Ricardo Energy & Environment releases real-world vehicle emission test

24 April 2017 Consultancy.uk
In a bid to support the development of ‘Clean Air Zones’ and ‘Low Emission Zones’, Ricardo Energy & Environment has developed a real-time non-invasive real-world air quality testing system that is able to connect emissions with vehicle type. Through a better understanding of the emission profiles of various vehicles, policy makers will be in a better position to evidence-based policies in relation to efforts to curb emission damage to health and well-being.
 
The air quality across regions frequented by vehicles has made headlines in recent years, as it became clear that vehicle manufacturers, including Volkswagen, were tampering with vehicle outputs between real-word driving conditions and testing conditions. Vehicles were found to be emitting up to 40 times more NOx in real world driving, as well as significant quantities of other toxins, relative to testing conditions. The economic socio-economic consequences of the alleged fraud have been estimated by one study to be in the order of € 29 billion.
 
In a bid to reduce the yearly deaths related to vehicle emissions, particularly within large metropolitan areas, a number of measures are being developed. One such measure is electrification of the wider vehicle fleet, which improves energy efficiency as well as cutting emissions of harmful chemicals in cities to zero. Other measures include increasingly stringent rules on new vehicles emissions, with fierce fines for non-compliance; as well as new measures to prohibit certain vehicles, at certain times, in ‘Clean Air Zones’ and ‘Low Emission Zones’, from access to cities or areas in cities.

Ricardo Energy & Environment releases vehicle emission test

While cities are moving to tackle the problems resultant from pollution, a clear understanding of the levels of pollution and the key sources of pollution remain difficult to identify – that it took so many years to identify that reality and the testing results from Volkswagen were significantly different highlights one element of the wider problem.

To provide local and national authorities with vehicle by vehicle measurements, in a completely non-intrusive manner, Ricardo Energy & Environment has developed a new measurement system. The system collects real-time information, including vehicle type, as well as their emissions of nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and ammonia.

By better understanding the major contributors to air pollution, and the respective type of emission, authorities and designers will be in a stronger position to create models, simulations and ultimately policies, that underpin Clean Air Zones – removing a number of assumptions and creating evidence based policies. In addition, the technology can be used for enforcement of emission standards and the identification of vehicles that do not comply.

Elucidating on the project, Sean Christiansen, Ricardo Energy & Environment air quality practice director, explains, “Ricardo’s new vehicle emission measurement service is a major step forward in the measurement of real-world vehicle emissions in the UK, helping our clients to improve the design, enforceability and overall effectiveness of Clean Air and Low Emissions Zones. The capability that this new system gives us complements the extensive air quality capabilities that Ricardo offers, ranging from support and advice on pollution control policies, pollution modelling and measurements, inventory design and compilation and the development of low emission strategies.”

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Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

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.