As the world starts to gather momentum in our fight to achieve net-zero emissions and mitigate or even reverse the effects of climate change, new climate innovations are emerging that may just make the impossible possible…
I think we’re all pretty much coming to terms with the fact that some of the consequences of climate change are simply inevitable. In fact, it can be argued that we’re already seeing the earliest effects of climate change, with widespread droughts, high category hurricanes, other extreme weather events, and a global pandemic, already creating serious problems all over the world. Here are some new climate innovations that can help us alter the course of history and save the planet:
Transport emissions account for 23% of total global emissions. And the demand for transport will only grow.
Electric car batteries are improving by the day. They are able to store more energy and therefore lasting longer, charge faster and electric cars are also becoming more affordable, meaning they will soon be able to compete in the mainstream market with their carbon-emitting equivalents.
Electric cars will soon be traveling at the same distances and speeds as petrol cars and recharge time will take the same time as filling up would. Without gas, travel is also significantly more affordable in the long run.
There are also a number of climate innovations taking place in the aviation industry that is receiving a lot of support, which are targeting improving general efficiency and consumption, among other logistical changes. For example, “the aviation industry pledged its support for shifting passenger traffic to rail wherever it is possible and makes sense.”
The development of more efficient fuel sources in the shipping industry is also showing a lot of promise, while industry giants have pledged to make the switch to greener shipping solutions. Renewable energy sources are showing a lot of promise, while biofuels are also being touted as a promising alternative.
Industry accounts for roughly a third of global emissions and requires monumental changes. The best innovation that we could find is Carbon Engineering’s carbon-capturing solution. The Canadian firm has created a “direct air capture that can remove far more CO2 per acre of land footprint than trees and plants” and use it for industrial processes.
3. Smart buildings
The majority of the modern world was constructed without much consideration for sustainability. Innovations in city planning and architecture will make our cities cooler, more energy-efficient, and sustainable. Lighting, heating, cooling, and power in our homes, hospitals, and schools account for roughly 20% of all emissions. Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is developing a smart solution to one of the most prevalent urban inefficiencies – traffic congestion.
Large reductions in traffic will make a big dent in the grander scheme of things. Along with buildings using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power, changes in urban planning to use spaces more efficiently will be a big win for all of us, the consumers who are leaving a collective carbon footprint as a consequence of our daily habits. Better urban planning provides the foundation for being a carbon-neutral citizen.
Another quarter of global emissions come from the production of the food that we all eat. The vast majority of this comes from rearing livestock, but plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular these days, and meat alternatives like Beyond Meat present an opportunity for people to genuinely embrace more sustainable eating habits.
5. Nuclear Fusion
As we’ve already known for years, nuclear power is a great way to produce carbon-free power. However, nuclear waste will probably be an even bigger problem in the long term and we pretty much have no solution for getting rid of it besides burying it deep underground… it’s all very dodgy. The waste is a by-product of the process of nuclear fission – splitting an atom – which provides extraordinary power.
Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, is a process that involves combining atoms to produce an even larger amount of power. It yields less than 0.001% as nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion effectively creates an artificial sun that could power the entire planet for millions of years. The ITER Global Fusion Energy Project – an international collaboration into creating the first fusion reactor – has spent more than a decade on research and it is now “about 75% built”. We are on the verge of attaining literally unlimited power with very little waste… a pretty big step in the right direction!
So I know the future looks pretty bleak right now. But climate innovations are developing at a rapid pace, so you can have a little bit of hope. I, for one, am incredibly excited to see what becomes of these remarkable developments and how they could change the way we live in the not-so-distant future