This article looks into Bamboo as a climate change solution. It is based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

Alex Keda

In my series earlier in the year, I looked into each of the top 20 in turn. You can find a link to this series below.

Project Drawdown

Bamboo was not ranked high enough to make it into the top 20, but it was still ranked at a respectable 35.

The authors behind the Drawdown section on bamboo open with the following statement:

Bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed bamboo to be ranked as the 35th most effective climate change solution by Project Drawdown. Their research showed that bamboo could reduce CO2 emissions by 7.22 gigatons, for a net cost of $23.8 billion, but produce $234.8 billion in net savings. This makes it a powerful climate change solution that should not be overlooked.

The authors point towards the properties that make bamboo a special resource:

“Just a grass, bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel.”

Bamboo can become an invasive species if released into the wrong areas. The authors point towards this as well as its many positive features in their closing statement:

By focussing on commercial se on degraded lands, especially those with steep slopes or significant erosion, it is possible to maximise the positive impacts of bamboo – useful products, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions from alternative materials – while minimising the negatives.”

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a climate change solution.

In 2017 Project Drawdown ranked bamboo as the 35th most effective solution to reverse global warming.

Bamboo is a resource that grows quickly and is an excellent storer of carbon.It is also strong and stiff, making it ideal for multiple uses in construction where it can displace non-renewable and high-carbon resources that are currently used.

It does present challenges with its invasiveness, but these can be overcome. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives and the future looks bright for this resource.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to raise the profile of this sustainable resource?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby






This article looks into bamboo as a sustainable resource. This is probably the article that I have wanted to write for the longest amount of time, without actually getting around to it. There is a lot of material to cover so there will probably be a couple of parts to this series.

kazu end.jpg

What inspired me to finally write this was reading Pablo van der Lugt’s excellent book Booming Bamboo. I have put a picture of the cover below.

Booming Bamboo

Pablo shares lots of interesting ideas and information throughout the book. It is pretty accessible, whether you know nothing about bamboo before reading it, or if you already knew a lot, both sets of readers would get something from the book.

Probably the first and most important thing to point out about bamboo is that it is a grass and not a tree. It is estimated that there are 1600 different species of bamboo.

The fact that bamboo is a grass is the starting point for why it is different and more sustainable than timber from trees.

For the most part bamboo stems are hollow, which makes them different from tree trunks.

As Pablo explains:

Unlike a tree trunk, the bamboo stem does not grow in thickness. The thickness of the sprouting shoot determines the thickness of the mature stem, as cell growth only occurs in longitudinal direction.”

What makes bamboo a sustainable resource is its fast-growing speed. This is needed to cope with the demands of a large and growing world population and to displace many less sustainable materials from industries where they have been commonly used.

Of bamboo’s growing pattern Pablo writes that:

During the growing season, the bamboo shoots will sprout from the ground and reach their final length of up to 30m in height within a couple of months… maturity is attained after about 5 years, which is the moment the stem is ready for harvesting and for use in durable products in the building industry.”

Another common myth about bamboo is that it is primarily an Asian plant. This is not true, as it is found all over the world, with large quantities in South America and Africa.

Bamboo is also different from timber from trees which are harvested by way of clear cutting. With a bamboo plantation, they are harvested annually, as Pablo explains:

In general 20-25% of the poles in a bamboo forest or plantation can be sustainably harvested annually without decreasing the size of the plantation or the number of poles per hectare. The plant does not die after harvesting. On the contrary, by harvesting the mature poles, the yield and quality of the plantation actually increases.”

Interestingly, it is often thought that the fact that bamboo stems come in hollow tubular form makes them unsuitable for use as a structural material. However, nothing could be further from the truth. This is an incredibly efficient design that provides it with a naturally advantageous strength to weight ratio.

As the figure below shows, whether analysed on a strength / mass per volume or stiffness / mass per volume bamboo comes out as a very robust material when compared to other materials used for similar purposes. Bamboo brings many sustainable properties to the table as well, which is not the case for concrete or steel.

Bamboo vs steel

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a sustainable resource.

We looked into some key differences between bamboo and trees. These include the fact that bamboo is a grass, it’s fast-growing speed and its suitability for annual harvesting. We also looked into the incredible strength of this material, which makes it suitable for a number of important and high value end uses. We will look into these in next week’s article.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to raise the profile of this sustainable resource?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


This article looks into cargo bikes and asks if they are the future?

Sean Benesh

This article comes off the back of a very interesting day I had with Michael Barratt at the Constructors Cycle Experience event on Thursday. This proved to be very eye opening. Two of the main things I learned were about the need to adapt cycle specific junctions to cope with the extra turning circle that cargo bikes require. The other was about the very real opportunities that cargo bikes provide for urban transportation and last mile logistics.

The quote below demonstrates exactly what last mile logistics is:

“Last mile delivery is defined as the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination. The final delivery destination is typically a personal residence. The focus of last mile logistics is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible.”

The video below from DHL shows just how powerful an instrument cargo bikes can be when integrated into the logistics system of a large multinational.

The stats behind DHL’s use of bikes for last mile logistics are impressive. One bike replaces two vehicles, with bikes capable of carrying up to 125Kg. Interestingly, the bikes can make twice as many stops per hour as the vehicle. This shows why DHL is opting for this solution, it makes sense from an economic perspective as well as having environmental and CSR benefits.

The video below from DW News highlights how cargo bikes, particularly with the advent of electrification are also suitable for small businesses operating in urban environments.

It shows how transitioning from a van to a cargo E-bike is great for the wellbeing of the person cycling. The person can also save €180 in fuel costs by making this switch. There are still some drawbacks though, at €3,700 a cargo bike is more in the price range of a car than a bike. This may dissuade people from having a cargo bike for summer use as it may be an either-or purchasing decision. It is also important to point out that it is still a relatively niche market, but it will hopefully grow into a significant market in the future.

What you need to know

This article looked into cargo bikes.

We looked at what last mile logistics is.

We looked into examples from small operators and large multinationals which demonstrate the power of cargo bikes.

Cargo bikes are a viable option for last mile logistics. Even with a switch to electric delivery vehicles, you still encounter problems with traffic, parking and congestion charges. Bikes encounter none of these problems. Hopefully we see a greater variety of businesses choosing to make cargo bikes a core part of their operations.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to encourage greater use of cargo bikes?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby




This article looks into net zero 2050 pledges and asks the following; are these dead and have they been killed by net zero 2030 pledges?


With the recent climate strike protests and the upcoming Climate Week series of events which run alongside the UN General Assembly, this is certainly a moment when climate change is receiving more attention than ever.

As the chart below makes clear, we are at a moment in time when a number of different emissions pathways lie ahead. Some of these are disastrous and some of these are more hopeful.

economist image

The way emissions pathways work means that actions taken right now make a big difference. The further into the century you get without reducing emissions, the faster you then have to cut them.

This brings me to the substantive point of my article, which is around the 2050 net zero pledges that have begun to abound. Can these pledges really be considered the gold standard when a new type of pledge has begun to arise? There have been a series of pledges by organisations committing achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This is twenty years earlier than the IPCC recommends. We will look into a few examples in this article.

Before we get into the detail of which organisations have made specific 2030 pledges, it is important to define what net zero emissions actually means. For this I will turn to the always excellent Grantham Institute, who have produced the following quotation

“‘Net zero’ refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. Like a bath with the taps on, an approach to achieving this balance can either be to turn down the taps (the emissions) or to drain an equal amount down the plug (removals of emissions from the atmosphere, including storage for the emissions such as ‘carbon sinks’).”

As we can see, organisations aiming for net zero emissions targets can achieve this through a balance of reducing emission and storage of emissions. This should make it possible for any business regardless of their business model to achieve this at some point. The time frame would depend on how ambitious they are.

The University of Leeds

As a former student, I was excited to see the University of Leeds come out with a series of ambitious sustainability principles this week. The first principle is around their climate commitments and I will post that in full below:

We shall prepare our next Climate Plan and sustainability strategy with a view to securing a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030 (twenty years earlier than the IPCC recommends). Furthermore, although we cannot yet guarantee to achieve it, it is our aim as an institution to have no direct carbon emissions by 2050.”

This is a really ambitious 2 stage target. The most eye catching of which is the 2030 net zero carbon footprint ambition. Although at a later date, the 2050 aim to have no direct emissions is also ambitious.

Great Portland Estates

Great Portland Estates are another organisation that recently announced ambitious 2030 net zero targets. You can find these below:

  • For all new build developments completed from 2030 to be net zero carbon

  • To set out our approach and timescale to become a net zero carbon business.

These are ambitious targets that will take a lot of work to achieve.


JLL also recently announced a 2030 net zero commitment, theirs is as follows:

“By 2030, only occupy workplaces which are net zero carbon in operation. Measure upfront embodied carbon in JLL’s own workplace fitouts, with a view to halving the impact by 2030.”

This is a similarly challenging commitment, that will require a lot of work to achieve.

OVO Energy

Another business that has announced a raft of ambitious 2030 commitments is OVO energy. Their plan consists of 6 commitments, but I will post their net zero 2030 commitment below:

Achieve net zero carbon operations underpinned by science-based targets set for emissions associated with powering and heating our buildings and our fleet and offsets for the remainder.”

This is another challenging target. It does have quite a specific scope, but it should lead to real and meaningful change.

What you need to know

This article looked into net zero 2050 commitments in the light of a raft of recent 2030 net zero commitments. It is clear that the new gold standard in climate leadership is a net zero 2030 commitment. This is partially because of its date 20 years before that recommended by the IPCC, but is also because this level of ambition is necessary. The best time to start reducing emissions is right now.

From all of the examples that we looked at one thing is clear. These are ambitious targets that may very well not be achieved. But the reason you set a target, should not be because it is so easy that you will definitely achieve it. You should set a target because it is ambitious and it will inspire your employees and stakeholders to make the previously impossible possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about net zero 2030 targets?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby




This article looks into how the barriers to cycling can be overcome. It is based on the analysis of the book Promoting Walking and Cycling by Pooley et al.

Photo by Noralí Emilio

Last week’s article focussed exclusively on the barriers to cycling. You can find this via the link below.


This week’s article focusses on solutions that can be deployed to overcome the barriers to cycling.

1. Fix the urban environment

Fixing the urban environment has to be the number 1 priority for any local authority interested in increasing their rates of cycling. This includes providing fully segregated cycle routes on all arterial and other busy roads in urban areas. The research by Pooley, et al revealed that for most non-avid cyclists, they will only do so when their routes are completely segregated from traffic.

2. Traffic calming measures

Their needs to be effective restrictions on traffic speeds, parking and access on all residential roads and routes not covered by segregated bike paths. This provides cyclists with a safe and convenient environment in which to travel. Ideas include 20 mph speed limits, traffic calming infrastructure measures and resident only access by car in some areas.

3. Legal changes

The system of legal liability should be reformed to protect the most vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. One option would be to adopt strict liability, so that pedestrians or cyclists injured by a motor vehicle would not have to prove fault in seeking compensation. This legal form places an obligation on drivers to obtain insurance that will pay vulnerable victims independently of fault. This is adopted in many countries with high rates of cycling and incentivises drivers to act carefully.

4. Planning and development changes

There needs to be changes in the spatial structure through planning legislation. This would make accessing common services by bike easy. This would restrict out-of-town developments and mandate the provision of secure bicycle parking facilities and the provision of cycle storage facilities in new homes.

5. Socioeconomic changes

The research by Pooley, et al revealed how socioeconomic factors often acted as barriers to cycling. These need to be resolved to increase cycling rates. These include the greater use of flexi time, more family friendly welfare policies and policies to encourage children to go to the most local school. These changes would make it easier for people to use the most sustainable form of transport to get to school and to work.

6. Image change

It is necessary to change the image of cycling and walking. There is a need for campaigns to promote walking and cycling as normal and something that is for everyone. This would also follow on naturally from all of the above policies, which would see more people cycling and so help to normalise this as a transport mode and not an activity.

What you need to know

This article looked into how the barriers to cycling can be overcome. It was based on the analysis of the book Promoting Walking and Cycling by Pooley et al.

What should be clear from both of these articles is that there are a number of barriers that are holding down rates of cycling in the UK, but that there are specific solutions that could address this.

It is clear that hard infrastructural changes need to be made to segregate cyclists from vehicles as much as possible, alongside traffic calming measures where this is not possible.

Then legal changes could make drivers more aware that they will face consequences for injuring a cyclist and so drive more cautiously.

Planning and development changes are required and development changes are needed to create an urban form more conducive to cycling.

Socioeconomic changes are needed to make cycling possible for some families and a marketing campaign is needed to change the image of cycling.

Overall, all of these changes would go a long way to increasing rates of cycling in the UK.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to increase rates of cycling?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


This article looks into barriers to cycling. It is based on analysis drawn from the excellent book Promoting Walking and Cycling by Pooley, et al. You can find an image of the cover below.


Based on their time spend researching the barriers to cycling and how they can be overcome, they identify 5 main themes that act as barriers to greater levels of cycling in the UK.

1.  Problems associated with urban infrastructure

Cycling like any activity requires space for it to flourish. For too long and in too many places it was simply assumed that cyclists could use the exact same infrastructure that was built for cars with no alterations and modifications. Where this is the case it is hard for cycling to break through as a mainstream form of transportation as it is perceived to be highly dangerous by large segments of the population. The authors single out junctions in particular as one of the road areas most in need of modification to accommodate cyclists. But which is often not completed.


2. Issues of safety and risk  

This follows on from the lack of designated space for cyclists to use. It is simply the case that to many fast, busy roads come across as being inappropriate for cycling. It also encompasses people who may feel at risk cycling alone at night and those who worry about a potential theft of a bike at their home, work or other parking location.

3.  Constraints imposed by families and lifestyles

Another major barrier that arose was the difficulty of getting multi-person, multi-age households to make all or some of their journeys by bike. These include problems of storing and maintaining a fleet of road worthy bikes for all of the family. Including all of the equipment necessary to cycle safety in all 4 seasons

4. The impact of weather and topography

Another barrier that arose frequently was that of concerns over wet weather and hills. Wet weather means that modifications to the bicycle such as mudguards and cycling specific wet weather gear is needed. Whereas hills present an obstacle in that they are physically exhausting to climb if they are very large and they also may not be able to be climbed on bikes with few gears, meaning that a more sophisticated bicycle with more gears is required. The authors did make clear that the impact of topography and hills registered as a barrier far more infrequently than some of the barriers that have already been mentioned.

5. The influence of culture and image

Cycling is not yet a major mode of transportation in the UK, although there are positive moves in this direction. Its marginal status means that a vibrant culture of cycling for transport has not developed in many areas in the UK. I will quote from the authors below:

With cycling we have entered a self-reinforcing and downward spiral, in which barriers to cycling ensure it remains unusual, and its unusual status deters and/ or sabotages efforts to make it more normal and mainstream.”

It is sad that for many people in many places in the UK, cycling does not even register as a form of transportation to be used on a daily basis. There is an argument to be made that this could be a rational decision, made on thee basis of the lack of infrastructure available.

What you need to know

This article looked into barriers to cycling. It is based on analysis drawn from the excellent book Promoting Walking and Cycling by Pooley, et al. What should be clear is that there are a range of barriers preventing cycling from being taken up as a form of transportation by people in the UK. These range from purely technical to sociological phenomena. It therefore stands to reason that in integrated approach is required that seeks to come at the problem from many angles is required.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think the main barriers to cycling are?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby



This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the last in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.


It is based on the book and documentary Meat the Truth, which was released in 2010.

Each article covers a slightly different topic. The last 3 weeks have looked into how global meat consumption is predicted to double in the next 50 years, how livestock farming places heavy demands on land, water and energy and contributes towards climate change. You can find links to these below.




Replacing meat consumption by vegetable consumption is necessary to reduce the impact and emissions from agriculture

 The theme of this week’s article is all about meat substitutes and what role they can play in lessening the impact and emissions from the agriculture sector.

Building on the analysis of the previous 3 weeks, it should be clear that the agriculture sector is currently having a very serious impact on the environment and change is currently needed.

In chapter 1 Harry Aiking shares an interesting perspective on meat substitutes. He had the following to say:

Please note that ‘meat replacers’ generally contain 20-20% egg protein

He also points towards research which showed that transitioning to meat substitutes could result in a 3-4 fold lower requirement of agricultural land and freshwater.

Chapter 7 by Van Drunen, Van Beukering and Aiking on the true price of meat was a very interesting chapter. They highlighted how a Pigouvian tax could reduce the demand for meat products and help the environment.

Such a tax would correct the market failure due to externalities. The average rate of the Pigouvian Tax should be at least €2.06 for conventional pork, that is 31%^ of the consumer price.”

In Chapter 8 by Dirk-Jan Verdonk he had a very interesting perspective on meat and just how sustainable this can ever be considered to be if it ends with death.

Killing and welfare are interlocked: death unarguably puts an end to any state of welfare.

In chapter 10 Jason Matheny produced a really interesting paper on meat substitutes. He highlighted that:

Plant-based analogs have significant advantages over meat. Analogs have no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat.

He also points towards how engineered solutions could be one solution:

Even if plant-based meat analogs gain greater acceptance, some consumers may still prefer to eat meat for cultural or culinary reasons. Tissue engineered ‘cultured meat’ is one possible solution for this market segment.

He also points towards how engineered solutions are not so different from the current meat options that are available:

Although cultured meat is, to be sure, a highly artificial product, little is natural about today’s chicken nuggets, made from a ‘meat slurry’ processed from the carcases of 10,000 chickens raised in metal warehouses and pumped full of drugs.

In chapter 12 Jones, De Meyere and De Geus touch upon the potential win-win opportunities of moving away from meat consumption. They highlight that:

It is striking in this case that healthier diets (i.e. diets with less red meat and processed foods for example) are generally also low carbon – thus opening the potential ‘win-win’ of a low carbon food system (and associated food culture) which delivers better health for people.

They also come forward with one potential solution:

What we need is a food equivalent of the ‘waste hierarchy’ denoting clearly that, in terms of the environment and of health, the best diet is vegetarian.”

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. This was the last in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

In this article, we explored how meat substitutes can lessen the impact and emissions from the agriculture sector.

We looked at evidence which showed that many meat substitutes contain high percentages of egg, how Pigouvian taxation could help this transition, how meat substitutes are a healthier option and how cultured meat could get people to eat a more humane and lower impact form of meat.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relationship between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby