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How can we be more carbon-neutral?

Authorities from countries all over the world are looking for solutions to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

In November 2021, the United Nations will host the 26th Climate Change conference (COP26) in what has been billed as the “last best chance” to find solutions and mitigation strategies to get environmental issues under control.  As authorities from all over the world commit to a shared agenda towards net zero emissions, the discussions and search for viable solutions intensify.

Beyond the importance and complexity of a multi-nation effort, which entails geopolitical, public and private interests, at the core of the roadmap for a carbon-neutral 2050 lie the technologies and policies that can effectively slow down and reverse the effects of climate change. These technologies and policies must result in substantial, scalable and sustainable outcomes – the logic is that they must outpace and offset the ‘current stock’ of emissions and degradation. While fully addressing climate change will require a multitude of new ways of living, producing and consuming, the message from the recent multi-country agreements seems to be more direct: we need big wins to get to mid-century as per the plan. In that context, specialists have commonly pointed to the following priority areas:

  • phasing-out coal and increasing the share of renewable energy
  • slowing down deforestation and restoring natural biomes
  • building more sustainable agriculture ecosystems
Biodegradable upcycled solution to control pests in farming by Shiyi Liang, RCA

 

How these translate into technical solutions is (and has been for decades) the work of researchers and scientists developing incremental and breakthrough innovation in fields ranging from satellite technology to molecular biology. Over the past seven year, at Global Grad Show, we have seen evidence of this relentless yet discreet force that is academic research for a better planet. Some of the most exciting examples include:

HI-Light – A solar-thermal chemical reactor for converting CO2 to fuels

Cast in carbon – A construction material that stores carbon emissions

Spectrum – A new material to reduce heat islands in urban environments

Bacterial Dye – Bacterial alternative to reverse pollution from textile industry

Poleno – A pollinating drone to rebuild damaged ecosystems

Impacto – An app to facilitate sustainable lifestyle choices

Chlorophyll – Biodegradable upcycled solution to control pests in farming

Twenty – Low carbon footprint household products

 

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