In stopping climate change, time is as important as tech

March 1, 2021 by  
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In stopping climate change, time is as important as tech Jonathan Foley Mon, 03/01/2021 – 01:30 This article originally appeared on the author’s personal blog, and was written in that capacity. Italics are the author’s. The only sure path to stop climate change is to zero out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. That’s it. As simple as this sounds, it’s going to be an  enormous  job,  requiring hard work  over the coming decades. But I find that most people don’t understand the time dimensions of the problem very well. A useful way to think about the effort and timescales required is to consider the ” Carbon Law ,” which was coined by my friend Johan Rockström. Despite the name, this isn’t a physical “law” of the universe but rather a set of recommendations. So, what does the Carbon Law say? It says to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris Accords, we need to severely restrict the  total, cumulative amount of greenhouse gases  we release into the atmosphere moving forward. This idea is called the  “remaining carbon budget”  and refers to how much carbon dioxide (and other gases) we can still emit before warming the planet beyond a particular target. The more we burn, the warmer the planet gets. To keep within the remaining carbon budget for 2 degrees C, we have to cut our emissions drastically, reaching net-zero emissions as soon as possible. But cutting emissions takes time, so we have to find a balance between the severity and speed of these efforts. The Carbon Law outlines a possible path forward. It shows how we can limit the cumulative amount of greenhouse gases we emit in the future and quickly reach “net-zero” emissions. The path illustrated by the Carbon Law limits the warming of the planet to less than 2 degreesC while giving us some time to make the transition. But the speed and severity of the required cuts are still breathtaking. According to the Carbon Law, we need to peak greenhouse gas emissions roughly now — and then cut them in half in the 2020s. That’s not all. The Carbon Law says we need to cut them in half again in the 2030s. And then in half again in the 2040s. Alongside these deep emissions cuts, the Carbon Law suggests ramping up carbon removal projects , which will take many years to develop and deploy at sufficient scale, between now and 2050. Together, leading with steep emissions cuts early on, with carbon removal building up later, we can get to “net-zero” emissions around 2050, limit our cumulative emissions moving forward, and limit global warming to 2 degrees C. Let me illustrate how this might work with a simplified version of the Carbon Law. Historically, greenhouse gas emissions rose from about 27 Gigatons-CO2equivalent/year in 1970 to about 50 Gt-CO2e/yr in 2020. According to the Carbon Law, we need to stop this rise and hit peak emissions as soon as possible (Figure 1). Figure 1. Historical Greenhouse Gas Emissions. This includes all anthropogenic greenhouse gases, not just CO2. The total is expressed as an equivalent amount of CO2, using a single “global warming potential” for a 100-year window. Data from IPCC and the Global Carbon Project. Graphic by Jonathan Foley © 2021. Then we should cut emissions by about 50 percent in this decade, bringing them down to about 25 Gt-CO2e/yr around 2030 (Figure 2). Notice that this is a much steeper decline than the emissions rise that came before. It’s a  big  cut, no matter how you look at it. Figure 2. A simplified version of the Carbon Law, where we cut total emissions by ~50 percent in the first decade. (In the original Carbon Law paper, the authors considered energy & industrial emissions separately from land use. Here I combined them for simplicity. The general lesson is the same.) To achieve such rapid cuts in emissions, we need to deploy the fastest possible climate solutions. To me, this would include halting climate-destructive practices such as tropical deforestation, flaring and fugitive emissions of methane, and “black carbon” emissions from biomass burning, dirty cookstoves and other sources. These would have an immediate effect on the atmosphere. Other “quick wins” can come from rapid and cost-effective improvements in efficiency. There are  enormous  opportunities to be more efficient with electricity (especially in buildings and industry), food (where about 30–40 percent is wasted globally), industrial processes, transportation (higher fuel efficiency, more alternative transportation), and buildings (improved building envelopes, building automation and reduced refrigerant leaks). In addition, we will have to rapidly shut down fossil fuel energy sources and deploy renewable energy systems across the planet as quickly as possible. But given the enormous physical infrastructure and capital involved, this inevitably will take time. Even the most aggressive scenarios of this energy transition require the 2020s and 2030s to complete. We are in a race to stop climate change, and we will have to use the fastest solutions we’ve got. And those are usually the ones already on the shelf. After cutting emissions by about 50 percent in the 2020s, we have to keep going and cut emissions in half again in the 2030s and in the 2040s (Figure 3). Figure 3. And then we cut emissions by another ~50 percent in the 2030s and 2040s. I wish we could cut emissions to zero, period, before 2050, but this framework acknowledges that it may be very difficult to eliminate  all  greenhouse gas emissions by then. We’ll see. But if we assume that  some  emissions may continue in the 2040s, we will need to start relying on  carbon removal  — powered by nature (with trees, soil, or oceans) or technology. A lot of business and technology leaders are  very  enthusiastic about carbon removal right now. But don’t get too excited just yet. It’s going to take a  long time  to make a difference. In fact, the total sum of carbon removal projects done to date — whether with trees, crops, cattle, rock weathering, or technology —  isn’t even measurable in the atmosphere yet . Because carbon removal projects are still  very  small, the Carbon Law allows time for them to spin up between now and 2050 (Figure 4). In this scenario, carbon removal starts to take off in the 2030s and 2040s. Figure 4. As we cut emissions heavily in the first decades of the Carbon Law approach, we allow time for carbon removal projects to scale up by the 2040s, balancing out the remaining emissions. Together, the drastic cuts in emissions, front-loaded to the 2020s, with ongoing cuts in the 2030s and 2040s, combined with the ramp-up of large-scale carbon removal by the 2040s, would help us achieve net-zero emissions around 2050 (Figure 5). Figure 5. Together, the steep emissions cuts today and gradual increase in carbon removal later lets us reach net-zero by 2050. It’s important to stress this is  one possible way  we can stop climate change in the future. How we actually get there will likely be different. But the Carbon Law teaches us to focus on  deep and rapid  emissions cuts first, with continued cuts for decades, followed by the gradual build-out of carbon removal later. This sounds reasonable, but the most challenging part — that worries me the most — is that we have to  cut emissions   in half this decade. That’s a huge job, no matter how you look at it. To put this in perspective, the Carbon Law says we have to cut emissions more in this decade than emissions grew in the  previous five decades combined . Figure 6. A huge amount of the work we need to do today, according to the Carbon Law, is reduce emissions by 50 percent before 2030. How are we going to cut emissions in half in a decade? Simply put: We need to act  fast , without delay. We have to start with tools on hand, and not wait for new ones that may (or may not) appear in the future. This is important to remember. Time  is the most crucial parameter here, not whether we have the best possible tools. We have already squandered decades debating and denying climate change — a form of ” predatory delay ” that benefitted big polluters. But we’ve wasted all the time we can, and we cannot delay any longer. We will need to do everything we can to cut emissions in half during this decade. That means no more waiting. No more delays. Not even well-intended ones, including waiting for better technologies that can help reduce emissions a little better. We have to get started today and fold in any new tools that become available as we go along. As venture capitalist and entrepreneur  Ibrahim AlHusseini  likes to say,  “Now is better than new.”  And he’s right. I’d maybe add, ” Time is as important as tech.” Topics Climate Change Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image by Shutterstory/BrAt82

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

June 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Cecilia Keating Tue, 06/16/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced it will invest €1 billion (about $1.12 billion based on exchange rates this week) over the next decade in efforts to tackle climate change and deliver on a new goal to ensure net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039. The consumer goods giant unveiled its new Climate and Nature Fund on Monday as it set out a raft of fresh sustainability goals, which include plans to end deforestation in its supply chain and communicate the carbon footprint of every product it sells. The new 2039 target builds on existing sustainability goals to reach carbon neutrality across its operations and halve its value chain emissions by the end of the decade. Unilever CEO Alan Jope emphasized the company intended to eschew a sustainability strategy that focused on emissions alone and instead take a holistic approach. “Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” he said. “In doing so, we must also recognize that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.” To reach its new value chain emissions goal, Unilever said it would prioritize partnerships with suppliers committed to science-based climate targets and work with partners across the value chain to drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, the Anglo-Dutch company said it intends to set up a new system where suppliers are required to declare the carbon footprint of the goods and services while invoicing. It also outlined its intention to work with other businesses and organizations to standardize emissions data collection, sharing, and communication. The new fund will support a raft of initiatives, including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation projects, the company said. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … The firm also confirmed that it is aiming to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. As such it pledged to increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies — such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain systems — to enhance oversight, accelerate smallholder engagement and improve its approach to derivates sourcing. Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at the company, said that empowering farmers would deliver a “step change” in regenerating nature. “If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems,” he said. “In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land.” Unilever also has committed to step up its efforts to preserve water, with plans to make all its “product formulations” biodegradable in order to minimize their impact on aquatic ecosystems. It also said it would implement water stewardship programs for local communities in 100 locations by the end of the decade. Jope concluded that the suite of new initiatives would complement the company’s ongoing mission to curb its reliance on virgin plastic. “While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life — in the sourcing of materials — as well as in their manufacture and transport,” he said. “We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.” Last year, the company pledged to halve its use of virgin plastic and ensure it collects and recycles more plastic packaging than it sells. The announcement came the same day as the publication of an open letter to governments from leading green businesses and NGOs, calling on policymakers to prioritize nature restoration projects as part of their imminent coronavirus economic stimulus packages. Pull Quote While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Early evening view of Unilever office The Bridge in Feijenoord neighbourhood in Rotterdam

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

Corporate renewable energy buyers remain undeterred

September 19, 2017 by  
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The vast majority of corporate energy purchasers plans to pick up the pace on renewables in the decade ahead, according to research by GreenBiz and Apex Clean Energy.

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Corporate renewable energy buyers remain undeterred

FOMO: Why I’m not going to Paris for COP21

November 17, 2015 by  
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Here’s why EMC’s Kathrin Winkler won’t be at the biggest U.N. climate event of the decade, despite the dreaded Fear of Missing Out.

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GE’s New ‘Magnetocaloric’ Refrigerator Cools Food With Water And Magnets

February 13, 2014 by  
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GE just developed a brand new refrigerator that uses special magnetic materials to achieve temperatures cold enough to freeze water. The magnetic fridge is estimated to be 20% more efficient than current refrigeration technology, and it could be available by the end of the decade. Read the rest of GE’s New ‘Magnetocaloric’ Refrigerator Cools Food With Water And Magnets Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: fridge , general electric , magnetocaloric technology , prototype fridge , refridgeration , refridgeration technology        

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GE’s New ‘Magnetocaloric’ Refrigerator Cools Food With Water And Magnets

SOM’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the New Efficient Gateway to Mumbai

February 13, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of SOM’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the New Efficient Gateway to Mumbai Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport , Daylighting , eco airport. airport , eco design , energy efficient design , green architecture , Green Building , green design , India , mumbai airport , mumbai terminal 2 , Skidmore Owings & Merrill , SOM , sustainable airport , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , terminal 2        

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SOM’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the New Efficient Gateway to Mumbai

Spaceport Sweden Annouce Plans to Provide Commercial Space Flights Within the Decade

December 18, 2012 by  
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Spaceport Sweden has announced plans to offer commercial space flights within the decade. Located in the small Arctic town of Kiruna, Spaceport Sweden aims to provide tourists with two-hour trips aboard a craft that will carry one-to-six passengers, a venture which the company hopes could establish Kiruna as the European port for commercial spaceflights. Read the rest of Spaceport Sweden Annouce Plans to Provide Commercial Space Flights Within the Decade Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: commercial space flights , Esrange Space Center , Kiruna Spaceport , Rexus 11 rocket , space tourism , Spaceport Sweden , Swedish Space Corporation SSC

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Spaceport Sweden Annouce Plans to Provide Commercial Space Flights Within the Decade

Retrofits Could Yield $1T in Energy Savings in US in a Decade

March 2, 2012 by  
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Canny investment in energy efficiency retrofits could yield three times as much in energy savings in just 10 years, research from Deutsche Bank and The Rockefeller Foundation.  

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Retrofits Could Yield $1T in Energy Savings in US in a Decade

10 Predictions on Commercial Energy Management by 2020

February 15, 2012 by  
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A look at how this sector will evolve in the U.S. by the end of the decade in view of President Barack Obama's Better Buildings Initiative.  

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10 Predictions on Commercial Energy Management by 2020

Sainsbury’s Commits £1 Billion to Sustainability Initiatives

October 12, 2011 by  
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The British retailer yesterday unveiled 20 green targets to be achieved by the end of the decade; the company has set an absolute emissions reductions goal of 30 percent by 2020, or 65 percent relative to revenues.

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Sainsbury’s Commits £1 Billion to Sustainability Initiatives

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