependent economies curb their emissions.
However, the EIB highlighted that gas has a very limited role to play in the EIB’s climate roadmap. Currently, only power plants emitting less than 250 grammes of CO2 per kilowatt-hour currently eligible for support under the bank’s rules, but the EIB now intends to phase out all funding for fossil fuels before the end of the year.
Hoyer said that instead the bank would now divert more finance towards energy efficiency projects, renewable energy projects, green innovation, and research.
Elon Musk trails plans for carbon capture prize
Billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk this week revealed plans for a new cash prize for promising carbon capture technologies. Writing on Twitter the controversial entrepreneur, said he was “donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology”. He added that more details would follow next week.
The tweet prompted a raft of suggestions for technologies that promise to capture industrial emissions or draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, as well as lots of photos of trees.
Hamburg coal power plant to be converted into mega-electrolyser for green hydrogen
Vattenfall, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Hamburg’s municipal heat supplier Hamburg Wärme have this week signed Letter of Intent in support of plans to develop a major new green hydrogen hub in the port city.
The new electrolyser is to boast a 100MW capacity and is set to be built on the site of the former Moorburg coal-fired power plant. The companies are now exploring how they can jointly produce hydrogen from wind and solar power at the site and then utilise the resulting gas in the region.
The firms said that subject to a final investment decision and planning approvals the production of green hydrogen is anticipated in 2025.
China coal output rises to highest level since 2015
New statistics from the Chinese government have underscored the scale of the challenge the country faces if it is to deliver on its new net zero emissions goal, after authorities confirmed coal output rose to its highest levels since 2015 last year.
Despite huge disruption to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak, new data from the National Bureau of Statistics this week showed that the world’s largest coal miner and consumer produced 3.84 billion tonnes of coal in 2020. The uptick in production was partly driven by the government’s unofficial restriction of coal imports, but environmental campaigners are also concerned that a post-covid economic recovery could also see a surge in demand for coal power across the country.
Over 90 top corporates call on Japan government to boost clean power goals
A group of 92 corporates that have signed up to the Japan Climate Initiative (JCI) this week issued a call for the Japanese government to raise its renewable energy share of the power mix to 40-50 per cent by 2030.
The group noted that to meet the goal of becoming net zero emissions economies by 2050, EU countries and US states have set clean power goals to be reached by 2030 in the range of 40 per cent to 74 per cent of the electricity mix. In contrast, Japan’s recently confirmed a national net zero emissions target for 2050, but its current renewable energy target for 2030 stands at just 22 per cent to 24 per cent.
The new message, which was endorsed by leading Japanese corporations in a wide range of fields, including the electrical, IT, automotive, aviation, shipping, retail, food, housing & construction, pharmaceutical, steel, chemical, glass, insurance & finance sectors, urged the government to step up efforts in support of their goal of playing “a greater role in the global business environment, where decarbonisation is accelerating, and enable Japanese companies more committed to the challenge of mitigating the climate crisis”.
Report: EU renewables drive is delivering
Two new reports from the European Environment Agency (EEA) have highlighted how the continent’s rapid expansion of its renewables sector over the past 15 years has resulted in significant environmental gains.
The agency found that across the EU the increase in electricity from renewable sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, and biomass, had, by 2018, significantly reduced net greenhouse gas emissions. The assessment presented a detailed life cycle analysis of global changes in overall environmental impacts associated with the expansion of EU renewables capacity between 2005 and 2018 and concluded that “for most of the impact categories investigated, the switch from fossil fuel to renewable electricity sources within the EU Member States resulted in clear improvements in 2018, compared with 2005”.
The report found that on top of significant emisisons savings the lifecycle impact potentials were lower for eutrophication, particulate matter formation, and acidification in 2018 than in 2005, while ecotoxicity- and land occupation-related impact potentials slightly increased.
“The briefing also shows that monitoring and targeted actions can help minimise some adverse effects of this transition, in particular those regarding freshwater ecotoxicity and land occupation,” the EEA said. “Actions should focus on reducing impacts linked to material sourcing and to production processes across various supply chains (e.g. for solar photovoltaic modules and biomass fuels), along with improvements in energy and resource efficiency.”
Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures completes $1bn clean tech raise
Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the clean-tech venture capital fund backed by Bill Gates, has reportedly raised $1bn for a second round of investments, after investing its first $1bn fund-raising round in 45 startups.
“We have built a great technical team and our ability to close a second fund is a testament to their good work,” Eric Toone, BEV’s technical lead, told Bloomberg.
The first round was backed by a raft of high profile names, including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Chris Hohn, and Michael Bloomberg. Rodi Guidero, BEV’s executive director, told Boomberg said many of the firm’s original investors were involved in the second round, along with some new ones, but declined to provide any names.
The move follows the firm’s first successful exit last autumn when lithium-ion battery developer QuantumScape listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
IEA warns of global SUV surge
The IEA has warned that rising global demand for SUVs could put global emissions goals at risk, as emissions savings made in other sectors are offset by increased demand for larger vehicles.
In a new analysis the influential agency noted that “as global energy-related carbon emissions fell last year because of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, one sector saw emissions actually rising in 2020: sport-utility vehicles (SUVs)”.
“The world’s overall energy-related emissions fell by an estimated seven per cent this year, the largest drop in history and around five times the size of the decline in 2009 following the global financial crisis,” the report noted. “But emissions from SUVs, which are typically larger and less fuel-efficient than other cars, are estimated to have seen a slight increase of 0.5 per cent.”
While demand for electric vehicles is soaring globally, SUVs continue to dominate much of the global auto market and now account for 42 per cent of all sales.
“Despite the effects of the pandemic on overall car use, SUVs consumed more oil last year than they did in 2019,”the IEA said. “Oil consumption from SUVs reached 5.5 million barrels per day in 2020. Remarkably, we estimate that the increase in the overall SUV fleet in 2020 cancelled out the declines in oil consumption by SUVs that resulted from Covid-related lockdown measures.”