05 October 2021
In May 2021, Macquarie Group published a commitment to align with the global goal of net zero. On the same day, GIG published its own commitment to a series of GIG-specific net zero aligned actions, which would build upon our existing green governance.
In setting out the new GIG net zero commitments, we explained how GIG’s approach would align with and support the Macquarie Group approach, which will be detailed in a Macquarie Net Zero Plan to be published by the end of 2022. While we are working with colleagues across Macquarie to progress that Plan, we have provided below a short interim update including new data that expands the scope of our previous reporting.
|May 2021||GIG makes a commitment to net zero by 2030 for our renewable energy assets and 2050 for all other assets|
|October 2021||Progress Report 2021: report on avoided emissions as usual and expand scope to reporting on financed emissions|
|October 2022||Progress Report 2022: full report on financed emissions, detailed plan for decarbonising our portfolio emissions, setting science-based interim targets|
GIG’s mission, held consistently since the formation of the business in 2012, is fully aligned with a commitment to help the world reach net zero.
We operate within a corporate governance framework which requires all GIG investments to be aligned with our mission and to contribute to specific green purposes, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These green purposes are enshrined in our company constitution, as described in the Governance overview. For the past eight years we have reported annually on our green impact with market-leading transparency.
We recognise, however, that while our activity is designed to accelerate the transition, the projects that we finance still produce greenhouse gas emissions – we refer to these as our financed emissions. As such, we committed to achieving net zero emissions from financing activities associated with renewable energy generation projects by 2030 and aligning the emissions of financing activities designed to decarbonise high emission and non-renewable energy sectors by 2050.
We will provide annual updates, evolving our approach to meet industry best practice and stay in line with the latest climate science.
This year, we have started to expand our scope of emissions accounting by gathering data to enable future reporting of GIG’s financed emissions to new standardised approaches. An example of such an emerging approach is the Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Financial Industry recently published by the PCAF.1
Here, we present an initial overview of our financed emissions, ahead of further information in future Progress Reports.
As we expand our approach to emissions reporting and management, and as an investor active in the initial development and construction of new projects, we have evaluated the lifetime emissions impact of our newly-invested projects in the reporting year.
The bar chart shows the expected lifetime (annualised) emissions of the new projects in which we invested in 2020/21,2 referred to as GIG financed emissions, and how these compare to ‘counterfactual’ emissions – those emissions that would have happened if our projects did not take place.
This also illustrates how our avoided emissions – reported in our green impact overview – represent the difference between the two numbers.
While we will continue to report on these avoided emissions, they will be reported separately and will not contribute towards our net zero commitments, where the focus is strictly on reducing actual financed emissions.
The pie chart illustrates the sector breakdown of the lifetime expected emissions of our new projects in the reporting year.
Most emissions in our waste treatment projects are Scope 1 (direct) emissions, whereas the lifecycle emissions from our renewable energy projects (such as wind and solar energy) are predominately Scope 3 emissions arising from manufacture, transport and installation.
Our financed Scope 1 emissions are measured and reported directly to us by our investee projects. For estimating Scope 3 indirect emissions (e.g. solar panel manufacturing) we use a combination of project-specific lifecycle analysis and estimation using industry-standard proxy data.
As shown above, waste projects constitute most of our financed emissions, and so this sector is already a focal point in our work.
Much of our ability to decarbonise waste treatment will rely on sector-wide efforts, likely involving new public policy mechanisms to scale-up recycling rates and lower the costs of CCUS retrofits on energy from waste plants. We are already playing an active role in this transition, having commissioned studies to evaluate the viability of CCUS retrofits on our own assets and participating in policy development conversations through key trade associations in the UK.
Despite challenges in decarbonising waste treatment assets, they continue to deliver important social and environmental benefits, contributing to clean and healthy communities and ecosystems around the world. Waste to energy has an important role to play where waste is still landfilled or disposed of illegally.
We are committed to reducing emissions from our waste to energy assets and as we explore and implement solutions for our existing and future investments, we will continue to support new waste treatment infrastructure around the world.
While waste-to-energy projects reduce emissions from waste significantly, compared to the landfills that they displace, there is still much more to do to decarbonise these assets. The costs of decarbonising energy from waste plants, for example by fitting carbon capture technologies, have been calculated at £140-260/tCO2e in the UK – which will require new policy support mechanisms to maintain the commercial viability of these projects.3
Lower emissions waste management systems such as recycling are not keeping up with the scale of the challenge. Recycling rates in the UK have plateaued at around 44% in recent years.4 Accelerating recycling rates in Europe and making recycling assets commercially viable for the private sector will require important changes in policy support mechanisms in the coming years.
Landfills remain the highest emitting source of emissions in the waste sector. Thanks to significant reductions in waste going to landfill, the UK has reduced emissions by 63% since 1990 – this was achieved in great part thanks to waste to energy assets.5
We have conducted initial reviews to identify where our immediate priorities lie on the path to net zero.
As a first step, we will work with our projects and partners to enhance our existing green impact data collection by ensuring we are collecting a wider set of reliable data on our financed emissions, focussing on those areas where we currently estimate Scope 3 emissions, such as equipment manufacturing, project construction, and project operations and maintenance – to ensure we are identifying and addressing all sources of emissions.
We will use this additional data on project emissions to inform our investment decision-making alongside our existing green impact evaluation approach set out in our Green Investment Policy. We are also working across investment teams in GIG and Macquarie Group to model the financial impacts of emissions-reducing technologies such as carbon capture and ensure we can identify commercially viable solutions for our existing assets and future projects.
We will continue our involvement with industry initiatives such as the Sustainable Markets Initiative to contribute to defining and consolidating best practice on net zero for the sector.