Flighty Business Models Are Causing a Climate Crisis

Most modern companies are expected to move faster than ever — customers expect more, quicker. Keeping up with growing demand typically means speeding up business processes. This swift pace can generate significant waste as a result, however.

One recent article in CMS Wire summarized the early results from a new study on how companies’ digital habits may encourage waste. About 45% of respondents described their business as having a “launch and leave” culture rather than practices that prioritize quality and reuse of resources.

Waste is often central to modern business models. When normalized, these practices can harm the environment and may even be one of the primary drivers behind climate change. Reducing trash generation could help companies fight this global crisis.

How Some Business Models Increase Waste

In England alone, commercial activities generate around 27.1 million tonnes of waste every year. Industrial practices contribute another 10.1 million tonnes. Together, that’s a little less than one-fifth of all the waste produced in England. Most of it goes to landfills, and a significant portion consists of food, paper and cardboard products, plastic, metal and wood.

Food waste tends to have a significant carbon impact after it is sent to landfills. In the U.K. alone, an estimated 27 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is generated every year by these emissions.

Travel can also contribute significantly to a business’s overall carbon footprint — including meetings, employee commutes and deliveries. Certain types of travel are worse for the environment than others. Bicycling and walking have little or no environmental impact, while flying is a major contributor to global greenhouse emissions. Worldwide, flights produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019.

Carbon emissions for flying are also higher depending on how you fly. According to the U.K.’s Defra carbon conversion factors, emissions per passenger per km are 0.60kg CO2e for first class, 0.43kg CO2e for business class and 0.15kg CO2e for economy.

Frequent flights in first class could significantly increase a business’s overall carbon footprint. In contrast, travel by tram or light rail tends to produce just 0.02kg CO2e per passenger per km on average.

Creating Sustainable Business Models

Changes at the societal level will likely have the biggest impact on business sustainability. Low-carbon aviation fuel could significantly reduce the carbon cost of travel by air. Widespread adoption of renewable energy, both at the grid level and by individual businesses, could also help make workplaces more sustainable.

Shifts in business practices could also help. Law firms are often major generators of paper waste. As a result, some are making sustainable business changes, like the use of e-filing, scanning, faxing and digital storage systems, to help to reduce the use of physical documents.

Changing how a business’s team travels can make a major difference. Going by rail produces significantly less CO2 than air. Alternatives to in-person meetings — like videoconferencing — can also help a company reduce its travel-related carbon emissions.

Offering the ability for employees to work remotely can also help. Every time someone can telecommute instead of driving to their workplace, they may save 23 miles’ (37 km) worth of travel emissions on average.

More major shifts to a business model can provide better results. Committing to renewable energy can help significantly cut down on business emissions. An office with solar panels would need to rely on local fossil fuel-fired energy sources.

Retrofitting an office or workplace with smart climate control and lighting technology could also help. For example, IoT thermostats can optimize a building’s temperature, automatically adjusting it throughout the day to keep things comfortable and reduce energy consumption.

Smart lighting can turn off when a building is unoccupied, saving money and energy. This simple change can make a huge difference with little effort.

How New Business Models Could Help Fight Climate Change

Many modern businesses are wasteful — food, paper and travel by air all contribute significantly to national and global carbon emissions.

Changes at both the societal and corporate levels can make a significant difference in how wasteful companies are. Recycling, travel by train and the use of energy-efficient smart technology can all help make workplaces much more sustainable.

The Future of Heating in Housing Developments: Shared Ground Arrays

GSHP

In 2025 gas boilers will be banned from installation in new build properties in favour of low-carbon heating technologies such as ground source heat pumps. This piece of legislation marks a significant move by the UK government as we push forward to reach carbon net zero targets by 2050.

The government target for the number of new homes to be built each year is 300,000 – to install heat pumps in this many properties is a 20-fold increase from today’s current number of installations which stands at around 30,000 a year. So, the question is, how can the heat pump industry achieve this rate of growth in the space of just a few years?

One solution being proposed is Shared Ground Arrays, a method of installation already being rolled out by ground source heat pump specialists Thermal Earth.

What are shared ground arrays?

Ground arrays or ground collectors are a network of pipes installed underground which collect energy from the earth and circulate it to a heat pump where the temperature is raised and then distributed to radiators, underfloor heating and hot water cylinders to provide heating and hot water in the home. Typically, one property has its own ground array which is sized specifically to collect enough energy for the heat demand of that particular property.

Shared ground arrays are the same principle however two or more properties can be connected to one ground array which reduces the amount of groundwork required, speeding up installation time.

Shared ground arrays are installed vertically in boreholes, the number of boreholes needed and their depth will depend on the amount of properties being connected and their required heat load. As an example one borehole at around 100 metres deep can provide enough energy for two 2 bedroom apartments.

Each property connected to a shared ground array has its own heat pump installed (typically placed in a garage, utility room, airing cupboard or even under the stairs) so that homeowners or tenants can set their preferred temperatures, heating schedules and also select an electricity tariff to power their heat pump which offers the best value for them.  

Shared ground arrays will be a particularly effective solution for housing developments as properties are normally built to the same size and specification making it easier to calculate the required size of each ground collector.  As the drilling team are often the first on-site, before any houses are constructed, it also means there is minimal disruption.

What the benefits of shared ground arrays?

Shared ground arrays provide many advantages, particularly for new build properties. These include:

  • A long lifespan of 100+ years
  • Less groundwork required
  • Reduced installation time
  • Decreased costs associated with ground works
  • Highly efficient source of energy – ground source heat pumps produce around 3-4kWh of heat for every 1kW of electricity which is an efficiency of 300-400%
  • Lower energy bills – As ground source heat pumps are so efficient, residents living in the properties can benefit from lower energy bills
  • Cooling functionality – Ground source heat pumps can operate in reverse and provide Passive or Active cooling in warmer months, increasing comfort levels for residents
  • Clean and carbon free – Heat pumps are powered by electricity and do not produce any on-site carbon. When a renewable electricity provider is used, the system will be 100% carbon-free
  • Little maintenance required

Who will the shared ground arrays belong to?

In most cases it’s likely that ownership will be retained by the property development company. This gives the opportunity for the cost of installation to be offset by charging a monthly utility tariff to those residing in the connected properties. Developers such as Persimmon already charge a service fee to residents for the upkeep and maintenance of general areas of a development so a ground array tariff could be incorporated into this. Once the initial outlay has been recouped, this could become a new long-term revenue stream for property developers which requires little to no maintenance.

It’s also possible that the ground arrays could be sold to a utility management company who will maintain the system and charge residents a small monthly tariff. 

How to Make Fish Farming More Sustainable

Sustainable Fish Farming

According to a recommendation by the American Heart Association, people are encouraged to eat fish at least twice a week.  Fish is considered to be low in saturated fat, high in protein and rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The global consumption of fish has so far increased and currently, about a half of the seafood that’s consumed globally is produced through fish farming. 

According to a projection by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); fish farming will be one of the fastest ways of producing fish for global consumption. By 2030, fish farming will be responsible for about two thirds of the fish that we consume. One of the most common types of aquaculture is that which entails farming in cages or nets, and pens that have been anchored at the seabed. 

FAO estimates that about 600 aquatic species are produced globally in diverse aquaculture systems through use of brackish water, saltwater, and freshwater. China is one of the largest exporters of fish globally and the biggest aquaculture producer. About 88 percent of aquaculture is practiced in Asia. Fish farming has had a long reputation of not being sustainable as it takes almost 3 tons of forage fish to feed and produce about a ton of salmon. 

Here are some of the things to be done if fish farming is to be more sustainable;

Awareness of the environmental risks of marine aquaculture

In order to practice sustainable fish farming; there should be an awareness of the environmental risks that are associated with marine aquaculture. When practicing marine aquaculture; it’s important to note that leftover foods and fish waste that spills out of the nets right into the ocean and in turn cause nutrient pollution. The spillage may in turn lead to oxygen depletion in the sea or oceans and can in turn lead to the death of aquatic creatures.

In addition, the antibiotics and pesticides that are normally used in farmed fish can affect human health and other marine life. When fish are crowded together in pens and nets; they are more susceptible to stress and that creates an environment for diseases to spread quite fast even to reach the wild fish. The most sustainable method of farming fish is to consider engaging in land-based aquaculture. Farming fish in closed systems can help minimize the spread of disease and also eliminate fish escapes. 

Fish farming has to some extent been responsible for the destruction of mangroves. As you may know, mangroves help with various ecological functions including being a habitat for diverse species. Mangroves also prevent soil erosion and provide protection from storms.

Use of New Kinds of Feed

The environmental exploitation of forage fish for feed alongside the high prices for feed makes it difficult for fish farming to be sustainable. There should be continued research into identifying alternative sources of fish meal or coming up with ways to make feeds sustainable. Soybeans and plant waste are some of the alternatives being explored. 

Get more information on sustainable ways of fish farming that you can adopt by visiting https://ecolonomics.org/. Become part of the community and engage with a team of farmers from diverse fields of interest.

Solar and Wind Energy Could Power the World By 2050

Solar and Wind

The huge drop in the cost of solar and wind power in recent years has opened up an energy reserve that could power the world 100 times over. Solar costs have fallen by an average of 18% every year since 2010 with wind prices down 9% annually. Solar technology is growing faster than any technology at this size, with annual increases of 39%, nearly doubling capacity every two years. Global energy consumption in 2019 was 65 petawatt-hours (PWh). However, with current technology, solar and wind power now have the potential to capture at least 6,700 petawatt-hours (PWh) which is more than 100 times the global energy demand. Amazingly, solar and wind energy could produce as much power in a single year as could be generated by burning all known fossil fuel reserves.

According to a report called The Sky’s the Limit by the Carbon Tracker thinktank, 60% of the world’s solar resource and 15% of its wind resource are now economically comparable with local fossil fuel generation.

The report uses BloombergNEF (BNEF) data to calculate the share of economical solar production by taking the mid-price in each country and comparing it with the cheapest fossil fuel.

Harry Bentham, report co-author and chairman of thinktank Ember-Climate said:

“The world does not need to exploit its entire renewable resource – just 1% is enough to replace all fossil fuel usage. Each year we are fuelling the climate crisis by burning three million years of fossilised sunshine in coal, oil, and gas while we use just 0.01% of daily sunshine.”

Solar and wind are limitless sources of energy, unlike coal, oil, and gas, and at the current rate of growth look set to push fossil fuels out of the electricity sector by the mid- 2030s. At this point all solar technology, and more than half of wind will be economically preferable compared to other forms of electricity generation. By the time we reach 2050 solar and wind could power the world, producing cheap clean energy to support new technologies such as electric vehicles and replacing fossil fuels entirely. The report finds that in the next 30 years we will see falling costs and technological advances overcoming the challenges of powering sectors like steel and cement production.

Kingsmill Bond, Carbon Tracker’s energy strategist and report lead author, said:

“We are entering a new epoch, comparable to the industrial revolution. Energy will tumble in price and become available to millions more, particularly in low-income countries. Geopolitics will be transformed as nations are freed from expensive imports of coal, oil, and gas. Clean renewables will fight catastrophic climate change and free the planet from deadly pollution.”

According to analysis from BloombergNEF, utility-scale solar PV are now the cheapest forms of new-build energy generation across two-thirds of the global population.

The fact that solar PV and wind power have far greater potential than fossil fuels and can meet global energy demand many times over, brings huge benefits for society as a whole.

Emerging economies are best placed to benefit from the rise in renewables. Carbon Tracker’s report underlines that they have the greatest opportunity to install the highest solar and wind potential relative to their domestic demand. Although, many are still building out their energy systems renewables allow them to rise above energy dependence, secure cheap energy for all citizens and to create local jobs. For example, Africa has a colossal 39% of global installation potential and could become a renewables superpower.

The main driving force behind change is the need for energy independence because 80% of people live in countries that are importing fossil fuels.

Carbon Tracker’s report finds that the solar panels needed to meet global energy demand would take up just 0.3% of land which is actually less than the area covered by the current fossil fuel infrastructure. This nullifies the concern that there would be a need for vast occupation of land. The report gives the following example:

“The world’s largest oilfield, Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, which occupies 8,400 square kilometres, produces the equivalent of 0.9 PWh each year. Building solar panels over the same area would generate 1.2 PWh a year on average globally and 1.6 PWh in Saudi Arabia, which is sunnier than average.”

The land required obviously differs by country. In the UK’s case it is more likely that the focus would be on offshore wind due to land constraints.

At long last financial markets are waking up to the opportunities presented by renewables. Last year, clean energy companies raised more money than fossil fuel companies through public offerings for the first time. This is influencing the progress of efficiencies and advances leading to better panels and higher turbines which has the effect of reducing costs further.

As both technical and economic barriers have been crossed, the only impediment to change is now political. However, growth is likely to continue as more countries see the potential of renewables.

Change is inevitable as more and more countries act to cut their use of fossil fuels in response to the climate crisis and public concern about pollution.

The fossil fuel age is almost over as the world enters a new era. The fossil fuel industry cannot compete with the technological advances of renewables which will inevitably lead to demand for fossil fuels falling as wind and solar continue to grow.

UK Sets New Target To Cut Carbon Emissions By 78% Within The Next 15 Years

carbon emissions

The UK government has announced radical new climate change commitments that bring forward the current target for reducing carbon emissions by nearly 15 years. The commitments set the UK on course to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and will become law by the end of June 2021. The government has acted on the advice of its independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) to adopt the emissions cut, which is based on 1990 levels.

CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark said:

“I am delighted at this news; this is an important and historic decision. In committing to cut emissions by almost 80% in 2035, the UK has taken its place at the forefront of global efforts to reach net-zero, crucial in the fight against climate change. By implementing our recommendations in full, the Government’s decision rests on the most comprehensive ever assessment of the path to a fully decarbonised economy.”

Setting this goal in law gives the green light to government, business, and people up and down the country to get behind the actions needed to get there. It means that every decision made from now on must be the right one for the climate.
The new target builds on the greenhouse gas emission goal of net zero by 2050 that was set by the UK in 2019 in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement which called on countries to keep the global temperature rise as close to 1.5 Celsius as possible. The new legislation will mean that the UK is more than three-quarters of the way there by 2035.

The government’s announcement comes just days after China and the United States agreed that stronger pledges were required to tackle climate change.

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said:

“We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change, and that’s why we’re setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world.”

The UK’s ambitious climate change target places the UK in a world leading position and firmly on the road to becoming a net zero producer.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast a major surge in CO2 emissions from energy this year as the world recovers from the pandemic. The new legislation is timely and has been welcomed by green groups although they would like to see more detailed action plans.

The new timetable will need the UK to speed up the fundamental restructuring of the way it powers its homes, cars, and factories, what it does to dispose of carbon dioxide and how it feeds its people. Reaching the climate targets will require more electric cars, low carbon heating, renewable electricity, more tree planting and will include cutting down on meat and dairy. Notably, for the first-time climate law will be extended to cover international aviation and shipping. Historically, emissions reductions only included those within the UK borders.  

Reaching the UK’s climate targets will require life-style changes greater than ever before. Homes will need to be better insulated and people will be encouraged to drive less and walk and cycle more. Aviation is likely to become more expensive for frequent flyers.

Though great strides have been made away from coal and towards renewable energy such as offshore wind and solar these are relatively easy cuts to make, the biggest challenge lies in decarbonising the transport system, household energy and food production. At the same time, a huge increase in electricity from the grid to provide energy for electric cars and electric heating systems will be required.

Leo Murray of the climate charity, Possible, called the announcement “fantastic” but added:

“We’re not on track to meet previous climate commitments and in many ways the government is still failing.”

Markedly, some of the actions taken by the government recently appear to be going in the opposite direction to what it needs to achieve for the climate goals set, with for example, the scrapping of the Green Homes grant which was supposed to insulate and provide low-carbon heating for thousands of homes, the continued support for airport expansion and the pushing forward of a £27bn roads budget.

Environmentalists have welcomed the government’s action but have warned that ministers had typically failed to achieve previous targets set by the CCC. They have also called for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to clearly show how the transition is to be funded.

Greenpeace said that the building of new roads and runways would have to stop.

They stated that:

“Targets are much easier to set than they are to meet, so the hard work begins now.”

Chair of the environmental think tank E3G, Tom Burke explained what policy changes were needed to achieve the climate goal:

“The most important thing, I think, is for the prime minister to focus his policy, around energy efficiency, around wind and solar, and around storage of electricity and the management of the grid.”

The CCC report advised that investment in low carbon must scale up to £50bn a year in the UK, adding that in time fuel savings from more efficient equipment will cancel out the investment costs. They believe that around 1% of GDP, national wealth, would need to be spent shifting away from fossil fuels over the next 30 years.

Chair of the CCC, Lord Deben said:

“The implication of this path is clear: the utmost focus is required from government over the next 10 years. If policy is not scaled up across every sector, if business is not encouraged to invest, if the people of the UK are not engaged in this challenge – the UK will not deliver net zero by 2050. The 2020s must be the decisive decade of progress and action.”


By legislating for such a strict new target in less than 15 years’ time the UK Prime Minister has indicated that he is taking the threat of climate change seriously. Though campaigners remain concerned about progress towards existing targets being too slow, the Prime Minister has set a path for rapid behavioural changes from households and businesses.

The Future Of Solar Power And Other Renewable Energy

SunPower_PV

With an insatiable demand, many natural energy sources are dwindling at an alarming rate. While a number of experts are racing against the clock to find a better solution, more and more people are opting for solar power and other renewable sources of energy. And for today’s piece, we will get into these energy sources and see what the future holds for them.

Renewable Energy: What Is It?

Any form of energy that generates and replenishes through natural means is known as renewable energy. These energy sources include wind, waves, sunlight, geothermal heat, water, and so on. Although they occur via natural means, the generation of these energy sources is limited. And at most times, it would depend on some determinants, like weather, timing, and man-made factors.

The Types Of Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Photo via creative commons

One of the most utilized naturally-occurring energy sources, solar energy works best for many purposes. Humans use it to set and dry numerous kinds of food, keep away from being cold, dry cold, and grow various yields and crops. And with today’s technology, we use a solar generator to produce electricity for commercial, industrial, and residential settings.

Wind Energy

Photo by janie.hernandez55

A study shows that wind energy is among the cheapest sources of natural power. And utilizing wind has been around for thousands of years, just like solar and hydro energy. And thankfully, we don’t have to rely on old-fashioned windmills so we can use wind energy. Windmills and other harnessing devices can do it on our behalf.

Biomass

Photo courtesy of Karuna Bhavan

Biomass energy is a source that comes in many forms – wood waste, biodiesel, landfill gas, wood, and even ethanol. Biomass is quite versatile, able to power up vehicles, create electricity for buildings, and heat many facilities. We have been using biomass for a long time, and its usage comes as a controversial issue.

Hydroelectric Power

Photo by grendelkhan

Another quick-replenishing source, hydroelectric power, primarily comes from bodies of fast-moving water. A device or structure converts the water motion into usable electricity that manufacturers will transfer to houses and buildings.

Geothermal Energy

Photo courtesy of mypubliclands

Geothermal energy comes from deep inside the earth in the form of heat. We use it for heating and cooking functions. Geothermal energy is available any day and time of the week. However, using it comes with some side effects that can harm people.

The Future Solar Power And Other Renewable Energy

More and more entities and people in places around the globe are becoming more environmentally conscious, pursuing the continued usage of renewable energy. Enterprises and companies are switching to renewable energy as an alternative source of power – this move reduces the negative impact that the environment receives.

Now, building structures and products that utilize renewable energy comes in a bit expensive, but the investment is advantageous, especially in the long run. And perhaps in the future, renewable energy might replace fossil fuels and other traditional, environment-harming energy sources.

 

How Can I Help?

It is not just big companies and enterprises that have the capability to make a change when it comes to using renewable energy. As an average home or commercial owner, you can create an impact as well. Having a solar generator, a device that can produce green technology and renewable sources of energy at home can be as easy as pie.

They have guides and articles that highlight and assist you in how you can convert your home into using renewable energy. As renewable energy sources allow you to save on energy and cash, having it in your households and commercial settings is a big win-win.

What Advantages Does Renewable Energy Have?

Here are some of the numerous benefits of renewable energy sources.

●     Independence

You won’t have to rely on big companies to provide you with power and electricity. Installing solar panels and small windmills allows you to become independent of localized or imported energy.

●     Savings

Operating renewable energy devices and structures is not costly. So, it’s not just energy that you will get to save. In addition, you get to save on precious cash. You don’t have to pay for fuel for your car, electricity for your home, or power for your devices.

●     Limitless

If you are worried about running out of fossil fuels, you won’t sweat it with renewable energy. There is no limit to the usage of wind, sunlight, and water. So, you can go ahead and take it easy, as these sources won’t run out anytime soon.

●     A New Experience

Having renewable sources will be a different and new experience for you, your friends, and your loved ones. Your lifestyle might tend to change for the better, as having these environmentally-friendly energy sources lets you make better choices and decisions for daily life.

●     Harmless

Fossil fuels have a lot of negative effects on the environment. However, that is not the case for renewable energy sources. Using solar panels, wind turbines, and mills costs less energy. That is less stress for the environment.

 

The Future Looks Bright

To conclude, you may want to start saying your farewells to harmful energy sources. With more and more people and industries looking for better alternatives to fossil fuels, it is a green light for solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Sure, it still needs some work, but, once policies and laws give renewable energy the go signal, the world will be a cleaner and better place for all of us.

Article written by Kirsten Chapple