In part two of Climate Fight: the world’s biggest negotiation, a series from The Anthill podcast on the UN climate summit in Glasgow, we’re talking to experts about the grand goal of the negotiations: reaching net-zero emissions.
More than 130 countries have set or are considering a target of net-zero emissions by mid-century. At COP26 – the annual meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the UK is hosting this year – world leaders will be urged to submit emission reduction targets for 2030 that will put them on track to reach net-zero by 2050.
And what does net zero mean, exactly? “All it really means is that our dangerous interference with the Earth’s climate will stop when we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” says James Dyke, a senior lecturer in global systems at the University of Exeter. With time and the world’s remaining carbon budget running perilously short, net-zero emissions entails not only “the amount of carbon that we will emit”, Dyke explains, but also “the amount of carbon that we will remove.”
Carbon capture and storage is one technology that climate scientists hope could help in that effort. Our producer, Tiffany Cassidy, visited the Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, to see it in action. This is the first power station in the world to successfully use this technology, and we learn that it now captures two thirds of its carbon emissions.
“It’s not going to be just one technology that is going to help us to reach net zero,” says Mercedes Maroto-Valer, director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions at Heriot-Watt University. “It’s going to be a portfolio of different technologies that are going to be ready at different times.”
There are options for removing carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or direct air-capture machines; and preventing it getting there in the first place, such as carbon capture and storage; and replacing fossil fuels with zero-carbon alternatives, such as green hydrogen – but none of them are ready to be deployed at anything like the scale necessary to offset the more than 40 billion tonnes of CO₂ which countries emit each year.
As the awesome challenge of decarbonising the world bears down on us, Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, tells us that there is no longer room for half-measures:
We didn’t save the ozone layer by putting a tax on deodorant. We went to the manufacturers of CFCs and just said, no, you can’t produce these things that are going to destroy the ozone layer. We’ve got to do the same thing for fossil fuel producers.
Join us, and a host of academic experts, as we stake out the path to net zero.
The Climate Fight podcast series is produced by Tiffany Cassidy. Sound design by Eloise Stevens and the theme tune is by Neeta Sarl. The series editor is Gemma Ware.
Insurance Journal reviews the construction industry as to how it is globally impacted by climate change. The author L.S. Howard explains how Global Construction Industry Faces Climate Change.
Global Construction Industry Faces Climate Change Challenges, Opportunities: Marsh
1st October 2021
Climate change and the race to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (net zero) are arguably the greatest challenges that face the construction industry – but will drive new opportunities, according to a report published by Marsh and Guy Carpenter, subsidiaries of Marsh McLennan.
The infrastructure boom is set to fuel global economic growth over the next decade, with global construction output expected to grow by 6.6% in 2021 and by 42% by 2030, driven largely by government stimuli and the demand for residential construction, said the report, titled “Future of Construction: A Global Forecast for Construction to 2030.”
The global construction market is expected to grow by US$4.5 trillion over the decade to 2030 to reach US$15.2 trillion, said the report, noting that just four countries — China, India, US, and Indonesia — will account for almost 60% of this growth. At the same time, the top 10 global construction markets are expected to account for almost 70% of the growth over the same period.
Although the near-term outlook for the global economy remains clouded by a surge in inflation, supply-chain bottlenecks and the Delta variant, the global construction industry is set to lead global economic recovery from the pandemic over the medium-term and is expected to grow faster than the manufacturing or service sectors, said the report, which was written with Oxford Economics.
However, as the sector grows, so too does the risk of greater pollution and waste, the report warned, explaining that construction and the wider built environment currently accounts for around 40% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions. (Editor’s note: A Marsh representative explained that “the wider built environment” relates to the construction supply chain, namely the inputs and outputs associated with construction projects.)
During the global transition to net zero, the industry needs to radically reduce the amount of carbon embedded in new construction, infrastructure and buildings, which is already a “huge challenge.”
“An emerging deconstruction industry that will reuse huge existing urban stockpiles of construction materials could reduce embedded carbon in the construction of new buildings and infrastructure,” the Marsh report continued.
In addition, the climate crisis is driving huge demand to decarbonize energy networks and develop renewable energy, the report said, citing Saudi Arabia’s Giga Projects, which is leading net zero initiatives.
“Sustainable and quality infrastructure is a driver of economic growth and social progress and is an enabler to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement commitments.”
Further, it continued, environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related capital for infrastructure grew 28% in 2020, which was largely due to a flow of fundraising into sustainability-related strategies. “Given that significant equity is usually allocated to infrastructure by major construction companies and developers using their own corporate balance sheets, opportunities exist for those companies that develop new technologies, designs, and processes.”
“Climate change and the ESG agenda – and the risks and opportunities they present – are among the biggest challenges the global construction industry faces over the next decade. These forces are changing risk profiles for the sector,” commented Richard Gurney, global head of Construction, Marsh Specialty, in a statement.
“Organizations must adapt in order to harness the sector’s massive potential for growth while playing a pivotal role in the advancement of economies and communities around the world,” he said.
“The construction and engineering industry is entering a period of exciting opportunity but also one that will require new ways of approaching risk by the insurance and reinsurance sectors,” said Simon Liley, co-head, Global Engineering, Guy Carpenter.
“These dynamics call for effective knowledge sharing from industry innovators at one end all the way through to reinsurance actuaries at the other,” Liley noted. “Understanding the shifting profile of exposure, technology, and sources of capital will be important to enable insurers and reinsurers to establish underwriting platforms and offer products that meet the construction industry’s changing needs.”
Other Marsh/Carpenter projections for the industry to 2030 include:
Predicted average annual growth in construction of 3.6% per annum – faster than either the services or manufacturing sectors.
The next decade for construction will see global growth up by 35% compared to the previous decade, driven by unprecedented levels of stimulus spending on infrastructure and the unleashing of excess household savings; it will represent more than 10% of GDP in North America.
Global infrastructure construction is forecast to grow by an annual average of 5.1%.
Annual growth in UK infrastructure is expected to average 3.7%, rivaling China over the period as UK mega projects provide heightened growth.
Urbanization is expected to turbo charge growth in emerging markets. Overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050 with almost 90% of this happening within Asia and Africa.
“It is unusual to see construction outstripping growth in both services and manufacturing over a more sustained period. We would normally expect to see construction growing faster than other sectors of the economy for shorter periods in a cyclical upturn,” said Graham Robinson, Global Infrastructure and Construction lead at Oxford Economics and lead author of “Future of Construction.”
“However, it’s not surprising that construction is expected to power the global economy over this next decade, considering the unprecedented nature of the stimulus spending on infrastructure by governments and the unleashing of excess household savings in the wake of COVID,” Robinson affirmed.
At a time where political momentum is growing everywhere in the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, how to avert a global climate catastrophe by Omar Razzaz from Amman tells us the following.
How to avert a global climate catastrophe
• Current global efforts to raise awareness and nudge and shame policymakers are necessary but not sufficient to prevent an existential climate crisis. Addressing the problem more effectively requires international governance arrangements that amount to a new social contract on global public goods
The hottest day on record in Jordan since 1960 was a staggering 49.3C, (120.7F) in July 2018, one month after I became prime minister. Jordan is not unique: heatwaves have been causing record-high temperatures in countries from Canada to Australia in recent years. The effects of climate change (including increased frequency and severity of floods, hurricanes, and droughts), while felt locally, demand a global response, which should set binding targets that take into account countries’ contributions to the problem and to the solution.
Jordan has been actively pursuing policies and programmes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Over the past 15 years, Jordan’s annual emissions per capita fell from 3.5 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes. But Jordan, like the vast majority of countries, accounts for a negligible share of global CO2 emissions – just 0.04% annually. So even if Jordan was to turn its whole economy green overnight, it would hardly make a dent. This does not absolve us of responsibility, but we cannot overlook the fact that emissions are concentrated: the top 20 emitters account for almost 80% of the annual total, with the United States and China alone accounting for 38%. In many countries, the ramifications of climate change for water supply have been staggering. In the case of Jordan, it made an already tight constraint much more acute. Rainfall was previously the saviour for rural communities that engaged in seasonal rainfed agriculture and herding on semi-arid land. Over the last decade, however, a steady decline in average annual rainfall and an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts have undermined these modes of agriculture, deepening the socioeconomic divide between rural and urban areas.
Jordan is by no means unique: the World Health Organisation estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025. In essence, what was previously a regional challenge has now become a serious global governance issue with environmental, political, and economic ramifications. More broadly, other manifestations of climate change, and the lack of an internationally coordinated response to them – not to mention to additional threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic – suggest that something is seriously wrong at the global level. According to the recent sober assessment by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world will not meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2C unless it makes huge additional cuts in CO2 emissions.
Quite simply, the results of the world’s climate efforts are dangerously inadequate. According to the Climate Action Tracker, current policies put the world on course to be an alarming 2.7-3.1C warmer by 2100, relative to pre-industrial levels. Yes, many emerging green technologies are promising and should be supported. But in the absence of a global approach, these innovations risk merely redistributing the impact of climate change among countries and regions. Raising awareness and nudging (and shaming) policymakers is necessary, but not sufficient to avert what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has referred to as a “climate catastrophe.” Climate-change mitigation must be pursued as a global public good. The problem is that such goods are plagued by collective-action problems because the costs tend to be spatially and temporally concentrated while the benefits are diffuse. These difficulties can be tackled only by global governance structures that reduce the cost of collective action, internalise externalities, and counter short-term biases in decision-making. To address climate change more effectively, we need global governance arrangements that amount to a new global social contract. Existing international governance structures can serve as a foundation for these new institutions, but will need to be amended and supplemented to address specific problems related to public goods and collective action. For starters, we need a governance structure whose jurisdiction is limited to global public goods that cannot be provided adequately at the national level. Nation-states would be free to opt-in and opt-out, with the benefits of opting in outweighing those of opting out. Decisions would be taken on a majoritarian basis, with no single country having veto power. There would also be appeals and adjudication process that allows decisions to be challenged. Second, a custodial entity would keep track of global natural wealth accounts to address intergenerational equity issues. This entity should be able to place items on the global governance institution’s agenda and to appeal decisions. Lastly, a regime of incentives and disincentives would aim to preserve nature and biodiversity and tax those who consume it, taking wealth and income disparities across countries into account. Establishing global governance mechanisms that focus on the public goods and collective-action challenges of climate change will not be easy. Concerns and fears related to a “democratic deficit” and the need to protect national sovereignty are legitimate, and cannot simply be brushed aside. Nevertheless, we are not starting from scratch. The World Trade Organisation provides an example of a strong and successful global governance structure with binding rules. It is thus both ironic and sad that the WTO has failed to incorporate trade-related environmental and human-rights issues into its regulations in order to ensure a level international playing field. After all, with its sanctioning authority, the WTO is best positioned to link issues such as greenhouse-gas emissions and labour rights to trade rules.
Jordan cannot successfully tackle today’s global climate challenges on its own. Nor can the Middle East, owing to regional conflicts and rivalries. Now that the world has become a village, the task facing the region is instead to agree with other countries – our fellow villagers – on how to mitigate our own excesses and avert an existential threat. This can be achieved only by finding suitable ways to hold ourselves and each other accountable. The solution lies in establishing a global governance system that is based on the nation-state but has the capacity to sanction harmful behaviour. Some might regard the idea of creating such a structure as far-fetched. But unless we do, there is scant hope of preventing the climate crisis – already apparent in Jordan and around the world – from continuing to destroy countless lives and livelihoods. – Project Syndicate
• Omar Razzaz is a former prime minister of Jordan.
The above picture is for illustration and is of the BBC.
How can activists best advance environmental reforms in MENA?
Decarbonising the current energy system does not secure a sustainable future if challenges beyond carbon emission are ignored and the economic model which continues to exacerbate the challenges we face is not rectified. Genuine environmental reform requires an intersectional approach, one which does not just patch over problems but instigates reform. The socio-political and environmental crises we face are symptoms of the same problem and must be treated as such. In order to reach a sustainable future, policies should resolve current issues without creating or exacerbating existing challenges. If there is a reason for social movements to exist, it is to challenge dominant values as flexible and changeable and to offer alternative ways to live. Across the MENA region, there are growing calls – from experts and activists – for reform in the region to simultaneously deal with wider socio-political issues whilst decarbonizing energy systems.
In the MENA region, states are preoccupied with developing renewable energy (RE) at large scale. Examples include Morocco’s Ouarzazate Noor Solar Plant and Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. This is an extension of the existing energy model. Megaprojects are political as much as economic projects. They support exclusionary political regimes and enable states to strengthen existing socio-political systems, and thus further reduce the political autonomy of the individual. Energy megaprojects are projections of state centralization, as they require no input from the localities in which they are placed. They therefore actively reduce political freedom. An alternative model – the decentralised RE model – allows for ownership and operation of RE to remain in the communities where it operates. Solar and wind technology is scalable, whereas previous technology was not. This allows for the creation of an energy system that is not only sustainable but also democratically owned and designed, and socially just. A decentralised system, whereby individuals have a direct say in how their energy systems operate, is vital in ensuring energy justice is achieved alongside climate justice.
The structure of energy systems has wide-reaching cultural, socio-political, and economic impacts. MENA activists must understand energy as a critical tool for advancing environmental, political, and social justice causes. Since the energy technology installed today will operate for years to come, we face a once-in-a-century opportunity to build a fairer and greener system. Efforts should be focused on:
Increasing awareness and education on the improvements a decentralised energy system would bring to communities across MENA
Encouraging the introduction of regulation allowing for/encouraging the installation of RE at the community level.
Growth of locally led organisations supporting community ownership of RE assets, developing frameworks which can be implemented across the region.
The barriers to consumer ownership of RE are political, legal, administrative, economic, managerial, and cultural. Activists must recognise that developments are needed on a number of fronts simultaneously.
Centralised model of RE
Decentralised model of RE
Understanding of energy
A commodity, the enabler of capital accumulation and economic expansion.
A resource to be democratized and harnessed according to societies needs.
De-carbonise the existing economy. Separate the climate crisis from the economy, implying that it can be resolved without addressing socio-economic problems, and vice versa.
Transition to a de-carbonised representative economy which better serves the needs of all. Socio-political and climate issues are linked, highlighting the incompatibility of globalised capitalism with the Earth’s ecological limits.
Substitute fossil fuels with RE to allow for de-carbonised capitalism.Reduce greenhouse gas emissions using market mechanisms and new technology, within the current structure of corporate economic and political power.
Replace the globalised capitalist system with sustainable economic development to meet the needs of humanity rather than the needs of capital accumulation. Create an alternative socio-economic order based on principles of individual/community autonomy, with an energy platform that displaces the corporate energy establishment.
Jordan’s energy transition thus far is a strong example of a socially just energy transition. Regional activists should seek to replicate aspects of its regulatory and policy framework into other regional energy systems. In 2015, Jordan financed the installation of 400 household solar PV systems. Each system ranges from 1 to 4 KW in size. The government grants loans to homeowners in rural communities, who pay back the loan with the money they otherwise would have spent on their energy bill. Once the loans are repaid, the ministry re-invests the money into other homes. This shows how decentralised RE systems are possible in the MENA as long as sound regulation, created in a supportive political environment, is in place.
However, most examples of MENA RE uptake instead show a reliance on highly-technologically developed systems without the development of any policies which allow for decentralisation. Attempts to deal with climate change independent of ethical, moral and political entailments, relying solely on technical adjustments, obfuscate the simple realization that not only the fuels used but also the very system in place are not sustainable. This mindset remains prevalent across MENA.
Decentralised RE would enable individuals to have a greater say in how their energy systems operate, bolstering socio-political autonomy which is currently lacking. Interacting with energy systems in this way will also teach the importance of individual/community responsibility for reducing energy consumption, a related environmental problem across MENA states. Greater awareness of how decentralised energy can support decentralised politics need to be established. Activists have a crucial role to play in educating and building a broad-based inclusive movement.
Just transition plans have been implemented in several localities and at the State level across the world. Support is growing for legislation which supports decentralised transitions in many countries. Activists should campaign for the inclusion of energy democracy theory into university curriculums, as well as featuring in the work of global RE institutions based in MENA countries such as the IRENA.
Given the existential threat we now face, largely due to burning fossil fuels, our relationship with energy systems must be reevaluated. Across the globe, community owned RE revolutions are underway and are possible where robust political and legal regulation is in place, combined with public support and the existence of local organisations committed to the development of such systems. The development of such frameworks is where not only environmental but social justice and political activists should focus their efforts, once awareness of the role that energy systems could have in empowering change has been established. Policy makers must be informed that publicly financed and owned RE are a win-win for individuals and for the climate. Concerned citizens must push for policy changes that allow for such a system to be developed.
Activists should also recognise the favourable conditions the region’s urban environments offer for building a publicly owned and managed decentralised energy system. Promoting energy democracy at the municipal level will create a base to drive change on a national scale. Decentralised urban systems will also reduce the requirement for further energy megaprojects.
As in political activism, proponents of energy democracy must remember the importance of broadening the scope of democratisation rather than implementing democracy outright. Examples of structures conducive to greater participation in energy policy include individuals deciding on wind turbine locations or consumers deciding the prices of their municipal energy supplier. Reformation of energy systems takes time.
Activists must develop organisations which support community ownership of RE assets. These organisations should offer managerial and financial advice to individuals/communities based on sound understandings of regional and national regulations. Such organisations have a major role in catalysing a decentralised energy transition and will prove instrumental in determining the form of transition that takes place. With decentralised energy systems, each locality’s requirements will be unique. However, regional dialogue is imperative in terms of facilitating learning and development opportunities, as well as providing a support base and showcasing successes as they arise. Again, activist efforts are needed not only to set up such organisations but also to sustain and develop them as the transition progresses.
The transition away from fossil-fuels is an important component of the fight against climate change. Yet what is often overlooked is the centralised ownership and control of energy by corporate and state actors. This overwhelmingly favours electricity generation for the sake of profit, instead of human and ecological realities. Those who are most directly impacted are excluded from ownership and circles of decision-making. In order to create a more sustainable society, this needs to change.
The view of ‘energy as commodity’ is prevalent today even as the energy industry transitions to RE sources. Transition is inevitable, justice is not. Meaningful environmental reforms must recognise the intersectionality of the problems we face. A decentralised energy system will not only establish a sustainable energy system quickly and efficiently but will simultaneously alleviate socio-political grievances, symptoms of the same system causing the environmental degradation activists seek to solve. Proponents of decentralised energy must recognise the widespread benefits these systems offer and thus lobby the support of a wide network of individuals, activists, and communities across the MENA region.
Rory Quick is a Masters student, Economics and Policy of Energy and Environment, University College London
Rory is a recent graduate from the University of Exeter, where he read Arabic and Islamic Studies, and is currently studying for a masters in Economics and Policy of Energy and Environment at University College London. He enjoys all things MENA and seeks to combine this with a passion for renewable energy and sustainability.
This article by Tech Times written by Isaiah Richard is about how Heimdal: a Startup for the Environment aiming at a high level of sustainability, is proposing to help in the carbon-free industrial materials like cement, concrete, limestone, and more. from extraction to production. Here it is.
Steam and exhaust rise from the steel mill HKM Huettenwerke Krupp Mannesmann GmbH on a cold winter day on January 6, 2017 in Duisburg, Germany. According to a report released by the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, 2016 is likely to have been the hottest year since global temperatures were recorded in the 19th century.
Heimdal describes themselves as “decarbonizing industries and the world,” and the main goal of the company is to create materials that people can use without guilt or worries. Why is that? Because its industrial products would be carbon-negative or carbon-free.
This is something that has been achieved before, but what Heimdal aims to debut is the novel.
Heimdal’s focus is to extract different raw materials from the Earth using their renewable energy source and creating what people need without leaving any carbon footprint. Cement and concrete production are known to be major contributors of greenhouse gases in the world, something which startups try to change.
There is a lot of focus which the company aims to venture on, and according to Tech Crunch, it would potentially help in preserving the environment with its efforts. Heimdal demonstrates a high level of sustainability from its extraction to production, something which is not widely that practised in the industry.
Heimdal Carbon-Free Industrial Materials
Erik Millar and Marcus Lima founded Heimdal, and this is something that the duo has brought with them upon completing their studies at Oxford University, United Kingdom. Heimdal aims to bring carbon-free industrial materials like cement, concrete, limestone, and more.
Its main focus of using seawater and CO2 can help in bringing these said industrial materials, which aims to remove the dangerous greenhouse gas from the equation. The company engineers are working on ways to do this, particularly with a design from the founders to extract energy from seawater.
Heimdal Renewable Energy
One of Heimdal’s main focuses as well is to extract energy from seawater, and it would alter the components to several stages such as making it alkalinized. After which, several gases are extracted, and here, they return seawater to its source.
From this process, Heimdal can collect the raw materials it needs to start on its limestone making while using clean and renewable sources of energy to do so. The venture of the company hits two birds with one stone, and can potentially reduce significant uses of raw materials in the environment.
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