Climate change: climate innovations that bend the curve

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Climate change is real. Whatever part of the world you’ve lived in, you don’t need me to tell you how real it is. We may be very close to the famous red lines and may have crossed some of them, but today we are in a position where we can reverse the trend.

Bend curve

A quarter of a century ago, when the Kyoto Protocol was launched, almost all research pointed to impending doom. The alarm bells have rung, prompting governments, businesses and societies around the world to take decisive action on climate action. Developed first world countries like Norway have been able to put in place strict standards to significantly affect their carbon footprint and human impact on the climate. Even emerging economies, like Costa Rica, have managed to decarbonize their economy and make progress towards mitigating climate change.

India has also taken positive steps and introduced climate-focused policies that are driving change. This move has consistently placed India in the top 10 rankings over the past three years on the CICC (Climate Change Performance Index), ahead of countries like Finland and Switzerland.

If the commitments of the Paris Agreement are met, we may even be able to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees. There will be serious consequences even if we manage to reach 1.5 degrees, but it’s not over yet for our beloved planet.

We need climate innovations

While regulations and policies have helped mitigate climate change, big tech giants like Microsoft have been zero carbon since 2012 and aim to eliminate all historic emissions by 2050. Other big companies like Nestlé, Unilever and P&G are also taking action through their supply. chain, from production to packaging. This is encouraging, but not enough. Enter, climate-focused startups of the world.

Read also: On the road to climate hell: will the COP27 negotiations deliver on climate action commitments?

Global funding for climate technology has grown 2.5x since 2019 to reach nearly $37 billion in 2021. Climate-focused startups are growing exponentially, driven by the energy, transportation and food spaces. Now may be the best time for startups to address the world’s greatest concern. Over the next two decades, some of the biggest companies in the world will come from climate technology, creating an opportunity for massive wealth creation.

Innovation to the rescue

Innovation to combat climate change is currently underway in areas such as clean energy, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable mobility, circular economy, low-carbon manufacturing, management land and water sustainability and carbon capture, among others.

In the area of ​​clean energy, while there is growth in solar and wind power generation, there are other sources, such as biofuels and geothermal energy, which act as a bridge to clean energy. The German startup, Marvel Fusion, is a prime example of harnessing nuclear fusion to create zero-emission energy.

Food production and animal husbandry is another area where startups have developed precision farming and smart farming that uses less land and water. Food startups have innovated plant-based meat products to replace animal products. The Impossible Burger is now a reality, and there are plenty of other companies in this space that have developed textured plant-based protein as an alternative to meat. The jury may be out how meaty this tastes, but every step makes a difference.

Thanks to Tesla, the electric vehicle industry has probably received the most attention on how we can reduce tailpipe emissions. Local startups like Ather are leading the way as the adoption of two-wheeled electric vehicles increases every day, especially in the last-mile delivery space, which has a pretty large carbon footprint. Dutch startup TripleE has developed a decentralized platform for circular battery usage, enabling battery and electric vehicle manufacturers to analyze battery life expectancy and environmental impact, and reuse the battery into a new vehicle, thereby reducing its carbon footprint. The circular economy is not a buzzword in this space, it happens in all sectors.

Carbon Capture has seen some exciting innovations, with startups developing natural carbon sequestration methods that are simple and more affordable. American startup Holy Grail has developed direct air capture units for industrial use using cheaper and scalable technology compared to complex systems like compressors and calciners in conventional direct air capture systems.

Are we doing enough? No, we could definitely do more. The silver lining is the passion of impact-minded, climate-focused startups. Humanity has overcome many disasters through collaboration, the will to succeed, and a dash of ingenuity. We will need all of this and more to meet the climate challenge.

The writer is a partner at Merak Ventures.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are those of the author.

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