Author: 3Degrees Staff

At 3Degrees, we make it possible for businesses and their customers to take urgent action on climate change— providing renewable energy and carbon offset solutions to Fortune 500 companies, utilities, universities, green building firms and other organizations that are working to make their operations more sustainable. And as a certified B Corporation and eight-time winner of the EPA Green Power Supplier of the Year award, we’re primed to deliver custom clean power solutions that will help each organization make an environmental impact. Founded in 2007, 3Degrees is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with offices across the United States.

Understanding the carbon removals landscape: Creating clarity in an opaque market

Carbon removals white paper

Despite the growing interest in carbon removal projects, the removals market is still nascent and many unanswered questions exist around project-level criteria, new methodologies, and scalability. In the absence of definitive and common standards, how can corporations help build a robust carbon removals market that can support net zero ambitions by 2050 or sooner?

In this paper, we will start to answer that question by:

  • Providing an overview of the current carbon removals market
  • Identifying possible carbon removal procurement pathways
  • Highlighting some key considerations and screening criteria for corporate carbon removal buyers
  • Outlining decisions your organization can make today to help scale up supply for carbon removals.

Explore this paper to learn how your organization can develop its own strategy for building a robust carbon removals market that can support net zero ambitions by 2050 or sooner.

 

 

Coping with COP27 Outcomes to Deal with Climate Change

Every year, the Conference of the Parties (COP), hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), brings together world leaders to align on policies to limit global temperature rise and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. This year’s 27th summit took place in November in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, filled with representatives from a broad spectrum of sectors worldwide sharing their intentions, ideas, and innovative progress.

COP27’s immense size and scope have left the global environmental community wondering whether the conference’s original objective -to holistically address and mitigate climate change- is still realistic. Are COP’s formal, high-level negotiations aligned with the realities currently faced by climate-vulnerable communities around the world, especially considering the pace of innovation and mobilization required to address these adversities? This was one of the questions we pondered during COP27. In this blog, we will share some of the key moments and meaningful takeaways from the conference.

In November, our Director of Business Partnerships for EMEA, Stein Haugan, attended the 27th summit in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, in Egypt.

Walking the Talk for Urgent Climate Change at COP27

As the war rages on in Ukraine, we are simultaneously experiencing spiking inflation, a sinking economy, and volatile energy prices—all of which are influenced and exacerbated by each other. Meanwhile, climate change is driving record-high temperatures, extreme weather events, and sea level rise around the world. How can global leaders and policymakers address any or all of these problems in the short period of time available? Below, we review some of the key developments coming out of COP27 that are helping to make inroads during this extremely tumultuous time.

UN Establishes Fund for “Loss and Damages” 
The expectation coming into COP27 was that negotiations would focus on climate financing, adaptation, and, most crucially, establishing a fund to pay for climate “loss and damages” to developing countries. Small island states and other vulnerable nations, which have and will continue to experience substantial climate-related damages despite contributing relatively little to global climate change, have long advocated for such a fund. This call lent increased urgency following the devastating flooding experienced by Pakistan and Nigeria earlier this year.  

Although parties have struggled to find consensus on loss and damages in the past, COP27 saw a breakthrough after the EU proposed (and the U.S. eventually agreed to) the creation of a joint fund to compensate for climate damages. We await more substantive details of this fund next year and at future COPs.

Support for Adaptation Efforts in Developing Countries
Financing for adaptation in the Global South was another major focus of conversation at COP27. Adaptation finance provides countries with proactive support to help build climate resilience before disasters strike. Nations formally committed to finalizing the UN’s Global Goal for Adaptation next year at COP28 but, in the meantime, have pledged an additional $230 million to the Adaptation Fund. 

Furthermore, the UN announced the launch of its Early Warnings for All initiative, which aims to provide all individuals in the Global South with early warning signals for extreme weather events and impending climate disasters. The UN’s Race to Resilience campaign also released a new Data Explorer intended to transparently track national progress toward adaptation implementation.

Expert Group Pushes to Standardize Net Zero Target-Setting
The UN High-Level Expert Group on Net Zero Commitments (HLEG) released a Net Zero Commitments report that attempts to establish a “universal definition of net zero” through 10 key recommendations on target-setting, use of carbon credits, reporting, and climate advocacy.

U.S. Strengthens Commitment to Climate Action
The U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to climate change mitigation at COP27, introducing new regulations and initiatives intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions both domestically and abroad:

Methane reductions: President Joe Biden announced plans to strengthen methane regulations in the oil and gas sector to cut emissions by 87% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Energy Transition Accelerator: A new carbon market mechanism that will allow companies to fund jurisdictional-scale transitions away from coal and oil in developing economies in return for “offsets” from resulting greenhouse gas reductions. 

Climate Targets for Federal Suppliers: The U.S. became the first nation to require federal government suppliers to set Paris Agreement–aligned emission reduction goals through its Federal Supplier Climate Risk and Resilience Rule.

Small Steps Lead to Small Ambitions at COP27

While COP27 generated a number of positive outcomes, the conference failed to address a few crucial issues to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Some of the barriers that emerged during COP27 are detailed below.

Coalition for Rainforest Nations stand at COP27 in Egypt

Failure to Formally Commit to Fossil Fuel Phase-Out
Despite progress in providing financial support for developing countries, there were few efforts in formal negotiations to strengthen emission mitigation efforts and targets. Notably absent from the overarching COP27 decision (dubbed the  “Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan”) was language around phasing out fossil fuels, despite calls to include such language from many nations, including the U.S. and India. This failure to increase ambition left observers questioning if the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still within reach.

EU Unsuccessfully Pushes for Increased Mitigation Ambition
Yet again, and not surprisingly, the EU led the global community on climate change mitigation, driving breakthrough negotiations on loss and damages under the condition that all other nations commit to strengthening their emissions targets. While their push to increase global mitigation action ultimately failed, the EU was one of the only negotiating parties to announce a plan to update its own climate goal by pledging 55% emissions reductions by 2030, supported by the REPowerEU initiative.

Final Remarks

While there were hundreds of other announcements at COP27, the time to act is shrinking, and positive reinforcement will be crucial in the long run. Encouragingly, many organizations and companies gathered to bring constructive and promising solutions to pressing climate problems. Ultimately, governments, companies, and individuals must work together to protect the same and only planet Earth we all share.

Reach out to discuss how your company can mitigate its impact on climate change.

 


Maggie Lund, Policy Manager, Carbon Markets & Corporate Carbon Strategies

Maggie leads 3Degrees’ carbon-related policy engagement, working directly with standard-setters and regulatory authorities to develop best practice recommendations for international carbon markets.

 

Stein Haugan, Director of Business Partnerships, Renewable Energy & Climate, EMEA

Stein supports global corporate customers to deliver renewable energy and carbon solutions tailored to their specific sustainability goals.

 

 

3Degrees partners with Merge Electric Fleet Solutions to craft a data-driven fleet electrification roadmap for MA-based solar company

 

Solect Energy is one of the top 10 commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar installers in the United States. Built with a mission to turn energy into business opportunities for their customers, the company works tirelessly to find smart, clean energy solutions with a bankable return. Solect deploys a modest commercial fleet of just under 50 light-to-medium duty PV installation and operations vehicles. Given the nature of its business and the size of its fleet, Solect Energy was an ideal candidate for 3Degrees to pilot a fleet advisory engagement with EV analytics partner, Merge Electric Fleet Solutions (Merge).

The Opportunity 

As EV technology has reached fleet-capable vehicle classes including pickups and vans, and local, state, and federal incentives continue to scale, companies around the world are assessing when and how to transition to electric fleets in order to accelerate progress toward overarching climate targets and bring down total cost of ownership.

For Solect Energy, employing a dedicated in-house professional to analyze and optimize their fleet performance isn’t its central priority. However, to understand the business case for fleet electrification, the company joined forces with 3Degrees and Merge to conduct an EV advisory engagement that would assess the current driving pattern of its fleet, optimize current performance, analyze the viability of vehicle electrification vehicle-by-vehicle, calculate the total cost of ownership impacts, and identify immediate next steps.

How We Helped

Leveraging its partnership with Merge, the team utilized existing telematics data collection across Solect Energy’s fleet. By analyzing the real-world driving and locational data, 3Degrees and Merge unlocked a deeper understanding of factors unique to Solect’s electrification opportunity, such as where each vehicle is stored overnight, how far each vehicle is driving daily and annually, how much a vehicle idles, and the consistency or variability of each vehicle’s usage. Discovery calls led by 3Degrees brought to light unique business considerations such as the average vehicle lifespan, the business requirements of each vehicle, and the requirements of the vehicle’s driver.

First, 3Degrees and Merge scrubbed the data to remove errors, ensure accuracy, and fill in any data gaps. Once the data was validated, the team conducted a thorough analysis of the fleet to help prioritize which vehicles to electrify and when. The team developed a precursory EV procurement plan and presented it to the Solect Energy management team. Merge also forecast charging infrastructure and energy needs, including home, depot, and public, for early to late phase deployment. Deeper-level discussions between the companies helped 3Degrees present realistic actionable next steps.


The Results

The analysis determined that 50% of Solect’s fleet could be electrified over the next six years, bringing with it an average total cost of ownership benefit of approximately $7,300 per electric vehicle and avoiding 50MT of CO2e per vehicle from being emitted into the atmosphere.

These findings helped Solect Energy identify the lowest-risk and most costeffective course of action. Solect Energy now has a customized plan that details how electric vehicles can be phased in as the fleet turns over in a way that minimizes the impact to operations and is financially beneficial. Clean fuels programs, which provide financial incentives to organizations reducing the carbon intensity of a state’s fuel pool, have been rolled out in many regions across North America. If Massachusetts adopts its own clean fuels program, 3Degrees can help monetize on behalf of Solect to further improve the ROI. Additionally, with many of 3Degrees’ clients, EV charging is matched with RECs to ensure that it is consuming decarbonized power.

Transitioning to new technologies isn’t without its challenges and risks. This engagement provided Solect Energy with a clear starting point on their journey to fleet electrification, and the peace of mind of knowing that the road ahead will be a smooth one.

 

“3Degrees and Merge did a great job of understanding our business and providing us with actionable advice. We now have a roadmap to electrifying our fleet and know when and how to transition each vehicle.”

– KEN DRISCOLL, CEO, Solect

Learn Best Practices to Implement a Successful Voluntary Gas Program (webinar)

On October 19, 2022, 3Degrees’ Associate Director of Product Innovation, Andrea DeWees, shared what our decades of experience have taught us about the foundational best practices for voluntary programs. She outlined how gas utilities can demonstrate climate action to their stakeholders by applying these with confidence in order to build, launch, and grow a successful voluntary program.

Catch up on the event below.

RNG certificates are used in a number of voluntary and compliance frameworks to substantiate claims of consuming renewable energy fuel from a common carrier pipeline. As a relatively new commodity compared to electricity-derived energy attribute certificates, reporting requirements are still under development for some corporate sustainability initiatives.
 

Okta tackles electricity emissions with Social RECs

San Francisco-based identity company, Okta, is no stranger to working on impactful renewable energy procurement projects. In 2020, they completed their first renewable energy purchase with 3Degrees in the interest of addressing their scope 1 and 2 emissions in a manner that bestows positive community outcomes.

The organization later decided to focus the majority of their US purchases on Social Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)—these are RECs with co-benefits outside of solely environmental benefits, like supporting local community-based organizations and projects that are involved in solving the systemic nature of social and environmental issues. 

This focus on impact-based work comes from Okta’s unique style of cross-team collaboration and a strategy to address broader challenges such as sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and social impact. Okta for Good, the philanthropic arm of the company, plays a central role in this strategy, as it has a commitment to “be a catalyst for those making change at the intersection of humanity and technology.”

In 2020, 3Degrees introduced Okta to various impact projects, like California Bright Schools, while Okta also had prior relationships with other organizations, like Solar Stewards, a women and minority owned business.  Recognizing the importance of weaving equity and impact into its business and climate strategy, Okta met with several climate justice, social enterprise, environmental organizations, and funders as part of a “listening and learning” tour. With takeaways from the tour, additional internal research, and 3Degrees’ recommendations, Okta chose to add a project with Solar Stewards to their next renewable energy procurement. The specific project will support energy equity and advocacy in Salt Lake County, Utah.

Challenges

Despite the good of impact-based projects, they often face challenges getting off the ground due to their small size, longer time commitments, and other complexities related to bespoke projects. The revenue generated from many of these projects contributes directly to the project being built. As a result, these typically necessitate multi-year time commitments with uncertainty around how many megawatt hours (MWh) a project will generate based on panel efficiency, hours of sunlight, time to implement and more.

Another issue with impact-based projects is that the organizations that run these projects are wary of the marketing language that corporations may use. They worry that the language may become exaggerated or discuss the communities they’re helping in a way that is not true.

Okta committed to a multi-year agreement, with the comfort of increased knowledge that they would directly contribute to project viability and Solar Steward’s program costs, since it would not be implemented unless the contract commitment was a minimum of three years. In order to guarantee Okta meets their goals, 3Degrees and Solar Stewards worked together to ensure there were an added  number of RECs in case of under production. 

Solar Stewards, Okta, and 3Degrees have also formed a trusting and respectful relationship where every marketing campaign and data source is reviewed by Solar Stewards prior to publication.

How we helped

3Degrees was in a unique position to help the tailored nature of this transaction for Okta by: 

Having a large portfolio and pipeline of impact-based projects.

This reassured Okta, as they knew that they would still meet reporting requirements for their sustainability goals if they weren’t able to procure the MWh they needed from this project.

 

Turning community co-benefits into a line item on a standard energy procurement contract.

This allowed teams across Okta to merge environmental and impact priorities in one contract.

 

Acting as a backstop, working through the multiple stakeholders and handling the backend work to turn the project into a transactional deal.

This eased difficulty for Okta by having one source to go to when they had project status questions.

 

Results

Through the three-year unbundled REC agreement signed by Okta and Solar Stewards, and facilitated by 3Degrees, Okta was able to support Solar Stewards in their work to support local energy equity work in Salt Lake City.   

The specific project that Okta’s purchase helped to fund is currently underway and expected to be online by the end of 2022.

European Renewable Markets Insight Report | 2H 2022

Renewable Energy Markets Report

In many countries across Europe, demand for power purchase agreements (PPA) has remained strong due to sustainability goals and the appearance of specific countries in the market (e.g. in Eastern and Southeastern Europe). The ambitious renewable deployment targets have driven increased PPA volumes. At the same time, uncertainty is also growing in the market, particularly with unusually high prices spurring uncertainty and mobilising governmental interventions across the region.

In the following 3Degrees’ Renewable Markets Insight report -European edition– we examine several aspects of the energy landscape in Europe with a specific focus on the economic, regulatory, and political drivers of the PPA market.

Corporate PPAs in Europe: where do we go from here? (webinar)

On April 26, 2022, two of 3Degrees experts, Tyler Espinoza, Sr. Director, Energy & Climate Practice, and Noah Bucon, Sr. Manager, Regulatory Affairs, were joined by Flemming Sørensen, Vice President, Europe, and Luis López-Polín, Sr. Manager, Business Development of LevelTen Energy. The group discussed the impact the European power crisis has had – and will continue to have – on corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Catch up on on the event.

View the webinar

Low Carbon Fuel Standard program explained (video)

In this video, we unpack the role of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and similar programs around the country. Clean fuels standards aim to decarbonize the transportation sector and remove the barrier to entry for clean transportation technologies. 

Learn how these tools can support your fleet electrification efforts.

Watch the video