Microsoft to buy green jet fuel to cut emissions from business flights

GREEN ENERGY


Microsoft will buy sustainable jet fuel to help reduce the environmental impact of its employees’ business travel, the tech giant said Thursday.

The Windows maker announced a partnership with Alaska Airlines to offset emissions from its staffers’ flights on three frequently traveled routes out of the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft will purchase credits for the cleaner fuel — which is made with used cooking oil or other plant oils — from Dutch supplier SkyNRG, which will deliver the fuel to Alaska Airlines. The arrangement will cover carbon emissions from Microsoft employees’ travel between Seattle and San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, the company says.

“We hope this sustainable aviation fuel model will be used by other companies as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel,” Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, said in a statement.

The deal follows Microsoft’s pledge earlier this year to become a “carbon negative” company by 2030, meaning it will work to remove more carbon from the environment than it pumps out.

Business travel accounted for roughly 3.3 percent of Microsoft’s total greenhouse gas emissions last year, a company fact sheet shows. Using SkyNRG’s sustainable jet fuel could help reduce that footprint given that it emits about 75 percent less carbon than standard fossil jet fuel, according to a news release.

Microsoft’s efforts come as the coronavirus pandemic continues to depress global air travel. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has said he doesn’t expect demand for business flights to return to normal levels until 2024 as more companies conduct business remotely thanks to the virus.

Microsoft nevertheless hopes other companies will follow its lead in supporting the sustainable jet fuel industry by creating a stable “demand signal” for the product.

“After a decade advancing sustainable aviation fuel, this partnership marks a significant milestone in the work to make [sustainable aviation fuel] a commercially-viable aviation fuel alternative,” Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement.


The Green Factor

Democratic Views On Going Green

THE GREEN FACTOR


Democrats are dedicated to protecting the environment by reducing the effects of climate change, protecting America’s natural resources, and safeguarding the quality of our air, land, and water for current and future generations. Democratic views on the environment are focused around working to tackle our biggest environmental challenges by investing in clean energy and protecting our ecosystems to pave way for a sustainable America.

Democrats are committed to working closely with the local communities to protect our publicly-owned lands and to preserve and restore forests, wetlands, and grasslands across America for the future generations. Democrats back initiatives to restore our watersheds, oceans and rivers. They plan on conserving our ecosystems and to open more lands and waters for recreation and hunting.

Democrats are committed to a healthy environment and a healthy economy by endorsing new technologies that create good jobs and improve our world. A cleaner environment translates to a stronger economy. They hope to focus on clean energy to get the economy away from relying so heavily on oil.

  • Under President Obama, the Department of Transportation and the EPA issued new fuel-economy standards. It was the first significant increases in fuel economy for light trucks and cars in decades.
  • There was significant increase of solar energy and tripled our electricity produced by wind power under President Obama.
  • With the directive of President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency was mandated to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The president’s goal was to ensure America reduced carbon dioxide emission by 30% by 2030.
  • In the month of November 2014, President Obama announced a ground-breaking agreement with China to work together to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the next 15 years.

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The Green Link

UK commits to publish Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26

GREEN ENERGY


The UK government has announced plans to publish a “comprehensive” Net Zero Strategy ahead of next year’s COP26 climate summit that will outline how it intends to decarbonise the economy while harnessing “growth and employment opportunities” over the next three decades.

The government confirmed the plans for the new policy document late last night, as it published its official response to the annual progress report produced over the summer by its independent climate advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The move is set to be welcomed by business and environmental groups, which have long argued that an over-arching net zero decarbonisation strategy would provide clear investment signals and help ensure all government departments prioritise climate action.

But in its 156-page response to the CCC’s ‘bumper’ progress report, the government yesterday confirmed a raft of new deacrbonisation strategies are on the way. Specifically, it said it would publish a Hydrogen Strategy in Spring 2021 and a Biomass Strategy in 2022 that would set out how it intends to ramp up the low carbon fuels’ respective production and use across the UK.

The newly-announced strategies will join a number of other policy documents already in the pipeline that are expected to form the bedrock for how the UK can meet its legally-binding 2050 net zero ambition. In its response to its climate advisors, the government reiterated its timeline for a series of other net zero policy documents, confirming it would publish the long-awaited Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn, and the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Heat and Buildings Strategy before the close of the year.

In the wake of the CCC’s report, which warned that little progress had been towards the net zero target in the year since the UK legally binding goal had been set and recommended a low carbon spending blitz to drive a ‘green recovery’ to the pandemic, the government acknowledged it needed to step up its decarbonisation efforts.

“While we have decarbonised our economy faster than any other major economy over the past two decades, we recognise that more needs to be done if we are to meet the size of our net zero and carbon budgets ambitions,” Business Minister Alok Sharma and Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng wrote in the report’s foreword.

In response to the CCC’s call for the government to bring forward a ban on petrol and diesel 2032 at the latest, the government said it recognised “the need to go further than the existing regulatory regime” and was considering more stringent measures in its Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

In order to accelerate deployment of low carbon renewable technologies, the government also confirmed the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction for renewables projects would take place in late 2021 and that it would hold a new round every two years

Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, welcomed the measures contained in the government’s response to its climate advisors today and called on the government to match its ambition on wind with its plans for the solar industry in the forthcoming Net Zero Strategy.

“The government has taken constructive steps on what will undoubtedly be a long road and the announcement of a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy is welcome,” Hewett said. “What we need to see in that strategy is the same level of ambition for solar and battery storage as there has been for wind. Britain needs to triple its solar capacity in the next decade in order to get on track for net zero.”

Kwarteng and Sharma also emphasised in the report that they would listen to the recommendations of Climate Assembly UK, the citizens’ assembly that convened by six parliamentary select committee to discuss how the UK could meet its 2050 climate target.

“We welcome the report and will be considering its findings closely as we shape our approach to net zero,” they said. “We have already committed to many policies in line with the report and wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of its recommendation on greater citizenship involvement around climate change.”


The Green Factor

Biggest U.S. renewable energy IPOs of recent years

GREEN ENERGY


Array Technologies, a New Mexico-based maker of solar tracking systems, launched onto the Nasdaq Global Market on Thursday, capping one of the biggest U.S. renewable energy IPOs of recent years.

In listing its shares publicly, Array is riding two trends: growing demand for equipment that allows solar projects to squeeze out more power and strong demand for clean energy stocks ahead of November’s presidential election.

Even with an upsized IPO pricing shares at $22, Array surged after hitting the market under ticker symbol ARRY. The shares soared more than 65 percent by Thursday afternoon, to above $36, giving the company a market capitalization of more than $4.6 billion.

Array itself sold 7 million shares of common stock in the IPO, raising $154 million — more than previously expected. Oaktree Capital, the investment manager that bought a majority stake in 2016, sold another 40.5 million shares.


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