Improved projections, innovative tech: Not all doom and gloom in climate change fight

Improved projections, innovative tech: Not all doom and gloom in climate change fight
Improved projections, innovative tech: Not all doom and gloom in climate change fight

Africa-Press – Kenya. While the global community has been criticized for its lackluster efforts to tackle the climate crisis, there are also noteworthy positive developments and success stories worldwide that deserve recognition, according to an expert in the field.

“In today’s society, in the media as well, we have a tendency to focus a lot on the negative aspects of climate change and how we’re all doomed in various ways,” Robert Bellamy, a lecturer in climate and society at the University of Manchester, told Anadolu.

Bellamy’s research focuses on the social science of climate, nature, and technology, exploring how climate change and responses to it are perceived, evaluated, and governed.

There are numerous successes and positive developments to be optimistic about in the ongoing battle against climate change, he argued.

“Probably the top-level thing is that our projections around where we’re headed with climate change have drastically improved in the last few years,” Bellamy said.

“A few years ago, we were thinking about heading for three, four, five, or even six degrees by the end of the century, but the latest data… is showing that at the moment, based on current policies around the world, we’re headed for about 2.7 degrees by the end of the century, which is a lot better.”

Another point he stressed is that many of the solutions necessary to address climate change are already available to us.

Humanity has already devised a wide array of techniques, and “we’re in a better place than we were even a few years ago in terms of where we’re headed,” said Bellamy.

Positive milestones

While our attention has naturally been drawn to the environmental catastrophes splashed across headlines, there have been many positive environmental stories that suggest enduring hope for the planet.

This year has witnessed remarkable strides in addressing the climate crisis, with renewable power surging and significant innovations in the field of ecology.

“2023 saw a steep change in renewable capacity additions, driven by China’s solar power market,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Paris-based agency said global annual renewable capacity additions rose almost 50% to nearly 510 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, the fastest growth rate in the past two decades.

For the 22nd consecutive year, there has been a new record set for renewable capacity additions, said the agency.

“Fossil fuels are kind of in their twilight years at the moment. It’s a really exciting time for renewables,” said Bellamy, who also serves as co-investigator and lead on responsible innovation for the UK’s national carbon dioxide removal directorate hub and the Horizon Europe solar geoengineering governance project.

“If we look back 20 or 30 years, when people were starting to think about deploying wind energy and other renewable options at a larger scale, they were very expensive. But through government support as well as research and development, these technologies have massively come down in price, and now, in some cases, these technologies are cheaper than using fossil fuels,” he noted.

“Once you reach that point where it’s cheaper to do something, it’s kind of inevitable that we’re going to go the way of renewables,” he added.

Stories of eco-innovation

This year also saw the emergence of some small-scale innovations in the field of ecology, contributing to broader efforts aimed at achieving net-zero targets.

One notable environmental story from this January was the development of indoor solar cells by a US-based energy harvesting company.

Euronews reported that Ambient Photonics, a California-based company, has been developing indoor solar cells since 2019.

These cells can be “printed” in nearly any size and shape suitable for integration into common devices like remote controls and wireless keyboards.

This innovation holds the potential to eliminate the necessity for batteries, consequently reducing the size and weight of electronic devices, according to Euronews.

Bellamy emphasized that any endeavor aimed at reducing emissions and pollution, including small-scale and local initiatives, holds significant importance.

“It’s useful to think about innovation not only in a technical sense, but also in a social sense,” he said.

“It could be something that’s done by ordinary people. Like for example, we all know how to plant trees and they capture carbon dioxide from the air. That’s something that we can just do already.”

‘A lot that still needs doing’

Nevertheless, all these positive changes do not mean we can rest on our laurels, as many battles remain to be won in the fight against climate change.

“There’s a lot that still needs doing… Things have improved quite a lot in terms of where we’re headed – 2.7 degrees instead of those higher levels – but we still need to go much further to bring down that projection in line with the Paris Agreement targets,” Bellamy stressed.

He underlined the urgent need to cut emissions by deploying new renewable energy technologies and developing more energy-efficient products.

“We’re at a point now where we need to start thinking about how we might reverse some of the effects of climate change, and the only way you can really do that is through… taking carbon dioxide out of the air,” he noted.

“Reducing emissions is about stopping putting the emissions in the air in the first place, but then you’ve also got these ideas for removing carbon that’s already in the air. So we need to develop those technologies,” he said.

Bellamy mentioned a new method called “solar radiation modification, or solar geoengineering,” which involves reflecting sunlight back into space in order to cool the air and “reduce global temperature.”

This involves placing reflective particles in the atmosphere, or changing the albedo, or reflectivity, of the Earth’s surface, making it brighter or whiter to reflect more sunlight back into space, he said.​​​​​​​

Source: Anadolu Ajansı

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