THE SMALL BIG AND URBAN CYCLING

This article looks into the small big and urban cycling.

I was recently listening to the audiobook version of The Small Big by Steve Martin, Dr. Noah Goldstein and Dr. Robert Cialdini. I like all the other books by Dr. Robert Cialdini so I thought I would check this one out.

Their research and examples in the book demonstrate that in the field of persuasion it is often the smallest change that makes the biggest difference to persuasive success. They call this a small big.

This made me think about whether this could be applied to other areas and things that I am interested in, such as creating a safe, inviting environment for people to cycle in in urban areas.

Last May, people in the UK were promised a “golden age” of cycling in the UK. Almost 9 months on, sure, there have been some good new segregated cycle lanes, but these do not constitute an integrated network.

Big ticket items such as segregated cycle lanes are reasonably hard to deliver and come complete with a lot of backlash from other road users.

Even the Park Lane bike lane, one of the better pieces of cycling infrastructure installed to get more people cycling is reportedly only temporary.

I am old enough to remember “Sky Cycle” which was being heavily promoted in 2011/12 as a revolutionary approach to cycling in London.

Photo credit: https://www.fosterandpartners.com/projects/skycycle/

This went absolutely nowhere and served only to delay the implementation of real and meaningful solutions to make cycling safer London.

There are however at least 2 small big’s that I believe would improve the cycling experience in urban areas and cost relatively little to implement.  

1.  Car horns

The real question is, when is it legal to use your horn?

There is a really useful article which you can find here, which is produced by the Highway Code which lays out which uses of the car horn are permitted and which are not.

The use of the car horn is one of the more insidious acts carried out by drivers towards cyclists. I consider myself to be an extremely experienced cyclist and even for me it can spoil any ride that I am on. For inexperienced cyclists who are at the beginning of their cycling journey it could be something that puts them off entirely.

According to the Highway Code:

A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger, and not to indicate your annoyance.”

Just so we understand, if you are driving on a residential street with cars parked on both sides and there is a cyclist which you cannot overtake, it is illegal to use your horn to signal to them to pull over. It is only for emergencies.

The same goes for starting off at a set of traffic lights or a roundabout. Cyclists can not pull off as fast as a car can, and so yes, it is illegal to use your car horn signal your displeasure at the slower starting pace.

Car drivers who do not cycle would not know this, but when you are inside the car, the volume of the horn is reduced significantly. Using the horn in an aggressive manner to signal displeasure is not only illegal, for the cyclist in the open air it is very distressing as the noise is very loud and they also have the feeling that they may be about to be run over.

The first small big would be to get back to a situation where the horn is only used for emergencies and not directed towards cyclists. This is the law anyway, so it is not asking for much for this simply to be enforced.

2.  Broken glass

I can’t speak for other cities as I have not travelled around for the past year, but London has a big problem with the amount of broken glass on the roads.

Car tyres are significantly thicker and more durable than bicycle tyres so driving through your average patch of broken glass will normally not result in a puncture.

But for the unlucky cyclist, there is a very significant chance that this will lead to an immediate puncture or a slow puncture, where the tyre deflates over the course of the journey.

Broken glass comes in two parts, broken bottles that are dropped by drunk people, who I am going to give the benefit of the doubt and say that they do this by mistake.

Another very dangerous form of broken glass is the detritus that is left in the road after a car accident, either from the wing mirrors or the casing that cover the front and rear lights on a car. This material is extremely sharp and hazardous to cyclists and I have received numerous punctures from this material.

This second form of sharp material is the easier of the two to solve. If there has been an accident, the guilty party’s insurance company should be liable for cleaning up the mess. Where material is on the road where a wing mirror has been clipped, councils should be vigilant to clean up this sharp material as fast as possible.  

The broken glass that frequently covers the side of the road that is from alcohol bottles is a trickier problem to solve. I found out only today that the local authority that I live in has an App where you can log such incidents so that they can be cleaned up.

But prevention would obviously be preferable to this, so more bins and a public education campaign to reduce the amount of bottles should help to reduce this.

There is nothing more demoralising for a cyclist than the feeling you get from a flat tyre. Especially if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. For new cyclists this is potentially very off-putting and is why my second small big is a multifaceted campaign to reduce the amount of broken glass on the road.

What you need to know

This article looked into the small big and urban cycling.

There is a lot that can be learned from the book The Small Big and it comes highly recommended from me.

My two proposals for small big’s to improve cycling in urban areas were tacking the illegal use of car horns in non-emergencies and a multifaceted campaign to reduce the amount of broken glass that is found by the side of the road.

These are two things that should be happening anyway, but aren’t, so I would struggle to see who could oppose such ideas.

It would be interesting to learn what others make of my suggestions.

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 more cycling in urban areas?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

2020 A YEAR IN LITERATURE

This article provides a short commentary on all the books that I read or audiobooks that I listened to in 2020. I aim to read at least 1 book each week. I am a little under that again this year. After hitting that target for a number of years I have struggled to reach it for the last 2 years. So getting back to reading 50 books per year will definitely be one of my targets for 2021.

1. Louis Theroux – Gotta Get Theroux This

I got this book as a gift in 2019 and it was an enjoyable read. I like all of the Louis Theroux documentaries, but I did not know that much about him personally. I was unaware that he worked with Michael Moore early in his career. I also found the sections on his strange relationship with Jimmy Saville to be very interesting.

2. Joel Makower – Strategies for a Green Economy

Joel Makower is a sustainability legend, so I was excited to read this book. As somebody who has been involved in corporate sustainability for as long as it has existed, I was interested to see what his perspective was on it.

The book was published in 2009 so it is by no means contemporary, but there is still lots of useful information in there. The historical scene setting, the corporate case studies and the information on persuasion were the sections that stood out for me.

If I was to be critical, the book was less of a page turner than I expected it to be. If you are looking for lucid prose, you will not find that here, but if you are looking for an interesting book on the opportunities and challenges that corporate sustainability presents, then I recommend reading this book.

3. HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across

The HBR guide series set the gold standard in easy to digest, highly targeted non-fiction writing. This book should be mandatory reading for all employees at all levels in all companies. This book provides lots of useful information for anyone working in an organisation who wants to be successful.

4. Richard Branson – Screw it Let’s Do it

Richard Branson has been in the news a lot in 2020 regarding Virgin Airlines and potential government support, but my listening to his audiobook in early 2020 did not have any connection to this publicity. I was looking for something interesting and business related, and this hit the spot. My only criticism is that there does not appear to be that much difference between all the Richard Branson books, in that he uses the same stories and gives the same advice in them all. It is good advice nonetheless.

5. Robert Cialdini – Pre-Suasion  

I bought and read the paper copy of Pre-Suasion when it came out in 2016. In 2020 I was struggling to think of good new books to read, so I downloaded the audiobook version of Pre-Suasion. I thought both versions of the book were excellent. There are lots of psychological persuasion techniques that you would not have thought of, but may have been influenced by at some point. This was my first time listening to an audiobook version of a book that I had previously read and I found it to be a worthwhile experience.

6. Seth Godin – This is Marketing

This was another book that I read after it came out that I listened to in audiobook form in 2020. One of the first audiobooks that I listened to was by Seth Godin, he is a fantastic orator and I think more authors should make the effort to narrate their own audiobooks, if they can. Marketing can get a bad rap, but Seth Godin’s personal approach, where he breaks it down into people who are passionate about things, communicating that to other likeminded people makes it more accessible and noble.

7. McChesney, Huling & Covey – The 4 Disciplines of Execution

I had seen a lot of people on LinkedIn talking about how this book had helped them to become more effective, so I thought I would check it out. I have to say that I thought the book was excellent. There are loads of useful takeaways to help people and organisations become more effective. What I found useful was the information on pairing wildly important goals with intermediate leading and lagging measures, as otherwise big goals can seem out of reach and go unfulfilled.

8. Sandy Halliday – Sustainable Construction

I bought this book after I saw it on the Oxfam online bookstore. The edition I had was not the most up to date version, so more recent editions may well be more sophisticated. Overall, I would say that this is a good entry level text for sustainable construction aimed at university students. People working in the built environment who want to learn more about sustainable construction would also benefit from reading this book, but I have seen that recent editions are quite expensive and that might put some people off. If you are a sustainability professional looking for cutting edge insights into sustainable construction, this book will probably leave you unsatisfied, but it is a good text nonetheless.

9. Earth Pledge Foundation – Green Roofs

This is absolutely one of the best books that I read in 2020. There is loads of good advice and case studies from buildings that have implemented green roofs and loads of takeaway information to help you implement the ideas on your own projects. The graphics and pictures are also of an exceptional standard and overall, this book is packaged together to a very high standard. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote about it on my website, which you can find below. It comes highly recommended from me.

THE SUSTAINABILITY BENEFITS OF GREEN ROOFS

10. Hunter S Thompson – Generation of Swine

I like to make sure that I read at least 1Hunter S Thompson book each year. He was a prolific writer and has a huge back catalogue, which makes this easy to do after so many years. A lot of Hunter S Thompson books are compilations of articles or letters and so are not books that were written in one go. This is a compilation of his articles in the San Francisco Examiner in the 1980’s and even though it has been packaged together, made for a good read.

11. Richard Koch – The 80/20 principle

I bought this after seeing it recommended by Tim Ferriss the lifestyle and productivity guru from the United States. I bought the most up to date 20th anniversary edition. Overall, I found the book to be packed full of useful information on helping you to be more productive and achieve more by implementing the 80/20 principle. I had high expectations for the book and I would say they were surpassed, it is really well written, there are lots of stories in it and it imparts a lot of information that can help you in your life and career. It comes highly recommended from me.

12. Carmine Gallo – The Storytellers Secret

I like all of the books that Carmine Gallo has written, I have not read them in chronological order, but I thought this was another top effort. So many times, companies and individuals develop communications strategies that don’t work and they are unsure why not. In this book Carmine Gallo explains why successful communicators package together their ideas in a story, to make it relatable and memorable for their intended audience. I thought this book was really good and it comes highly recommended from me.

13. Tim Harford – Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy

I got this book as a gift a couple of years ago, and it sat on my shelf for a while before I read it. I did not have high expectations before reading it, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. There are lots of good short stories in here about the 50 things that Tim has identified as shaping the modern economy. Overall, this book is an enjoyable read.

14. John Elkington – Green Swans

As soon as I heard that John Elkington had a book coming out in 2020 I was excited to read it, as he is one of my favourite authors. I did my own book review of this, which you can read below.

GREEN SWANS – JOHN ELKINGTON

I would say compared to his distinguished back catalogue, that this is not one of his finer works. But as an interesting book on corporate sustainability in 2020, it is certainly worth a read.

15. David Meerman Scott & Reiko Scott – Fanocracy

This was another book that I was very excited about when I heard it was being released in 2020. I like all of David Meerman Scott’s books and this one was no exception. I did my own book review, which you can find via the link below.

FANOCRACY – DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT & REIKO SCOTT

Overall, there is lots of good advice in this book, whether you are interested in social media marketing or not, it is all relevant and can help you with your life and career. It comes highly recommended from me.

16. David Cheshire – Building Revolutions

This was one of the best books that I read in 2020 and potentially one of the best books on sustainable buildings that I have ever read. I thought it was so good that I did a 3-part series on the principles outlined in the book, which you can find via the links below.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY PRINCIPLES PART 1

CIRCULAR ECONOMY PRINCIPLES PART 2

CIRCULAR ECONOMY PRINCIPLES PART 3

Employing circular economy principles within the built environment is not easy, and it is up there with carbon emissions in terms of being a tough, stubborn problem that is difficult to resolve.

Nonetheless David packs the book full of useful information and case studies that will help you to implement these ideas in your day job, if you work in the built environment.

17. Amory Lovins – Soft Energy Paths

I bought this book because I like Amory Lovins and I had read most of the other books in his back catalogue, so I thought I would check this offering out.

On reflection, buying an energy book that was first published in 1977 was a bit of a mistake, unless you are interested in the historical comparison of how people back then predicted the future would turn out Vs how it has turned out, there is probably no point in reading this as it is very out of date.

18. Reet Sen – Soft Skills for Young Pros

I remember having this in my Amazon wishlist for some time, but I always baulked at the cost as it was more than I would normally like to pay for a book. I saw that the price had come down considerably this year so I grabbed myself a copy. There is lots of helpful information in here based upon 45 successful case studies that the author has put together. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any young professional.

19.  Malcom Gladwell – Talking to Strangers

This is another example of why authors should narrate their own audiobooks. Malcom Gladwell is lucky in that he is a fantastic orator, but for me, it makes a big difference if an author narrates the audiobook themselves. I like all of the books that Malcom Galdwell has come out with and this one is no exception.

There are a lot of very in depth case studies in this book and it is probably something that is better read or listened to in one go, as otherwise you may loose track of where he is going. Overall, I thought it was very good.

20. Dr A. K. Pradeep – The Buying Brain

I bought the audiobook version of this as I saw it was recommended by Tony Robbins. Perhaps it was the audiobook version, perhaps it was my mood at the time of listening to this, but I will have to put this one down as one of the biggest disappointments of 2020. Psychology books are hard to do well, as they can easily verge into being too technical and not suitable for people who just want to learn psychological insights that will help them in the real world. Overall, I was quite disappointed by this offering.

21. General Tony Zinni & Tony Koltz – Before the First Shots Are Fired

I bought this as I saw it was recommended by former US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. The book covers lots of interesting topics on foreign policy and defence. This should be mandatory reading for any politician working in these fields. It comes highly recommended from me.

22. Jean-Marie Dru – Disruption

I can’t remember how or why this book ended up in my wishlist, it was probably recommended in a book that I had read in previous years. Overall, I thought this book was quite forgettable and disappointing. It was originally published in 1996 and digital has changed the advertising industry so much since then, that much of the conclusions contained within the book are rendered irrelevant.

23. Christiana Figueres – The Future We Choose

I got this book as a gift towards the middle of the year and I found it to be a very enjoyable read. Christina Figueres has been a key player of global climate policy over recent years, so there is nobody better than her to provide a perspective on progress on tackling climate change. I was unaware that her father was a famous politician in Costa Rica. Overall if you are looking for an interesting and accessible read on climate change, I can definitely recommend this book.

24. Yudelson and Meyer – The World’s Greenest Buildings

This book was one of the best that I read in 2020. I liked it so much that it inspired a 10 part series, where I picked out one of my favourite buildings each week for 10 weeks. You can find the first part via the link below.

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #1

The book first came out in 2013 and a follow up edition would be most welcome. The book focuses on buildings with incredibly low primary energy use. So a second edition that weighed the trade-offs between operational and embodied carbon emissions would be fantastic.

Sadly, there were a lot of cutting-edge sustainable building techniques and technologies that were identified in 2013 that have yet to become commonplace. But hopefully by studying what good looks like, these can begin to become more widely adopted.

25. Ian Walker – Endless Perfect Circles

This is probably the book that I have read cover to cover the fastest. Ian is a top cyclist in a sport known as ultraendurance cycling. This involves cycling across continents in races either against the clock or against a small handful of riders. Many of the races have no checkpoints, apart from the start and finish lines. I found the book to be highly inspirational and if you are even vaguely interested in cycling, it comes highly recommended from me.

26. George Orwell – Animal Farm

I had read the Animal Farm book a few years back, but this year I saw the audiobook version on sale, so I bought it. I found the experience to be a good one. The production quality was very good, and I noticed things that I had previously looked over when reading the book.

27. Christopher Hitchens – Hitch 22

I am a big fan of Christopher Hitchens and I really enjoyed reading this book. As a memoir, there was lots of information about his early life and career that I learned about that was interesting. You can tell by reading that he has a brilliant mind. Whether you are a fan of his or not, I think everyone could learn something by reading this book.

28. Julian Caldecott – Water

I bought this book in a charity shop a number of years ago and it sat on my shelf for some time before I read it. There was lots of useful information in here about all the different types of water and different types of water security issues. I learned a lot from reading, so it comes recommended from me.

29. Fons Tompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner – The Seven Cultures Of Capitalism

This was the book that I read this year that resulted in the biggest anti-climax. I had high expectations as I like to read about economics and different theories about why some countries are successful and others aren’t. But overall, I found the book to be quite hard to read and boring. This is combined with the fact that it is very long and not at all a page turner made for a very hard read.

30. Tim Ferriss – Tao of Seneca

This was a really good audiobook to listen to. I liked the previous Seneca book that I read based on the recommendation of Tim Ferriss, so when I saw that there was an audiobook version of The Tao of Seneca, I was immediately curious to listen to it. There is lots of good stoic advice for how to lead a better life, so it comes highly recommended from me.

31. Pat Williams – How to be Like Walt

This is absolutely one of the best books that I have ever read. Walt Disney led an amazing life and there is a lot that can be learned from studying him. The two things that I took away from the book was the fact that Walt Disney had an amazing imagination, but the reason he became a legend is because he turned those dreams into reality. Dreams without action does not lead to anything. The other thing I took away from the book was the idea he had of “plussing” where he always pushed his employees to create more and do more for their customers so that they got more than they expected to get for their money. This is a healthy philosophy to have in life. The book comes highly recommended from me.

32. General Stanley McChrystal – Team of Teams

I really enjoyed reading Stanley McChrystal’s book on leadership last year, so when I was stuck for something to read in 2020 I thought I would check out his previous book on teamwork. Reading this book made me realise how dangerous silo thinking is, but how easily it can creep into large organisations. He uses a lot of examples from his military career, but they are highly relevant for the current business environment. I liked this book a lot and it is highly recommended from me.

33. Jim Rohn – The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library

I had always liked Jim Rohn videos on YouTube, so I was excited to listen to this compilation audiobook of his best talks. The RRP on audible is an eye watering £56, but I imagine most people buy it with their monthly subscription token. In terms of positive things, there is loads of great life advice in here that you can listen to. In terms of the negatives, a lot of these talks are available for free online, but it is nice to have them in one place. The packaging together of the audiobook is of a very questionable quality, where they are trying to sell products on the side, which I think is unacceptable for a paid for product, I am surprised that is allowed on Audible. Overall, it was good to have all the talks in one place and it is a good compilation.

34. Tim Ferriss – Tools of Titans  

This book is something of a mixed bag. There are sections that I think are very good and that I enjoy a lot and other sections that are not so good. Tim recommends that the book be skipped through, whereby you bypass whole chapters if you don’t think they are interesting. This is not the route I went down, so perhaps it is my fault. Overall, there is lots of helpful advice in here, it is super detailed as I would expect from Tim Ferriss and the sections that are good are very good.

35. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation – A New Dynamic

I bought this book because I saw that Amory Lovins was a contributing author and that it was about the circular economy. There are lots of shocking statistics on the wastefulness of the take, make, waste economy that we currently have and principles that if applied could create a more circular economy. I have only just finished reading this, so stay tuned for an article in early 2021.

What you need to know

This article provided a short commentary on all the books that I read in 2020.

Even though I read and listened to less books that I normally would in a calendar year, producing this is no small undertaking.

A lesson that I have learned is that you never know what to expect when you pick up a book and that you should never judge a book by its cover.

There are some books that I fully expected to enjoy that were disappointments and others that I had low expectations for that I really enjoyed.

I also enjoyed listening to audiobook versions of books that I has previously read and enjoyed, and this is something that I may do more of in 2021 If I find myself stuck for ideas.

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 was your favourite book that you read in 2020?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: FOOD AND LAND USE

This week is the final part of a series that I have been doing looking into Net Zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was excellent, so over the last couple of weeks I have been picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Solutions for food and land use

When it comes to climate change, we very much are what we eat. The European agro-sector generates 430.5 MtCO₂e, 395 MtCO₂e of which come from conventional agriculture. This accounts for 10% of the total European CO₂ emissions.

The first solution that stood out for me, was the idea of transforming European agriculture with sustainable farming techniques. The aim of this solution is to overcome the problem that systemic approaches to lower GHG emissions from farms exist but have not been widely adopted across Europe.

The solution that was proposed was to massively extend systemic practices while supporting continuous research that will enable Europe to reach 20% emissions abatement with no new inventions required.

The types of projects that it is envisioned being supported include conservation agriculture, innovative livestock farming systems and a carbon credit mechanism alongside other incentive-based systems.

These solutions taken together could have a big impact, in helping to avoid 60.5 MtCO₂e and create 328,000 jobs by 2050.

The next solution that stood out was the idea of reinforcing plants and boosting crop resilience to use less emissions – intensive fertilizers and inputs. This is to solve the issue that ammonia-based fertilizers rely on an energy-intensive production and environmentally harmful operations, and reduce soil quality.

The solution proposed is microbial fertilizers, combined with a better use of mineral fertilizers, which offer a desirable alternative that can be rapidly developed and deployed at farm scale. In addition, biostimulants strengthen plants and allow for lower use of fertilizers.

The main ambition is to validate the feasibility of producing on-site soil specific microbial fertilizers at large scale. Another ambition is to accelerate R&D in the field of biostimulants and increase the market penetration of these products through farm-scale research initiatives.

The engagement of stakeholders is always important for getting new initiatives off the ground, but in this case, the engagement of: agritech startups, academic researchers, competence centers, consortia, major fertilizer and biostimulants manufacturers and farmers is particularly important.

Solutions implemented under this umbrella could have a big impact, in helping to avoid 26.4 MtCO₂e and create 49,000 jobs by 2050.

The final and my personal favourite solution from the report is the idea of promoting tasty, affordable and low – emission alternatives to meat and dairy products.

The issue is that there are still only few alternative plant-based meat products and almost no cell-based alternatives. Market shares are low and and until recently they have mostly failed to imitate original products.

The solution proposed is for R&D to break down the last barriers to market and cause the acceleration of alternative meat and synthetized milk products.

The first project would be to support mature plant-based products to achieve 20% market share by 2030. The aim is to achieve this by identifying and investing in 100 promising startups that need resources to scale-up production and roll-out their plant-based products.

The second project would be to bring together industry stakeholders to launch the production of low-cost cell-based meat before 2025. The aim would be to identify synergies to promote research partnerships in order to boost progress and stabilize low-cost production processes.

The third project would be to launch research to synthetize milk. The first aim would be to validate the concept of casein imitation, a protein found in natural milk using a lab-grown plant-based substitute and precision fermentation techniques.

These solutions could have a big impact, helping to avoid 103 MtCO₂e and create 1,137,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the final part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the solutions for food and land use.

The agro-sector is responsible for a significant chunk of carbon emissions, so action taken in this area will be essential in helping to reduce carbon emissions in Europe.

There are a lot of solutions out there, some of which will be easy to commercialise and other which will require government support to become scalable.

There are significant barriers to be overcome in terms of personal choices and attitudes towards plant based alternatives. But as they increase in quality and reduce in price thanks to economies of scale, these should hopefully be overcome.

Overall, there are lots of opportunities for reducing carbon emissions from this sector. But there are equally as many sources of emissions, so many solutions will be required to decarbonise this sector.

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 make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: TRANSPORT

This week is the fourth part of a series that I am doing looking into Net Zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was really good, so over the last couple of weeks I have been picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Solutions for Transport

I was surprised to learn that transportation is responsible for over 1,200 MtCO₂ per year, which is 30% of total emissions in the EU.

There were lots of great transport solutions in the report. The first that stood out was the idea of scale up green n-liquid ammonia production and logistics infrastructure for long-distance shipping.

The issue is that ammonia is a promising zero-emissions fuel for shipping, but is still produced mainly from grey hydrogen and remains much more expensive than traditional fuel. The solution the report proposes is to test and deploy at scale production facilities of green ammonia for use as e-fuel for maritime shipping.

There has been a lot of interest in ammonia as a fuel recently. This is driven by the fact that its use does not emit CO₂ due to the lack of a carbon atom in the NH3 molecule. However, to achieve net zero, ammonia production needs to be carbon-neutral, using green hydrogen obtained from electrolysis. Nowadays, ammonia production heavily relies on fossil fuels and is far from carbon-neutral.

This was calculated to be a powerful solution, with the potential to avoid 54.3 MtCO₂e and create 12,000 jobs by 2050.

The next solution that stood out was the idea of developing hydrogen usage for heavy-duty road freight. The issue is that widespread implementation of hydrogen in road transport is limited by poor infrastructure penetration and reliability. The solution the report advocates for, is building a ‘spine’ based on high-utilization freight, which would  lay the foundation for expansion into passenger transport.

These freight hydrogen corridors will consist of large stations ensuring hydrogen refuelling as well as production on site with small electrolyzers and photovoltaic panels.

For this solution to work, the early engagement of relevant stakeholders is essential. These include developers and manufacturers of hydrogen generation and fuel cells products, trucking specialists, as well as shipping, rail freight and renewable energy providers.

Amazingly, currently there are only 120 hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe. So, initiatives such as the one outlined above are necessary in order to jump start the adoption of this technology. This would also be an impactful solution, with the potential to avoid 166.3 MtCO₂e and create 176,000 jobs by 2050.

The next solution that stood out was to electrify short-distance truck transport, including waste collection and urban buss fleets.  

The issue is that over 70% of goods used daily are transported within and between cities via heavy duty trucks that are large CO₂ emitters. The solution proposed is to develop heavy-duty electric vehicles, such as  trucks, busses, waste collection vehicles and to demonstrate the feasibility of reliable deployment to gain scale and reduce costs.

One of the strategies would be to pioneer inspirational technologies, such as Volvo’s FL truck, which has a 16 tonne capacity and a range of 300 km. Cities must also begin to initiate tenders to replace ageing HGV fleets and incentivise vehicle manufacturers to increase supply. This is especially important for urban areas, as this would be a solution that will improve local air quality and address climate change at the same time.

This could have a big impact, with the potential to avoid 23.9 MtCO₂e and create 222,000 jobs by 2050.

The next solution stood out for me as being really important. The idea is to create a 100% circular battery economy in Europe. This is essential, as it is important that the electric vehicle industry that replaces the internal combustion engine industry learns from the lessons of the past to address environmental issues before they become problems.

By recycling EV batteries, this will reduce the environmental impact of the production of new batteries. The solution is to create large scale battery recycling facilities across Europe to ensure reuse of these components and limit environmental impacts.

The project aims to create an additional annual recycling capacity of 3.6 million tons of car batteries in major European regions by 2030, tis compares to a current capacity of  around 46,000 tons.

By recycling EV batteries, this decreases the need for the extraction of valuable raw materials, such as: lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel. Thus reduces the cost and environmental impact of their extraction for the manufacturing of future batteries and avoids the pollution of landfills.

This solution has the potential to make a big impact, with the possibility of avoiding 57.7 MtCO₂e and creating 300,000 jobs by 2050.

The final solution that stood out to me, highlighted the incredibly important role of technology in solving pressing environmental challenges. The solution involves leveraging shared autonomous vehicles to reduce the number of cars in an increasing number of European cities by 30%.

The aim is to promote the use of shared autonomous mobility in medium and large cities. The solution is to launch pilot projects of shared autonomous vehicles (taxis or minibuses) across ten one-million-inhabitant European cities by 2030.

The pilot projects would have an aim to reduce individual car use by 30% in 2030. A key enabler of this is to ensure the redesign of the urban realm necessary to reach the adequate safety standards for autonomous vehicles, this includes factors such as: local regulation, high-fidelity 3D mapping, optimised infrastructure and traffic rules.

This solution could avoid 4.0 MtCO₂e and create 163,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the fourth part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the solutions for transport.

Transport is a key feature of the race to Net Zero, making up 30% of total emissions in the EU. It is therefore a crucial arena for breakthrough technologies to decarbonise this sector.

The high energy density and portability of fossil fuels made them ideal for transportation. The fuels that look to replace fossil fuels for transportation will need to have these same properties.

It is encouraging that there are a number of emergent technologies that look like they have the potential to scale up and meet this challenge.

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 make Net Zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: BUILDINGS

This week is the third part of a series that I am doing looking into Net Zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was really good, so over the last couple of weeks I have been picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Solutions for Buildings

I was amazed to learn that more than 40% of all residential buildings in Europe were constructed before 1960, when energy efficiency and other regulations were very limited. Equally important is the fact that 75% of today’s building stock will still exist in 2050. This makes renovation to the existing building stock a priority if Europe is to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

One solution that the report recommends is a deep renovation of residential buildings. The current rate of building renovations in Europe is 0.2%, which is too low to meet the demands of reaching net zero by 2050.

The report recommends to massively replicate successful renovation programs and regional initiatives at scale, using standard methodologies and industrialized components to reduce investment per m2.

This is a powerful solution, with the potential to avoid 139.3 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 2,109,000 jobs over the same time period.

The next solution highlighted in the report was developing next generation equipment to increase the performance of deep renovations.

The up-front cost of new technologies in insulation and building renovations are too high and are proving to be prohibitive. The report suggests boosting the development of early technologies improving insulation and renovation performance with new standardised materials and high-performing electric equipment at lower costs.

Technologies that they recommend for additional support include the following:

  • Bio-aerogel panels integrated with PCM
  • PV vacuum glazing windows
  • Roof and window heat recovery devices
  • Solar-assisted heat pumps
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Evaporative coolers
  • Integrated solar thermal/PV
  • Systems and lighting devices

All of these systems can benefit from extensive prefabrication off site and so can arrive at residential settings ready for installation.

This was another powerful suggestion, that has the potential to avoid 61.9 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 211,000 jobs over the same time period.                                                                                                                                           The next solution that stood out was automating, digitizing and streamlining construction processes and methods for renovations and new builds. This is yo address the major problem of the slow uptake of modern, efficient digital construction processes.

The report’s solution is to demonstrate the benefits of various technologies using five clusters and coordination between the clusters to spread skills in a collaborative way.

Digital solutions that the report identifies as being able to provide carbon savings include the following:

  • Scan to BIM using Lidar or drones, etc.
  • BIM 6D features to integrate lifecycle information.
  • Integration of BIM data with building sensors to improve energy and indoor environmental performance.
  • EnerBIM/BIMsolar solutions which integrate solar panels sizing with ROI information.
  • Open BIM approaches to ease software interoperability, as promoted by BuildingSMART at the global level.
  • Digital twin technology for at least five projects, inspired by SPHERE project which gathers 20 partners from 10 EU countries (target -25% GHG emissions, -25% construction time).
  • Digital building pass gathering all key information on the building lifecycle (like CN BIM).

This cluster of solutions has the potential to avoid 121.3 MtCO₂e and create 211,000 jobs by 2050.

The final solution that stood out was a programme of massive electrification of heat with low cost heat pumps. This is to address the problem that heat pumps have a higher upfront investment requirement than gas boilers. Their solution is to industrialize heat pump manufacturing to decrease investment requirements.

Their concept is to build 36 heat pump megafactories by 2030, each with ~150,000 units per year capacity. This scheme will also require support through funding schemes, subsidies, or tax reductions.

This is a powerful solution with the potential to avoid 481.4 MtCO₂e and create 604,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the third part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the solutions for buildings.

A lot of the solutions for buildings were already covered in the industry section, but there were a lot of good solutions in this part of the report.

With buildings accounting for around 40% of EU energy use of which about half is required for heating and cooling, action taken in this arena will decide whether the EU is able to mount an adequate response to climate change.

The positive news is that there are lots of solutions. Some of which require government support to encourage their adoption, others are market ready and should be adopted by companies working in the built environment sector out of self-interest.

Many low carbon solutions also have the potential to create enormous numbers of well-paid jobs, which could be an extra contributing factor in government support for decarbonisation of this sector.  

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 make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: INDUSTRY

This week is the second part of a series that I am doing looking into net zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was really good, so over the next couple of weeks I will be picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Industrial Solutions

Within the EU, industry is responsible for 30% or 1,201 MtCO of greenhouse gas emissions. This is generated by energy use, such as burning fossil fuels to obtain high-grade or low-grade heat or using non-renewable electricity. There are other direct emissions from processes, such as the chemical reaction involved with cement production, which generates CO₂ as a by-product.

Achieving a low carbon industry is of paramount importance if the EU wants to make a successful response to tackling climate change.

The first solution that stood out was to reduce the need for concrete thanks to better design and alternative concrete for equivalent usages. Cement production accounts for around 2% of global CO₂ emissions. Low-carbon alternatives exist but thus far have not broken out and penetrated major markets yet.

The solution proposed is to boost the use of biobased concrete, starting with 10,000 tons in 2030. The impact of this would be to avoid 5.9 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 126,000 jobs by the same time period.

The next solution to stand out was another cement solution. This was to replace the use of concrete with carbon sink materials in new buildings. The construction of new buildings can be a carbon intensive process, with high carbon materials and high energy needs for transportation and operation of plant and equipment.

The solution is to upscale alternative comprehensive construction materials and approaches, using electric equipment, geothermal energy and green areas. The aim is to build 500 buildings in each European country by 2025 using low GHG-intensity materials and construction methods, with construction materials split between wood and low-GHG emitting cement. This solution has the potential to avoid 42.8 MtCO₂e by 250 and create 3,753,000 jobs over the same time period.

Next to stand out was another cement focussed solution, highlighting the importance of decarbonising this industry. This is to reduce the share of portland clinker in cement and develop new alternative clinkers.

As already mentioned, cement production accounts for 2% of EU CO₂ emissions, and processes (excluding energy emissions) from clinker production alone are responsible for 66% of those emissions.

This solution involves replacing clinker with substitutes (less clinker per unit of cement), which can reduce emissions by 18%. There are also alternative clinkers (to replace the classic Portland clinker) which can achieve a 17% cut in CO₂ emissions. This solution could have a big impact, by helping to avoid 6.8 MtCO₂e and create 78,000 jobs by 2030.

Next up was another cement focussed solution. This involves industrializing the use of carbon capture and usage to deliver ultra-low carbon cement production.

The calcination phase in the cement industry is responsible for 66% of cement emissions. This solution involves capturing unavoidable process emissions and reusing the CO₂ in industries such as concrete or petrochemicals.

The aim is to scale up and industrialize carbon capture at cement kilns and CO₂ usage in the cement and concrete industry to capture 14% of cement production emissions by 2030 and 56% by 2050. This could also have big impact, by helping to avoid 4.9 MtCO₂e and create 16,000 jobs in 2030.

The next solution which stood out related to refrigerants. This involves reducing the GHG impact of refrigerants.

The issue is that to achieve the phase-out of EU HFC (hexafluorocarbons) by 2030 requires further support, especially in the development of alternative refrigerants. To solve this problem requires a program to support industries to use new low-GHG refrigerants.

If acted upon, this could have a significant impact, in helping to avoid 87.1 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 53,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the second part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the industrial solutions.

As we can see, the cement industry is a real hotspot of carbon emissions. But it is positive to see a lot of solutions coming to the forefront to help to reduce the carbon intensity of this sector.

Then refrigeration is also a significant hotspot of carbon emissions and more work is required to reduce the carbon intensity of this activity.

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 make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: ENERGY

This week is the first part of a series that I will be doing looking into net zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was excellent, so over the next couple of weeks I will pick out my personal highlights from the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Energy Solutions

There is no pathway to net zero carbon by 2050 that does not involve significant decarbonisation of the energy sector.

The report’s energy section opens with an ominous statistic on performance in Europe:

In 2017, fossil fuels still accounted for 73% of Europe’s energy consumption, with renewables at just 14% (despite their rapid recent growth), followed by nuclear at 13%.”

This shows just how much work there is to be done to transform the energy sector.

The first energy technology that was highlighted was giga-scale manufacturing capacities of new generation solar modules. This involves building gigafactories based on perovskite and III-V multi-junction high efficiency cells by 2030.

In layman’s terms, the efficiency of crystalline silicon cells is reaching its technical limits. There is also the problem that in the last 15 years, China has produced most of the world’s solar PV. So this would present an opportunity for bringing new jobs to Europe.

This was ranked as a very powerful solution, as it is estimated that by 2030 37.9 MtCO₂e could be avoided and by 2050 253.2 MtCO₂e could be avoided.

The next solution was another solar power innovation, this involves generating 30% more electricity per m2 with bifacial solar panels. This would help to solve a pressing problem, in that current PV efficiency reaches its limits and its deployment can be hampered by land use constraints.

This solution would make a big difference as bifacial solar plants harvest light reflected from the ground via the Albedo effect to increase efficiency by 9% and generate up to 40% more power when combined with tracking systems.

Despite what from the outside seems like a simple solution, it is estimated that by 2030 18.9 MtCO₂e could be avoided and by 2050 162.5 MtCO₂e could be avoided.

The next solution was more large-scale floating offshore wind. Projects developed to support this goal could unlock 80% of Europe’s offshore wind potential through a rapid scale-up of new generation floating wind structures.

This would help to solve a significant problem that the nearshore shallow seas are already saturated with industrial activities, while 80% of Europe’s offshore wind resource potential is located in water more than 60 m deep, which is too deep for conventional offshore wind installations.

The solution is for large scale floating wind turbine projects to drive down costs on offshore wind farms. This would have a big impact in helping to avoid 48.6 MtCO₂e by 2030 and 331.1 MtCO₂e by 2050. Amazingly, it is also anticipated that it could support 1,278,000 total jobs by 2050.

The next solution which stood out to me was 24/7  availability of electricity from combined solar generation, storage and grid. The idea is to build a trans-Mediterranean grid and electricity daytime baseload with Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

This helps to solve the problem that solar plants provide only intermittent power, which is not solved with Li-ion battery storage that only provide one to four hours of storage. The solution proposed is for Large scale CSP in EU and North Africa with AC-DC grid, with 15-18 hours storage to provide base production (90-100% load factor) at €50/ MWh in 2030.

This ambitious solution showed that 30 MtCO₂e could be avoided by 2030 and 66.4 MtCO₂e could be avoided by 2050.

What you need to know  

This article was the first part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the energy solutions.

Energy is a key enabler of a net zero carbon future, as it is very hard to have net zero carbon transportation or buildings without it.

On the negatiove side, a lot of time has been wasted, and there is still much to do to decarbonise this sector.

On the positive side, there is an alignment of breakthrough technologies, commercial interests and government support, that should allow this sector to make significant strides in decarbonisation between now and the key 2030 and 2050 milestones.

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 make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

3 REASONS WHY I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT A TRANSITION TO PLANT-RICH DIETS

Today is World Vegan Day so I thought I would write something about plant-rich diets and why I am increasingly optimistic about what I am seeing happening.

Rudy’s Reuben – seitan pastrami sandwich

1) Tasty meat free alternatives

If you want to encourage new people to pursue plant-based diets or to encourage people to reduce their meat and dairy consumption, you need to have tasty alternatives to pique people’s interest. Then when they try the plant-based alternatives, they need to be flavoursome.

The truth is, that in the past, many plant-based meat alternatives were poor imitations of their meat counterparts. They would either be lacking in taste or texture or both. This led to ridicule and meant that only those who were most committed to pursuing a plant-based diet would buy and eat these items.

Thankfully, those days are over. Nowadays, whether in the supermarket aisle or on your local high street, you are never far away from a tasty plant-based meal.

2) Corporate self interest

Its hard to believe, but the two big players Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat were only founded in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In what is only a short period of time, they have both grown significantly and helped to raise the quality and profile of plant-based meat alternatives.

The real holy grail of the vegan and vegetarian food sector is to attract the significant number of meat eaters and to get them to eat pant based alternatives, rather than targeting products at the vegan and vegetarian community.

Interestingly, this Clean Technica article showed that sales of Impossible Burgers are displacing animal-derived foods for 72% of total purchases. This is really encouraging and shows that the problems of the past were likely a combination of poor marketing and a low-quality product offering, which meant that the meat alternatives of the past were not able to secure any traction in the much larger market of meat eaters.

There has been lots of other activity in this sector. Whether it is Unilever’s acquisition of Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher, or KFC launching their own Vegan burger, 2019 and 2020 has seen a massive increase in corporate activity in the vegan and vegetarian food sector.

3) Increasing environmental awareness

There is no doubt that some of the increasing interest in plant-based alternatives is being driven by a heightened environmental awareness amongst the general population.

For a long time, people associated, driving, flying and the use of electricity with their personal carbon footprint. But now with tools like WWF’s personal carbon footprint calculator, everyone has the opportunity to find out that when it comes to climate change, we very much are what we eat.

Project Drawdown ranked plant-rich diets as the third most powerful solution that is required to reduce carbon emissions, so there can be no doubt about the importance of decarbonisation in this sector.

What you need to know

This article looked into 3 reasons why I am optimistic about a transition to plant rich diets.

Firstly, the quantity and quality of plant based alternatives has increased dramatically of late.

Secondly, whether thanks to early adopters or late comers who don’t want to miss out, there is now a significant amount if corporate activity that is leading to continuous improvement in plant based alternatives.

Lastly, wherever people are getting their information from, it is encouraging that more people are aware of the link between their diet and climate change. This isn’t something which is going away any time soon and so hopefully this awareness can result in real and meaningful change over the long term

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 is the most exciting development in plant based alternatives?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #10

This article is the tenth and final part of a multi-part series, where I have been looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer.

I found the book to be hugely inspirational when I read it, and it comes highly recommended form me. If this shortlist of my 10 favourites has whetted your appetite, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy. Despite being published in 2013, there is still a lot of good ideas and strategies to create sustainable buildings to be found inside.

Zero Energy Building, Building and Construction Authority

This week we will be looking at the aptly named Zero Energy Building, which is occupied by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.

This building stood out for its stunning focus on creating a zero energy building in the tropics and for the integration of a number of passive and active features to help make this possible.

Like other buildings that made it into the book, you only get results like this if sustainability is a primary focus at the outset. The occupier, the Singapore Building and Construction Authority is the government agency responsible for delivering on the nation’s 2030 green building targets. So it was important for their flagship development to have the strongest sustainability credentials possible.

It was the first net-zero energy building in Singapore and in terms of domestic certifications, it was awarded the Singapore Green Mark Platinum certification.

Three passive design strategies were used to minimise energy demand, these include minimizing heat transmittance into the building, bringing daylighting deep into the space and the use of natural ventilation techniques.

Gazing was also a primary focus, to reduce energy demand. Several types were used as the building was being used as a laboratory for technologies that were at the time extremely new. Sadly, years later, many new buildings are being designed and built without these technologies being added to them.

The multiple glazing technologies deployed on the Zero Energy building include: electrochromic glass, building integrated PV, double glazed units and clear double glazed units. There has been significant development in all of these areas recently and they are all deserving of a dedicated article in themselves.

Three daylighting techniques used include mirror ducts, light shelves and light pipes. These all serve to maximise the amount of natural light that is available within the building, so that less electricity is required for lighting.

These integrate nicely with the active features, which automatically adjust the lighting intensity according to daylighting levels. Additionally, smart lighting sensors throughout the building ensure that artificial lighting is only used in rooms when they are occupied.

The building comes equipped with 1,540 sq m of photovoltaic panels, which are mounted both to the roof and to the façade. Amazingly, these arrays generate 203,000 kWh per year, which thanks to the incredible efficiency of the building, is more electricity than the building consumes. This allows the building to feed excess electricity to the grid and is why this is a real zero energy building.

All of the active and passive techniques combined mean that the building is able to report an energy intensity of only 41 kWh/sq m. But when its domestic electricity production is taken into account, which is 45 kWh/sq m, we can see that the building in fact has an energy surplus with the grid.

What you need to know   

This article is the final part in a multi-part series where I have been picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Zero Energy Building in Singapore. Without intending to, I saved my favourite for last.

This building is remarkable for its incredibly low energy intensity and for its domestic energy production, allowing it to be self-sufficient. This is particularly remarkable in the tropics, where the high temperatures ordinarily result in high air conditioning loads and associated energy intensity.  

There is a lot that can be learned today in late 2020 from studying the Zero Energy Building in Singapore.

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 makes a building a sustainable building?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby