BusinessGreen rounds up all the green business news from the world this week
Tesla to shut stores worldwide in bid to keep down Model 3 price tag
Tesla is to close all its retail outlets worldwide and instead shift sales online in a bid to keep down the price tag of its new Model 3 electric car, the EV giant's CEO Elon Musk announced yesterday.
The shift online and reduction in sales staff will enable Tesla to lower all its vehicle prices by six per cent on average, as the company strives to ensure as wide appeal as possible for the Model 3, The Guardian reports.
"This is the only way to achieve the savings for this car and be financially sustainable," Musk said. "It is excruciatingly difficult to make this car for $35,000 and be financially sustainable."
Musk also revealed that the standard Model 3 would be available in Europe in six months, and in Asia in six to eight months, but that "country-specific taxes & import duties mean the price may be 25 per cent or more above the US number".
Engie to exit 20 countries and refocus on renewables
European energy giant Engie plans to pull out of 20 countries over the next three years in order to focus its business on regions with strong clean energy demand, the French utility's chief executive Isabelle Kocher revealed in a shock announcement yesterday.
The company plans to invest €11-12bn between 2019-2021, including €2.3-2.8bn on renewables to finance around 9GW of new capacity, but will largely be avoiding major acquisitions over the period.
And while the company has already sold around €14bn of its assets - mainly related to coal power - over the past three years, it now also plans to sell another €6bn of assets, according to the Financial Times.
Kocher said the company would be simplifying its business to largely focus on countries with more developed renewables markets, such as Western Europe and North America, as well as Australia and some countries in Asia. It also plans to invest in countries with potential for significant growth in clean energy solutions, such as Brazil and Romania, as well as regions where there not everyone has access to energy, including China, India and Africa.
Norway's sovereign wealth fund ditches palm oil investments
A major palm oil divestment drive from the Norwegian government's global pension fund (GPFG) has seen it pull investments in more than 60 companies due to links to deforestation over the past seven years, including 33 firms involved in palm oil, according to its annual report.
Wednesday's report reveals the GPFG - part of Norway's $1tr sovereign wealth fund - began divesting companies on account of deforestation risk in 2012, and that it has now ditched major global palm oil suppliers such as Olam International, Sipef, and Sime Darby Plantation as a result of the policy. It has also divested from Halcyon Agri Corp, a rubber company.
In addition, the GPFG said it is actively engaging with major traders of soy and beef in South America, including Bunge, ADM and Minerva, in order to tackle any deforestation arising from their supply chains.
Vemund Olsen, senior adviser at Rainforest Foundation Norway, praised GPFG's divestment policy. "The GPFG has realised that deforestation reduces its long term returns on investments," he said.
Exxon seeks to block AGM vote on greenhouse gas targets
ExxonMobil continues to drag its heels over cutting its carbon impact, having sought to block proposals from a group of its investors which calls on the US oil giant set greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to the Financial Times.
Two of the firm's investors, including the Church Commissioners for England and the New York State's pension fund, said they had both seen a letter from Exxon urging the US Securities and Exchange Commission to stop a vote on the climate proposal at the oil firm's AGM in May.
Investors supporting the proposal, which boast a total of $1.9tr of assets under management, said the Exxon letter unfairly described their efforts as an attempt to "micro manage the company".
Lightsource BP leads $330m investment in India's Ayana Renewable Power
Ayana Renewable Power has secured $330m of backing to help scale up solar and wind generation projects across India from a group of investors including Lightsource BP, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India (NIIF), and CDC Group.
Lightsource BP said its Indian investment joint venture EverSource Capial would be contributing am undisclosed share of the capital through its Green Growth Equity Fund, which was launched in 2018 with £240m backing from NIIF and the UK government.
Ayana is currently constructing 500MW of solar capacity in India and is "well placed to play an important role" in the Indian government's ambition to build 175GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, said Lightsource BP.
India greenlights $1.4bn electric vehicle incentive scheme
In a bid to turbocharge adoption of electric vehicles in the country, India's cabinet has given the green light to a scheme that would provide a total of 100bn rupees ($1.4bn) in subsidies to EV buyers over the next three years, according to Reuters.
Under the scheme approved on Thursday, up to 10,000 rupees for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in a vehicle - amounting to around half of the battery cost - would be provided to people buying vehicles costing no more than 1.5m rupees (around $21,000).
Sales of EVs are currently relatively low in India, but the government has set a target for 30 per cent of all new vehicles sold in the country to be electric by 2030.
Cambodia cement factory powers up 9.8MW solar farm
A major solar project that will help power a cement factory in Cambodia is nearing completion, featuring 2.8MW of floating PV panels and another 7MW of solar capacity across the facility's rooftops, developer Cleantech Solar said on Tuesday.
The 9.8MW solar project is expected to begin full operations at the end of March at Chip Mong Insee Cement Corporation's factory and reservoir in the country's Kampot province.
The project has been delivered through a long-term partnership between the two firms that is expected to avoid 197,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the solar farm's lifetime, substituting "a portion" of the large cement plant's electricity consumption with clean energy, the firms said.
"In addition to environmental and social benefits, such as cutting emissions and promoting corporate social responsibility, the economic benefits of sourcing renewables will also include cost savings, long-term price stability and security of supply," said Raju Shukla, Cleantech Solar's founder and executive chairman.
UK insurers will be called upon next month by the Prudential Market Authority to stress test their business against a range of climate and transition risks
As ClientEarth warns too many councils have missed deadlines to submit air quality plans, government confirms fresh support from its Clean Bus Technology Fund
Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd's speech at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - in full
Britain has its first new deep coal mine in decades - a result of pretending climate change isn't political
Rebecca Willis argues the controversial decision to approve a new coal mine in the UK is symptomatic of a wider political failure