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How technological innovation can help us avoid Climate Disaster

Since 1900 the world’s temperature is rising about 1.03 degree Celsius with post 1981 years contributing in the equation twice as much as the decades before.  If the blue planet keeps on accumulating heat with the same speed, we would end up facing a global climate disaster in next three decades or so.

More frequent earth quakes, crops destructions and alarmingly high sea levels are few of the catastrophic impacts of a climate disaster, much worse than human kind has ever faced. So here I’m distilling three key areas which are the largest but less talked about contributors of the increased carbon footprints.

Steel and Cement

The largest contributors to the climate change equation are the steel and cement.  For example every ton of steel produced in 2018 generated 1.85 tons of Carbon dioxide. This amounts to more than 8 percent of global carbon emissions. Cement on the other end also contributes to more than 10 percent of the Global carbon missions making ‘steel and cement’ the largest pollutants in the climate equation.

Our modern cities are built on top of steel and cement. This industry not only provides shelter to the billions of people around but also one of the major source of employment in most of the countries.  From manufacturing industries to real estate and from large scale high rise buildings to gigantic shopping malls, our cities experiences are shaped by steel and cement in one way or another. Although many of the startups are now developing green cement and green steel however the cost of developing this green premium is so high that even the first world countries cannot afford this green premium let alone the third world states. To innovate in this area, only coming up with an alternative solution may not be the answer rather we need to innovate at three different levels.

  • Technology Innovation: Develop a technology that provides alternative ways to produce cement and steel with very less carbon footprint. For example, Nexii Buildings Solutions Inc, a Canadian startup, is working hard to find an alternative ways to develop a cement solutions in the construction sector.
  • Policy Innovation: If the Governments do not create innovative policies to increase demand for green industries, no startup or philanthropic work can solve this problems. So far, Govt. and policy institutes are failed to device a strategic plan to overcome CO2 emissions in the steel and cement space.
  • Price Points: The world population is largely poor and still do not have a basic shelter let alone green homes. It does not matter how great the solution is but if we fail to reduce the cost of green premium, no country will adopt it.

Animals

The second major contributor to the Global carbon emission is the animal industry.  More than 14.5 percent of all the man-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from animal and meat industry.

To solve this problem, startups like impossible foods founded by Stanford professor of biochemistry, has launched an aggressive advocacy for plant based meats. Impossible foods, a privately held company with an evaluation at USD 4billion, is one of the key player in net-zero carbon emissions in the animal sector.

Beyondmeat, another plant based meat startup, is creating waves in the food space. Their juicy plant based burgers smells like meat, bleeds like meat and tastes like meat.

Aviation Fuel

With a rapid advent of electric cars led by a passionate entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla cars, the auto industry has a clear path to zero carbon emissions by 2035 however passenger cars only contribute to 4 percent of global carbon emissions. In the transportation sector, real elephant in the room is aviation industry.

Electric air crafts, so far seems, to be a distant future as to power an aircraft, we need 20X better battery packs than we currently have.  This means we need an altogether different approach towards battery innovation.

Unlike previously where mankind had hundreds of years to innovate , the 21st century has just 3 decades to solve this imminent problem and only interblending science, business and Governments can carve out a shared path to save a shared resource – our climate.

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