EC commissions Ricardo to deliver sustainable transport tool

11 July 2016

To support European cities develop transportation networks that meet 21st century standards for safety, pollution and sustainability, the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport commissioned environmental consultancy Ricardo to develop an online toolset that makes it easy for cities to see the effects of policies on the ground. The tool has been launched and is freely available.

Improving urban transportation, in line with growing demands to make cities more sustainable, less polluted and more efficient in getting people from A to B, remains on the agenda for the EU as it seeks to meet ambitious climate goals as well as wider health and economic points. Urban centres now account for up to 70% of Europe’s energy related carbon dioxide emissions, and house 70% of its population – in many densely populated cities, noxious exhaust, sound, and other pollutants as a result of transportation are creating considerable headaches for policy planners of the hubs of European growth.

Ricardo commissioned to create launched tool for sustainable transport

The European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) released a Transport White Paper that set out a range of goals aimed at addressing the various environmental, social and economic challenges faced by cities by virtue of the current transportation model. The targets, in addition, put in place a number of requirement on local authorities to reduce the number of conventional cars on their roads. The research also found that market conditions will not drive cars off the road without policy intervention, thereby requiring policy action on the side of cities for their citizens.

In a bid to support city leaders develop the policies that, on-the-ground, lead to better outcomes for citizens and the environment, the DG Move developed a toolset that allows cities to better understand their current situation regarding transportation, as well as plot a pathway towards a more sustainable, less polluted, safer and more efficient future. The tool was designed with engineering and consultancy firm Ricardo Energy and Environment. The online tool leverages a model for planners to replicated a variety of conditions within their respective cities, as well as providing a means to assess a range of outcomes from possible transport policies on cities’ transport system, environment and economy.

According to the firm’s press release, “The tool covers all modes of transport used in urban areas and has been designed for use by different types of city – users can select from a set of default ‘city types’ built into the tool. This allows users to select default data covering a wide range of parameters that are representative of the situation in their own city, reducing the amount of information that users need to supply. If users have access to more detailed data about their city, they can customise the default city data. A key benefit of the tool is that users do not need any prior experience in transport modelling. The tool is user-friendly, and has a simple and intuitive graphical user interface.”


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.