“The return after the pandemic will be a gradual process. Some sectors are already rebounding, and others will take longer to modify or rebuild their operations. Organizations will need to move quickly to address remote and flex workforces, communication and corporate culture or else risk falling behind the competition. I think we will also see a big jump in the use of digital solutions as they strive to recover revenue.”
Bert Miller, President and CEO, MRINetwork
Europe, Middle East and Africa
The number of electric cars on Britain’s roads will jump to 30 million in the next 20 years, helped by government policies to phase out the sale of polluting cars. The nation’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century is looking more achievable, according to a study published recently by network operator National Grid Plc’s Electricity System Operator and reported by Bloomberg. Electric vehicles are one key piece as are heat pumps to replace gas boilers. Emissions from the power sector will be negative by 2033 as renewable generation and carbon capture and storage technology effectively sequesters more CO2 than plants emit, National Grid said. Levels of natural gas burnt without emissions-removing technology will halve by 2038.
“The government has a legally-binding net-zero target and it’s up to industry to make sure that’s technically possible,” according to Bloomberg. “There are concerns that without adequate planning and grid improvements, plugging in millions of electric cars could cause problems for network operators.”
Electric-car sales are rising in Europe, bolstered by generous subsidies. By 2050, as many as 80% of households with an EV will be smart charging their car when electricity market prices and power demand are lower, National Grid said in the report. About 45% of homes will be able to offer balancing capability to the grid, creating as much as 38 gigawatts of flexible electricity to help manage peaks and troughs in demand.
Dow (NYSE: DOW) and Thong Guan, one of the world’s leading plastic stretch cling film producers, have just introduced a new range of bio-based polyethylene (bio-PE) in Asia Pacific. This marks a milestone in the region’s commercialization of a plastics offering made from renewable feedstock, enabling industry providers to produce high-performance plastics while reducing carbon footprint. In a joint effort, Thong Guan will be using Dow’s bio-based resin derived from renewable feedstock. The feedstock comes from tall oil, a residue of paper production, from sustainably managed forests. “Unlike other alternative renewable feedstocks, it does not compete with the human food chain, and no extra land is required for its production. Dow uses a mass balance approach, which encourages the use of renewable feedstock, by supporting sustainable systems for producing plastic. This approach enables the industry to transition away from its dependency on fossil fuels as a feedstock,” according to a report published by Devdiscourse.
“This is a landmark moment for Dow,” said Eunice Ch’ng, senior marketing manager, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, Asia Pacific. “Introducing bio-based resins for the first time in Asia Pacific, our fastest growing market, is key in advancing a circular economy. We are proud to embark on this journey with our long-term partner, Thong Guan, and further both our sustainability offerings in order to meet our environmental goals.”
Latin America is entering one of the most difficult economic periods in its history with the coronavirus crisis exposing and exacerbating weaknesses in the regional market. The International Monetary Fund forecasts a major recession for many nations in Latin America, with a regional contraction of more than 9 percent and spiking unemployment. The path to recovery will be difficult, but government leaders can take concrete steps now to lay the foundation for a robust journey toward economic growth, according to a report by Andres Martínez Fernandez, senior research associate focused on Latin American policy issues at the American Enterprise Institute. Reported on The Hill, Fernandez says that “Latin America and the United States must redouble efforts to facilitate and encourage private sector activity and foreign direct investment using free market reforms, while turning the area into an attractive alternative for the manufacturers with operations in China.” He also sees opportunity for reforms is in the promotion of innovation in the economic downturn and enabling new startups and businesses to flourish and to diversify the regional market.
“Technology companies are key for the management of the coronavirus in Latin America, with regional startups boosting productivity through online platforms offering workers and students greater access to critical training and educational opportunities. The controversies and challenges over the integration of such startups into regional markets and the labor standards should be addressed,” advises Fernandez, “but this should not be a barrier to innovation.”