Top Stories

January 27, 2022


The UK is emerging as a global cleantech investment hub

New research published by professional services firm PwC has found that the UK is the third biggest market for venture capital funding into climate solutions. The ‘Net Zero Future50’ report showcases 50 new climate tech start-ups in the UK, and highlights growth in the global climate tech venture capital market. The research stipulates that the market has grown from £315.5 million in 2013 to £12.3 billion in 2019, with rapid growth of more than £24 billion in the first half of 2021. This means that the UK has more climate tech start-ups to have received funding from venture capital funds compared to any other European country during the studied period. UK-based firms also received investments exceeding £6.5 billion – a figure bested only by China and the US. (edie)


Battery breakthrough paves way for electric planes

Researchers have achieved a world-leading energy density with a pioneering battery design, which they believe may pave the way for long-distance electric planes. The lithium-air battery, developed at the Japanese National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) has an energy density of over 500Wh/kg. Comparatively Tesla vehicle batteries have an energy density of 260Wh/kg. Researchers concluded the new battery “shows the highest energy densities and best life cycle performance ever achieved”. Researchers are now hoping to implement other materials into the battery to significantly increase its lifecycle. Energy density has been a major obstacle for electric plane technology, with 500Wh/kg viewed as an important benchmark for long-haul and high-capacity flights. Lithium-air batteries have the potential to hold up to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries of the same size. (The Independent)


Brits believe “just transition” in move to net-zero unlikely

A survey of over 8,000 adults in the UK has revealed only 25% believe the social benefits of the net-zero transition will be equally shared. Commissioned by UK business outreach charity Business in the Community (BITC), the survey found 40% of business leaders and just 25% of the public were confident the social benefits of the net-zero transition would be equally shared. When asked about who would bear the brunt of negative impacts, such as costs, only 28% of business leaders and 14% of the public were confident these would be shared fairly. According to the report, a major barrier to the delivery of a “just transition” is public distrust in corporate claims, with 62% of survey respondents stating they do not trust businesses to do what they promise on climate. (edie)


Better air in lockdown may have saved hundreds of lives

Over 800 lives may have been saved across Europe thanks to better air quality as a result of the first phase of COVID-19 lockdowns. Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has shown with analysis of 47 European cities that Paris, London, Barcelona and Milan were among the top six with the highest number of avoided deaths. The study notes that reduced levels of traffic, owing to closed workplaces and schools, reduced levels of air pollution. This led to less nitrogen dioxide (NO2) polluting the air, with Spanish, French and Italian cities experiencing the biggest decreases in NO2 of 50% to 60% during the lockdown period. An LSHTM professor said European lockdowns posed a useful opportunity to investigate the effects of city pollution on people’s health. (The Guardian)


Coffee, cashews & avocados face major shifts as world warms

A new study published in the scientific journal Plos One has found that major parts of the world suitable for growing coffee, cashews and avocados are susceptible to dramatic change due to global warming. Key coffee regions in Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia will “drastically decrease” by around 50% by 2050. The study finds that coffee is the most vulnerable crop to temperature increases, with key coffee growing areas in Brazil and Colombia potentially experiencing a 76% and 63% drop in suitability for growing the crop, respectively. While suitable areas for cashews and avocados likely to increase under warming scenarios, these will be far from current sites of production. The authors warn that a major shift to develop these crops in new regions might see a rise in deforestation and invasive species. (BBC News)



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B4SI Annual Review 2021