The Sustainable Futures Report
Summary: Surviving climate change, resource depletion, the energy crisis - and staying profitable
Last episode before I close down for August. Hold tight - there’s a lot to get in. I’ll be talking about transport, climate, too much water, too little water, energy, campaigns and opinions and I chat briefly about pollution with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio. There are pages of links to all these stories on the blog at www.sustainablefutures.report. This is probably the longest episode I’ve done at 6,700 words, but then, you’ve got a whole month to enjoy it.
How much time do you spend on line? Can we surf the net indefinitely, or are we reaching the point where browsing time must be capped?. Is that a fridge over there? No, it’s a 60kWh storage unit - but not a battery. Before you knock that building down think of all the embedded carbon! But first, some thoughts about population.
It’s another week of odds and ends. It’s Bees’ Needs Week - there’s an apology from a campaigner for the climate hoax (buy his book and learn more) - it’s the sun, stupid, not CO2 - alternatives to plastic, to food and to economic growth - green recovery or environmental endgame? - and finally, why the horrible, hated fossil fuel industry could be crucial to a clean energy transition. But first, this is what I think.
This week I'm talking about the energy industry with James Spencer, Managing Director of Portland Fuel. Is this the oil industry’s endgame? When and why can we expect an oil price spike? Is an electric transport fleet an impossible dream, and does the future lie with hydrogen? Insights from inside the industry. And in other news…McKinsey on carbon capture, usage and storage, California legislates on electric trucks and public doubts about the UK government's recovery strategy.
An interview with Professor Julia Steinberger, one of the authors, of “Scientists’ Warning on Affluence” In other news, last week’s report from the U.K.'s committee on climate change - businesses met to discuss building back better -the British prime minister set out his plans for restarting the economy after Covid and a mass lobby descended virtually on Westminster. And finally, Greta Thunberg has a thing about selfies.
Worrying news of unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic and there’s serious river pollution in the UK. Whatever the need for urgent action we need continuous research and innovation, steadily building an infrastructure for a low-carbon future. I bring you news of solar farms and energy storage, stories of the future of fossil fuels, news of ways of processing waste. And the advice and ideas for establishing a green recovery still keep pouring in, though not to universal approval.
There are calls to do things differently from charities, pension funds, scientists, political parties, the Ecologist, XR and The Climate Coalition, among many others. Will you be lobbying your MP about it on 30th June, and will climate campaigns survive the pandemic or is this a dress rehearsal for the climate crisis?The IEA gives us 6 months to get things under control and in other news BP takes a hit, sustainable coffee takes a new tack and Unilever takes aim to reduce its impact.
There's a lot of news coming out of Australia - coal, coral and controversy. There’s news as well from Brazil, and news from the energy industry. More ideas for building back better as we get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. And given that governments are crucial to successfully challenging the climate emergency, I ask whether we can trust a government which rejects its own manifesto commitments.
It’s World Environment Day. In this episode of the Sustainable Futures Report I look at new transport initiatives and ask if they are just flights of fancy, I investigate whether a proposed recycling initiative is merely greenwash and I look again at possible directions for post-COVID recovery. I’m British, so I’ll be talking about the weather and finally, keeping the lights on has never been more challenging. I listened to a panel of experts this week talking about Grid Flexibility.
How do we talk to the other side about the climate emergency? How do we find common ground? How do we get everyone working together? I spoke to Kevin Wilhelm CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting in Seattle.
Some politicians, activists and commentators are calling for a green recovery. A changed world as we come out of COVID lockdown. There are endless arguments over what that actually means. Some fossil fuel companies are accused of failing to meet targets. Green investment is a success story and elsewhere the sun is shining on renewables, even if some of them are all at sea. What does net zero actually mean, and could BECCS help? (Nothing to do with cats although I do mention CAT)
A designer solution providing an environmentally responsible outlet for your industry's waste. Peter Ettinger of Bioenergy DevCo explains how an anaerobic digester plant tailored to specific waste streams can produce biogas and soil improvers - and pay for itself.
Recently a group of academics wrote to The Guardian and said, "It is game over for preventing dangerous climate change..." One of the signatories to the letter was Dr James Dyke of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. I tracked him down, and this is what he told me. What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.
This week I interview Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies (TAE.com) about his research into nuclear fusion - the great hope for clean and (relatively) cheap energy. It's been predicted for 20 years hence for the last 50 years or so, but Michl believes that the breakthrough could now be reached within 10. And beyond that we could see direct transformation of heat into electricity, meaning we could finally abandon the boiler-turbine-generator that every conventional power station still uses.
I look at the outlook for oil from the International Energy Agency and report on how Canada is betting its green future on oil. Fine words from the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Now let's see some actions. No-one's travelling, but CO2 emissions are still increasing. Why? What has made environmental scientists so angry about Michael Moore's latest film? Would you trust a politician? Listen to this one and ideally watch the video (link on the blog at www.sustainablefutures.report) and see what you think.