This week examines the continuing shift into renewables and storage at a local level, the preservation of natural capital through utilising capital markets and the changing face of food production.
We open with a report detailing how a group of scientists have examined the renewable generation opportunities for 139 nations, promoting discussions within and between the scientific, policy, and business communities, just on how they can transition to 100% renewable energy, and therefore plan for a decarbonized economy and preserve a world fit for human habitation.
Generating renewable energy is the first stage, storing and using it efficiently is next. We are now seeing large companies, from Tesla and Solar City to Mercedes Benz & Vivint Solar, using large battery storage systems to be able to provide transport options, home and, ultimately, commercial storage, as well as also being able to help supply the grid.
Creating and storing renewable energy is great, but businesses also need to minimise energy use, and incorporate sustainability into their culture. As this article discusses, there are some great software, tools and process systems available to enable businesses to identify where they are failing to be energy efficient.
Not only is shifting to renewable energy and improving energy efficiency important, so is how we protect the environment and, through that ,value natural capital. A good example of valuing natural capital is a 65-kilometer section of coral reef off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, which is going to the first in the world to have its own insurance policy.
Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest re-insurer, and also responsible for underwriting the insurance on the Cancun coral reef, is 90% of the way through the process of shifting its entire $130 billion liquid asset portfolio towards environmental, social and corporate governance indices. This reflects a wider shift by the investment community into long-term investments that generate long-term sustainable returns, i.e. no fossil fuels.
New Zealand farmers have historically focused on growing volume, however this places significant stress on the environment and water quality. It is apparent that the impacts of pursuing volume at any cost, are becoming too great for the wider community to accept. A change away from the current maximised volume and towards a focus on quality and value add is required. To achieve this our products must be sustainable in the widest possible sense.
With forecasts predicting over two thirds of the global population living in cities by 2050, urban planners and policy makers are increasingly looking to local agricultural solutions. Urban farming based in towns and cities is integral to any sustainable city, saving on transport and improving water efficiencies. With the farms in proximity to urban populations, consumers can see for themselves where the food is coming from and the conditions it is being grown in.
With CO2 being absorbed into out oceans, ocean water is becoming more acidic. Kelp farms are becoming popular, growing large quantities of kelp to help de-acidify the waters around farms, creating an improved growing environment for shellfish. The benefits however could potentially go beyond CO2 reductions, for example, if 9% of the ocean were to be covered in seaweed farms, the farmed seaweed could produce 12 Gigatonnes per year of biodigested methane which could substitute natural gas.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.