For many years, humans have operated on a “ratchet and pivot” way of existence – something happens, and we adopt a way of living or invent new things to solve that particular problem. Take the Covid pandemic as just one fairly huge example, a dangerous pathogen springs up and we use a well drilled army of scientists, pathologists and big pharma companies to invent something to bail us out.
As a race, we like to think we quite perspicacious and preventative with your insights and technology, but most of the time, we’re an “after the fact” type of species.
It’s the same with climate change and global heating: only in the last 10 years has there been some urgency and development in the area of climate change technology. Here we list the five most innovative areas that are a) seeing the most investment and b) actually might actually work.
In the next five years, climate tech is expected the receive up to $1.4 trillion dollars in investment. Clearly this is something that people are bettingn big on, and if the established old fossil burning companies get on board too, it could be even more.
Direct Air Capture
This has the potential to be very big indeed. The whole problem with the atmosphere is that there’s too much carbon in the atmosphere.
Direct Air Capture (DAC) captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air instead of harnessing it from flue gases at the point of emission, such as a power plant. This makes it a potential tool for reducing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and reduces climate change, even in the sectors and industried where emissions are difficult to eliminate.
The process works by using chemicals that bind with CO2, which are often a sorbent (which collects molecules front the air) or liquid, that selectively removes the CO2. After it has been captured, the material is processed to separate the CO2, which can then be stored, and reused to make plastic, concrete and fuel.
Companies such as Climeworks in Iceland and CarbonCapture in the US have received millions in funding and are two of the world’s leading pioneers in the technology.
While the technology is a very energy-intensive process and therefore costly, more investment and proof by those two companies mentioned will show its a viable concept.
Energy Efficient Heating
The rather less glamorous field of climate change technology still addresses a core concern at the centre of the the problem: our heating requirements still emit a shed-ton of CO2 thanks to the way they are generated in the form of fossil fuel burning ways to generate gas and electricity.
Heat pumps are a signifiant step in ensuring that energy is used efficiently. If they were used on a global scale, it’s estimated that it would save 3 gigatons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere.
Companies such as Mitsubishi Electric and Bosch are the ones turning their attention the heat pump game.
Increasing amounts of companies are now building climate risk analytics to help them understand and plan for the potential impacts of climate change.
Jupiter Intelligence, for instance, provides predictive modeling and data analysis services to assess various climate-related risks. Another company, Four Twenty Seven (427), offers scores, portfolio analytics, and market intelligence on the economic risks associated with climate change, and it was acquired by Moody’s in 2019, underlining the increasing significance of climate risk in mainstream finance.
Likewise, The Climate Service uses climate data to supply financial risk management services, helping businesses understand their financial vulnerabilities to climate change while Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, incorporates climate risk analytics into its underwriting and risk transfer decisions and provides advice to its clients on climate risk.
It’s not surprising that this is one area which has seen an increase – long term profitability is a prime goal for many businesses. Dovetail this with the need to actually be conscious and reflect their customers’ concerns, and you have an area that will definitely seen an increase in.
A polarising concept – are electric batteries really a greener alternative when so many raw materials have to be mined in order to actually build the damn things. Nickel, lithium, cobalt and manganese are now highly sought after materials, which are still expensive and labour intensive to dig out of the ground.
However, companies such as Altilium Metals in the UK aim to recylcye the spent waste from batteries, and decarbonise the EV battery process in a chemical rather then physical way, by recovering the waste already in circulation.
We have a lot of livestock on the planet to fulfil our meat and dairy requirements.. Consequently, these animals produce a lot of methane. It’s been reported that said that they contribute up to 14% of the planet’s methane emissions.
No joke – burps, farts and manure all add up to produce methane, which adds to global warming, but new types of animal feeds could reduce digestive emissions from these animals.
Clearing land for livestock and poor land management are other ways that could reduce the emissions, as is turning vegan.
That in itself is another lifestyle choice that should be considered in order to reduce the carbon emissions entering the atmosphere.
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