The climate crisis is a huge and terrible challenge. But people are trying to deploy technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions in our lives and curb climate warming. At the kiquil summit last week, we convened an expert group to share their ideas on how to deal with the so-called “survival threat” to mankind.
The dialogue discussed the changes in climate science and technology over the past decade, promising areas of innovation, and whether people have hope in our ability to prevent the worst consequences of climate change (spoilers: all three guests are optimistic).
The following are the three achievements of the group, including Brandon middleough, director of Microsoft’s $1 billion climate innovation fund; Kevin klustner, executive director, Center for advanced materials and clean energy technology, University of Washington, or camcet; And Emeka anyanwu, energy innovation and resources officer, Seattle City Lighting Company.
A hotter world, accompanied by more extreme weather events, has caused more pain to the poor, ethnic minorities and races in the United States than whites and rich people. Given the impact of this inequality, many efforts to combat climate change are making equity a key factor in finding solutions.
At the University of Washington, klustner says this includes projects to attract different groups of students to stem courses and climate technology research opportunities.
Middaugh said that when Microsoft’s climate investment fund was established last year, they took climate equity as one of the four key factors to evaluate the investment direction of funds.
In Seattle City light, “when we talk about the future of energy and the future of utilities, one of the things we really focus on is trying to attract the benefits of clean energy transformation to underserved communities in history,” anyanwu said. Therefore, for example, when developing clean traffic improvement projects, utility companies are looking for more diversified communities to carry out the projects.
One of the few early beneficiaries of Microsoft’s climate innovation fund was climeworks, a direct air capture startup. The pioneering Swiss company extracted carbon from the air and stored it in mineral form in Iceland’s first commercial scale plant.
Eliminating past emissions sounds great. Endothermic carbon dioxide has existed in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so it is difficult to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But carbon capture has its critics. Some action advocates worry that carbon removal technology will allow fossil fuel companies to continue to produce carbon dioxide in large quantities, rather than reducing new emissions.
Middaugh’s message is actually, let’s be realistic.
“We have realized that science has realized that every credible economic model on how to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius recognizes that we need both,” middaugh said. “We need to change the trajectory of carbon emission reduction on some highly accelerated timelines. However, we also need to invest in technology insurance policies.”
Another concern about carbon capture is the high price per ton of carbon capture. Middaugh said that these economic factors are the reason why Microsoft invests in innovation to reduce costs.
What can we learn from another global crisis
The COVID-19 -19 pandemic has created a global crisis that needs the whole world to solve. There are obvious similarities with the climate crisis. So what have we learned from COVID-19 secondary to climate change?
Klustner focused on vaccine development to learn lessons. He said that this experience shows that there is an urgent need to minimize the political polarization around this issue; The great benefits of accelerating the approval of successful new technologies; And we need to do better to address inequality, because vaccines are still not universal in many developing countries.
Middaugh said COVID-19 has revealed that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions, which is organically generated as the global economy slows down. With the help of technological innovation, we need to curb these emissions again and more. (according to the Axios report, a new report of the International Energy Agency concludes that the earth needs to triple the annual investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to nearly $4 trillion by 2030).
“What COVID-19 really shows us is that we can do difficult things,” she said. “Some kind of fossil [fuel] or existing technology is not inevitable.”
An Yanwu also collected information of hope.
“It’s possible,” he said, “to imagine a future that is really different from the past.”