BAMBOO AS A CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION

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

 

 

 

 

#01 Refrigerant Management

This article looks into refrigerant management 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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I have been really pleased with the way this 20-part series looking into the top 20 climate change solutions has gone. Whether you began reading at the beginning or joined part way through, your support is greatly appreciated.

We have finally arrived at the number one climate change solution. I remember when I first read Drawdown back in 2017, at first, I was surprised to see refrigerant management come in at number one. But then after reading the section and thinking about it, it totally makes sense. Many refrigerant gasses have a potency that makes their successful management key to efforts to reversing global warming.

The authors begin with the following helpful explanation:

Every refrigerator, supermarket case, and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat, making it possible to chill food and keep buildings and vehicles cool.

The rise of refrigerants that cause global warming are closely tied to the demise of the refrigerants that depleted the ozone layer, as the authors explain:

Their replacement chemicals, primarily hydroflurocarbons (HFCs), have minimal deleterious effect on the ozone layer, but their capacity to warm the atmosphere is one thousand to nine thousand times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed refrigerant management to be ranked as the most powerful climate change solution by Project Drawdown. They estimate that refrigerant management could reduce CO2 emissions by 89.74 gigatons by 5050, for a net cost of $902.8 billion. This is certainly a massive solution.

The Kigali accord was a 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which dealt with ozone depleting substances. The new amendment is focussed on eliminating HFC’s, with targets for developed and developing countries. Much rests on the success of this initiative. As the authors explain:

“Scientists estimate the accord will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit”

The authors point towards the key step in the process where most emissions occur:

“Ninety percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life.”

The authors also highlight a tragic relationship between refrigeration and the environment:

“A great irony of global warming is that the means of keeping cool make warming worse.”

What you need to know

This article looked into refrigerant management as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear, is that refrigeration as it currently stands is an activity that has the potential, if left unchecked to drive massive amounts of climate change between now and 2050.

However, management practices, both currently available and under development should mean that solutions are available to tackle a problem of this magnitude. The question, as with all environmental problems is whether we have the will and the organisational skills to make it happen.

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  refrigerant management as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#02 Wind Turbines (Onshore)

This article looks into wind turbines 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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This is a solution that many would have expected to rank well in the Drawdown analysis. But how many would have predicted that onshore wind would have been ranked as the 2nd most effective solution to address climate change? Interestingly offshore wind ranked 22nd on the list of Drawdown solutions.

This is certainly an interesting time for renewable energy. In a recent article in Grist that you can find here, they revealed that in the United States solar and wind power has quintupled in a decade.

In the recently released IEA World Energy Outlook, they revealed that wind energy is set to become the EU’s largest power source in the late 2020s, overtaking coal, nuclear & gas. On a global scale, they are modelling that wind power deployment will continue to grow rapidly, reaching 14% of global capacity by 2040, or around 1 700 GW. There is certainly a lot of momentum behind the renewable energy transition right now.

The authors behind Drawdown open their section with the following powerful statement:

Wind energy is at the crest of initiatives to address global warming in the coming three decades.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed offshore wind to be ranked as the second most effective solution by Project Drawdown. They calculate that an increase in onshore wind from 2.9 percent of world electricity use to 21.6 percent by 2050 could reduce CO2 emissions by 84.9 gigatons. This could be achieved for a net cost of $1.23 Trillion, but produce $7.4 Trillion in net savings. This is certainly a massive solution that could make a real difference to how successful we are at addressing climate change.

Harnessing the wind is anything but new, as the authors make clear:

Human beings have harnessed the power of wind for millennia, capturing breezes, gusts, and gales to send mariners and their cargo down rivers and across seas or to pump water and grind grain.”

Wind is a technology heavily dependent on geography, but in many places, it is formidable, as the authors make clear:

In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricity.”

Wind farms can also operate alongside other land uses:

Grazing, farming, recreation, or conservation can happen simultaneously with power generation.

The scalability of wind technology is also highly impressive:

It takes one year or less to build a wind farm, quickly producing energy and a return on investment.”

Just like in other examples inside the top 20, perverse subsidies affect the energy sector, as the authors explain:

Outsize subsidies make fossil fuels look less expensive, obscuring wind power’s cost competitiveness, and they give fossil fuels an incumbent advantage, making investment more attractive.

The authors close with the following powerful statement:

For the world, the decision is simple. Invest in the future or in the past.”

What you need to know

This article looked into wind turbines as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

The article made clear that onshore wind is an extremely powerful solution with the potential to revolutionise the energy sector and prevent massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

Its not a new technique, the wind has been harnessed for millennia. New innovations have seen significant quality improvements alongside falling costs for wind turbines.

However perverse subsidies continue to direct capital flows towards fossil fuels. A free market in energy would go a long way to unleashing the potential of wind power. It is already on its way to becoming the quickest to assemble and cheapest form of energy.

Overall, an effective response to climate change requires wind turbines in both their onshore and offshore varieties to play a significant role.

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 wind turbines as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#03 Reduced Food Waste

This article looks into reduced food waste 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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Again, this is another mammoth climate change solution that a lot of people would not have expected to be in the top 3. But as we will see from the research that was carried out, it is one of the most important areas for action.

Food waste is especially problematic when we live in a world where many don’t have enough food to survive. The authors open with the following statement that:

A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork.

This enormous mal-investment is also contributing significantly towards climate change, as the authors point out:

Ranked with countries, food would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, just behind the United States and China.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed reduced food waste to be ranked as the third most effective climate change solution by Project Drawdown. Reduced food waste could reduce CO2 emissions by 70.53 gigatons by 2050. This is achieved by making a 50% cut in food waste, which achieved a 26.2 gigaton reduction. Whereas 44.4 gigatons is saved by a reduction in deforestation for additional farmland that occurs because of the reduction in food waste. Global cost and savings data was too variable to be determined. Regardless, this is certainly a powerful solution.

There is a fundamental difference in food waste between developed and developing countries, which the authors explain:

In places where income is low and infrastructure is weak, food loss is typically unintended and structural in nature – bad roads, lack of refrigeration or storage facilities, poor equipment or packaging, a challenging combination of heat and humidity. Wastage occurs earlier in the supply chain, rotting on farms or spoiling during storage or distribution.”

In regions of higher income, unintentional losses tend to be minimal; willful food waste dominates farther along the supply chain. Retailers reject food based on bumps, bruises, coloring – aesthetic objections of all sorts. Other times, they simply order or serve too much, lest they risk shortages or unhappy customers. Similarly, consumers spurn imperfect spuds in the produce section, overestimate how many meals they will cook in a week, toss out milk that has not gone bad, or forget about leftover lasagna in the back of the fridge. In too many places, kitchen efficiency has become a lost art.”

As we can see, what is driving food waste is fundamentally different in developed and developing countries. They will therefore also require different solutions.

In lower-income countries, improving infrastructure for storage, processing, and transportation is essential. That can be as simple as better storage bags, silos or crates.”

In higher-income regions, major interventions are needed at the retail and consumer levels. Most important is to pre-empt food waste before it happens, for greatest reduction of upstream emissions, followed by reallocation of unwanted food for human consumption or another reuse.”

There is a whole host of downstream solutions that are beginning to appear, where entrepreneurs are looking to create value from what was previously considered waste. The authors point these out, but highlight that they are not a panacea:

“From an emissions perspective, the most effective efforts are those that avert waste, rather than finding better uses for it after the fact.”

The authors close with an optimistic viewpoint:

Whether on the farm, near the fork, or somewhere in between, efforts to reduce food waste can address emissions and ease pressure on resources of all kinds, while enabling society more effectively to supply future food demand.”

What you need to know

This article looked into reduced food waste as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear, is that reducing food waste globally has the potential to prevent massive amounts of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

Food waste, especially in developed countries is a symbol of a broader throw away culture, that means that these countries exert an outsized impact on the environment. This requires smart solutions and education to prevent this from happening.

Solutions for developing countries are less technological but no less important. International development assistance should be directed towards building up capacity in these countries to prevent food waste from occurring. This would have significant social and environmental benefits.

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 reducing food waste as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#04 Plant-Rich Diet

This article looks into plant-rich diets 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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This was another inclusion that made me like Project Drawdown even more. With 8 out of the top 20 most effective solutions for reversing global warming coming from the food sector alone, action in this area is imperative to tackling climate change.

It is safe to say that 2019 has been a momentous year for plant-based diets. With Veganuary inspiring many people to try out a vegan lifestyle, even if it is only for a month, with many going on to reduce their meat consumption thereafter. Brands have responded in turn by adding vegan options to their menu’s, the most well publicised of which in the UK was the Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll.

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There is also the pending IPO of Beyond Meat, who could be valued at $1.2 billion. It is safe to say that plant-based diets have definitely hit the mainstream in 2019. This is all good progress which is necessary to reduce meat consumption worldwide.

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The authors behind Drawdown open with the ominous statement:

That Western diet comes with a steep climate price tag. The most conservative estimates suggest that raising livestock accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gases emitted each year; the most comprehensive assessments of direct and indirect emissions say more than 50 percent.”

There is also one farm animal in particular that is having an outsized effect on our climate:

Ruminants such as cows are the most prolific offenders, generating the potent greenhouse gas methane as they digest their food… If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.”

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed plant-rich diets to be ranked as the 4th most effective solution to reverse global warming. They calculate that plant-rich diets could reduce CO2 emissions by 66.11 gigatons by 2050. This is made up of 26.7 gigatons which come from dietary change and 39.3 gigatons which come from avoided deforestation from land use change. The authors were unable to provide cost and savings data as they were too variable to be determined. Overall, plant-rich diets remain one of the most impactful solutions to reduce carbon emissions.

The authors point towards the evidence of the overconsumption of animal protein in many places across the world and its links to adverse health impacts.

They also point towards evidence from the WHO which debunks a long-standing myth that consumption of animal protein is necessary for development:

According to the World Health Organisation, only 10 to 15 percent of one’s daily calories need to come from protein, and a diet primarily of plants can easily meet that threshold.”

They also point towards research from the University of Oxford, that showed that uptakes in plant-rich diets would release dramatic savings for healthcare systems worldwide:

Dietary shifts could be worth as much as 13 percent of worldwide gross domestic product in 2050.

It seems that the case for plant-rich diets is robust with enormous social and environmental benefits.

The authors do point towards potential roadblocks:

Bringing about profound dietary change is not simple, because eating is profoundly personal and cultural.

The authors point to one potential way of doing this:

It is also necessary to reframe meat as a delicacy, rather than a staple.

This is something that I think is really important to encouraging greater uptake of plant-rich diets.

The authors also point towards the enormous subsidies that prop up livestock production across the OECD countries. The removal of these subsides would reveal the market price for meat as compared to other alternatives.

It is also necessary to mention the incredible misery that animals endure for human consumption:

“With billions of animals currently raised on factory farms, reducing meat and dairy consumption reduces suffering that is well documented, often extreme, and commonly overlooked.”

The authors close with the following statement:

Few climate solutions of this magnitude lie in the hands of individuals or are as close as the dinner plate.”

What you need to know

This article looked into plant-rich diets as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

It is clear that massive amounts of carbon emissions can be prevented by a transition to plant-rich diets and that the health impacts of this would save healthcare systems massive amounts of money.

I believe there are moral questions to be answered about our current system, which through perverse subsidies diverts large quantities of taxpayers money to wealthy farmers to raise animals, oftentimes in squalid conditions, when this whole process is known to be so damaging to both the environment and society.

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 plant-rich diets as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

#5 Tropical Forests

This article looks into tropical forests 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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As I begin this article, I am minded to quote the brilliant opening line from Alan Grainger’s seminal 1993 work Controlling Tropical Deforestation when stated simply that “the tropical rain forests are falling at human hands.” This was true at the time of publication and it is unfortunately still true now.

The Drawdown authors open with their own bleak assessment of the situation:

In recent decades, tropical forests – those located within 23.5 degrees north or south of the equator – have suffered extensive clearing, fragmentation, degradation, and depletion of flora and fauna.”

But the authors do point towards a brighter future:

Yet even as deforestation persists, the regrowth of tropical forests sequesters as much as six gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. That is equivalent to 11 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide or all those emitting from the United States.”

Despite this, the authors highlight that: “tropical forest loss alone is responsible for 16 to 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.” This is a significant impact.

Let’s look into the numbers that allowed tropical forests to be ranked as the 5th most effective climate change solution by Project Drawdown. They calculated that restoration on 435 million acres of tropical forests could reduce CO2 emissions by 61.23 gigatons by 2050. They stated that global cost and savings data was too variable to be determined. Regardless, this is a big solution, with the potential to absorb massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

The authors also point out that even though much original forest cover has lost, restoration is effective:

In a median time of sixty-six years, tropical forests can recover 90 percent of the biomass that old-growth landscapes contain.

The authors close with the following poignant statement:

Success depends on changing land-use practices and reducing meat consumption, so we can feed a growing global population without expanding agricultural acreage. One of the dominant storylines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the vast loss of forestland. Its restoration and re-wilding could be the twenty-first-century story.”

What you need to know

This article looked into tropical forests as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

It is clear from the analysis of Project Drawdown that tropical deforestation is a significant contributor to man made carbon emissions, but that restoration in this area could go a long way to storing massive amounts of carbon emissions.

These forests are also home to indigenous tribes, rare plants and large numbers of wildlife. The rationale for better protection and restoration of tropical forests extends well beyond their role as a climate change solution.

From Grainger’s 1993 line that “the tropical rain forests are falling at human hands” – could the 21st century narrative be that the tropical rain forests were rebuilt with human hands?

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 restoring tropical forests as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

#6 Educating Girls

This article looks into educating girls 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 solutions to reverse global warming.

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Again, this solution highlighted what I liked best about the Drawdown initiative, which was that it challenged perceptions of how effective technological solutions were and intermingled them with socio-economic solutions. On this occasion we are talking about another socio-economic solution that could prevent massive amounts of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

The authors begin with the following statement:

Girls education, it turns out, has a dramatic bearing on global warming. Women with more years of education have fewer, healthier children and actively manage their reproductive health.”

The authors go on to explain that:

An intrinsic right, education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It is the most powerful lever available for breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, while mitigating emissions by curbing population growth.

Let’s now turn to the numbers that allowed educating girls to be ranked as the 6th most effective solution to reverse global warming. The authors calculated that educating girls could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons. They did however state that putting a figure on a return on investment on this solution was incalculable.  Regardless, this is still a major solution with the potential to affect massive amounts of carbon emissions.

The authors did point towards some of the barriers that may impact on this solution:

Cultural barriers encompass traditional beliefs that girls should tend the home rather than learn to read and write, should be married off at a young age, and, when resources are slim, should be skipped over so boys can be sent to school instead.”

These cultural barriers may prove difficult to overcome in some areas.

The authors close with the following powerful statement:

“When it comes to climate change, nurturing the promise of each girl can shape the future for all.”

What you need to know

This article looked into educating girls as a climate change solution. It was based on the analysis of Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative that mapped the top 100 most effective climate change solutions.

What is clear is that with family planning and educating girls both ranking as solutions that could reduce CO2 emissions by 59.6 gigatons, these are solutions that simply must be acted on, without delay.

I also think that there is no need to mention climate change when developing an agenda for addressing these problems. These are areas of great moral significance and have importance with or without their role in reversing global warming.

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 educating girls as a climate change solution?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby